The WWII 1944 story line of Paris brûle-t-il is drawn from actual historical events and takes place in Paris amidst the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt of Adolph Hitler.
For the score of Paris brûle-t-il, Jarre composed five thematic identities; first and foremost he created a waltz for the ages, the Valse Paris, a remarkable free flowing accordion rich French melody, which perfectly captured the beating heart of Paris. For the German identities Jarre composed a march as well as two motifs. The Mars Allemand is purposely strident and oppressive. Twelve pianos were employed to simulate marching footsteps, and were supported by snare drums, timpani and clash cymbals. The attending Menace Motif is simply a grotesque and dissonant cluster chord, which sows danger and menace, while von Cholitz’s motif offers a stark and foreboding descending horn line, which never resolves. Throughout the film Mars Allemand and the Menace Motif often join in an synergy, perfectly emoting the danger and ruthlessness of the Germans. Juxtaposed to the Mars Allemand are three inspired French marches, which embody the resilience and indomitable spirit of the French people.