THE ARTIST - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2011)

Damn! And this reviewer thought John Williams would win his sixth Academy Award this year. With two nominations for his brilliant compositions on “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin”, you’d think the maestro would bring home the Oscar after 47 nominations throughout his career. Then came along this score composed by Frenchman Ludovic Bource for the Oscar darling – so is it worthy of its win?

Let’s just say that the Academy has awarded the Oscar to less deserving winners in its 84 year history.

The film is a commentary on the transition of silent, black and white films to “talkies” in Hollywood’s early days, and explores the relationship between an actor of silent films and an actress all geared up for cinema’s next phase. Bource’s compositions aptly reflect the emotionally gregarious film music from that era, and bring out the period’s unmistakable positive nature.

The soundtrack album contains 77 generous minutes from the silent film, a first to win Best Picture at the Oscars since 1927. We are guessing that the absence of pointless dialogue and sound effects in the film allows voters to pay extra attention to the music, hence the eventual win. Bource, who began his career composing music for commercials, is responsible for 20 out of the 24 cues on this album.

“The Artist Overture”, a grand orchestration you’d expect from Hollywood’s finest days, kicks off the soundtrack. After a perilous “1927 A Russian Affair”, we get to hear the highlight of the album “George Valentin”. The six minute track paints a colourful (note the nice contrast with the black and white nature of the film) personality of the protagonist and one can imagine him to be a well liked, popular and go to guy. The eccentric and infectious tune is easily identified by the use of xylophones here. It’s a theme which would be heard again in other tracks.

The female protagonist has her own theme in “Waltz for Peppy”, a lovely score which illustrates her delicate character. Elsewhere in the album, there are darker  tracks like “1929” (mysterious), “The Sound of Tears” (tragic), “Ghosts from the Past” (melodramatic) and “My Suicide (Dedicated to 03.29.1967)” (melancholic). But all’s well by the end of the album, when the chirpy “Peppy and George” comes on. It’s so wholesome and bubbly that you feel like breaking into a dance.


Recommended Track: (3) George Valentin

Review by John Li


The Artist Ouverture
1927 A Russian Affair
George Valentin
Pretty Peppy
At The Kinograph Studios
Fantaisie D Amour
Waltz For Peppy
Estancia OP. 8
Silent Rumble
12 In The Stairs
13 Jubilee Stomp
14 Comme Une Rosée De Larmes
15 The Sound Of Tears
16 Pennies From Heaven
17 1931
18 Jungle Bar
19 L'Ombre Des Flammes
20 Happy Ending ...
21 Charming Blackmail
22 Ghosts From The Past
23 My suicide 03.29.1967
24 Peppy And George



Composer: Ludovic Bource
Label: Sony Masterworks
Release Date: November 21, 2011