I recently went out to see a few old films, notably Trois Couleurs directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski; a trilogy of films corresponding to the colors of the French flag. Rouge and Blanc were OK, but I put my main focus on Bleu. It wasn’t the movie alone that grabbed my attention, but the music- a soundtrack by Zbigniew Preisner. I cried almost every time I heard just one glimmer of the oboe. The music compliments the life of the main character, Julie, played by Juliette Binoche.
Julie’s family dies in a car accident and she is the only one to survive. Her husband was a famous composer who was in the middle of writing a piece called “Song for the Unification of Europe.” He never gets to finish the piece and Julie makes sure no one ever does. After the funeral, she is whisked away to her home in the country where she decides to abandon everything she has known of her life with her husband and her daughter. She sells the house, the farm, and burns all of his manuscripts. She moves away from the small town and into a small city. She cuts off contact to everyone she knows and makes friends with her neighbors living near her new home. Of course this movie wouldn’t be tragic without the occasional haunting from the dead. Every so often, Julie hears the melodies from her husband’s symphonic piece. It was only at the end of the movie that Julie realizes how important her husband’s music was to him.
Through the film, she never cries. She has moments of sadness where she would hide her face away, and she makes lavish scenes to forget about her life, her husband and his music, but she never cries. I tell you this because it puts new emphasis on the power of music. It’s not just the song, but also the ability to incase a vision or a memory from our pasts. There is no ways around the insatiable thirst for memory. We connect everything to something else in our lives. Whether it is a keepsake, a photo, or a song, there is some memory attached it.
Scientists say that a person remembers a moment in their life from the exact smell. From one scent of perfume, you can remember the girl that broke your heart forever. From one smell of a home-baked cookie, you could instantly be cast away into your mother’s kitchen. It is a gland within the innermost part of your nose that tracts back to memory skills. It can make you cry, make you laugh, or make you terrified. It all depends on the memory. For me, I believe that this theory can be applied to any of the five senses. You will always remember the feeling of your first kiss, the first bite of chocolate cake, and most importantly, the one song that will keep you from listening to it.
Julie was haunted by her husband’s music. There would be no music playing throughout her daily routine, but something would remind her of her husband and the tune would play its lingering tune. It wasn’t fear of the song that she hid from, but the fear of remembering the tragic accident. Just like anyone else, the music strikes an indescribable chord within the human soul.
A good friend of mine suffered from panic attacks a year ago. She couldn’t breathe or smile or work through the day. She cried daily and avoided anything that would cause her to cry. One of these things was music: her only lifeline. Music made her dance, sing, laugh, and most importantly cry. She stopped listening to her favorite bands and she shelved her iPod. She desperately wanted to be happy again. I did my best to make her feel better, but her attacks became as long as the days in the summer. Within her depressed period, there was the opportunity to go to see Sigur Ros. It was among one of her favorite bands and on her banned list of music. I persuaded her to buy a ticket but her reluctant attitude kept her a little timid a few weeks before the show.
Eventually, she decided not to go. I gave her and my ticket to my friend in order to show her my support. He cried throughout the whole show. The beauty of the music could only bring sorrow to my friend. Luckily, her attacks subsided and she lives a little happier. She even returned to her favorite bands. She doesn’t remember a painful memory but rather a sensation she didn’t want to feel anymore. She was Julie.
A sad song is like baggage. It is a bundle of emotions trying to find release into the openness of free expression. It is the fire in which a tortured person must be able to fuel. Just like Julie in the movie, a person can be caught between letting the song go and letting it linger on. The human mind is capable of so much and one of those things is to feel. To feel is to be alive and the only way to make other people see how one feels is to show it.
Numbness disappears and only the follies of a regretful life flourish among the notes and chords. And like the flutes within Julie’s song, the music will come to a sad but happy ending.