Film: Requiem for my friend the director

The late Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski is being remembered in a short festival this weekend. The maker of a new documentary tells David Winner about the man, while Nick Kimberley looks at film music and a work written in memory of the dead film-maker

WHETHER IN the flea-pit or the art-house, it's difficult to imagine cinema without music. Indeed, for some film-makers, music enters the cinematic process at the very beginning, as in the collaboration between the director Theo Angelopoulos and the composer Eleni Karaindrou. The latest film on which they collaborated, Eternity and a Day, opens in Britain in May.

Karaindrou remembers their first film together: "That was Voyage to Cythera in 1984. Angelopoulos told me the story. I saw no image, not even a script, just what he told me in that four-hour session. I grasped what he was looking for and the next day I worked out my themes at the piano. Two days later I went back. He liked what he heard and asked me to record it with an orchestra, then he'd see where he could place the music in the film. So I completed my music before any of the shooting started. It's not the usual way of working, although I've heard that Fellini and Nino Rota often worked that way."

The Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner is best known for his scores for Kieslowski's films (including the Three Colours trilogy and The Double Life of Veronique). His experience of the score-writing process embraces most options: "I've written scores for almost 100 films. With Kieslowski, I would be involved from the beginning to the end of the process but, especially with American movies, you're often called in at the last stage, and you simply get on with the job.

"A lot of the time, I feel that directors don't understand how music works in film. It's not important for them; it's like a carpet going all the way through. In film, though, silence is important and the music has to prepare a space for that silence, which is often the best music. I enjoy seeing how the film changes with the music, discovering what sort of meaning my music can give the film image. If the director trusts the composer, everything works better. That's how it was, I think, writing for Kieslowski."

Karaindrou readily admits that working with Angelopoulos has been a formative experience. "When you work with a director like him, composing becomes a sort of psychoanalytic exercise. You have to dig within yourself to find the atmosphere to match that vision. I make my music, not from screen images, but from interior ones, created by ideas or feelings. I don't like music that simply describes situations or underlines them. There has to be a chemistry that uncovers what's behind the images. Otherwise it becomes a kids' fairy story."

Preisner talks of creating a "climate" with his music for Kieslowski's films, yet he ruefully admits: "When you compose for a film, you depend on input from the director, the studio staff, the producers, and of course sometimes you write music for a film that doesn't touch you because, in effect, somebody has placed an order and you have to meet their deadline. I can't work without deadlines, but when you write for the concert hall, you are freer, more independent."

So it is that Preisner has written his first concert piece, Requiem for my Friend, which receives its UK premiere tomorrow. "I'd become interested in mounting a concert, something like an opera or a mystery play. Kieslowski wanted to provide the mise-en-scene, and we talked about calling it The Mystery of Life. We were planning to put it on in the Acropolis in Athens. But Kieslowski died in 1996, and I composed some music for his funeral, with just organ and voice. Later I thought I should do a concert as a way of saying something about our life and work together. I recomposed part of the music that I`'d written for his funeral. The result became Requiem for my Friend."

Hardly a 20th-century composer has not been tempted by what cinema offers. As Karaindrou says, "Good film music is music that digs beneath the surface of situations", a description that holds good for the concert hall, the opera house and the ballet. Film is simply another idiom for composers to grapple with, and if the music that Preisner and Karaindrou write for the concert hall has been inflected by their film experiences, that proves that the relationship between cinema and concert hall is not a parasitic one, but symbiotic.

NK

Preisner's `Requiem for my Friend' can be heard tomorrow at the Royal Festival Hall, London (0171-960 4242); the recording is available on Erato. Kalaindrou's scores for Angelopoulos's films are available on CD: `Ulysses' Gaze' and `Eternity and a Day' (both on ECM)

Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride