Movies to Listen to: Louis Malle

COMPOSERS: Louis Malle
LABELS: Auvidis Travelling
PERFORMER: Music performed by Stéphane Grappelli, Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet, Django Reinhardt, etc


‘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.  

Contrast the latest in Auvidis’s series ‘Movies to Listen To’, simply entitled Louis Malle. Most of the artists whose music serves Le souffle au coeur and Zazie dans le métro – Django Reinhardt, Charlie Parker, Sidney Bechet – were long dead even when these classics were made. But the delight of hearing them is only part of the pleasure this CD affords.


We hear voices, the clink of glasses on table-tops, the sound of boots on flagstones. Often, there is no music at all. These are true soundtracks, and they have a genuineness which will forever elude the glossily-marketed products of the major labels.