COMPOSERS: Ondrej Soukup
PERFORMER: Prague City Philharmonic Players/Leos Svárovsky, etc
CATALOGUE NO: 456 432-2
‘No film is complete without music’ said Bernard Herrmann, the grandfather of film music and its unsurpassed exponent. But there are times when I would like to stand that statement on its head: film music is more a bane than a blessing.
For this, we shouldn’t blame any particular composer but rather the conventions which now govern the craft. Every film which aspires to tug at the heartstrings – and also send the audience out feeling jaunty – will have a soundtrack alternating between violin syrup and cabaret-band spice. If you separate the soundtracks from the films to which they theoretically adhere, you will usually find them interchangeable. Ondrej Soukup’s soundtrack for Kolya is a case in point.
Jan Sverák’s cutesy fable is about a middle-aged rake suddenly ambushed by paternal feelings. It is set among cello-playing folk, so its musical component is, to a certain extent, pre-ordained. But the stereotyping of the film is nothing compared to the stereotyping of its accompanying CD – a collection of musically unrelated tracks with titles like ‘Together’, ‘Alone’, and ‘New Shoes’ interspersed with bits of Smetana and Dvorák.
‘On the run’, for example, is a 32-second blast of sub-James Bond brassiness. It comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. Ironically, as with so many other soundtracks today, this is beautifully played by the City of Prague Philharmonic – one of several East European bands whose prime function is to serve the film industry.