The day Gabriel Yared fell in love with the cinema

PostED ON OCTOBER 12 AT 11:25 AM


In 1979, the Franco-Lebanese composer was entrusted by Jean-Luc Godard with the music for Every Man for Himself/Slow Motion, Godard’s new feature film project. The collaboration would launch Yared’s cinema career and influence his work methodology.

He garnered a César award in 1993 for The Lover by Jean-Jacques Annaud, followed three years later by an Oscar for Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient... Gabriel Yared has already registered his name in the pantheon of cinema for his sublime orchestrations – we must not forget Betty Blue (1986) by Jean-Jacques Beineix – yet he continues to mark each of his directors with the singularity of his approach, which now includes absorbing all stages of making a film.

GABRIEL-YARED-copyright-Laurent-KoffelCopyright Laurent Koffel


His creative process has been shaped throughout a career during which this autodidact, born in 1949 in Lebanon, has traversed several generations of filmmakers, from Costa Gavras to Xavier Dolan, including Youssef Chahine, Jean-Pierre Mocky and Oliver Assayas. But his most decisive collaboration was perhaps the one that plunged his talent into the deep end of the cinema.

At just 30 years old, Yared’s reputation as an outstanding orchestrator that he enjoys today was already well known in the music world. In 1979, the doors of the cinema opened to him unexpectedly. The composer was contacted by Jean-Luc Godard on the advice of Jacques Dutronc, who was captivated by the work of the Franco-Lebanese composer for Françoise Hardy. Godard was in the midst of preparing Every Man for Himself/Slow Motion, a feature film he wanted to unfurl like a musical score…

The two men meet, but the filmmaker's initial idea - to orchestrate the opening of the second act of Ponchielli's La Gioconda - is rejected by Gabriel Yared, who at the same time feels the need to experiment with something new after a period of fruitful orchestrations for Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Gilbert Bécaud and Charles Aznavour. "I received a note from him a few days after we met. He finally asked me to compose an original score, and to make it so Ponchielli’s passage within it would be subliminal”.

Gabriel Yared gets to work and asks to see the footage of the film, but the filmmaker declines and is content to "tell him the story". During the studio recording, Godard "remains silent", while a single musician accompanies the composer in his work due to the picture’s limited budget. “He took the tapes and edited the film to my music. I was amazed by the way he approached it, sometimes brutally cutting it. He praised it in his montage. I thought to myself that this man really has a musical ear. A few years later, Jean-Jacques Beineix came to see me because he had heard that I liked to work before a film. I wrote the entire musical score of Betty Blue before ever seeing the movie. "

Since his collaboration with Jean-Luc Godard, Gabriel Yared has created the music for nearly a hundred films and has adjusted his working method. From his subsequent compositions, he drew the conclusion that in cinema, the marriage between image and music is never as beautiful as when the latter has previously permeated the ears of the actors of a movie and then accompanies the film in each stage of its realization. “Today, I work on the music before, during, and after. The work is accomplished through several discussions with the director and many suggestions for moods, themes, or through meetings with the actors. Once the editing is complete, it is also the job of an artisan to bring the colours to each scene."


Benoit Pavan

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