Sunday, February 6, 2011

Eric Serra - Léon (The Professional) Soundtrack

1994; 24 tracks

French composer Eric Serra's soundtrack to the hauntingly powerful film Léon (The Professional), by Luc Besson, is just as striking as the picture. It opens with the distant sounds of a war marked by corruption, addiction, and the simple filth of humanity. The foreshadowing portrayed by the rueful strings at the very beginning of the soundtrack sets a dark tone for the film, but not an entirely hopeless one.

Ever present in Léon is a mesmerizing rhythm, almost Einstürzende Neubauten-like in atmosphere, that adds an interesting dimension of urban intensity. It does seem like the vibrant rhythm is the background of much of the film - it comes to symbolize the almost ridiculous antics of the film's divinely psychotic villain (who is, strangely, a figure signifying authority and good), Stan Stansfield. Stan claims to like Beethoven and LOVE Mozart, so in the beginning brutal fight scenes, when Stan goes on a destructive rampage, the music builds into a chaotic frenzy as a sort of "overture" to the rest of the film ("Noon" and "Fatman").

As much as Stan is a figure of evil, signifying good, there is a definite force of good in the film, one that is intended to stand for evil. These dissenters are Léon and Mathilda, an unlikely pair who generate an unimaginably innocent relationship out of loneliness and unaffected trust. This purity is clearly seen in the soundtrack by songs such as "Ballad for Mathilda," "She is Dead," and "Cute Name," which are all my favorites. They are tenderly beautiful, contrasting greatly with the more dark and primitive tracks.

With the more industrial tracks on the soundtrack, I am reminded of a particular level on Crash Bandicoot called "Generator Room." I don't know why. The saxophones and droning bass notes also contribute to a jazzy, 90s feel. The more I listen to the soundtrack to Léon, I am reminded of Badalamenti's score to The City of Lost Children, which I love with all my heart. French film scores ftw.



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