So anyway, I know it's been a while since I posted a celebrity obit...but since this one falls into a category most of my esteemed readership - all three of you - can relate to, it seemed prudent to write it up. Monsieur Maurice Jarre (again...pronounce zhar-AY) passed away yesterday at the age of 84. As the alternate title of my post suggests, that leaves three of the "old school" of Hollywood film composers remaining - John Williams, John Barry, and Ennio Morricone. Barry has been in retirement for upwards of a decade. Big John is retired for pretty much all but Spielberg's films (though I've still got my fingers, toes, legs, arms and nuts crossed that he'll finish off Harry Potter). As for Signor Morricone, he's as busy as ever...not bad for an 81 year old guy (though after over 500 scores, one has to wonder how much new music the man has left in him). Still, his last American film score was 2000's Mission to Mars (still one of the oddest scores in recent memory) - and he's supposedly scoring (if you can believe it) Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds...it should be notable if for no other reason than it's Tarantino's first scored film!
Anyway, back to Jarre - I don't imagine that amongst our little group there's a great deal of heartbreak over this news - but still, it is kind of sad. For one, it's one step closer to the end of an era in Hollywood. And also, despite some possibly perceived short-comings as a composer, he did leave a substantial mark in film music - granted, most of it a decade before I was born. Brad and I often joke that Jarre, like Barry, only has three (maybe four) scores. There's the electronic fluff Jarre, then there's the electronic Euro-Jazz-fluff Jarre; there's also the giant David Lean epic Jarre (my favorite), then as for the rest - I suppose it could arguably be lumped into one all-encompassing mish-mash category (though what anyone would begin to call it I'm really not sure...maybe just call it...French!).
I for one have always loved Lawrence of Arabia - if ever there was a score in desperate need of a complete re-recording... Dr. Zhivago also has a beautiful main theme and generally a good score overall. I've always enjoyed Enemy Mine for some unfathomable reason - an oft forgotten Wolfgang Petersen sci-fi film from back in the day when he was a serious filmmaker . It's typical Jarre, but for some reason...it always struck a chord with me (no pun intended). One of his truly great scores, which I posted about a couple years ago, was for Top Secret!. It was perfect scoring for one of the great screwball comedies of all time - and like any great self-respecting film composer, Jarre composed the music complete straight against the absurdity that was happening on screen.
Other recent notables include Ghost, with which one could practically define the concept of tragically romantic; and another personal favorite is A Walk in the Clouds (an interesting little movie from the mid-90's which coincidentally, proves that Keanu Reeves can act). Jarre did romance well - maybe it's all the wine (did I mention he was French). Looking at his filmography, I'd forgotten that he'd scored some pretty serious films over the last couple decades, including Dead Poets Society and Jacob's Ladder (the latter of which I wouldn't mind revisiting just to hear what he did with it). Also of note, Film Score Monthly released a CD of some of his concert work recently which, when I get the opportunity, I'm definitely going to pick up.
At any rate, adieu Msr. Jarre...au revoir and all that! Say hello to Jerry, Basil, Elmer, Michael, and everyone else when you see them.