May 20, 2015 / 5:17 PM / 5 years ago

"Candy-wrapper music" hits sweet spot in Cannes "Youth" movie

CANNES, France, May 20 (Reuters) - American composer David Lang has written what he calls “candy-wrapper music” for the Cannes competition film “Youth” in which Michael Caine plays a retired musician wrestling with old age.

It won’t win him another Pulitzer Prize, the award he got in 2008 for his haunting “Little Match Girl Passion”, and the music he composed for the film’s candy wrapper scenes wasn’t even used.

Instead, the film by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino has occasional scenes with scratchy sounds and a catchy rhythm that come from Caine’s character scrunching up a candy wrapper in a very deliberate way and manipulating it back and forth in his fingers.

“Youth”, which is competing for the main Cannes Palme d’Or prize, has Caine playing Fred Ballinger, a retired composer and conductor taking a holiday at a posh resort in Davos, Switzerland.

Lang, who gets the music credit for the film, said he had actually composed music for the candy-wrapper scenes, although what he wrote in the end was not used.

“Let’s just say I wrote a lot of different versions of candy-wrapper music and we had many, many discussions about what kind of candy it should be,” Lang said after a screening of the film on Wednesday.

He said he’d “auditioned” many different candy wrappers to find the one that was “most sonorous” but could not remember which one had finally been selected.

He credited the director Sorrentino, who got to know of Lang by using his music in “La grande bellezza” (The Great Beauty), which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, for having a wonderful musical sensibility.

“He loves music, he’s very musical, ‘The Great Beauty’ has an incredible score,” Lang said about working with Sorrentino for the new film.

“When talking to him about it, it was very clear that music was part of the organising principle of the film.”

On behalf of the movie’s fictional composer, Lang wrote a piece called “Simple Songs” which is performed by soprano Sumi Jo, violinist Viktoria Mullova and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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