Mark Cosgrove, Watershed's Head of Programme and co-creator of Filmic shares his inspirations for the season, explaining why each of his choices are ultimate examples of exemplary collaboration between music and film.
Film and music’s enduring artistic partnership helps define the uniqueness of the cinematic experience. The list below is my starting point and inspiration for exploring the creative collaboration between film and music.
- Un Chien Andalou with music by Various
(Dir: Luis Bunuel/Salvador Dali, France, 1929)
The music to this surrealist film is appropriately seductive, oblique and jarring. Not an obvious choice perhaps for the filmic philosophy in that it was pre-recorded existing music but when you learn that Bunuel took along a bunch of records and in effect DJ'd live to the first screening in Paris it becomes a more filmic-ly relevant piece.
- Onibaba with music by Hikaru Hayashi
(Dir: Kaneto Shindo, Japan, 1964)
I saw this as a youngster and was absorbed by the film's otherworldliness: the strangeness of the setting (reed marshes in 14th century Japan), the story (mother and daughter-in-law ambush and kill passing Samurai). Only recently did I realise that this strangeness was amplified by the alternating frantic and calm of composer Hikaru Hayashi's percussive score.
- Trespass with music by Ry Cooder
(Dir: Walter Hill, USA, 1992)
Cooder with his iconic score to Paris, Texas redefined how music could work with and create meaning in film. Whilst this film should also be on any Filmic list I really want to draw attention to Cooder's creative collaboration with director Walter Hill, including such films as Southern Comfort and The Long Riders. In Trespass, Cooder creates a suitably heavy urban sound with some help from Ice-T on defining track King of the Street.
- Lost Highway with music by Trent Reznor/Angelo Badalamenti
(Dir: David Lynch, USA, 1997)
A terrifying mind-altering film with a terrifying mind-altering soundtrack. I first saw this as the surprise film at the Rotterdam Film Festival and was taken aback by the sheer intensity of it. That intensity is down to the unique collaboration of Lynch, musician and producer Trent Reznor and composer Angelo Badalementi. Lynch truly understands the power of music, noise and silence and Lost Highway truly exemplifies that understanding.
- Blight with music by Joceyln Pook
(Dir: John Smith, UK, 1994-6)
This collaboration between filmmaker John Smith and composer/musician Joceyln Pook was made as part of a BBC/Arts Council commission specifically intended to explore the creative collaborations between film and music. The result is a powerful short portrait of the destruction of a local community to make way for a motorway, which is alternately lyrical, poetic, angry and melancholic.
- Jack Nitzsche Composer/producer
A whole season/book/programme could be devoted to the work and influence of music producer Jack Nitzsche. He worked alongside Phil Spector in the late 50s early 60s when Spector was developing and experimenting with the aural possibilities of the wall of sound. He went on to work with amongst others The Rolling Stones and Neil Young. His film work is as groundbreaking as his music producing bringing musicians like Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart and john Lee Hooker to write and compose for film. What follows are three films with scores produced by Nitzsche including one of his own compositions.
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, with Closing Theme -Jack Nitzsche
(Dir: Milos Forman, USA, 1975)
The climax to the film is possibly one of the saddest yet triumphant in cinema. This is due in no small part to the delicacy of Nitzsche's music which builds from fragile to rousing.
- Blue Collar, with Hard Working Man by Captain Beefheart
(Dir: Paul Schrader, USA, 1978)
Beefheart's thumping heavy blues riff and vocals cut with stop start visuals of the assembly line set the scene for a hard hitting expose of blue collar life and union corruption.
- The Hot Spot with music by Miles Davis/Taj Mahal/John Lee Hooker
(Dir: Dennis Hopper, USA, 1980)
Only Nitzsche could have pulled together such a line up of musicians. There distinctive sounds blends to make a sleazy blues score which perfectly compliments the trouble Don Johnson is getting himself into.
- Dead Man with music by Neil Young
(Dir: Jim Jarmusch, USA, 1995)
Jarmusch's distinctive take on the western has the distinctive sound of Neil Young providing the score. Famously Young improvised to the finished film alone in the studio so what you are hearing is, similar to live improvisation to silent film, a musician's immediate response to a film. The results with added Blake poetry is like the film quite magical.
- Trouble Everyday, withTrouble Every Day by Tindersticks
(Dir: Claire Denis, France, 2001)
French director Claire Denis has worked with Tindersticks to score most of her work. She views their creative contribution on a par with the writer, cinematographer or actors. Their music is in every sense part of her cinema. In this film the unsettling calm of the track Trouble Every Day counterpoints the darkness unfolding on screen.