Composer. Nationality: French. Born: Neuilly-sur-Seine, 21 June 1945. Education: Attended the Paris Conservatory; also studied with Noël Gallon. Career: 1970—first of several films for Sautet, Les Choses de la vie.Award: César awards for Barocco and Le Juge et l'assassin, 1976.
Films as Composer:
Les Choses de la vie (The Things of Life) (Sautet); La Liberté en croupe (Molinaro); Sortie de secours (Kahane)
Max et les ferrailleurs (Sautet); Le Chat (Granier-Deferre)
Le Fils (Granier-Deferre); Liza (Ferreri); Le Droit à aimer (The Right to Love) (Le Hung)
Les Corps célestes (Carle); Charlie et ses deux nénettes (Séria); La Grande Bouffe (La Grande Abuffata; Blow-Out) (Ferreri); Le Train (The Train) (Granier-Deferre)
Le Mariage à la mode (Mardore); La Valise (Lautner); Touche pas à la femme blanche (Ferreri); L'Horloger de Saint-Paul (The Clockmaker) (Tavernier); César et Rosalie (Sautet); Dorothea (Fleischman); Les Seins de glace (Lautner); Souvenirs d'en France (Téchiné); Lancelot du Lac (Lancelot of the Lake) (Bresson); Vincent, François, Paul . . . et l'autres (Vincent, François, Paul . . . and the Others) (Sautet)
Un Divorce heureux (A Happy Divorce) (Carlsen); Folle à tuer (Boisset); Un Sac de billes (Doillon); Deux hommes dans la ville (Giovanni); La Cage (Granier-Deferre); Pas de problèmes (Lautner); Les Galettes de Pont Aven (Séria)
Barocco (Téchiné); Juge Fayard dit le sheriff (Boisset); Le Juge et l'assassin (The Judge and the Assassin) (Tavernier); L'ultima donna (The Last Woman) (Ferreri); On aura tout vu! (The Bottom Line) (Lautner); La Race des "Seigneurs" (The "Elite" Group) (Granier-Deferre); Adieu poulet (Granier-Deferre); Sept morts par ordonnance (Rouffio); Mado (Sautet); Marie poupée (Marie the Doll) (Séria); Le Locataire (The Tenant) (Polanski)
Le Diable, probablement (The Devil, Probably) (Bresson); Des enfants gâtés (Spoiled Children) (Tavernier); La Vie devant soi (Madame Rosa) (Mizrahi); Le Crabe Tambour (Schöndörfer); Un Taxi mauve (The Purple Taxi) (Boisset); Mort d'un pourri (Lautner); Violette et François (Violette and François) (Rouffio)
Morte di un operatore (The Death of a Corrupt Man) (Rosati); Rêve de singe (Ferreri); Une Histoire simple (Sautet); Ciao maschio (Bye Bye Monkey) (Ferreri); La Clef sur la porte (The Key Is in the Door) (Boisset); Passe-Montagne (Mountain Pass) (Stevenin); Le Sucre (The Sugar) (Rouffio); Les Soeurs Brontë (The Brontë Sisters) (Téchiné)
Tess (Polanski); Flic ou voyou (Cop or Hood) (Lautner); Le Toubib (The Medic) (Granier-Deferre); Chiedo asilo (My Asylum) (Ferreri); L'Adolescente (The Adolescent Girl) (Moreau)
Il faut tuer Birgitt Haas (Birgitt Haas Must Be Killed) (Heynemann); Ghost Story (Irvin); Cher inconnue (I Sent a Letter to My Love) (Mizrahi); Beaupère (Blier); La Guerre du feu (The Quest for Fire) (Annaud); Coup de touchon (Clean Slate) (Tavernier); Storia di ordinaria follia (Tales of Ordinary Madness) (Ferreri); Choix des armes (Choice of Arms) (Corneau)
L'Etoile du nord (Granier-Deferre)
Garçon! (Sautet); My Other "Husband" (Lautner); Lovesick (Brickman); J'ai épousé une ombre (I Married a Shadow) (Davis)
Le Cowboy; Devil in the Flesh; Harem (A. Joffé); Joshua Then and Now (Kotcheff); L'Homme aux yeux d'argent (Granier-Deferre); Hors-la-loi (Davis); Mon beau-frere a tué ma soeur; Rendezvous; La Tentation d'Isabelle (Doillon)
Cours privé (Granier-Deferre); L'Etat de grace (Rouffio); Every Time We Say Goodbye (Mizrahi); Le Lieu du crime (Scene of the Crime) (Téchiné); The Manhattan Project (Brickman); Pirates (Polanski); Sincerely Charlotte (C. Huppert); La Puritaine (Doillon)
Comédie! (Comedy!) (Doillon); De guerre lasse; Les Deux Crocodiles (Seria); Ennemis intimes (Amar); Funny Boy (Le Hemonet); Les Innocents (Téchiné); L'Eté dernier à Tangier (Arcady); La Maison assassinée (Lautner); Les Mois d'avril sont meurtriers (Heynemann); Noyade interdite (Granier-Deferre); Poker (Corsini)
La Couleur du vent (Granier-Deferre); La Maison de jade (N. Trintignant); Mangeclous (Mizrahi); L'Ours (The Bear) (Annaud); Quelques jours avec moi (Sautet); La Travestie (Boisset)
Chambre à part (Cukier); Hiver 54, l'abbé Pierre (Amar); L'Invité surprise (Lautner); Lost Angels (Hudson); Music Box (Costa-Gavras); Reunion (Schatzberg)
Lung Ta—les cavaliers du vent (Ponchevil le) (co); Le Petit Criminel (Doillon); La Baule les pins (Kurys); Faux et usage de faux (Heynemann); Lord of the Flies (Hook)
La Tribu (The Tribe) (Boisset) (+ pr); Eve of Destruction (Gibbins); La Vieille qui marchait dans la mer (The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea) (Heynemann); L'Amérique en otage (Iran: Days of Crisis) (Connor); J'embrasse pas (I Don't Kiss) (Téchiné)
Room Service (Lautner); L.627 (Tavernier); La Voix (The Voice) (Granier-Deferre); Max et Jérémie (Max and Jeremy)
La Petite apocalypse (The Little Apocalypse) (Costa-Gavras); Le Jeune Werther (Young Werther) (Doillon); Ma saisonpréférée (My Favorite Season) (Téchiné); Poisson lune (Sunfish) (Van Effenterre); Taxi de nuit (Night Taxi) (Leroy)
Uncovered (McBride); La Fille de d'Artagnan (Revenge of the Musketeers) (Tavernier); Le Fils préféré (The Favorite Son) (Garcia)
Dis-moi oui (Arcady); Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud (Sautet)
Les Voleurs (The Child of the Night) (Téchiné); Ponette (Doillon); L'Insoumise (Trintignant—for TV)
Le Rouge et le noir (Verhaeghe—mini for TV); Lucie Aubrac (Berri); K (Arcady); Un frére (Brother) (Verheyde); Mad City (Costa-Gavras); Le Bossu (On Guard) (de Broca)
Alice et Martin (Téchiné); Je suis vivante et je vous aime (I'm Alive and I Love You) (Kahane)
Là-bas . . . mon pays (Return to Algiers); Princesses
By SARDE: articles—
Lumière du Cinéma (Paris), April 1977.
Positif (Paris), January 1979.
Ecran (Paris), 15 December 1979.
Film Français (Paris), 16 January 1981.
Cinématographe (Paris), May 1985.
Soundtrack! (Hollywood), June 1985.
Soundtrack! (Hollywood), September 1985.
Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), April 1994.
On SARDE: articles—
Ecran (Paris), September 1975.
Cinéma Française (Paris), no. 13, 1977.
Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 3, no. 2, 1977.
Soundtrack! (Hollywood), November 1977.
Film Français (Paris), 2 February 1979.
Score (Lelystad, Netherlands), June 1980.
Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 4, no. 15, September 1985.
Cue Sheet (Hollywood), vol. 11, no. 1, 1995.
* * *
Philippe Sarde describes himself as a "man of the cinema." He is he first French musician to dedicate himself exclusively to composing film music. Since beginning his career in the late 1960s, he has been linked to a whole generation of directors (Sautet, Tavernier, Granier-Deferre) and has become one of France's most prolific screen composers. In 1980, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Polanski's Tess and has won Césars.
Sarde has composed music of an astonishingly wide range and at an amazing rate. Some critics find his body of work devoid of an overall style or personal imprint, but that is Sarde's intent. For Sarde, the music evolves from the film, from the director's idea of the film and his directorial style. Consequently, his musical compositions are as diverse as the films he scores.
Once he decided to devote his career to film music, Sarde spent ten years on film sets. He wanted to learn how the camera is used, how a lens will affect a shot, how 35- or 70-mm film will affect close-ups. He now feels that he has the necessary training to understand the technical aspects of filming and no longer needs to be on the film set to compose the music. He prefers to start work as early as possible in the film's production and uses the director's style and vision as a point of departure in his musical process.
Collaboration with the director is of the utmost importance in Sarde's musical process. Sarde wants to know what ideas the director has about the film. If the director wants certain musical instruments or if there is a particular sound he wants to hear, Sarde will incorporate these ideas in the music. He also wants to know how the director plans to film the movie; how he intends to use such techniques as close-ups, sequences and deep focus as each technique will call for different music. How the camera is used and techniques such as zoom, tracking, or panorama will also influence the music. Sarde says he needs to imagine the whole scene to compose music that will compliment it.
Sarde combines the director's style and vision of the movie with elements of the story. If the film is set in a particular country, Sarde will incorporate local ethnic themes into the music. Sarde compares his work to that of Ravel who never wrote an original theme but readapted folklore themes to make a completely new work. Tess is a good example of this. Sarde used old English ballads and readapted the themes into full-blooded orchestrations. Once when the music of Music Box was considered to be like the music of Goldsmith, Sarde rebutted that it was essentially folkloric. However, Sarde avoids music that comes with a built-in rhetoric and emotionalism such as the music of Bruckner or Mahler. His musical world is that of Debussy, Milhaud, Poulenc and, of course, Ravel.
Sarde is able to incorporate musical forms with visual elements. For Fort Saganne, he felt that the script called for a concerto and he wrote one for cello and orchestra. Musically representing the desert was a problem since the director of the movie did not want to use synthetic musical effects. Sarde solved the problem by incorporating an organ into the concerto. His use of the organ evoked images of mirages and shimmering sun. In using the concerto musical form, he was able to place the organ in between the cello and the orchestra which added a valuable element to the desert scenes.
Musical themes are incorporated in films to emphasize the emotional impact of the story. In Ghost Story, Sarde employed a ghost theme, terror theme, and love theme. In The Quest for Fire, he used a love theme, action theme, and a choral chant. For The Tenant, the music was atonal and he included a dirge-like song. In Les Seins des Glace, Sarde wanted the music to cause fear and composed music that was atonal with a strange character giving a feeling of malaise.
Sarde is the quintessential film composer. For Sarde, film music must always serve the film and he has proven himself able to incorporate classical music forms, ethnic and folkloric themes and a director's vision into music that compliments and enhances a visual story.