Went to a marvellous French film, ‘Of Gods and Men’. These days I’m often disappointed when I go to the cinema but this was an exception. The film tells the story of a group of Cistercian monks in a small monastery in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria at a time of religious and political upheaval during the 1990s.
At the climax of the film is a wonderful scene when the little group of monks, realising that they are in great peril, eat a ‘last supper’ together in the monastery. Normally they take their meals in silence or to the sound of a reading from the bible, but on this occasion they permit themselves to listen on an old cassette-player to some music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘Swan Lake’. The effect is both bizarre and moving.
At the high point of the scene, the film’s directors made a musical decision which jarred on me as it probably does on all musicians who know Tchaikovsky’s score: they doubled back and repeated a particularly nice musical build-up which Tchaikovsky does not repeat in the original. I was immersed in the story, but the ‘edit point’ jolted me out of my contemplative state – a great shame as the scene was otherwise so mesmerising.