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Homage of the 59th Berlin International to Maurice Jarre

The Homage of the 59th Berlin International Film Festival will be dedicated to Maurice Jarre, the renowned French film composer and winner of multiple Academy Awards. Jarre is considered one of the most important and, at the same time, most popular composers in cinema history. On the occasion of the Homage, Maurice Jarre will be awarded the Honorary Golden Bear for his lifetime achievement on February 12, 2009.

“Film composers often are in the shadows of great directors and acting stars. It’s different with Maurice Jarre; the music of Doctor Zhivago, like much of his work, is world-famous and remains unforgotten in the history of cinema,” says Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlinale.

Jarre`s international breakthrough came in 1962, with his arrangements for David Lean`s desert epos Lawrence of Arabia, which will be shown at Kino International following the Honorary Golden Bear award ceremony on February 12. The film garnered Jarre his first Oscar, and marked the beginning of a decade-long friendship with the director. Jarre`s successful work together with Lean on Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Passage to India (1984) earned him two more Academy Awards. Maurice Jarre also wrote the score for Ryan’s Daughter (David Lean, 1970), which will be shown as part of this year’s Retrospective 70mm – ‘Bigger than Life.’

Born in Lyon in 1924, Maurice Jarre began his musical career with studies in percussion and conducting at the Conservatoire de Paris. He became the musical director of the Théâtre National Populaire in 1950, and composed the orchestra’s music for more than 70 plays, from Shakespeare to Kafka. In 1952, Jarre made his debut as a film score composer for George Franju`s Hôtel des Invalides. By the mid-sixties, Jarre had written the scores of numerous French films before turning his attention to Hollywood.

Over the course of his career, Jarre worked on more than 150 international film productions, including works of such well-known directors as John Frankenheimer, Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Luchino Visconti and Peter Weir.

“Maurice Jarre has created scores for films that imprint themselves deep on our memories. His main connections to German Cinema are his distinctive compositions for Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum,” points out Dr. Rainer Rother, artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, which is in charge of the Homage.

An impressive aspect of Jarre’s long career is the richness of variety in his musical arrangements. While he is well-known for his sweeping symphonic instrumentalizations, he has also worked with small ensembles or with solo instruments. The prominent use of percussions is one of his hallmarks. His use of ethnic instruments and his shift towards electronic music significantly influenced the development of film music and made Jarre a pioneer in the field of score composition.

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