Film scores

Soundtrack review: Words and pictures (Paul Grabowsky – 2015)

I was not familiar with Paul Grabowsky before hearing “Words and pictures” but the first impression was very good. This score had me from hello, that is, from its “Opening titles”. A light tango, a few chimes and a touch of flute made me think of French or Italian movies. I guess it’s a sound right at the edge of simple and sophisticated that I always associate with some European movies. I can almost see the canals of Venice when this score starts.

Yeah so there’s flute in this one. I like hearing the innocence and sensitivity of the flute in a film score. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a score where there was a flute. I guess it’s like looking at a small child…you can’t not smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside when you look at it, it’s a natural and almost mechanical reaction. Same with the flute. The sound of the flute is like a butterfly flying randomly through the scene and making everything look and sound just a little better and brighter. And there’s flute in “Words and pictures” and it comes and goes just like that butterfly. If you blink you might lose it but it will return and it will make you smile.

“Words and pictures” is a very gentle score. That’s the feeling I get from almost every cue. The music is soft and round and smooth to touch. It doesn’t impose and it’s never sharp or abrasive. It flows like honey, just thick and sweet enough to matter. I really like the feeling this composition gives me. It is warm and kind and I want to keep listening to the story Paul Grabowsky is telling me. If I close my eyes I can imagine I’m in the park on a breezy summer afternoon right in front of the pavilion where the orchestra is playing. It’s the king of music that follows you as if to add a little magic to that day so when you’ll look back on it you’ll have an easy time remembering it…Even of I walk away from that pavilion the echo of the music is still there and makes me feel grateful for the beautiful day.

The movie is a about a duel between two teachers and their students who want to decide whether words or pictures are more important. It’s a fun situation to be in…to write about the music of a film about a duel between words and pictures. I think, in this case, the music wins. The score never pretends to be more than it is and I am sure it let’s the viewer focus more on what’s going on in the movie.

“I am a small poem” is the standout cue for me. The emotion of the score springs from this cue and it feels like something you could play when putting your child to bed, probably after that lovely day spend in the park. “Words and pictures” ends up feeling just like that day. A normal carefree summer’s day with just enough magic in it to turn it into a memory…

Cue rating: 83 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 6 / 27

Album excellence: 23%

Highlights:

Opening Titles

Frustration

I Am A Small Poem (Instrumental)

Together?

About the author

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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