The exquisite “If,” by Michael Nyman, from the 1995 Japanese anime film of The Diary of Anne Frank, is here performed in recital by the Michael Nyman Band and Welsh contralto Hilary Summers. The music’s poignant beauty gains measure in the sublimity of the recital setting: the human aspiration to transcendent height and aesthetic refinement joined in the scene and the moment.
Then listen to the same music reused to remarkably altered effect in the closing scene of Laurence Dunmore‘s 2004 film The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp as the seventeenth century John Wilmot, the Earl of Rocherster, to which Nyman set new words of Wilmot’s own. After the notorious libertine’s deathbed conversion, there is a trenchant and equal poignancy in Wilmot’s cynically self-critical dismissal of his own life and death. The excerpt would be superior if it began a minute earlier, but this will do.
There I go, shuffling from the world, my dribble fresh upon a bible.