Thursday, April 2, 2009

On A Sad Note

Maurice Jarre, composer and master of the Hollywood epic score, died this weekend in his Malibu home. The nine-time Academy Award nominee was 84.

Jarre won three of those nine “Oscar” nominations, all for films directed by David Lean. From the deserts of Saudi Arabia in “Lawrence of Arabia”, to the Russian taiga for “Dr. Zhivago” or the Indian subcontinent in “A Passage to India”, Jarre’s use of simple noble melodies to illustrate vast cinematic landscapes was the glue that held the aforementioned films together and allowed Lean the grandiosity, scale and reflective space necessary to execute his larger-than-life vision. Their collaboration was one of the great cinematic pairings, like Hitchcock and Herrmann or Truffaut and Constantin. Jarre described his relationship with Lean and why it worked in the simplest of terms; “Lean had very specific ideas about the music for the films and I understood what He wanted”.

Jarre was one of the first film composers I was really aware of as child. His already legendary status was burned into my memory one chilly New England evening when I watched (with my grandmother) “Lawrence of Arabia” on the television. Lying on the indigo-rag carpet of my Grandmother’s living room floor I was transfixed, nothing could have seemed or sounded more exotic.

In the years to come both “Dr. Zhivago” and “A Passage to India” had a similar effect on me and in one of those "lateral" steps in life, twenty-five-years later I found myself in Bangalore, India working with Ashok Mandanna, one of the stars of “A Passage to India”. I remember in particular an afternoon at Ashok's home, where over tea, we discussed Lean, Jarre and the production of the film. It was an amazing afternoon, really great fun and a long long way from Autumnal New England nights.


aRaneS said...

Its always sad when a composer dies.

But there work will always live on.

Sue said...

Where in New England?

Shara said...

When were you in India?

Joel said...

All Great Movies. He'll be missed!

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