Movies on Classical Composers -Their Lives, Loves, and Times
Rediscovering Tous les Matins du Monde and late 17th century French music
A DVD World Premiere

 

If there is a movie that is truly about music and the love of it, Tous de les Matins du Monde is it!

Originally released in 1991 and winner of 7 CÉSAR Awards (the French Oscars), the film by Alain Corneau which stars today's most popular French actor GERARD DEPARDIEU, masterfully captures the essence of late 17th century French music through the lives and works of two of the most renowned musicians of the period, MARIN MARAIS (DEPARDIEU) and his teacher M. de SAINTE COLOMBE (convincingly portrayed by JEAN-PIERRE MARIELLE), and the inspired performance of their music by violist JORDI SAVALL on the soundtrack.

In March 2006 the film, which is based on the historical novel by PASCAL QUIGNARD, was released for the first time on DVD as part of the Koch Lorber Films Gold Series. The 2-DVD set includes the digitally restored and remastered original and a bonus disc whose main feature is a precious hour-long documentary entitled "In Search of Perfect Sound".  
It is about Jordi Savall's discovery of Marin Marais' works and his love affair with the instrument of which he is today's undisputed master - the viola da gamba, and which, as the scenes above show, is also the movie's unnamed but almost omnipresent "star".

The story, narrated by Marin Marais (Depardieu), revolves around the passion shared by the main protagonists Marais and Saint Colombe - but don't be misled by the DVD cover! Yes, there is some of that kind of passion (between Marais and Saint Colombe's daughter Madeleine) negligibly tucked in somewhere in the early part of the movie.  Rather, it is the overpowering passion for music that is the film's source of inspiration. And conflict - that begins from the moment Marin Marais - a carefree but determined youth, in search of worldly glory, performed here by Gerard Depardieu's son Giullaume - seeks the tutelage of the viol master, Saint Colombe (an aging ascetic, living a self-imposed hermit-like existence, sustained only by his undying devotion to his music and his dead wife) through Marais' days in the royal orchestra of Louis XIV. In the end, the conflict finds closure in Saint Colombe's tearfully joyful acceptance of his erstwhile errant student, movingly depicted in the movie as one last lesson from the master that culminates in a profoundly plaintive duet performance of Saint Colombe's Les Pleurs ("Tears").

"The musician in the film is also exploring the medieval sound of the baroque orchestra. He reveals how "early music" is an endless source of discovery.  In other words: it always remains contemporary."
The film is sparse in dialogue but rich in visual and aural imagery - as it must be if the film is to adhere as closely as possible to historical truth. Very little is known about Marais and much less about Sainte Colombe who perfected the viola da gamba's rich sonority by the addition of a seventh string. The photography is masterfully faithful to the period, beautifully nuanced to the last detail - as if the subject of a Rembrandt painting suddenly came to life and told the story of his life. The music, superbly performed by Jordi Savall as soloist and/or conductor of his chamber orchestra "Le Concert des Nations", is given star billing. Never simply receding to the background like most music incidental to a movie, it is as enjoyable as music performed in a concert hall.

Viewers who prefer or are used to the tempi of Hollywood movies may find the film's pacing a bit slow (in typically European - or more precisely, French - fashion). But this fault, if indeed it is one, pales in light of the film's greater virtues.   If you are a collector of films on music, this DVD set is worth adding to your collection not only for the movie itself - which "grows" on you,  but also for Jordi Savall's bonus documentary in which Savall, who gained celebrity status from the film, personally gives a guided tour of his "search for perfect sound" - comoplete with a chamber music performance, and articulates with graceful eloquence everything that music, especially "early music", means to him.  And before it is all over, chances are, it will also begin to mean something more to you and you will have begun to fall in love with the "perfect sound" of the viola da gamba.

The film's title derives from the statement that fittingly concludes the scene in which Saint Colombe's ill and heart-broken daugher, Madeleine, commits suicide:"Tous les matins du monde sont sans retour," which literally translates as "All the mornings of the world leave without ever returning." The film's English subtitle puts it this way: "Each day dawns but once." Of the DVD set, it can similarly be said that a movie-and-documentary on music such as this comes, if not "but once", then perhaps once in a blue moon.


  THE MOVIE THE SOUNDTRACK

  CLICK on a title below to listen to a music clip from the soundtrack:
Improvisations sur les folies d'Espagne (Marais) Gavotte du Tendre* (Sainte Colombe) La Rêveuse (Marais)
Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres à 2 voix (Couperin) L'Arabesque (Marais) Les Pleurs (Sainte Colombe)

* heard in background on opening web page



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