Micmacs à Tire-Larigot

Or just Micmacs if you’re not French, because that’s the name of the newest film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also directed Amélie (if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading right now and watch it), about a man and his friends who decide to destroy two large weapons manufacturers.

But this is a music blog, so why am I telling you about a movie? Because it has an interesting and quirky soundtrack, much like the one you may remember from Amélie. Not only are there original compositions by Raphaël Beau, but also works by Max Steiner lifted from the soundtrack to the classic Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall film noir The Big Sleep as well as a couple other random, weird numbers.


Raphaël Beau

One thing I can tell you about this soundtrack is that it is definitely very French (well, at least the parts by Raphaël Beau); it has a silly oddness to it that only a French composer can manage to extract. There a lot of tracks with those types of accordians that make you feel like you’re sitting outside a café in Nice looking out over the French Riviera. You can also hear a lot of tinkling, silent film era styled piano playing. Some of these tracks sound so nostalgic and offbeat that it’s not hard to picture Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton performing black and white slapstick comedy while listening to them.

Another strange and unique aspect of the music is the heavy use of environmental percussion. Sounds such as cash registers, slurping through straws, and breaking glass are used throughout many of the songs. At the same time, these sounds are played in a very monotonous, machine-like manner. Seeing as the plot of the movie involves weapons manufacturers, I’m guessing this industrial sort of percussion is very intentional. Also, the use of these familiar sounds in such a repetitive manner in contrast with the quirky silliness of the rest of the music gives the whole soundtrack this sort of surreal, otherworldly feel. Based on what little I know of the movie and what I know about Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s previous works, I think that was probably the goal. Job well done.

And in contrast to the offbeat nature of Raphaël Beau’s work, Max Steiner’s compositions have an epic, dramatic feel to them. Fully orchestrated works that, despite their short length, are packed with emotion to rival the works of the classical masters. I mean, what the hell can I say about Max Steiner? The man’s a legend and had an immeasurable impact on how film soundtracks have been composed since he started.

Anyway, Micmacs definitely has a unique and engaging soundtrack. If you like listening to interesting musical scores from movies, then is something you might want to look into. It’s “non-stop madness” and it came out May 25, just a few days before the movie, which comes out tomorrow, May 28.

Purchase the soundtrack to Micmacs by Raphaël Beau & Max Steiner at iTunes or Amazon!

Max Steiner – Ça Cartonne (It Rocks)
Raphaël Beau – Cartoon
Raphaël Beau – Micmacs à la Gare (Micmacs at the Train Station)
Max Steiner & John W. Morgan – L’Homme Canon (The Canon Man)
Raphaël Beau – Train Bleu (Blue Train)

As you can plainly see, the audio files are streaming instead of being available for download. Unfortunately, the submitter asked that I not allow the files to be available for download after I agreed to write about the soundtrack. In the future, I will try to only accept submissions where downloads will be allowed… or if I just really like your music.

Oh, and for some reason, the titles of the tracks that were provided for me are in French even though they will be translated into English for the American soundtrack release. Mais ce n’est pas grave pour moi parce que je suis un demi Fran&ccedillais. By the way, I translated the tracks into English in parentheses.

UPDATE

In the end, I just removed audio files because people were still able to download them even though I tried to make them available as streaming only. If you want to hear samples of the tracks, just go to iTunes or Amazon. I’ll avoid this problem in the future.

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