My interest in Depardieu began with a viewing of "Le Pacte du Silence" a psychologically gripping film with this underlying message: There are two sides to every secret, especially when the truth behind the secret is a lie. In this movie Depardieu plays Doctor Joachim Ferrer, a Jesuit priest devoted to a life of service for the church while seeking refuge from a violent past.
Searching for Gerard Depardieu films on a regular basis causes my daughter, Sarah, to stifle giggles; her mother has reverted to adolescent behavior. A few days ago, I struck gold when I laid eyes on Alain Corneau's 1991 film "Tous les matins du monde" on the return video cart. Although "All the World's Mornings" was one of the most celebrated motion pictures to explore the art of music, I wasn't aware of its existence. I glanced at the cover while fingering Depardieu's name, then clutched the DVD and headed straight for the check out.
Set in seventeenth-century France, "All the World's Mornings," based on the short novel by Pascal Quignard, weaves a tale around the life of composer and viol player Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, a solitary widower and musical genius who rejects the king's invitation to be a court musician. He chooses, instead, a reclusive life dedicated to the service of music, and the upbringing of his two young daughters. He lives in a hut on a remote country farm. The private, ghostly visitations of Sainte-Colombe's deceased wife, as she sits by a candlelit table topped with a flask of wine, urging her husband to write his compositions down in a manuscript book bound in Moroccan red leather while he plays the viol, enables the onlooker to sense the timeless communal bond transmitted between souls through music.
You know the correct position of the body.Your ornaments are ingenious and sometimes charming. But I did not hear any music. The master continues. You could be a help in the dancing of people who dance. You could accompany actors who sing on the stage. You will earn a living.You will live surrounded by music but you will not be a musician. Have you a feeling heart? Have you a thinking brain?
What unfolds in the narrative is a relationship fraught with conflict and rivalry, complicated by the young Marin Marais' passionate love affair with one of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe's daughters.
An opening shot of the film is sustained for an amazing six minutes on Marin Marais (Depardieu) now powdered, bewigged and elderly (but still, in my eyes, handsome) as a court musician in Versailles, while he reflects in a remorseful tone of voice reminiscences about his beloved teacher, now dead:
I had a teacher and the shadows took him. He was all austerity and rage, as mute as a fish. I am an impostor. He was Music.
But, alas, the specter of Saint-Colombe appears in the doorway, and reassures Marais:
I was proud to have been your teacher.
"Tous les matins du monde" is a profound meditation on the sacred relationship between master and student on a quest to discover and attain the highest realm of music. The shadows took Sainte-Colombe, as his student recalls, in the sense that we are left without knowledge of when or where the composer died but, thankfully, we do have many of his compositions, as featured by Catalan viol player Jordi Savall, the King of Spain on the film. Savall's performance throughout the movie bathes the listener in a wash of dreamy sonority. To hear the beauty of Savall's tone and interpretative style of works by composers Sainte-Colombe and Marais on the soundtrack of "Tous les matins du monde" is a lesson in itself.
This is one DVD that I will have to purchase and own before returning it to the library; another life-long friend.
Illustrations: Cover of All the World's Mornings
Painting of Marin Marais
Painting of Marin Marais