Tag Archives: betty blue

What’s the Score?


I was listening to Radio 5 t’other day and film critic Mark Kermode was giving a whippersnapper some advice on the best music scores in films.

Of course, all the movies Kermode picked were complete pants. But it did get me pondering how crucial a soundtrack is to a film. And, when done correctly, can infinitely improve a movie from great – to masterpiece.

So, here are my top five. Actually, there are six. Because I couldn’t decide which one of these to leave out.

First up is Betty Blue. Composed by Gabriel Yared and directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix.

 

Next up, Paris, Texas. Composed by Ry Cooder, directed by Wim Wenders.

 

These aren’t in any particular order, by the way. Next is The Piano. Composed by Michael Nyman and directed by Jane Campion.

 

Who could forget The Soggy Bottom Boys? This classic from O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?. Composed by T Bone Burnett, directed by the Coen Brothers.

Aimee Mann isn’t actually credited as the composer of Magnolia. But apart from a Supertramp song at the end, the entire soundtrack is by her. Directed by P.T. Anderson.

I couldn’t resist popping in another masterpiece by Michael Nyman. This time for The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, directed by Peter Greenaway.
All absolutely brilliant movies and worth checking out.
I’m sure there are many more I could’ve chosen. The Godfather springs to mind, as does Jaws.
All alternative suggestions welcome.

 

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Things for which I am grateful #275 – Betty Blue


Or, to give it its French title, 37˚2 le matin. (Which, presumably, should be 37.2˚ le matin. Sorry for being an English pedant.)

Which, apparently, is the normal body temperature for a pregnant woman in the morning.

 

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So what’s it all about? Well, Betty, played by the enigmatic Béatrice Dalle, is as mad as a box of frogs. Why a box of frogs are mad, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because (understandably) they are cooped up in a box. Or maybe it is because the actual concept of frogs in a box is absurd. Why not kittens or dogs? Well, I imagine the former would be quite cute, rather than mad. In fact, I’ve probably seen a video of a box of kittens on YouTube. And a box of dogs would be impractical, as one would need a very large box. Perhaps a ginormous box of elephants would be a better simile? Except, somehow, it’s just not quite as funny as a box of frogs. Monkeys could work.

Whatever the origins of the simile, it does little to rid mental illness of its stigma. So, for that, I apologise. (But, she is.)

Betty and Zorg are young lovers. Laid-back Zorg is perfectly played by Jean-Hughes Anglade. He works as a handyman for a beach shack owner and all is well when Betty first moves in with him. Until she finds his hidden manuscript and can’t understand why he doesn’t want more from life.

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She takes matters into her own hands, (after being sexually assaulted by the shack owner), and promptly burns down their house. The pair head off to Paris to stay with a friend where Betty types up Zorg’s ‘masterpiece’ and sends it to publishers. Zorg takes it on himself to hide his rejection letters so’s not to upset Betty. She eventually finds one and takes her revenge on the man who sent it.

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They move to an idyllic rural town to run their friend’s piano shop. It’s here that Betty finds out she’s pregnant – much to the delight of them both. It’s not long after that she finds out she has lost the baby, (or isn’t pregnant – I can’t quite recall). But the news breaks her heart and she self-harms in a most horrific way.

As a result of her extreme actions she is catatonic and hospitalised. And that’s about as far as I can take it without spoiling the ending.

It’s a heartbreaking masterpiece of love, mental illness, unfulfilled dreams and what a partner of a person suffering from such an illness will go through to empathise and help care for her.

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If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to do so. And if you have, watch it again. (I watched it again this week after almost 30 years and, what it reinforced to me, was the power of loving commitment – no matter what.)

It’s written and directed by Jean-Jaques Beineix and has an inspirational and mesmerising soundtrack by Gabriel Yared. (See clip below.)

 

 

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My top 10 (make that 12) love films of all time.


Okay, call me an old softy.

Here’s my top ten. ‘Twas a tough decision. A few classics didn’t make the cut.

If there are any you haven’t seen, check them out, you won’t be disappointed.

Have I missed your favourite? Feel free to participate.

Wings of desire, wim wenders

#1 My all-time favourite by Wim Wenders
about an Angel who falls in love with a trapeze artist.

Betty Blue

#2 Betty Blue. About a laid back wannabe writer
who falls in love with a complete fruit cake.

The English Patient

#3 Ralph goes to extraordinary lengths to get back to his injured lover.
(Even doing a deal with the enemy.)

The hairdresser's husband

#4 Dad-dancing Antoine has a bit of a fetish for hairdressers.

True Romance

#5 by the late Tony Scott. Clarence takes us on a whirlwind romance across the States.
Full of gangsters, pimps, drugs, blood and bullets.

Les amants du pont-neuf

#6 Juliette Binoche at her finest. Vagrants fall in love too, you know.

Il postino, pablo neruda

#7 A postie enlists the help of poet, Pablo Neruda, to woo the girl of his dreams.

Amelie

#8 Who could forget the innocent magic of Audrey Tautou?

#9 A princess in disguise takes to the streets of Rome
guided by a trickster journalist.

Wall-e

#10 Yes, you read it right. The charming trash collecting robot falls for hi-tech probe, Eve. Bit like your 1987 Nokia falling in love with an iPhone 5.

Addendum: A friend reminded me of this one. Another brilliant movie by Wim Wenders, starring Harry Dean Stanton and Natasha Kinski. I know that makes 11. But it’s my blog and if you can’t do what you want in your own world then I don’t know where you can.

paris texas, wim wenders

10a, the only movie where the soundtrack (Ry Cooder) is as good as the film.

Dagnabbit. I forgot about The Piano by Jane Campion. Okay, I’ll swap Roman Holiday for this one.

10b. Perhaps the only other movie to feature a soundtrack (Michael Nyman) as good as the film itself.

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