About this Recording
2.110639 - DEBARGUE, Lucas: To Music (Documentary, 2017) (NTSC)
English  French 

A creative bond forged in friendship
by Martin Mirabel, the film’s author and director

It all began in September 2008, in Paris, when I found myself sitting next to Lucas in a lecture hall at university. We were barely 18 years old but already shared the same passion for music, literature and the arts. Our natural competitiveness and our mutual encouragement of each other saw to the rest. Lucas would concentrate more and more on music, as I concentrated on the cinema. As I was making my first medium-length feature, he was getting to know a truly great piano teacher in the shape of Rena Shereshevskaya. We kept in regular contact… until the day Lucas was selected to take part in the prestigious Tchaikovsky competition.

I saw him again the day before he left for Moscow. He seemed simultaneously uncertain, utterly focused and his mind elsewhere. I said to him ‘Your life will be divided into two parts—before and after Tchaikovsky.’ Everyone knows what happened next. He won Fourth Prize, the critics’ Special Prize and the hearts of the audience. He came back to France with a new motivation and inspiration, ready to leave for Juan-les-Pins the very next day and join his teacher Rena. ‘You should come!’ he suddenly said to me off the cuff. I had something completely different planned, but had the feeling that if I didn’t get on that train, our lives would take us further and further apart, by sheer force of circumstance. So the next day there I was, sitting in the same carriage next to him.

The idea for the film

On the journey Lucas showed me his concert schedule for the year to come. I started thinking about making a film. Things would start to become clearer in my head from the following day, while Lucas was practising on the piano at the Belles Rives hotel. It was here, on this terrace overlooking the sunlit sea, that the project for my documentary started to take shape in my mind: it would be structured around three main themes: interpretation (the past), improvisation (the present) and composition (the future). Instinctively, I realized that there was no time to lose. In a year’s time, Lucas would have made his first world tour, there would be no space left in his diary and he would inevitably have lost this inexperience, this ‘naivety’—in short, the youth that I was so anxious to capture on film.

Three months after the Tchaikovsky competition we had our first session of filming at Beauvais. I still have vivid memories of Lucas, who hardly realized we were filming. He was so natural, so raw, impulsive. The whole subject of the film was there before our eyes: a performing artist coming of age, shedding his skin as it were, captured in real time. The chief cameraman and sound engineer were bowled over. At the end of this first session, I couldn’t yet be quite sure what the film would be like, but I was absolutely certain that we would have a film in the end.

Today and tomorrow

Between the train to Juan-les-Pins in July 2015 and this film, a great deal has happened, needless to say. From Moscow to Chicago, via such places as Salerno, Berlin, Compiègne and Weimar, filming took a little over a year, and editing then nearly six months, to say nothing of everything else. Lucas was discovering life as a soloist and on tour and what it was like to work with an orchestra, while I was getting my first experience of filming abroad and the world of production in a professional context. It is this shared journey that I hope will come across in this, my first full-length feature, born out of a desire to capture this moment in our lives, as specific as it is ephemeral, as instrumental as it is erratic in its nature: the transition from the intransigence of youth to the acceptance of adulthood.

Today, Lucas and I have both moved on, matured and changed, just as our relationship has deepened, become more balanced. We continue to see each other, as friends. Sometimes we even get the chance to collaborate on certain projects. But I have to admit that if I were asked tomorrow to make a new film about Lucas, I wouldn’t be sure how to go about it. We’d need to see where time takes us, once again. In ten, twenty or thirty years, maybe the time will have come to go ‘round the world again with a piano and a camera. Who knows? Only time, and the future, will tell. And as we hear at the end of the film: ‘in the meantime, music, like life, carries on’.

Translation: Saul Lipetz


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