Music For A French Animated Film Release

The Black Pharaoh, The Savage, and the Princess is a new animated feature from writer-director Michel Ocelot (Kirikou) one of the French masters of this genre of filmmaking. Here he explores three different tales from Sudan, Medieval France, and 18th Century Turkey in often colorful imagery. After appearing at a few festivals this Fall, the film was released at the end of October in France (no current US release/streaming date as of this writing). The score is from composer Pascal Le Pennec who has worked on a number of shorts and features over the past decade and a half (Cache, Cache; Louise By the Shore). The score was recorded with the Orchestre de National Bretagne and is available as a digital download.


A melancholy gentle harp idea opens the release in “Les amoreux de Koush”. A bit more dissonance appears then in “Au pays de Khnoum” and the style provides a modernist chamber ensemble feel (with some quite wonderful responses from the soloists in the orchestra). Small cells are repeated as Le Pennec then also adds slight color shifts in a semi-Impressionist style (a blend of Satie with perhaps a little Prokofiev). There are slight colors for Isis and Sekhmet as well that add a Middle-Eastern feel. A slight flute thematic thread is added in “Soumettez-vous” as well. A recessed choral sound is added to the mysterious “Sacre du Pharaon noir”. A brief, folkish children’s song is introduced in “Giroflee, Girofla” (revealing some of the theme’s origins). “Les cles” adds harpsichord to create a more bizarre color to the texture in a track that is overall a bit darker. Brass then appear in “Marche au supplice” which continues this color shift within the orchestral writing. “Les moines de Saint-Alyre” presents us with an ancient, modal organ piece. A fun blend of orchestral bells and piano moves us into “Le Moucharabieh” and “Musique d’activitie” with a bit of comedic styling and instrumental interplay. Another beautiful moment is the vocalise that appears in “Chant d’amour” which has an added Middle Eastern mystique. The final track provides a bit bigger orchestral statement with some equally neat little percussion and instrumental sounds adding to the uniqueness of the score and revisiting some of the ideas from earlier.


Le Pennec’s music offers some interesting colorful brushstrokes of its own that provide engaging lyric lines and some dramatic posturing to add a bit of forward motion. The harp adds a delicate quality to much of the first story’s music. The sound of the score has a chamber quality that creates an intimate backdrop. Interesting shifts in instrumentation equally enhance the musical ideas here as well. Worth exploring for those interested in music that hearkens a bit back to the early days of cinema scoring with interesting orchestral colors as well.

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