The song of the forgotten names (2019), by François Girard – Review

The song of the forgotten names closed the San Sebastian Festival and is based on a book of the same name by music critic Norman Lebrecht.

The director, Francois Girard, has studied the function of music from the beginning of his filmography. Like in this movie, I was already following the story of a violin in The red violin (1998), and continued looking for the emotion of the musical language with The chorus (2014).

This film closed the San Sebastian Festival and is based on a book of the same name by music critic Norman Lebrecht. It is measured between a chronicle of events and the chase of a ghost from the past in different parts of Europe, from London to Treblinka.

Tim Roth, one of Tarantino's favorite actors, is the main protagonist of the film, he plays Martin. While the adult Dovidl played by Clive Owen is less lucid. The young version of this character is indeed endearing, despite his feeling of superiority for being a music genius.

Music is one more language and character in the film, which revolves around the strength of its characters, found in belonging to the group, memory and family.

Martin finds clues, like a detective, to meet once again with the missing Dovidl. This search is initially moved by rancor, since this flight caused the death of Martin's father. We know the man behind the mystery, someone tormented who – after forgiving himself – once again embraced his roots and raised a family far from music.

Martin takes him out of this lethargy for a couple of days to collect an outstanding debt: the revelation concert that as a young man he did not do. The philosophy that Dovidl transmits is that you no longer belong as an individual, being part of a religious community you have managed to handle pain and loneliness.

Music is one more language and character in the film, which revolves around the strength of its characters, found in belonging to the group, memory and family. The most moving scenes are those of Dovidl as a young man, trying to overcome the loss. A character contrary to his adult version, sober, serene and unalterable. It is admirable how different scenes of both characters intermingle at different ages over time.

Especially moving are the scenes where this song is performed, containing the names of all the families who perished in the Treblinka concentration camp. Each survivor learned a part of it for all to be remembered, a song that lasts for five days and has been broadcast between religious congregations. The memory of the Shoah.


Synopsis In the midst of the outbreak of World War II, little Dovidl arrived in London as a Jewish refugee from his native Poland. At just 9 years old he is a prodigy of the violin, which fosters his reception in an outstanding British family, who integrates him as one more son and promotes his musical studies.
country Canada
Address François Girard
Script Jeffrey Caine
Music Howard Shore
Photography David Franco
Distribution Clive Owen, Tim Roth, Saul Rubinek, Catherine McCormack, Jonah Hauer-King, Gerran Howell, Stephen Graham, Richard Bremmer, Julian Wadham, Jeffrey Caine, Yank Azman
Gender Drama
Duration 111 min.
Original title The Song of Names
Premiere 03/13/2020

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