In an inspired collaboration with the Boston Early Music Festival, the Harvard Film Archive presents Alain Corneau’s 1991 film Tous les matins du monde in conjunction with a concert by viol legend Jordi Savall at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre February 24 at 7:30pm.
In addition to advising on technical details for the film, Savall and Le Concert des Nations provided the crucial soundtrack, featuring the music of Sainte-Colombe, Marin Marais and others from the French Baroque. Over twenty-seven years after the film’s premiere, Savall has assembled some of the world’s finest musicians for an evocative program featuring music by these extraordinary composers and other French Baroque masters, including Jean-Baptiste Lully, François Couperin, and Jean-Marie Leclair. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit bemf.org.
For the first six minutes, the screen shows only the anguished, powder-caked face of Gérard Depardieu as the aged Marin Marais, a fêted musician of the royal court in seventeenth century France. Marais reflects on a youth spent in the musical and romantic wilds with Sainte-Colombe, a reclusive composer, viol maestro and influential musical innovator. After Sainte-Colombe’s wife dies, he dramatically retreats from the world, rarely playing publicly, restricting himself and his two daughters to an austere life devoted to music. The young student Marais—played by Depardieu’s son Guillaume—attempts to burst Sainte-Colombe’s ascetic bubble by courting one of his daughters and using the master’s teachings to please the king. With a cinematography that resembles the still-life paintings of one of Sainte-Colombe’s few friends, Lubin Baugin, the film itself exemplifies the intense, uncompromising vision of an artist whose brusque, truculent manner belied a rich, internal life and an aching passion stoked by his wife’s ghostly visitations. Director Alain Corneau collaborated with viol virtuoso and early music expert Jordi Savall and writer Pascal Quignard—who had written a novel imagining the life of Sainte-Colombe—to portray the power of emotion and art to transcend this earthly existence. Consequently, the music from the celebrated film took on a life of its own, helping to bring the enchanted sounds of a remarkable, obscure existence out of the shadows of time to enrapture audiences today. – Brittany Gravely