“Monos”: “These children” cut off from society, from security, from their families, from wealth dance without music “

Sometimes it only takes one musical theme to change everything. The one composed by Briton Mica Levi, 33 years old today, for Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer (2013) brought it out forever from the underground where it had hitherto radically created, and generated one of the most delightful upheavals in film music in recent memory – recent works by Colin Stetson (Heredity) to those of Hildur Gudnadóttir (Oscar winner for Joker) or even by Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk), everyone owes something to this icy hybrid partition that seems to have reshuffled the cards of an art in full revolution, for better or for worse. Composed late, the score by Monos by Alejandro Landes is infinitely minimalist and inspired, and plays a huge role in its effects. Mica Levi answered our questions by email.

Read also “Monos”, free electrons from the jungle

How advanced was the film when you started working?

Almost finished. The editing has changed slightly since then. To be honest, I liked the movie without music.

Is there a guiding idea behind the soundtrack of Monos ?

I’m not sure we can talk about a particular idea. Once the materials are gathered, I feel that they “belong” to the film and that I decide to use them to guide me on how to integrate them into the soundtrack. My goal is always to look for things that I feel are really part of the movie. So many ideas end up not working … For me, music is good when it allows me to get into the film better, as 3D can do.

Why this choice of arrangements so minimalist and sorry?

My hope is that it is a reflection of history. The characters are excluded from a normal environment, they live on three times nothing, they do not have enough clothes, they have weapons but are very disorganized. Alejandro [Landes, ndrl] you would explain it better than me, but I understood that the film tells about a less clean war, a very long conflict whose front lines are fragmented, and which little by little disconnected from its original stakes. Resources have shrunk, advanced technologies have become inseparable from archaic technologies, metal, plastic, organic. I hope it can be heard in sounds, plastic, metal, wood, synthetic or glass. There is also this electronic sound which “goes up” [l’effet riser], that you can often hear in commercial electronic music but which carries adrenaline even out of context. When we see them partying, these children “cut off” from society, from security, from their families, from wealth dance without music.

Did you get any ideas about the “survivalist” aspect of the film?

The resources, or rather their absence, inspired me literally. The character of Rambo uses his hands to whistle … Also, this is a small film in terms of budget, a symphony orchestra would have been impossible.

Many directors tend to take little interest in sound in their films. Why ?

Music is a powerful tool. It all depends on what we are trying to do.

What role does your own interpretation of a film play in the music you compose to accompany it?

A huge role. I offer my interpretation to the director and if I realize that I am near the plate, I try to open up as much as possible. I trust the director to direct me. We talk a lot. Then sometimes we have epiphanies.

MusicUnder the Skin has placed you at the center of a new generation of composers. Do you think it changed things for film music in general?

I appreciate that great films are made, and by proxy great film scores. I like those of Daniel Lopatin [for[pourGood time and Uncut Gems of the Safdie brothers] or Fatima Al Qadiri [for[pour Atlantic by Mati Diop]. And I like the idea that more and more people who compose for the cinema come from music, where we make albums, and from art. But I’m not quite sure I belong to a generation. I feel fortunate to have been able to work with Jonathan Glazer on Under the Skin. He took a risk and took me to a world that was then new to me.

What about the music of Hans Zimmer which, like yours, increasingly calls upon “Sound design” and electronic sounds?

I appreciate their prowess, I respect them, I have nothing to complain about. I like a good harmony, I like the sound design, I like the skill of orchestration, which tends to impress me. I also like that when I play video games.

Do you feel close to other composers, your generation or previous ones?

I love Bernard Herrmann, Lopatin and Al Qadiri, I have a lot of respect for them and I am thrilled to work at the same time as these, an era when the spirit of those who make the films is a little more close to those who make art and music. The lines get more and more blurred.

Can you name a film that would have particularly marked you for its music?

Cold sweat from Hitchcock.

Why do you like glissandos so much?

No idea.

Olivier Lamm


“The scandal”, obscure object of delirium

“Ithere is always something to see, provided you know how to look “, throws Paul Wagner (Maurice Ronet), during a bourgeois reception, to a friend who was annoyed by his rascal escapade escapades. Occurring in the first third of Scandal (1967), a false crime fiction and a true philosophical treatise on madness, almost anecdotal aside seems to give the viewer the keys to the film. It’s as much a sentence of a film buff as of an entomologist, a great architect of the world, having the gift of double vision or the sense of observation, to detect what is hidden behind appearances. But above all, she says that the world is not one, there is always another story, a logic that escapes logic, and that everything is a matter of look, interpretation, and therefore delirium. This is the occult subject that this thirteenth feature hides under its twisted whimsical air, whose codes Chabrol does not really respect – crimes but no investigation, no end of story, since nothing is unequivocal . It’s almost like it’s all in the head and sick brain of a character with shaky reason. The intrigue plays on this ambiguity: following a head trauma during an attack, where a prostitute was strangled before his eyes before he lost consciousness, Paul Wagner (Ronet, masterful as a childish and disturbed hero) is sometimes subject to absences. When other women around him are murdered, everything suggests that he may be the murderer, unless he is the victim of a plot, which we imagine to have been hatched by his cousin Christine (Yvonne Furneaux), wealthy champagne merchant, married to Christopher (Anthony Perkins), a former gigolo, who wishes to sell the domain of which Paul is still the owner of the name and exerts pressure and blackmail on him. But the presence of a blonde vamp (Stéphane Audran, beauty of elusive sphynx), haunting the place, leaves other mysteries hovering …

We are far from the original idea of ​​producer Raymond Eger – a murder in a nudist camp. To the “sans-pagne”, Chabrol and his accomplice from the start, Paul Gégauff, never stingy with Lacanian puns, will have preferred “champagne”. A rotten wine, like the big bourgeoisie that the filmmaker brushes with vitriol in their decadent evenings. Gégauff’s cynical pen infuses the film with an atmosphere of destructive madness that echoes the formal biases of the staging. From the credits in the colorful colors, Chabrol accredits the idea of ​​a mental film by multiplying the plans stretched to abstraction, the fluid circular movements, the slowness, the pattern of the spiral – wink at Vertigo by Hitchcock, who also evokes the role of the double brunette / blonde woman and the presence of Anthony Perkins.

Chabrol will often say that he was influenced by the thought of the philosopher Alfred Korzybski, general semantics and non-Aristotelian logic, namely the idea that a subject is always trapped in his representations. Starting from an undecidable point – is it Paul who is mad or the world around him, or both? -, the film constantly seems to adjust to the flickering perception of the hero, often under the influence of alcohol, and this distortion of reality is visually translated by formal audacity, games of mirrors and transparencies, dense decor of heterogeneous statues and objects, and up to the creeping gestures of Ronet. An astonishing final plan, taking height, will replace the scenario writer in the position of the demiurge entomologist, observing his characters, tangled bodies, to (d) fight like three worms in a box.

Nathalie Dray

The scandal of Claude Chabrol (1967), Blu-ray € 19.99 (BQHL).