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Original scientific paper

Claude Debussy and Film Music

Irena Paulus ; Franjo Lučić Art School, Velika Gorica

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (234 KB) pages 53-64 downloads: 635* cite
APA 6th Edition
Paulus, I. (2018). Claude Debussy i filmska glazba. Književna smotra, 50 (190(4)), 53-64. Retrieved from
MLA 8th Edition
Paulus, Irena. "Claude Debussy i filmska glazba." Književna smotra, vol. 50, no. 190(4), 2018, pp. 53-64. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Paulus, Irena. "Claude Debussy i filmska glazba." Književna smotra 50, no. 190(4) (2018): 53-64.
Paulus, I. (2018). 'Claude Debussy i filmska glazba', Književna smotra, 50(190(4)), pp. 53-64. Available at: (Accessed 24 July 2021)
Paulus I. Claude Debussy i filmska glazba. Književna smotra [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2021 July 24];50(190(4)):53-64. Available from:
I. Paulus, "Claude Debussy i filmska glazba", Književna smotra, vol.50, no. 190(4), pp. 53-64, 2018. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 24 July 2021]

During French composer Claude Debussy’s (1862-1918) lifetime, the film just appeared as a new art. Nevertheless, possibilities of the “moving photograph” preoccupied his imagination. There are no data that he composed anything for early films, but his picturesque music, often inspired by paintings and literary works, shows that he his thoughts were inspired by manners similar to film language. Debussy’s compositions (especially Clair de lune from Suite bergamasque) was often used in different film genres – from animated and science-fiction movies to crime films. Composition techniques used by Claude Debussy also helped film composers to articulate their music in different visual surroundings. Among them are: Bernard Herrmann, who used Debussy’s idea of “parallel sonorities” in Vertigo (1958) and other Alfred Hitchcock’s movies; and John Williams, who adopted usage of modal music and bitonality in order to show unusual situations in many of Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction stories, especially in Artificial Intelligence (2001). Among analyzed films, the most fascinating is usage of Clair de lune in Stephen Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 (2001). There the music doesn’t only point out narrative and metaphoric references to visuals, but also participates in creating the structure of certain film scenes. This kind of usage of Debussy’s music shows that it doesn’t function well only in special settings of unspecified stories; despite its poetic and lyrical content, Debussy’s Clair de lune functions in a more contemporary context, even side by side with contemporary popular music.

Claude Debussy; Impressionism; image; film; film music; painting; literature; Clair de lune

Hrčak ID: 213395



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