Tristana (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tristana (song).JPG
Single by Mylène Farmer
from the album Cendres de Lune
Released February 1987
Format 7" single, 7" maxi,
digital download (since 2005)
Recorded 1987, France
Genre Synthpop
Length 4:30
Label Polydor
Writer(s) Lyrics: Mylène Farmer
Music: Laurent Boutonnat
Producer(s) Laurent Boutonnat
Mylène Farmer singles chronology
"Sans contrefaçon"
Alternate covers
12" maxi
Soundtrack of the music video
Cendres de Lune track listing
"Vieux Bouc"

"Tristana" is a 1987 song recorded by the French artist Mylène Farmer. Fourth single from her first studio album Cendres de Lune, the song was released in February 1987. As for the previous single "Libertine", the music video was produced as a film, with many extras and a huge budget. First song entirely written by the singer herself, it enjoyed an intense promotion on television and met a great success in France, reaching the top ten.

Background and writing[edit]

After the success of "Libertine", the duo Farmer-Boutonnat sought to repeat their musical feat. In January 1987, Farmer performed "Au bout de la nuit" during a television show dedicated to Guy Béart, which indicated that the song was scheduled as her fifth single. However, Boutonnat had composed a new music and had asked Farmer to write lyrics that could be sung with this music (in fact, from this song, Farmer wrote all lyrics of her songs). It was Thierry Rogen who mixed the song.[1] Although many media said that Farmer draw her inspiration from Luis Buñuel's film Tristana,[2] with Catherine Deneuve, which tells the story of a mutilated woman, it was wrong, as Farmer actually referred to Leo Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina.[3] Indeed, Farmer stated she had not seen the film before the song's writing, saying: "It's true that Tristana is a Spanish name, and I when I thought Tristana, I thought Russian."[4]

Finally, this song was released instead of "Au bout de la nuit"[5] as this song was deemed as too slow.[1] Because of this hit, the album Cendres de Lune had a great success and was more released in CD edition in 1987; "Tristana" was added to the track listing in its both studio and remix versions.

Lyrics and music[edit]

The song deals with Farmer's favorite themes which has been regularly used in her next songs: blood and death.[6] According to L'Est Républicain, "the fragility released by the texts can be found in the establishment of the instruments. For the occasion, flute, keyboards, percussion were treated in the manner of drum machines".[7] About music, Farmer said: "We tried to give a little Slavic color, an atmosphere from Ukraine, to the song. Of course, the pan flute, it's not really Russian, but it contributes to this climate. And it's also a little oriental".[8]

Music video[edit]


The video, directed by Laurent Boutonnat, was shot for five days in April 1987 in La Chapelle-en-Vercors, France.[9] This Polydor production cost about 450,000 francs (70,000 euros) and lasts 11:30,[10] which was then the more expensive video of all time[6] and remains the second longest one of Farmer, the first one being "Pourvu qu'elles soient douces".[11]

The video, whose scene takes place in the snowy steppes,[12] was inspired by the story "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"[13][14] in a Russian version, during the revolution of October 1917, as evidenced by the archival images used throughout the video. It features Tristana (played by Farmer), Rasoukine (played by sculptor Vladimir Ivtchenko), a tsarina (played by Sophie Tellier, a dancer, who had also featured as Farmer's enemy in "Libertine"), a monk, seven dwarfs, several soldiers, horses, birds and wolves.[10] In an interview, Farmer said it was easier for her to speak in Russian in the video as she had learned the language at school. The monk was played by Sacha Prijovic. The actor who portrayed the peasant was very tense during the shooting and drank vodka before the scene in which he kissed.[15]

Sophie Tellier actively took part in the recruitment and rehearsal of the dancers featuring in the video, and confessed to being quite surprised by the power of the special effects used when she saw the video for the first time.[16] Initially, the furniture of the dwarfs' house was not designed on the right scale, which upset the designer Emmanuel Sorin and made Farmer laugh.[17] Dangerous wolves used in the video were actually disguised huskies, which belonged to Christian and Gaétan, Boutonnat's friends, who owned a farm in Normandy.[6]

Reception and influence[edit]

According to the biographer Bernard Violet as well as to journalist Caroline Bee, the video could contain a political message throughout the metaphorical transposition of the revolution of October 1917, and every character would represent a category of people or ideas;[18] the scene in which Tristana is falling on a snowy slope refers to the fall of a cradle in the stairs in the 1925 silent film The Battleship Potemkin.[19] The video, in its production as well as in its theme,[19] is a real tribute to the revolutionary Soviet Russian film director and film theorist Sergei Eisenstein. According to psychologist Hugues Royer, the video, as it is inspired by "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", reproduces the Oedipus complex described by Freud.[20] It is dedicated to Max Gautier, Farmer's father, who died a few months earlier.[10][18]

The video was often praised, even presented as an event in the media.[21] and eventually broadcast for the first time on 6 May 1987 at Cinéma Normandie on the Champs-Élysées.[10] Violet described the video as an "aesthetic" feature film, with a "fast and sophisticated editing" and "an obvious concern for composition".[22] However, given its unusual length, television channels were reluctant to broadcast it, and thereby Boutonnat decided to release a video album entitled Les Clips that contained the first four videos of Farmer.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

The song was generally very well received by the press at the time. For example, Cool stated the song "reveals the original universe of Farmer: mystery, hushed atmosphere, sweet voice".[24] To Foto Musique, "the music superbly refined prevents despair to settle".[25] Rock Musique considered that this song has an "undeniable charm"[26] and Télé Loisirs praised the song for it "aestheticism".[27] Pilote said that with this song, Farmer "pulls through better and better",[28] and Paroles deemed that "the climate of malicious strangeness is undeniable (...), her naughty and indecent songs practice their seduction".[29] Author Erwan Chuberre considered "Tristana" as the "worthy successor of "Libertine", a new lushly romantic hit".[6]

In France, the single debuted at number 33 on the SNEP chart. It gained a few places every week until reaching a peak of number seven on 13 June. The song managed to stay for twelve weeks in the top 20 and 21 weeks on the chart, from 25 April to 12 September 1987.[30] Like Farmer's previous single "Libertine", "Tristana" was certified Silver disc by SNEP in 1987 for a minimum of 200,000 copies sold,[31] thus becoming one of the ten biggest hits of the singer.

Promotion and live performances[edit]

In 1987, Farmer appeared on many French channels such as TF1, Antenne 2, FR3, Canal + and France 5 to promote the song. She then performed "Tristana" in a total of 26 television shows from 19 February to 15 December in which she was sometimes interviewed before or after her performance. On certain shows, she also sang "Au Bout de la nuit", "La Ronde triste" and "Sans contrefaçon".[32][33] At each performance, Farmer wore a special costume and, for the first time, she performed a choreography with dancers. She always sang "Tristana" in lip sync, except in the show La Nouvelle Affiche on 1 April 1987, but there were a few problems with the sound during this performance and Farmer had difficulty to sing in high notes. Because of this, Farmer has not sung in live until 2003.[34]

"Tristana" was sung on stage only during the 1989 tour. Then Farmer wore a red coat-dress, red boots and leather gloves, the female dancers were dressed as Russian farmers and the male dancers as Soviet soldiers. The choreography was based on the video: first performed by all the dancers, then by Farmer and two soldiers. After the performance, the singer left the stage being hugged by two dancers.

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of single releases of "Tristana":[35]

  • 7" single - France
No. Title Length
1. "Tristana" 4:30
2. "Au bout de la nuit" 4:18
  • 12" maxi - France
No. Title Length
1. "Tristana" (remix club) 6:30
2. "Tristana" (wolf mix) 4:30
3. "Au bout de la nuit" 4:18
  • 12" maxi - Soundtrack - France / 12" maxi - Soundtrack - Promo - France
No. Title Length
1. "Overture" 2:15
2. "Tristana" (single version) 4:30
3. "Adieu Tristana" 4:00
4. "Full sound tape" 11:25
  • Cassette - France
No. Title Length
1. "Tristana" (remix club) 7:10
2. "Overture" 2:15
3. "Adieu Tristana" 4:00
4. "Tristana" (single version) 4:30
  • 7" single - Without cover - Canada
No. Title Length
1. "Tristana" 4:30
2. "Maman a tort" 4:08
  • Digital download
No. Title Length
1. "Tristana" (Cendres de Lune version) 4:30
2. "Tristana" (remix club) 7:10
3. "Tristana" (1989 live version) 8:00

Release history[edit]

Date[35] Label Region Format Catalog
February 1987 Polydor France 7" single 885 572-7
12" maxi - Remixes 885 572-1
12" maxi - Soundtrack 885 926-1
Cassette 885 973-4
12" maxi - Soundtrack - Promo 885 931-1
Canada 7" single F4 87199

Official versions[edit]

Version[36] Length Album Remixed by Year Comment[10]
Album version 4:35 Cendres de Lune 1987 See the previous sections
Single / Album version 4:30 Les Mots Laurent Boutonnat 1987 The version is identical to the album version, but slightly shorter.
Remix club 7:10 Cendres de Lune, Dance Remixes Laurent Boutonnat 1987 This dance remix uses a lot of drum machines and many echoes.
Remix club
(12" maxi version)
6:30 Laurent Boutonnat 1987 This version is similar to the 'Remix club', but the musical bridge is shorter.
Wolf mix 4:30 Laurent Boutonnat 1987 This is an instrumental version in which Farmer performs vocals throughout the song and sings almost a cappella one refrain at the end of this version.
Music video 11:25 Les Clips,
Music Videos I
1987 Uses the Remix club
Live version
(recorded in 1989)
8:00 En Concert Laurent Boutonnat 1989 This live version has a long musical introduction, in which some cries of wolves and the breath of an icy wind can be heard.

Credits and personnel[edit]

These are the credits and the personnel as they appear on the back of the single:[35][37]

  • Mylène Farmer – lyrics
  • Laurent Boutonnat – music
  • Bertrand Le Page and Toutankhamon – editions
  • Polydor – recording company
  • Christophe Mourthé – photo
  • Philippe Huart / Pearl Cholley – design
  • André Perriat / Top Master (12" maxi) – mastering, engraving

Charts and certifications[edit]


  • Bee, Caroline; Bioy, Antoine; Thiry, Benjamin (January 2006). Mylène Farmer, la part d'ombre (in French). L'Archipel. ISBN 2-84187-790-6. 
  • Cachin, Benoît (2006). Le Dictionnaire des Chansons de Mylène Farmer (in French). Tournon. ISBN 2-35144-000-5. 
  • Chuberre, Erwan (2007). L'Intégrale Mylène Farmer (in French). City. ISBN 978-2-35288-108-7. 
  • Chuberre, Erwan (2008). Mylène Farmer, phénoménale (in French). City. ISBN 978-2-35288-176-6. 
  • Chuberre, Erwan (18 June 2009). Mylène Farmer : Des mots sur nos désirs (in French). Alphée. ISBN 2-7538-0477-X. 
  • Rajon, Florence (2005). Mylène Farmer de A à Z (in French). MusicBook. ISBN 2-84343-319-3. 
  • Royer, Hugues (2008). Mylène, biographie (in French). Spain: Flammarion. ISBN 978-2-35287-139-2. 
  • Violet, Bernard (2004). Mylène Farmer, biographie (in French). J'ai lu. ISBN 2-290-34916-X. 


  1. ^ a b Chuberre, 2008, p. 71.
  2. ^ Claudine Sandford (23 July 1987). "Mylène Farmer, révoltée et curieuse". Intimité (in French). Devant-soi: 17. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  3. ^ Rajon, 2005, pp. 97-98.
  4. ^ Chuberre, 2008, p. 72.
  5. ^ "Tristana" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 2 February 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d Chuberre, 2008, p. 73.
  7. ^ "Tristana". L'Est Républicain (in French). Devant-soi. 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  8. ^ "Mylène Farmer - "Tristana" - Histoire du single" (in French). Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Delmas, Catherine (3 April 1987). "Mylène Farmer: Un clip dans les Cévennes avec des loups et de la neige". France Soir (in French). Devant-soi. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Cachin, 2006, pp. 255-59.
  11. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 90.
  12. ^ "Tristana". Cool (in French). Devant-soi. 20 July 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  13. ^ "Mylène Farmer: Blanche-Neige chez Marx". Le Matin de Paris (in French). Devant-soi. 14 April 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  14. ^ J., C. (11 May 1987). "Musique! On tourne". Stratégie (in French). Devant-soi. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  15. ^ "Mylène Farmer répond à nos questions par téléphone". Graffiti (in French). 1987. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Violet, 2004, p. 81.
  17. ^ Royer, 2008, pp. 273-74.
  18. ^ a b Bee, 2006, pp. 340-43.
  19. ^ a b Violet, 2004, p. 80.
  20. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 43.
  21. ^ De Laroche, Robert (1987). "Mylène Farmer, encore un clip à vous couper le souffle". Podium (in French). Devant-soi. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  22. ^ Violet, 2004, pp. 80-81.
  23. ^ Chuberre, 2007, p. 288.
  24. ^ "Tristana". Cool (in French). Devant-soi. March 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  25. ^ "Tristana". Foto musique (in French). May 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  26. ^ "Tristana". Rock Musique (in French). May 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  27. ^ "Mylène Farmer est Blanche-Neige". Télé Loisirs (in French). Devant-soi. 18 May 1987. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  28. ^ "Mylène Tristana". Pilote (in French). April 1987. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  29. ^ "Mylène Farmer". Paroles (in French). May 1987. Retrieved 30 July 2010. 
  30. ^ a b ""Tristana", French Singles Chart" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 2 February 2008. 
  31. ^ a b "Singles certifications in France, database" (in French). Infodisc. Retrieved 2 February 2008. 
  32. ^ ""Tristana", TV performances" (in French). Sans-logique. Retrieved 8 February 2008. 
  33. ^ "Mylène Farmer - "Tristana" - TV" (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  34. ^ Chuberre, 2008, pp. 75-76.
  35. ^ a b c "Mylène Farmer - "Tristana" - Supports" (in French). Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  36. ^ "Mylène Farmer - "Tristana" - Versions" (in French). Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  37. ^ "Mylène Farmer - "Tristana" - Crédits" (in French). Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  38. ^ Chuberre, 2008, p. 74.
  39. ^ Royer, 2008, p. 349.

External links[edit]