(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

I probably should start with the disclaimer that I have very little technical knowledge of music. I am, however, very much a film buff and I very much like the great orchestral scores of older films and in particular epic films. When one thinks of the great scores of classic films one naturally thinks of names like Wolfgang Korngold, Miklos Rozsa, Jerry Goldsmith, and Maurice Jarre. Jarre's scoring career goes back to the early 1950s, but some of his finest work was in the 1960s and 1970s. The best of his best (in my non-technical opinion) include THE LONGEST DAY (1962), LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962), DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965), and THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (1970). David Lean directed two of these four. Jarre wrote the score for only four of Lean's films in all: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962), DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965), RYAN'S DAUGHTER (1970), and A PASSAGE TO INDIA (1984). But the director and composer formed a close bond and a personal friendship. From 1962 on Lean had no other composers. A Maurice Jarre score just became part of what made a David Lean film a David Lean film. At the time of his death David Lean was planning a production of NOSTROMO, of course with a Jarre score. Lean died in London April 16, 1991. As a tribute to his friend Maurice Jarre put together a 1992 concert featuring his music written for David Lean. The London Philharmonic performed the music at London's Barbican Center. The concert was recorded but to the best of my knowledge was never released. As we approach March 25, 2008, which would have been Lean's 100th birthday, Milan is releasing a DVD and CD package of the concert.

Milan's package is really very inviting:

The concert itself is edited to 55 minutes in length. The DVD features the following contents:

  1. Remembrance
  2. Ryan's Daughter Suite
  3. A Passage to India
  4. Doctor Zhivago
  5. Offering
  6. A Passage to India (Garden of Statues)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia Suite

"Remembrance" is a piece of music written only for this concert and allows Jarre to express his deep affection for David Lean in the way Jarre does it best--in music. "Offering" was previously written as a gift to be played at Lean's wedding.

The concert includes footage from the films as well as showing the orchestra creating the music. Jarre wryly notes that he synchronized the music to the visuals in a way that is backward from what he is used to. For once, he has started with the music and can move around the visuals to fit the music instead of vice versa.

The CD, which comes included in the package, makes the concert music a good deal more portable. It contains all the music of the concert with the exception of the "Garden of Statues" sequence. This sequence in the concert is actually a demonstration of the task and process of precisely matching the music Jarre has composed to an edited but un-scored film. This took a certain amount of courage on Jarre's part to include since in actual practice he does not have to get it right the first time, but in front of an audience he does. This task is an aspect of film scoring most people have never had an opportunity to see. The entire concert was apparently unexpectedly difficult for Jarre. He could not stop and re-do anything the way he does normally when he works since everything was done before a live audience and was all done in a single (if later edited) take.

Also included in the DVD is a complete and informative commentary by Jarre on the concert in French with subtitles in English. The commentary includes humorous anecdotes and diverse information about the production. More information in the same vein is included in a 35-minute interview in French with English subtitles. (Sadly, they did not ask the question I have been dying to ask Maurice Jarre for years. That is if one looks individually at films that Jarre has scored, a high proportion seem to have a train appearing somewhere in the film. For many it is obvious where the train would be, but even a film like SCHOOL TIES has Brendan Frasier stopped by a train on his way to school. Peculiarly, even MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME and GHOST manage to each get a train in. It is not all of his films. You would not expect to see a train in SHOGUN. But most films in which it would be possible do fit in a train or a subway or a mine train. Is this all just a coincidence?) Maurice Jarre's son, Jean-Michel Jarre, is also a popular composer.

Samplings of the concert are available on YouTube and can be found at

Samples are also available at the Milan Records site:

Amazon page:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2007 Mark R. Leeper