Kim Novak Cries 'Rape' Over 'The Artist's' Use of Music From 'Vertigo'

Kim Novak in Vertigo 1958
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Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart in 1958's 'Vertigo'

In what could explode into the first major controversy of the current Oscar season, actress Kim Novak has just cried "rape," accusing The Artist of "cheating" by using composer Bernard Herrmann's love theme from Vertigo in its own score.

It's no secret that composer Ludovic Bource quotes extensively from Herrmann's famous piece of music during a climactic sequence in the silent movie, directed by Michel Hazanavicius

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Reviewing the film when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, THR critic Todd McCarthy wrote, "Hazanavicius and Bource daringly choose to explicitly employ Bernard Herrmann’s love theme from Vertigo, which is dramatically effective in its own right but is so well known that it yanks you out of one film and places you in the mind-set of another. Surely some sort of reworked equivalent would have been a better idea."

But in a full-page ad published Monday in the trade publication Variety, Novak, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo along with Jimmy Stewart, wrote, "I want to report a rape. I feel as if my body -- or, at least my body of work -- has been violated by the movie, The Artist."

She went on to say, "This film could and should have been able to stand on its own without depending upon Bernard Herrmann's score from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo to provide it more drama."

Novak called the creative decision "cheating," adding, "Shame on them!"

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She concluded, "It is morally wrong for the artistry of our industry to use and abuse famous pieces of work to gain attention and applause for other than what they were intended. It is essential to safeguard our special bodies of work for posterity, with their original and individual indentities intact and protecting."

The music branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while it ruled that several other scores were ineligible to compete for an Oscar this year because they quoted from existing music and did not include enough original music, did not find that that was the case with The Artist. The branch qualified Bource's score, which is one of 97 scores competing in the current race. Bource was also named best composer at the recent European Film Awards.

A spokesman for the Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film, which just earned Hazanavicius a nomination from the Directors Guild of America, said a statement would be forthcoming.