VERGISS MEIN NICHT – Jessica de Rooij
Original Review by Jonathan Broxton
Vergiss Mein Nicht is a feature-length German-language documentary about Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the film looks at the life of Gretel Sieveking, the mother of director David Sieveking, whose diagnosis inspires David to look at both his parents’ marriage – they had been a part of the student movement in the 1960s and led an open relationship – and the German health care system as a whole, which cares for 2 million other Alzheimer’s patients each year. The score is by Jessica de Rooij, best known amongst film music fans for being thecomposer du jour of controversial director Uwe Boll, but who has been given the chance to turn her hand to something more substantial and meaningful here.
A small, almost chamber-sized score with more focus on solo instruments than the larger ensemble, de Rooij uses soft synths, chimes, woodwinds, guitars and a harmonica in the opening title piece, a gentle, intimate, but slightly sad little cue that attempts to capture both the life and imperceptible but unstoppable decline in the health of the director’s mother. Much of the score is given over to short vignettes of sound and music, many less than a minute in length, but which all build on the same sound palette to create a pervasive mood and tone for the score overall. The best cues include “Fotoalbum”, a pretty music-box style motif full of reflection and nostalgia that features an accordion in its second half; “Hochzeit”, which is anchored by a tender solo guitar; and “Autofahrt Stuttgart”, whose accordions and calliope-circus overtones make it a comedy delight.
“Autofahrt in die Schweiz” has a sense of Gallic charm and even a wonderfully sexy tango interlude, which may be stereotypical, but nevertheless sounds enchanting. Later, the harmonica takes the lead, duetting with a guitar in the catchy pair “Fahrt Durch die Berge” and “Gretel Wieder Daheim”. The score concludes with “Hamburg”, a restatement of the opening theme which brings the score full-circle.
Despite its slightness and brevity, Vergiss Mein Nicht is a lovely little score, quirky and idiosyncratic, but filled with as much heart and emotion as many more expansive orchestral works. Jessica de Rooij deserves to have a much more high-profile career than she does (please, no more scores for films like BloodRayne II – Deliverance or Far Cry!!), and although Vergiss Mein Nicht likely won’t be the score that brings her to the attention of the powers-that-be, she should certainly be on everyone’s radar as one of the leading female film score composers working today.
Track Listing: 1. Vergiss Mein Nicht (2:54), 2. Vorlesung (0:53), 3. Fotoalbum (1:41), 4. Diagnose (0:34), 5. Hochzeit (0:52), 6. Abschied am Bahnhof (0:30), 7. Autofahrt Stuttgart (1:06), 8. Gretels Schwestern (0:22), 9. Erinnerung an Gretels Vater (0:35), 10. Autofahrt in die Schweiz (3:13), 11. Ausblick auf Bergen und Seen (0:31), 12. Fahrt Durch die Berge (1:21), 13. Maltes Erinnerungen (1:14), 14. Die Liebe zu den Kindern (0:34), 15. Gretels Mutter (0:48), 16. Fahrt u. Ankunft im Pflegeheim (1:16), 17. Freude an Mathematik (1:37), 18. Gretel Wieder Daheim (1:01), 19. Hamburg (3:26). Promo; Running Time: 24:28Read Article