It takes considerable cold blood to be able to swim in the waters of the world of entertainment and, even more so, it probably takes a big ego to avoid going to the bottom. Plenty of TV series about fame and its dangers have been produced but never as sagacious and brilliant as Mozart in The Jungle. Examining the little-known world of symphony orchestras, the Amazon Prime Video TV series allows us to peek behind the scenes of part of the modern music industry, offering us an in-depth look at the challenges, passions and complexities that concern it .
Unlike The Idol, the 2014 TV series never descends into fictional hoax. Even in excesses and exaggerations, it is possible to find a motivation that allows us to better understand that world and those contradictions. Without coming across as unnecessarily racy, vulgar or scandalous, the show never needs to raise its voice to capture our attention. Furthermore, the characters undoubtedly contribute to the overall quality of the product. We find young and ambitious emerging people, pillars of the music sector that are gradually crumbling, fresh and innovative conductors who contrast themselves with leaders anchored to the past: they are all united by attempts to balance the passion for music with the thirst for greatness . The desire to become someone in the musical panorama often clashes with the desire to maintain one’s moral integrity. Compromises are required and it is fascinating to observe how and why each of them decides which path to follow, and how.
As varied and different as their instruments, the characters in the series play different music and vibrate at the touch of their favorite hands. The beautiful and determined Hayley, an oboist with big dreams, will start as Rodrigo’s assistant and then find her own path. Hayley is reflected in her instrument, strong and decisive. Cynthia is also one with the instrument she plays, the cello. His presence is also noticeable among a thousand other instruments. The same goes for Cynthia, a woman who is impossible to miss and able to make her voice heard even in a room full of people. They are joined by Thomas and Gloria, the first being the old conductor linked to tradition and a classical approach and therefore comparable to the piano or organ. Like these two instruments, Thomas shares the bond with a more classical, precise and rigorous music with an unmistakable sound. Gloria, on the other hand, is the one who manages the less fascinating aspects of the orchestra. She is a practical woman, rational but also sensitive when necessary and, for this reason, one would associate her with a wind instrument such as the clarinet. Quick, agile, tapered but also lively and clear as Gloria’s voice.
Above all stands Rodrigo de Souza (Gael Garcìa Bernal), an eccentric and impulsive orchestra conductor, always looking for new ideas and unexplored shores. Like a violin, Rodrigo captures his audience and is not afraid to dare, to push himself beyond his limits, while with the banjo, the conductor shares the more exotic and passionate side of his character.
Heterogeneous characters for a show that has, to this day, found no comparisons or heirs. Unfortunately however, perhaps precisely by virtue of that particular character and its dual nature, Mozart in The Jungle it did not achieve the success it deserved, resulting in it being too “snobbish” for the average public. But what does that enigmatic title mean? The title refers, on the one hand to the idea of showing the charm and elegance of combined music, but also to its challenges and complexity; especially when music is no longer a pleasure as an end in itself but a source of income and success. The marketing jungle then becomes the natural habitat in which the protagonists must be able to juggle, balancing personal passion with professional dynamics and that ego that all artists possess. Created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, the TV series thus addresses various themes – love, success, well-being – always using music as a key to understanding and entrusting it with the answers to the characters’ questions.
In some moments, especially those concerning Rodrigo, Mozart in the Jungle indulges in surreal scenes and indispensable visions to help the protagonists escape from situations of impasse. As is the case, precisely, of Rodrigo, tormented by the ghost of Mozart himself when his artistic streak begins to run out and the master remains devoid of inspiration. Music represents, then, the lighthouse that guides us in a stormy sea, which allows us to have a crystal clear vision of the world and its complications. Celebrated in all its beauty, music also becomes a connection tool that helps us not only to make a journey within ourselves but also towards others. The “loveliness of art” is then proper the possibility of rising beyond the limits imposed by gravity, of reaching, albeit with a few simple notes and for a few hours, a state of absolute freedom and pure joy.
But music also has a dark side, a jungle, as we were saying, inhabited by ferocious beasts ready to transform simplicity and innocence into new methods of earning. Competitiveness, toxic ambition, the climb to success, personal crises and more are the equivalent of the contraindications of a leaflet. Rodrigo and Hayley are undoubtedly the characters who are most affected by this duality, sometimes called upon to decide between authenticity and fame. Commercial needs and unscrupulous business are the drawbacks of the profession, being able to accept them and knowing how to manage them is the only way to avoid being carried away by the current. Even a trip to Venice can turn into a tempting opportunity for rebirth or failure, always keeping your dreams in mind is the only way to stay on track in a merciless jungle.