January 07, 2003

Scorsese Is The Thief Of Time

Last night I watched Fight Club which certainly had a giddy non-rational feel. It's a strange movie, not at all as advertised on the tin. It is however, as violent as the trailers suggest, and somewhat darker in spirit.
In a very different vein, I went to see Shorts at the Barbican, featuring short works by five filmmakers chosen by Philip Glass together with a live performance of his accompanying score. The music was as impressive and affecting as I had hoped for, and the best of the films were exquisite, atmospheric, provocative by turns. We were also treated to a discussion after the performance. In this Glass commented, among other things, on the particularities of film scoring, the nature of collaboration with directors, and the differences between working on film (where the director has the final word) and opera (where this privilege belongs to the composer). Along the way he recounted stories of directorial revision both with the composers foreknowledge (Scorsese is a time-thief) and without (total recutting of The Man in the Bath). While obviously greatly distressed by changes made to something in which he had made a very great personal investment, he was apparently fairly sanguine about it, recognising the realities of this specific creative process. Glass also remarked upon the contrast between film images, which can be very powerful yet are remarkably clumsy as a means of evoking a precise spectator response, and music, which is much more articulate.
Perhaps his most significant comments reflected his musical intentions when scoring film, which include echoing the structure of the film in the score, while at the same time avoiding excessive synchronisation of film and score. He sees the latter as allowing a distance, a space between the music and the images. Glass considered synchronisation to be perfectly legitimate, although he rather rubbished its credentials by suggesting that such manipulation was essential in e.g. advertising. So now I'm wondering how fundamental his 'de-synchronisation' is to the enigmatic feel of film scored by Glass, and how this might help create something which is greater than the sum of its parts.
Whatever. I like the music well enough for its own sake.

Posted at January 7, 2003 11:46 PM