Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dames du Bois de Boulogne

Jean-Jacques Grunewald's title music for Robert Bresson's 1945 film Dames du Bois de Boulogne seems to be an exact hybrid (if an exact hybrid is possible) between the Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde and David Raksin's music for the 1945 film Laura. I really enjoyed watching the film (it is part of the Criterion Collection), particularly because of the music.

The plot is not simple, but to simplify it (without "spoiling" it) I will say that it includes two people: one is evil, and the other is naive. A remarkable scene begins with the evil one playing a fugue on the piano, which happens before you (or me--the viewer) realize that she is indeed weaving an evil web around the naive one. As each voice enters, the web becomes clearer and clearer. The evil one talks while she plays, but the fugue says it all. When the subject of the fugue returns as wedding music for the naive one, it is clear that the wedding is riddled with "webbing."

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