Saturday, June 01, 2013

Song for Marion / Unfinished Song

Laulu Marionille / En sång för Marion. GB/DE © 2012 Steel Mill Pictures. EX: Christian Angermayer, Marc Hansell, Sean Kelly, Tara Moross, Alistair Ross, Ricky Sans, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein. P: Ken Marshall, Philip Moross. D+SC: Paul Andrew Wiliams. DP: Carlos Catalán - camera: Arricam LT - negative format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 200T 5213, Vision3 500T 5219). PD: Sophie Becher. AD: Keith Slote. Set dec: Stella Fox. Cost: Jo Thompson. Makeup: Lucy Cain. M: Laura Rossi. S: Srdjan Kurpjel. ED: Dan Farrell. Casting: Buffy Hall, Vicky Wildman. C: Vanessa Redgrave (Marion), Terence Stamp (Arthur), Gemma Arterton (Elizabeth), Christopher Eccleston (James), Orla Hill (Jennifer), Anne Reid (Brenda). Loc: Newcastle upon Tyne. 93 min. Released by Scanbox Finland Oy with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Nina Ekholm. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 3, Helsinki, 1 June 2013

From the pressbook: "Academy Award-winner Vanessa Redgrave and Academy Award nominee Terence Stamp lead the cast of Song for Marion, a deeply touching, funny and uplifting British comedy drama that is as heart breaking as it is heart warming."


"A grumpy old man learns to love life again after joining his ill wife’s unconventional community choir."

Short Synopsis

"A feel-good, heartwarming story about how music can inspire you. Song for Marion stars Terence Stamp as Arthur, a grumpy pensioner who can’t understand why his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) would want to embarrass herself singing silly songs with her unconventional local choir. But choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) sees something special in the reluctant Arthur and refuses to give up on him. As she coaxes him out of his shell, Arthur realizes that it is never too late to change and, aged 70, Arthur finally dares to unlock his emotions and reach out to his estranged son, James (Christopher Eccleston)."

Director's Statement
Paul Andrew Williams
The motivation behind this project

""Song for Marion" is an incredibly affecting project and possibly the most personal script I've written. Not because the characters are all relatable to me, (some aspects in the film certainly), but the fact that I have tried to make elements of the film personal to everyone. Ever since I started writing I have always tried to bring truth and the natural complexity of human nature to my characters, never more so than now."

"I often wondered what would make a tough old man, come out of their shell and be prepared to open oneself up. A father and grandfather who is grumpy and difficult and hard to extract emotion from. What makes a certain generation unhappy unless they are being unhappy or making everyone else unhappy?"

"To have emotions buried inside, with the ability to see life a bit brighter, so I wanted to explore what would bring it all out."

"The film hints at the relationship between my grandfather and grandmother, the love and duty of their generation and how the working-class "normal person" deals with emotion, loneliness and loss. And how, maybe, by the end they could possibly come out of it all, with a smile and a dance."

"My Grandfather, loved my Gran. In fact I would say she was the one positive thing in his life that had any effect on him. He would do anything for her, and she for him. She accepted him for all his moaning and bitterness because she could see that underneath it all, he was a good man. He had taken care of her, been there for her, made her laugh and every now and again dipped his toe into romance for her."

"When she got every type of cancer she could, he looked after her, nursed her and loved her with something totally unconditional. When she eventually died, he was in great pain and for the first time in his life he sobbed and sobbed and sobbed."

"I was inspired by seeing how my grandfather cared for my grandmother, the sacrifices he made, and the effect of the hammer blow of losing someone you've spent every night with for fifty years. And how the fear of admitting one's frailties or needs, can eat someone up and destroy those around them."

"Perhaps, with a troubled father son relationship, like Arthur and James, once the one thing that they both did love had gone, would they crumble and give up? Or could there be something that might force them to change their outlook on life, and want to be better? Perhaps a group of old, unashamed pensioners dancing round the room like kids and singing at the top of their voices..."

OAP = Old Age Pensioners.

The starting-point is the same as in Michael Haneke's Amour, and in both films music is essential, but the approach is diametrically opposite in this feelgood entertainment movie. Yet both are about what it really means to love "for better or for worse" during the final months of a terminal illness.

Song for Marion is a comedy, and the best and the most daring comedy grows from serious themes. Here the themes include death (of Marion) and solitude (of her widow Arthur).

The old age pensioners refuse to become gloomy, and instead they start to sing improbable songs introduced into their choir repertory by the inspired music teacher Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). Songs like "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life", "The Ace Of Spades", "Let's Talk About Sex", and "Love Shack".

The psychology in these surprising selections is profound and makes sense. Near death you want to celebrate life.

For any blues fan there is no discrepancy of old age pensioners singing songs like this. We think about John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters.

The highlights of the movie are the two solos. Vanessa Redgrave gets to sing "True Colors" (quite differently than Cyndi Lauper). In the conclusion Terence Stamps gets his solo, singing Billy Joel's "Lullaby (Good Night, My Angel)". There is an American bias in the song selection.

The name is Song for Marion, but the film is really the story of Arthur, an emotionally challenged man (the Finnish word is tunnevammainen) who commits every possible blunder with the choir members, Marion's friends, the choirmaster Elizabeth, and his own son James whom he keeps insulting. Arthur only manages to connect with his granddaughter (in a memorable scene he is chased away from the playground, believed to be who knows what). Beneath his gruff conduct his devotion for Marion is unconditional.

The father's howl beyond the door after the death of Marion is the most touching scene of the movie.

The performances and the song numbers are impressive. 

Unfortunately questions of style remain. At times the approach is predictable, patronizing, mawkish, and mushy. There core of the movie is firm, but a heavy sugar-coating (a Weinstein touch?) weakens the impact.

The movie has been shot on 35 mm photochemical film, and the digital intermediate has been conducted so well that I was not able to tell the difference.

Songs arranged by Laura Rossi

Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel)
Ode to Joy
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Songs arranged by Richard Scott
Nowhere To Run
The Ace of Spades
Let's Talk About Sex
True Colours
Love Shack
Ain't Nobody

Musical Tutor for Vanessa Redgrave Mike Outram

Musical Tutor for Terence Stamp and Gemma
Arterton Laura Rossi

Score produced by Laura Rossi
Score performed by The Chamber Orchestra of London

Solo Musicians
Leader Janice Graham
Piano Philip Moore
Cello Tim Hugh
Guitar Mike Outram

Musicians contracted by Gareth Griffiths
Cool Music Ltd
Music conducted and Orchestrated by Alastair King
Music Copyist Simon Whiteside
Score Recorded and Mixed at British Grove Studios
Score Engineered and Mixed by Jonathan Allen
Assistant Engineer Martin Hollis

Music Editors Andy Glen
Robin Morrison

Choir Arranger Richard Scott

Backworth Male Voice Choir
Tyneside Ladies Barbershop Harmony
Caedmon Choir
Sing Live
Hexham Opheus Choir
Prudhoe Gleemen

Additional Song Recording
Music Director Terry Davies
Vocal Contractor Rob Johnston for RSVP Voices
Guitar and Bass Guitar Mike Outram
Drums John Blease
Recorded by Nick Taylor
Recorded at Air-Edel Recording Studios

‘The Most Beautiful Girl’
Performed by Charlie Rich
Written by Rory Bourke, Billy Sherrill and Norris
Wilson © 1973
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Inc

Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by Thomas Decarlo Callaway, (CA)/ Brian Joseph Burton, (CA)/ Gianfranco
Reverberi, (CA), Gian Piero Reverberi (CA)
(C) 2006 Warner/Chapell Music Publishing
Ltd (PRS),
All Rights Reserved
Published by Universal Music Publishing
Ricordi Srl
Published by Chrysalis Music LTD (c) 2006.
Used with permission. All Rights reserved

“Nowhere To Run”
Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland and Edward Holland Jr. © 1965
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd. / Jobete Music Co. Inc.

“Opera Of Love”
Performed by Those Reigning Days
Words and Music Daniel Steer
c 2012 Daniel Steer
p Ecco Recordings

“You Are The Sunshine Of My Life"
Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by Stevie Wonder © 1972
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd. / Jobete Music Co. Inc.

“Let’s Talk About Sex”
Performed by Salt-N-Pepa
Written by Herbie Azor (CA)
Performed by Salt-N-Pepa
C) 1990 WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) and Sons of K-oss Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
All Rights Administered by WB Music Corp.
All Rights Reserved
Courtesy of London Records (US)
Under licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd

"All These Years"
Performed by The Perishers
Written by Paul Osborne, Spencer Chisham, Torq Pagdin
Published by Copyright Control
Master recording courtesy of The Perishers

“Ace Of Spades”
Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by Edward Alan Clarke, Ian Kilmister and Philip John Taylor © 1980
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.

“Let’s Talk About Sex”
Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by Herbie Azor (CA)C) 1990 WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) and Sons of K-oss Music,

“True Colours”
Performed by Vanessa Redgrave
Words & Music by Tom Kelly/Billy Steinberg
Published by Sony/ATV Tunes LLC

“Ain’t Nobody”
Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by David Wolinski © 1983
Published by EMI Music Publishing (WP) Ltd.

“Something’s Got A Hold On Me”
Performed by Etta James
Written by Etta james, Leroy Kirkland and Pearl Woods © 1962
Published by EMI Music Publishing (WP) Ltd.
Courtesy of MCA Records Inc
Under licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd

"How Do You Speak To An Angel"
Performed by Terence Stamp
Words by Bob Hilliard Music by Jule Styne
©Copyright Better Half Music Co (ASCAP)
and (C) 1952 Stratford Music Corporation (ASCAP)
All Rights on behalf of Stratford Music Corporation
Administered by Chappell & Co.,Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Copyright Renewed
All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured

"Mohair Sam”
Performed by Charlie Rich
Words & Music by Dallas Frazier
Published by Sony/ATV Tree Publishing
Courtesy of Island Def Jam Music Group
Under licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd

‘The Most Beautiful Girl’
Performed by Terence Stamp and Gemma Arterton
Written by Rory Bourke, Billy Sherrill and Norris Wilson © 1973
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.

Performed by The Perishers
Written by Paul Osborne, Spencer Chisham, Torq Pagdin
Published by Copyright Control
Master recording courtesy of The Perishers

“Love Shack”
Performed by The OAP’Z
Written by Fred Schneider III, Keith Strickland and Cynthia Wilson © 1989
Published by EMI Music Publishing Inc.

“Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)”
Performed by Terence Stamp
Written by Billy Joel © 1993
Published by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.

"Unfinished Songs"
Performed by Celine Dion
Written by Diane Warren
Published by Realsongs
(ASCAP)Produced by Kyle Townsend
Track and background vocal engineered by Mario Luccy at Realsongs
Celine Dion's vocal engineered by Francois Lalonde and Mark Everton Gray at
Studio at the Palms
Celine Dion's vocal recorded at Studio at the Palms
Background vocal by Jessi Collins at Realsongs
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc.

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