Cavalry march, movie theme from “Chronicle of Amorous Accidents”
There was only one such summer – in 1939. For Witek, the main protagonist of Andrzej Wajda’s film, a young man just graduated from high school, it was also a summer of love. We meet him on a train rushing through luminous borderlands to the accompaniment of the Cavalry March – one of the most famous motifs in Kilar’s film music. A trumpet fanfare hovers above a rousing snare-drum rhythm – though the next time it will be heard, towards the end of the film when the March accompanies images of cavalry readying for war, the instruments at the fore are the flutes. The motif appears for the third time to accompany end credits, with even more intense contributions of snare drums and piano.
However, as the title suggests, what matters most are Witek's amorous incidents, to which are linked the film's second musical motif , called (after the protagonists) Alina and Witek. The oboe begins a delicate romantic melody when Alina, the neighbors’ daughter, emerges from a blurred frame to receive a telegram. When Witek leaves the house, musing over dying love, the motif is taken over by the piano and is played by Alina at an open window. This is an excellent example of Wajda’s directorial mastery: the transition of music from the orchestra pit to the diegetic layer of the film binds the protagonists even more strongly, symbolizing their love.
The love theme appears again in an arrangement for strings accompanied by bird calls, when Witek surreptitiously watches Alina at night. Significantly, however, it also accompanies his trysts with other girls: an attractive student from the train and his friend’s sister. It is heard no fewer than nine times in the film in various arrangements, usually with a Chopin-esque piano and strings, for example in the finale when it is played plegato, preparing the protagonists for eternal sleep in the grass.
An important role in the film is played by diegetic music, locating the action in space-time and characterizing the various social groups. The protagonist looks through a fence, for example, watching girls singing the Ode to Joy in German, while troops marching in the street sing Oh My Rosemary, a traditional Polish soldiers' song. Just before we hear Mieczysław Fogg, in Autumn Roses played on a gramophone during a picnic. then during a party there's interwar dance music including the tangoThe Last Sunday. At times we hear women singing by the river, or Orthodox hymns in a church.
One important blemish mars this nostalgic picture of the Polish borderlands and youth: the moment when Witek meets a ghost from the future in the forest – the Stranger (played by Tadeusz Konwicki, the author of the original novel) – who gives him a Walkman (sic!) to listen to Heavy Metal World (1984) by the Polish band TSA. The music, which jars with the film, makes us aware of the symbolism and the fragility of the world of the past that's being presented on screen.