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The Music and Sound From Sorrentino’s Film ‘Youth’

One of the most striking things about a Paolo Sorrentino film is the music.

Born in Naples, Sorrentino began making films in the mid 90’s. I first came across him with his film Il Divo – a story about the controversial Italian politician Guilio Andreotti. It won the “Prix du Jury” at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008.

In 2014 The Great Beauty won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film along with a Golden Globe, and it was nominated for the Palme d’Or.

Caine plays Fred Ballinger, a retired Orchestra Conductor holidaying in the Swiss Alps. (image via Screenshot/YouTube)

Caine plays Fred Ballinger, a retired orchestra conductor holidaying in the Swiss Alps. (Image: MediaJor via Screenshot/YouTube)

Fellini’s influence is felt in Sorrentino’s films, they are a kind of magic with grand themes, and the music to back them.

In the featured video, it looks at the sound and music to Sorrentino’s most recent film Youth (2015).

Sound can be a very powerful narrative element in a film…

Soprano Sumi Jo singing 'Simple Song.' (Image via Screenshot/YouTube)

Soprano Sumi Jo singing ‘Simple Song.’ (Image: MediaJor via Screenshot/YouTube)

He also speaks about his reasons for choosing Oscar winning composer David Lang to do the score.

“…I immediately thought of David Lang because he is a contemporary musician, able to compose both sublime and accessible music. I thought he would be the best composer for this type of film, and the character of Fred.”

Lena Ballinger, Fred's daughter is played by Rachel Weisz. (Image via Screenshot/YouTube)

Lena Ballinger, Fred’s daughter, is played by Rachel Weisz. (Image: MediaJor via Screenshot/YouTube)

Youth is about a retired orchestra conductor, Fred Ballinger, (played by Michael Caine) who is on holiday with his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and his film director best friend (Harvey Kietel) in the Alps. Fred receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip’s birthday, and continues to turn down the invitation.

The film has strong supporting performances from Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) and Jane Fonda who plays Brenda Morel, an aging superstar who was once the muse to Harvey Keitel’s character Mick Boyle.

Music is constantly in Fred's life as a memory of who he was and how he compares that to the type of person he is now. (Image via Screenshot/YouTube)

Music is constantly in Fred’s life as a memory of who he was, and how he compares that to the type of person he is now. (Image: MediaJor via Screenshot/YouTube)

We are also treated to the Grammy Award winning South Korean lyric coloratura soprano based in Rome, Sumi Jo, as she performs in one of the emotional highlights of the film.

The film, as the title suggests, is about youth. Composer David Lang says: “I think everyone in the film is struggling with that issue in a different way, or engaging with that issue in a different way.”

Fred contemplates life’s wisdom gained, lost and remembered. (Image via Screenshot/YouTube)

Fred contemplates life’s wisdom gained, lost, and remembered. (Image: MediaJor via Screenshot/YouTube)

Listen to the full “music and sound” video to hear the composer talk about how the entire emotional life of the main character, Fred was played out for the film in a song he composed specifically for it before the script was finished. In the video, Sumi Jo also expresses how it felt to sing the song “Simple Songs,” for the film.

According to indiewire, when Lang presented his last demo of “Simple Songs,” Sorrentino replied with: “David, I am crying.”

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