With The Song of Names, acclaimed filmmaker François Girard (Boychoir) returns to the classical music milieu of his seminal The Red Violin. And like that film, The Song of Names sets personal, professional and family tragedies against sweeping historical events.
Adapted from music critic Norman Lebrecht’s acclaimed novel, The Song of Names centres on 9-year-old violin prodigy and Polish Jewish refugee Dovidl (or David, portrayed at various ages by Luke Doyle; Jonah Hauer-King; and Clive Owen, Children of Men), whose parents leave him in the care of a wealthy British benefactor at the beginning of World War II.
David’s benefactor already has a son, Martin (portrayed at various ages by Misha Handley; Gerran Howell; and Tim Roth, Luce, Selma) who resents the special attention his new adopted brother receives, as well as his apparently limitless gift with the violin. After a rocky start to their relationship, the boys grow closer and friendship turns into brotherhood. Martin sees David’s dismay and pain grow with each day that passes without news of his family, and stories from the war grow ever more gruesome. David tries to seek solace in his Jewish faith and tradition, clinging to the bond he shares with his family from afar.
As the boys grow into young men, David suddenly vanishes before his debut concert performance at 21, sending Martin’s father into financial ruin and splitting their family apart. Martin loses all trace of David, but he always keeps one ear to the ground for his long-lost brother. When he picks up David’s trail again, he throws caution to the wind in his search for what really tore his family apart that night.
Featuring a luminous original score from Canadian composer Howard Shore (the man behind the iconic scores of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), The Song of Names asks us to consider how memory can be used as a tool of resistance and how community and family can bridge continents and generations.
“Though Roth and Owen give fine performances, as do the two pairs of children who play their characters at different ages, the soundtrack is the biggest star of The Song of Names, starting with a delicate original score by Howard Shore, the Oscar-winning composer of The Lord of the Rings and much of fellow Canadian David Cronenberg’s work.” (Scott Tobias, Variety)