Stravinsky in Hollywood – Blu-ray Edition

stravinsky in hollywoodVery rarely do we get the opportunity to find out about the composer behind the music.  Most of the time it is because Vivaldi, Bach, Beethovan, and Mozart all died so long ago.  A more contemporary composer was Igor Stavinsky.  He died in 1971 and worked a bit in Hollywood, so we definitely have more information to go on about his guy.  As such director Marco Capalbo (TV series On Death Row) had more to work with.

Capalbo decided to focus on Stravinsky’s time in Hollywood.  The composer was born in St. Petersburg, Russia moved to the Ukraine then on to Switzerland then on to France and finally to the United States in 1939 after the outbreak of World War II.  He was enticed over to the U.S. by Walt Disney, who pitched him the idea of supplying some music for an animated film he was making.  That film became Fantasia.

Using lots of never before seen footage Capalbo shows how Stravinsky was able to do things his way in regards to the films scores he started working on.  Very few people have managed to get the upper hand on Hollywood.  Now, it wasn’t easy for the European composer to convince the people begin the films that his vision was best.  He had to fight many times for what he believed in.  Unfortunately, for the most part, Stravinsky ended up losing these battles.  He was hired to provide the scores for some big budget films, but his music ended up not being used.  In the late 30s and early 40s Stravinsky worked regularly on film scores all to no avail, though.

This is backed up with interviews with Stravinsky himself and his assistant Robert Craft, a man now in his 90s.  An added bonus is getting to see and hear for the first time some movie scores he had composed for particular films or scenes that were never used.

The weakness of the documentary is that it does not give much background on the subject.  To enjoy and appreciate this fully you have to have some previous knowledge of the composer.

Despite all the battles Stravinsky must have loved what he was doing (I’m sure the money he was making didn’t hurt) as he lived in Hollywood longer than he did any other place in his life.

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