the orchestra and the conductor captivated the 7th art

Entertainment **

by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar

French film, 1h50

ter *

by Todd Fields

American Movie, 2:38

The two are women, conductors and movie heroes in feature films in theaters this Wednesday. There the similarities end. Because if Entertainment Telling the true story of young Zahia Ziouani, determined to make a place for herself in a world closed to her a priori, this film by Todd Fields chronicles the descent into hell of a fictional maestra ruling over the symphonic elite.

The benevolence, respect, and love of a job well done experienced in a united family stands in stark contrast to the underlying loneliness and violence that petrifies Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett, perfectly calibrated), taken over by accusations of aggression and abuse.

Some naivety

This difference also instills the aesthetics of the two films. Although some naivety tends to feed the mind strong irony, Entertainment breathing music, conductor Zahia Ziouani and her sister Fettouma, cellist, have participated closely in the soundtrack design.

ter makes hear a very beautiful page (however parsimonious for the duration of the film), specially extracted from 5th symphony by Gustav Mahler, but without the connection between what we see and what we hear achieves the sensory and emotional intimacy of Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar’s film. Proof that ambition and means do not create poetry where neither …

A man then a woman

A few weeks later Teacher by Bruno Chiche, the orchestral direction invites himself again on screen. The symphony concert, which has become so marginalized in cultural practice, on the other hand continues to maintain a solid mythology, the conductor taking on the talents and defects of heroism, the strength of the individual against the group.

Until now, almost exclusively male, confident in his talents, authoritarian even despotic. Anything but tenders. A model taken by terto the dismay of musicians such as American conductor Marin Alsop, who protested: “Having the opportunity to represent a woman in this role and make her an aggressor, I find it heartbreaking. »

The nature of power

On screen, in comedy as in drama, the leader uses and abuses his prerogative. Rex Harrison imagines various ways to get rid of his wife, in comical harmony with the works Rossini, Wagner or Tchaikovsky he has directed (your disloyal by Preston Sturges, 1948). In the Big mop by Gérard Oury (1966), the megalomaniac Louis de Funès enjoyed his preeminence by humiliating the musicians of the Opera Orchestra with sharp stabs.

The autocrat metaphor facing the orchestra, the obscure and obedient crowd… The smallest movement (from the chairman) clarity project about the nature of power,” wrote Elias Canetti in mass and strength (1960), emphasized his position “stand up”, ” alone ” and “raised” between listeners and actors. Not to mention the emblematic instrument… the baguette! How not to think of stars from the direction of Arturo Toscanini or Herbert von Karajan, who last saw his image immortalized and aestheticized by filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot in 1966.

When the people rebel

However, instrumental people sometimes rise up against their masters. Under Fellini’s camera, the imperious leader’s nervousness provokes an uprising of the “musical proletariat”. That Prova d’Orchestra (Orchestral rehearsal, 1978) exploded into a hysterical frenzy. Two years later, Andrzej Wajda has taken turns working on this attractive authority figure Dryer (Conductor), entrusted Shakespearean comedian John Gielgud with the role of an honored maestro. His charisma goes back to a clumsy and domineering young conductor who failed to earn the respect of musicians he couldn’t love.

From his work with Sergiu Celibidache, a legendary conductor whose lessons he took, Zahia Ziouani retains the complexity of the relationship between a conductor and “his” musicians. “This chemistry is based on a community spirit, excellent conductor preparation, high standards and mutual respect with the instrumentalists. All these conditions are met, a miracle can happen. »

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