LA VANGUARDIA ESPAÑOLA - Saturday, October 17th, 1998
INTERVIEW to Francis Lai, film music composer
Dignity means that some times you have to reject Commercial Offers"
The composer Francis Lai says that he entered the movie world by random thanks to Pierre Barouh, who introduced him to Claude Lelouch. Since then, this little great man, of disheveled and meager hair, he wanted to replace dialogs by notes and he did, overnight, with success. At his 67 years, he keeps steady in his conviction that dignity means "rejecting commercial offers; when you say no to one it is easier to say no to others."
- It is difficult to understand that a composer with such an extensive résumé never have worked in the USA.
- You know why? Because I'm afraid of planes, even when one of my sons is a pilot. I know it sounds ridiculous and incredible, but this panic, that I can't overcome, has forced me to reject ten years of work in the USA.
I tried several times that they allowed to Write in France the sheets of North American movies, but the syndicates of that country force you to pay again for the composition once you take it there.
- Until which extent the early success in your career thanks to the soundtracks of "Love Story" and "A Man and a Woman" has conditioned your career?
- The positive aspect is that they allow you to be known and they opened the doors to this industry. In France it is difficult to make a hole, because it is a closed world. I was known a bit before thanks to the songs that I composed to Yves Montand and Edith Piaf, but the movie was that elevated me. On the other hand that success conditioned the later demands from directors; they asked that I do again, more or less, the same. That is why I moved away from the easy product.
On photo: Francis Lai receives homage at the Mostra of Valencia
- Finding the right melody to illustrate a movie, is a question of inspiration?
- Sometimes it arrives after months of work, which in my case is like an owl because I spent nights awake waiting to find the answer. At the end, the objective is always the same: to obtain the ambient that the history requires, playing with the notes until, bang, bang, you get the shot that you wanted. It is delicious because the creation has never been mechanic, planned, but the fruit of the moment in which one bring out the best of him.
- Can an actor or actress inspire a score?
- Yes and a lot. In my case, one of the actors that inspired the most has been Jean-Paul Belmondo. In such way that when they tell you that he is going to perform the story they tell you about is easy to write the score. He has talent, personality and a lot of force.
- His talent has been used in equal way in prestige films such as "Masculin fémenin" from Goddard, than by situational products of erotism of the seventies, such as "Emmanuelle II" or "Madame Claude".
- And what does it matter? I assure you that even in those movies the soundtracks have been created with the same interest, capacity and force than in other with prestige.