on Classical Composers -Their Lives, Loves, and Times
Tous les Matins du Monde
and late 17th century French music
A DVD World Premiere
there is a movie that is truly about music and the love of
it, Tous de les Matins du Monde is it!
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.
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
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
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").
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
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."
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.
* heard in background on opening web page
FOOD & MUSIC