In no time at all, Stephen Williams’ biographical drama, CHEVALIER, will bring the story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges to AMC Theatres nationwide, exposing audiences to one of the most consequential yet relatively unknown figures in classical music history. The movie, which brings a unique vision and perspective, pushes boundaries and sparks conversation while stretching its incredible cast outside of its comfort zone, has been recognized as an AMC Artisan Film.
This distinction has been given to a number of films over the years, and is used to highlight a broad range of themes, styles, and genres on the big screen. Stick around and check out just a few of the reasons we have decided to give CHEVALIER the AMC Artisan Films seal ahead of its April 21st release.
Brings A Unique Vision And Perspective
CHEVALIER is technically a historical drama, but this doesn’t mean the film starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Joseph Bologne finding his place in French high society is restricted to the formula used so many times in the past. In fact, with its more modern tone and attitude, the movie brings a fresh perspective to the “period piece.”
When chatting with AMC Theatres in the lead-up to CHEVALIER’s release, director Stephen Williams about opened up about approaching a story set in 18th-Century France with a more modern perspective:
“I was unaware of this person, so I became galvanized by the opportunity to shed light on that person. But the other aspect of his life that became really clear was how contemporary his story felt, even though it occurred in the mid 1700s in Paris. There was a lot about the times, the social ferment of the times, and Joseph Bologne’s trajectory through those times that somehow resonated with our kind of cultural moment now.”
But this also brought some challenges to the project, as Williams had to find the balance between the old and the new by making the characters, specifically Bologne, feel both part of that period and contemporary times.
Pushes Boundaries And Sparks Conversation
CHEVALIER is a movie about shedding light on an unheard voice, experiencing an untold story that has been seemingly erased from the history books, and pushing boundaries. All of this leads to a historical drama that sparks conversation about art, society, and how the two impact each other.
When discussing how Joseph Bologne found himself as an outsider in French society, Stephen Williams explained how the oft-forgotten musical figure decided to make his own mark on art and society:
“And his reaction to that, or his response to that was, okay, I just have to excel and if I excel, I will find my place in this society. And what he discovers is for a time that works. But then there's all kinds of conditionalities placed on his inclusion on inclusivity.”
In doing this, the man who would become known as Chevalier would become somewhat of a musical revolutionary, one who transformed the very fabric of music, art, and society as a whole.
Features A Compelling Score
Though CHEVALIER is set in France years before the French Revolution, it treats Joseph Bologne, as well as his musical rival Mozart, like a rock ‘n roll artist through the use of extravagant performances. This is especially true in the film’s opening sequence, which shows Bologne and Mozart having what is essentially a rap battle.
While the genre wouldn’t be created for at least 200 years after the movie takes place, director Stephen Williams has said that the battle of two musical prodigies showcases what the rest of the movie expounds on, letting the audience know that this isn’t going to be your standard biographical drama, instead something new, fresh, and unique.
Stretches Actors Outside Their Comfort Zones
When it came to shooting the various musical performances in CHEVALIER, Kelvin Harrison Jr. could have taken the easy way out and just pantomimed instead of learning the fundamentals of the violin. But, as director Stephen Williams put it, the actor was willing to stretch himself out his comfort zone to give the best performance possible:
“And all the violin bowing that you will see in the movie is Kelvin. There's no stunt double, not a single. I think there is literally no stunt double in the movie. Not for the fencing, not for the violin. There's no cinematic trickery. That is all the product of Kelvin Harrison Jr. deciding, ‘Okay, I'm gonna take this on and I'm gonna dedicate myself to it, and therefore I'm gonna study violin six hours a day for the six months leading up to the first day of principal photography and continue during the shooting of the movie.’”