The Need For Speed

Five years later after turning the international film community “breathless,” Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg reteamed for Jean Becker’s delightful crime caper, ECHAPPEMENT LIBRE (1964). This time Belmondo plays a rogue smuggler accompanied by the sexy and secretive Seberg, who abscond with a hidden stash of gold as they speed their way across the European continent from Beirut to Bremen.

Echappement libre posterMartial Solal’s score highlights the comedic elements of the story. Over the main titles, an organ leads us into a “mod” vocal scatting of the main theme, perfectly capturing the sound of the swinging ’60s. The second main theme is a lighthearted trumpet melody for Seberg. As Belmondo and Seberg hop from one country to another, Solal’s music plays cat-and-mouse with thematic variations, while the orchestration cleverly (and often humorously) changes to match the country they’re in.

[audio:echappementlibre.mp3] Click Track: Générique

I first saw this film last summer at the “Jazz Score” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. This is an undiscovered gem that would be a welcome DVD release. Belmondo and Seberg continue their chemistry and the film is an utter delight.

A French disc of Solal’s scores (titled A BOUT DE SOUFFLÉ) includestracks from BREATHLESS and ECHAPPEMENT LIBRE. Even though neither score is represented in its entirety, the CD is a welcome introduction to the composer’s film work.

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