LA GRAND PARDON is a hard hitting gangster movie which took its lead from THE GODFATHER, but unfortunately was not as successful as the Marlon Brando Mafia classic. Director Arcady taking leave from his tales of North Africa and swapping the warmth of the African sun for the reality and somewhat shady world of the Bettoun clan who are a Jewish Mafia-like family that are running a prostitution ring, selling “protection,” and operating casinos and they do this without much interference from the authorities and live at peace with their Arab counterparts, that is until a young gangster played by Bernard Giraudeau decides to cause trouble between the two ethnic factions and set them against each other. Jewish cultural and religious events are celebrated by the Jewish gangsters, who promote family traditions, which is in stark contrast to the Police inspector who makes it his mission in life to destroy them all. Composer Serge Franklin
provided the film with an infectious soundtrack, and incorporated into the score a couple of entertaining and upbeat pop orientated songs that have a definite 1970,s vibe about them, plus it also contains its fair share of upbeat pop driven instrumentals that again are very much in the same vein as the vocals, and there are some nice jazz led interludes that are most welcome. It is however the composers haunting and enticing central theme that is the foundation of the soundtrack and one that re-occurs throughout the work in various guises to establish a musical consistency. The composer also introduces a scattering of more emotive sounding compositions that are touching and delicate in their make up and performance. Franklins score is in fact made up from three principal themes, the first of which is the central theme which has to it a warmth and simplicity, the composer utilizing solo guitar and also combining this with an accordion type instrument (The Band
oneon) and underlining these with melodic and rich sounding strings.
The second major theme is a more strident and powerful piece, which has at its heart a percussive drive that is a background to forceful sounding strings. The third and most emotive central thematic signature is the love theme, performed in the main by soft and luxurious strings, which receive support and embellishment from subdued Bandoneon and or solo piano and guitar performances. Franklin for me personally evokes memories of the music of Francois De Roubaiux within LE GRAND PARDON, it is a soundtrack that is filled with entertaining and original sounding compositions at one point the composer briefly turning to the SHOPHAR-the Jewish Rams horn to add effect and atmosphere. Music Box
records should be congratulated for bringing us this re-issue that boasts over 30 minutes of extra music that was not featured on the original release.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light