Bela Lugosi’s Dead – a fantastic beginning to one of the best vampire films ever: The Hunger.
In 2006, while in Brisbane for a conference, I spotted a music shop and went rummaging, and a CD of Schubert Piano Sonatas Nos 19 & 21 played by Sviatoslav Richter caught my eye. I love a lot of Schubert’s music, and Sviatoslav Richter is one of my favourite pianists, so I would have been interested anyway. What made the purchase inevitable, however, is that shortly before then I had been reading something (or listening to someone) saying that Schubert saw himself as the responsible successor to Beethoven.
So, I yielded to curiosity, and I do love these sonatas, but what thrilled me beyond measure was that I had inadvertently discovered a piece of music I’d wanted for years.
I love Tony Scott’s film The Hunger (based, of course, on The Hunger). Tony Scott knows how to use music in films. Quentin Tarantino also (I love the Kill Bill CDs and have recently been playing the Pulp Fiction soundtrack in the car), and Sally Potter (Orlando and, especially, The Man Who Cried).
But The Hunger… huge influence on my music collection, starting with Lakme by Delibes (previously I hadn’t been into opera at all), Allegri’s Miserere (which I loved until I heard an English translation one day and got upset with the religious sentiments) and Bach’s Cello Suites (that one section used in the film being achingly beautiful).
But those piano trios… What were they? It was years before I discovered they were Schubert’s Piano Trios. I can’t remember whether I found the Lalo piece that Alice plays when she is killed. The piano piece that Catherine Deneuve plays is Ravel’s Le Gibet, which was, I think, credited… not sure, but I found that one early on.
But there’s another piano piece that you hear in the film and it haunted me for nearly twenty years, and it’s the Andante Sostenuto from Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 21. It’s one of those pieces that always makes me want to cry, like Je crois encore entendre from Bizet’s Pearl Fishers (used so brilliantly by Sally Potter in The Man Who Cried).
Thinking about Susan Sarandon… One of my all-time favourite film scenes is when she plays the cello in The Witches of Eastwick (interesting book also) and finally releases her passion into the playing while Jack Nicholson’s horny little devil crashes chords into the piano. The cello bursts into flame as she escapes her emotional chains and the orchestra takes over Dvorak’s beautiful cello concerto…