The Artist is gaining steam to be the picture to beat this year at the Oscars, and just today its director Michel Hazanavicius was nominated for the DGA’s best director award. The film has not had many detractors, but there was a shot across the bow today when Kim Novak – star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo – complained about the use of music from Vertigo in the film. Not only that, she called it rape.

As reported by Deadline Hollywood, Novak has taken out a full page trade ad complaining about the music usage. Here is the best quote from Miss Novak:

“There was no reason for them to depend on Bernard Herrmann’s score from ‘Vertigo’ to provide more drama. ‘Vertigo’s’ music was written during the filming. Hitchcock wanted the theme woven musically in the puzzle pieces of the storyline. Even though they did give Bernard Herrmann a small credit at the end, I believe this kind of filmmaking trick to be cheating. Shame on them!”

Though her choice of calling this usage rape is similar to comparing something or someone to Hitler (it almost negates the complaint), The Artist is gaining steam to be the front runner, and it’s worth wondering if Novak was provoked to do this. There have been Oscar smear campaigns before. Just the same I like to take it on face value and assume that Novak was offended (mostly because I was offended as well).

Films have used or recycled music from other movies before, partly because when films are edited to temp tracks the director can fall in love with those music cues. Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, for instance, uses music from The Crow, The Thirteenth Warrior and Blade II. Many composers recycle ideas throughout their careers, and filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino have borrowed cues from Ennio Morricone and Roy Ayers among others. There is precedent here, but this use of Bernard Hermann’s score seems intentional and without context to the film it’s taking it from (QT’s uses have usually offered commentary on the genre or film he’s making). In the article Mike Fleming wonders if anyone remembers the music from Vertigo. Such may explain why the film is an Oscar front runner.

Have you seen The Artist yet?