There is one thing you can be sure of when discussing a Wim Wenders film, and that is that the soundtrack is guaranteed to be a winner. Such is the case with the incredible album that accompanied his Faraway, So Close, an LP made up of stirring compositions by Laurent Petitgand and songs by modern rock’s finest.
French born Petitgand came into this world in 1959, just as the French were discovering rock and roll and we were discovering their new wave films. The multi-instrumentalist got his first exposure to music by singing in a church choir as a child, something that would set in motion his life’s passion for music, the theater and film.
Petitgand scored his first job in a film as composer on the Isabelle Huppert vehicle The Wings of the Dove in 1981. Five years would pass before his next assignment but it would prove to be a life altering one as it for Wim Wender’s 1985 production Tokyo-Ga. Wenders immediately took a shine to Petitgand and his music and he brought him on board his Wings of Desire in 1987 for a song and then again as a composer for his 1989 documentary A Notebook on Clothes and Cities. Petitgand also began appearing in front of the camera in this period, for Wenders and other directors.
Petitgand’s score for Faraway, So Close is quite majestic and is one of the films strongest points, even though it is often overlooked due to the other more well known artists on the record. The film remains perhaps the highpoint of Petitgand’s career as a composer so far although his work since on productions like Antonioni’s 1995 feature Beyond The Clouds (co-directed by Wenders) and Paul Auster’s 2007 work The Inner Life of Martin Frost is exceptional.
Surrounding Petitgand on the album is an incredible amount of talent including such legendary figures as Lou Reed, U2, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Laurie Anderson as well as such notable underground figures like Simon Bonney and Jane Siberry. Wender’s knows his stuff and all of the artists here deliver exceptional work with special mention going to Reed’s ferocious "Why Can’t I Be Good" (used to devestating effect in the film in a performance clip) and Bonney’s stunning "Travelin’ On". While most of these songs weren’t written specifically for Wender’s film you really can’t tell as they all work for it perfectly.
The album was a bigger hit back in 1994 than the film when they both came out which makes it surprising that it is currently out of print in America. Copies can still be found fairly easily though and it is highly recommended.