Do You Think This is Just Any DVD?
by Christopher Coleman
One of the most celebrated directors of the last 50 years has been David Lean - and most deservingly so. The visionary director will long be remembered and honored for his epic works: THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, and A PASSAGE TO INDIA. His films have stood the test of time and remain awe-inspiring to this day. The name, "Maurice Jarre" became inexorably connected to the David Lean with their first collaborative effort of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA back in 1961. Beyond co-workers, Lean and Jarre became great friends. Only a few weeks after the after the world lost the great director in 1991, Maurice Jarre conducted the ROYAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA in a concert-tribute to his friend. Now, some fifteen years after this live concert was recorded, MILAN RECORDS, releases a two-disc special edition DVD + compact disc set entitled, MAURICE JARRE: A TRIBUTE TO DAVID LEAN.
My review here covers the release as a whole, both the DVD featuring the live concert and the CD which features an audio- only recording of the same concert. Before covering the concert itself, there are a few additional features included on the DVD that deserve mentioning. Now, what I personally dove into before anything else was the interview with MAURICE JARRE. The brief interview is conducted in French (which makes it feel much longer than its 35 minute run time), but it does offer English subtitles. In it, Jarre shares about his beginnings with Lean all the way to his final conversation with director only 3 days before Lean's death. He goes on to talk about some of his unique choices in instrumentation and ground-breaking employment of synthesizers and how Lean influenced him in that regard. The interview does end a little abruptly...which left me wanting more, so I quickly navigated to the concert recording with Maurice Jarre's audio commentary turned on.
On the DVD and CD, each performed selection was specifically arranged by Jarre for this concert. He uniquely edits highlights, which average about 10 minutes each, from four seminal collaborations between himself and the director. On the DVD, as each suite is performed we get to view Jarre's selected images from the films, intercut with shots of Jarre himself, the orchestra, and occasional wideshots of the audience. The edited footage from the films was a nice visual tribute to David Lean, yet Jarre's evocative music is really all that is needed to recall the vivid images they were originally set to.