The Song of Names (François Girard 2019) Canada & Hungary

Reviewed by T Romaine. Viewed at AFI Festival.

The Song of Names Poster

This is an epic tale that crosses generations and continents. The director François Girard attended the screening and discussed the film afterwards. He stated that films like this can’t get made today. The credits listed what looked like a couple thousand names and that does seem like quite an undertaking. When discussing films we rarely discuss how many people it takes to make the film aside from the director, actors and editor. That like group of people can be proud to make a film that will last the test of time. This film did not miss a beat, it hit every note. The music itself was a character in the film.

The film follows the journey of war orphan Dovidl, called Dod or David (played by Clive Owen) and British youth Martin (played by Tim Roth). Martin’s father takes in David to nurture his talent as a prodogy violinist much to the resentment of Martin. David’s talent saved him from dying in the Holocaust with his family but also made him feel isolated. He was a masterful musician but his soul needed more. The film is about grieving on a personal and collective level.

One of the film’s producers said that his guiding light was the phrase written on a rock at the Treblinka memorial in Warsaw that says “Never agin”. Girard echoed this when he said that he worried about collective amnesia -when you don’t remember, you are doomed to repeat. It will be interesting to see if the film impacts people to make a political stand in these challenging times when people globally are experiencing genocide, salvery and persecution. Bravo to this team of artists who said “never again”!

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