Thursday, October 13, 2005

Our Mother's House and The Colour Purple

There is an interesting postscript to my posting on the music for Our Mother's House. Here is James Southall reviewing the CD Music from the Films of Steven Spielberg:
Finally there's The Colour Purple, which featured one of Georges Delerue's most captivating themes, but unfortunately it was actually his theme from Our Mother's House being shamelessly ripped off by Quincy Jones, who got nominated for an Oscar for his plagiarism.
Neil Sinyard, in his book on Jack Clayton, tells the story more generously:
If one notices a distinct similarity between Delerue's main theme and that composed by Quincy Jones for Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985), the reason is that Spielberg had loved both Clayton's film and Delerue's score, and had used Delerue's music as a guide to indicate to Jones the style he wanted. Delerue was rightly to be paid for the influence his score exerted on Jones.
And the booklet which comes with the Our Mother's House CD says:
A two page article in the March 31 , 1986 People magazine covered "Purplegate," asking, "Could a movie celebrating that most musical of peoples - American blacks - really have 'borrowed' music written by a Frenchman for a British Gothic drama?" Delerue - who was himself nominated for an Oscar that year, for Agnes of God - reportedly took the affair in his stride ("He was mostly flattered and bemused as only a Frenchman can be," was the anonymous quotation from a "close associate"), and the matter passed soon enough as John Barry's Out of Africa took home the statuette.
Incidentally, I said in the first post that Delerue's music is only the second instrumental soundtrack I had bought. This is nonsense. As well as the Morricone I also have Michael Nyman's music for The Piano and for Drowning by Numbers, and there may well be others if I bother to look.

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