From Glasgow’s RSAMD to Indo-China, Patrick Doyle’s career has been marked with success. Alan Morrison talks to a ﬁlm composer who‘s very much in demand.
King Henry throws the body of his youngest soldier over his shoulder and begins a long. weary walk across the ﬁeld of Agincourt. ()n the lilm's soundtrack. the accompanying music is both a celebration of victory and a requiem for the dead: ‘Non Nobis'. one of the most memorable parts of Kenneth Branagh‘s Henry V. written by Scottish composer Patrick Doyle. who also plays the bearded. battle-scarred soldier whose lone voice sets the tone for the scene.
In the last few years. the name Patrick Doyle has appeared on more and more film credits »- Dead Again (also for Branagh). Into The West. Disney‘s Shipwrecked and. most recently. the French epic Itldm‘hitte. Born in Bellshill. but brought up in Birkenshaw near Uddingston. Doyle graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 197-1.
‘Because I went to an establishment that had acting and music in the same
Last year’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival confirmed the arrival, in a big way, of Queer Cinema. Showcasing films like Tom Kalin’s Swoon and Christopher Munch’s The iiours And The Times, the Festival introduced successful filmmakers in one of the most vital and promising movements in current cinema. Both of the above were subsequently released to considerable acclaim and some commercial advantage, proving that the appetite for clever, purposeful movie-making was by no means a thing of the past.
Aside from Derek Jarman’s Wittgenstein, however, the Seventh LCFF offers no obvious stars. But the twelve-day session of screenings at london’s South Bank delivered a multiplicity of styles, formats and attitudes - one of the hallmarks of the Festival’s enduring success.
Carving up the original programme into six instalments for the Scottish tour (stopping off at the Edinburgh Filmhouse and Clasgow Film Theatre) can’t have been easy, but the organisers are offering two full-length fictional tilms, three documentaries Land a sample programme of shorts
building.’ he explains. ‘it gave me time to build up my technique. to listen to more music and also to have the luxury of getting involved on the drama side. As a direct result ofbeing there. i got into acting. and that has proved to be enormously beneficial in terms of writing for the cinema - to have that sense of drama.‘
Ask him how he filled the years between leaving the Academy and joining up with Branagh's Renaissance Company in the late l98()s. and you get a who’s who of Scottish theatre. After a year teaching piano at Hillhead High School. he became involved in a comedy revue through RSAMD chum Morag Fullerton. Work with Theatre For Youth and on lidinburgh Fringe hit (I'lasvegas (recently revived) got him his equity card and led to meetings with John Byrne. Subsequently. he was cast as Hector in the original Traverse productions of The Slab Buys and its sequel The Love/iest Night (tithe Year ((‘uttin ‘ xi Rug). before transferring with the show to London. However. despite regular work and a comfortable enough lifestyle as an actor. he was growing dissatisﬁed with the stage when his friend John Sessions introduced him to Kenneth Branagh. then a relative unknown who had just left the RSC to set up his own company.
‘He was about to do Twelfth Night and he handed me a tape of Paul McCartney‘s latest single “Once Upon A Long Ago“ (which hadn’t been released yet). saying he'd like to work it into the show.‘ Doyle picks up the thread. ‘I didn't want to shove it in just for the sake of having a Paul McCartney song if it wasn‘t appropriate. At home i opened up Twelfth Night at Feste's song ‘(‘ome
that in fact make up the majority of the Festival’s fare. Amos Cutman’s Amazing Grace is an award-winning Israeli drama, set in Tel Aviv, about a tense and unlikely relationship between seventeen-year-old Jonathan and iilV+ Thomas. Clare Of The Moon, on the other hand, is Nicole Conn’s trashy lesbian melodrama, flitting between stereotypes and packed with groanworthy storylines.
Set against these lively dramas are documentaries that do more than most to chronicle the bizarre cruelty of mainstream society. Changing Our
Away. Death' and. you know. there was a chorus that scanned almost identically. What I did was write another melody on top of his chord sequence. Because l did the bulk of the score. all the reviews said ‘l)oyle and McCartney" . . . apart from The Sun. which squeezed out my name completely and wrote something like ‘McCartney Writes Music For Theatre‘ —- forget about the unknown Jock person. I'd get all these phonecalls asking. “It can't be him. can it‘.’". and id say "Actually . . . l‘m the sixth Beatle".‘
Since then. Doyle and Branagh have collaborated on several stage and screen projects. including the world tour of xi Midsummer .N’ight '5‘ Dream and King Lear. which culminated with performances at the l‘)‘)() lidinburgh International Festival. He has recently completed work on the lrishman‘s latest Shakespeare film -— Much Ado About Nothing — as well as Brian dc
Minds is a tribute to Dr Evelyn Hooker, who took issue with the former medical opinion that being gay or lesbian was a disease that needed a psychological cure (lobotomy, shock therapy, you name it). In a similar vein is Aerlyn Weissman and Lynne Fermie’s Forbidden Love, where Canadian lesbians tell funny but shocking stories of times when single- sex parties were illegal.
Rounding things off are another Canadian documentary, Thank God l’m A Lesbian — a relaxed discussion of all
the relevant Issues with a diverse and
Palma‘s Carlita's Way (gangster movie with Al Pacino) and Need/ii] Things (horror movie with Max von Sydow).
Doyle became involved with Indochine. France's most expensive lilm ever. when director Regis Wargnier saw a French documentary on the redubbing of Henry V. Work on Dead Again kept him from visiting Vietnam during shooting. but early access to a rough cut allowed him a full two months to work on the score. The results were certainly worthwhile. as Indm‘hine brought him a nomination at the traditionally patriotic French (‘esars. an honour he can add to the 1989 lvor Novello Award he won for Best Film 'l'heme (‘Non Nobis') and his IOQI (iolden (ilobe nomination for Dead Again.
'Regis and I agreed that Indaehine would have to have very much a Western symphonic classical sound. because it's about the colonisation of that part of the world by the French.‘ he explains. ‘So really the music was representing the French in Indochina. and also the leading character Iiliane lplayed by (‘atherine Dcneuvel. her inlluence on the picture. In the scenes that were quintessentially Vietnamese. we brought a llavour of Fastern music. but tonally based in a Western style.
‘l'nless there is a virtue being made out of what you're doing musically. most of the time the dialogue reigns supreme.' he says. summing up his writing techinque. ‘l lind it difficult to write for Shakespearian lilms because it's all verbals. However. i lind it easier to write to images rather than conjure them up myself. With films. you‘ve got no time to agonise. you’re going with your gut every time.‘
For review (if/tidin‘hine. see page [7.
Thank God I'm A Lesbian
vocal group of writers - and Tales From The Cities, which flings together some shorts on the theme of urban life (including the excellent Fairy, an expressionist allegory on the price of fitting in). Everything is thought- provoking, witty and often moving. Don’t miss. (Andrew Pulver)
The Seventh Lesbian and Gay Film Festival runs from Thursday 8 April at Edinburgh Filmhouse and from Sunday 2 May at the Glasgow Film Theatre. See Listings and Index for details.
14 The List 9—22 April 1993