A WORD FROM JEAN LAURENDEAU
Ondist, Writer and Biographer
of Maurice Martenot
Wavemakers is the fruit of an encounter between two exceptional women: filmmaker Caroline Martel and ondist Suzanne Binet-Audet. They met during the production of The Phantom of the Operator, which put Martel, so to speak, on the map. That film took a tender, humorous approach, and its poetry was heightened by, among other things, the sensitive voice of the ondes Martenot, as played by Binet-Audet.
The subject of Wavemakers is a vast one that can be viewed from many different angles. My book Maurice Martenot, luthier de l’électronique (1990, Éditions Louise Courteau) took a biographical approach about the inventor. Martel read the book before diving into preparations for her film and all the research that implies, but she did not base the film’s canvas on it. On the contrary, she picked up where I left off with the book’s publication in 1990 and pursued a different path than focusing on Martenot-the-inventor. She followed her instincts, making her own discoveries, listening to music that struck a chord with her —and went to the heart of the subject: the instrument itself as, in some ways, a message for future generations, a kind of hope, a sound achieved when the artist’s fingertips become one with the soul… This is how I see the Martenot, and this is how Martel portrays it. It’s as if we are following a melody —Martel’s melody— in which the scenes succeed one another like musical cells, phrased by the film’s structure. Every shot penetrates deeply, seeking out the seemingly minor details that are, in truth, the most important thing of all. It takes concentration to fully dig this film. Everything is so meticulously chosen and detailed that it deserves to be watched again, one scene at a time, taking the time to reflect on each scene and on their interconnections. Indeed, the key to Wavemakers is in its skilful editing; but to be carried away on its “melody” you should first watch it from beginning to end.
After my biography of Martenot was published, I long felt that I was the sole defender of the Ondes in a medium other than music. As a musician, I was definitely not alone; there are still many of us around the world who play the instrument. But as a writer, I felt that mixture of pride and sadness that comes when you are the only one standing up for a cause that you feel should alight the passions of the entire musical world. With this documentary, all that has changed.
You could make many other, entirely different films on this subject. But without the people who strive to uncover the Martenot’s mysteries, who form the beating heart of Wavemakers, one could never achieve what Martel, with her passion and her talent as a filmmaker and an artist, has done. This is the real value of Caroline Martel’s work, and it is even more true of Wavemakers.