Round Midnight

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Round Midnight

Round Midnight is a 1986 film, which was composed by Bertrand Tavernier and David Rayfiel and directed by Bertrand Tavernier. The storyline of the movie focuses on an African American saxophone player in Paris, France. The storyline of the movie was formed in the 1950’s whereby the saxophone player, Dale Turner is an alcoholic. In Paris, Dale Turner manages to meet an unsuccessful graphic designer who views the musician as highly talented and aims at helping him overcome his alcoholism.

Dale turner has turned away from his responsibilities and family and seems to be slowly losing his battle with alcoholism. He is a jazz performer in Paris in a period, which is embedded, in racial prejudice. Unlike other jazz performers who are judged merely in terms of the color of their skin, he seems to get opportunities, which are elusive to other black jazz musicians as well as white colored jazz performers.

Turner lives a life of despair as if he understands of his imminent death. He consolidates everything around him, friends’, family and later loses track due to his lack of control of his drinking problem. In Paris, he is controlled by a strict proprietor and a club owner of the Blue Note where he performs. He performs nee songs from Monk and Bird and standards belonging to Gershwin and Porter.

The young Frenchman has a belief that Turner is the bets saxophone player in the world he has ever seen. However Turner fails to believe this or in himself and drowns further into alcoholism. The young Frenchman is unable to get into the club where Turner performs because he does not have money, but sits outside in the rain listening to his performance. The movie essentially revolves around a simple gesture whereby despite his low class, Turner is invited by his biggest fan for food and drink in his home. This simple gesture is what is described as the “Round of Midnight” in that the music used is good jazz, which makes the larger part of the movie. The Frenchman tries in his efforts to pull Turner out his drug use problem and focus on growing his talent. However, Turner at an age of 60 years does not seem to like the change and is in need of constant approval, reassurance and support form people to stop drug use. Without support and constant reassurance from others, he seems to fall back into the drug problem and fails to concentrate his responsibilities.

Essentially the, movie is an incorporation of classical jazz styles. This style is characterized by the presence of relatively small groupings or bands. This kind of music is considered as a preserve for the elite in the society. Additionally the style of jazz is characterized by the presence of brass bands, which is similar in terms of composition to the band of Dale Turner. It consists of jazz improvisations, which use a majority of the instruments used in other classes of this kind of music. It is also evident that the style of jazz used in this movie is also similar to what was described as cool jazz.

This form of music was a softened swing jazz, which was harmonized to provide smooth sounds. However, this type of jazz is claimed to have gained popularity through the 1950’s. Turner and his band, which comprises of black musicians, also incorporate ragtime jazz, which is widely associated with the black community. This kind of jazz is described as an energetic form of jazz music. Turner also engages in innovation to develop what is described as bebop jazz music by improvisations of the music but at the same time ensuring that he stays within the chord structure. This style common from the 1940’s is credited for the subsequent forms of jazz that have been developed because of innovations in this kind of music.

The saxophone is the most prominent instrument used in the performances of this genre of music. This used to make the smooth music, which Turner is profound for in the movie. In addition, the piano is also used in the live performances within the club by the band to compliment the smooth sounds of the saxophone. Majority of the pianos used in such performances are expensive because of the need ensure the smooth sounds associated with jazz music. Another commonly used instrument is the clarinet, which is blown by the player of the instrument to produce sounds that compliment other instruments used in the performances of jazz music. Trumpets are also used in the performance of jazz music and are usually classified as brass s instruments amongst the saxophone and the clarinet.

One positive feature of the movie is the fact that it effectively and effortlessly uses French and English interchangeably despite the fact that the setting is predominantly in Paris. Some of the dialogue may appear to be improvised, yet nothing feels forced making the movie rich and relaxed. The richness is in the diversity of character and the quality of music that work naturally together to bring out a relaxed atmosphere that rightly complements the musicians. The movie comes out as a unique piece celebrating the achievements of Jazz music and offer very little to negatively critique.

In conclusion, the movie is based on the need for support for people to realize the essence of life. Turner does not realize his talent because of his alcoholism. Round Midnight is essentially a story of a man who faces deep problems with his identity and facing up to challenges individually. Hence, he needs people like the Frenchman to ensure that he is able to focus on important issues such as his career and his rapidly deteriorating health. Round Midnight is also used to highlight the various jazz songs, which are considered as legendary in the music world.





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