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Soundtrack review: Effroyables Jardins (Zbigniew Preisner – 2003)

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Soundtrack review: Effroyables Jardins (Zbigniew Preisner – 2003)


“Effroyables Jardins” is a 2003 French movie that I haven’t seen. Zbigniew Preisner’s score’s sound is unmistakable for a a French film. I met this sound last month as well when I was reviewing the Patrick Doyle / Regis Wargnier collaborations. The mood is low key and minimalist, while the music is very beautiful. The score as a whole never really takes off, but maybe it didn’t need to. Maybe it’s supposed to stay in that place, in the background. The only surges are “Arrestation”, which reminded me of Moriconne’s score for “La Piovra”, with the same sharp sound and sense of urgency, and “Un vie pour un vie”. The latter explodes as the only tumultuous cue from “Effroyables jardins”, a whirlwind of piano feelings that make the heart of this score.

The main theme is a beautiful minimalist piano motif which recurs in a few versions. It has a jolly music box sound to it and it is very catchy. I smile when I listen to it, it calls me out to play. I like the three piano variations best. The last one (variation no 3) actually sounds like a game, an improvisation, and the effect is very pleasant. This theme also returns in “Clown” with an even more chiming version.

This is what discovering film scores is all about. The hidden gems, the lovely themes, and if even one is found in a score, that time was well spent. I am leaving “Effroyables jardins” with its simple, playful and infectious piano theme variation still echoing in my ears….

Cue rating: 71/100

Total minutes of excellence: 14/31

Album excellence: 44%

Une vie pour une vie

Effroyables jardins (2e version piano)

Effroyables jardins (3e version piano)

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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