Saturday, April 12, 2008

robert bresson, olivier messiaen, i listen to my films as i make them

the composer olivier messiaen comes to mind as the closest parallel to bresson in the other arts. a devout catholic, the organist of the trinité in paris, messiaen has always been a radical modernist and a seminal figure in the evolution of modern music (in addition to his compositions, he deserves the credit of teaching stockhausen and boulez). nevertheless, the material of messiaen's art, pure sounds, submits to simultaneous modernism and theophany more flexible and more radical than narrative film.*

that is a question of composition. i use the word "composition" as opposed to the word "construction." i listen to my films as i make them, the way a pianist listens to the sonata he is performing, and i make the picture conform to sound rather than the other way round. transitions from one picture to another, from one scene to the next are like shifts in a musical scale. our eyesight occupies a large proportion of our brain, perhaps as much as two-thirds. yet our eyes are not so powerful a means of imagination, not so varied and profound as our ears. and so, as imagination is a critical element in any creative process, how could one not privilege the sound aspect?**

olivier messiaen: from vingt regards sur l'enfant jesus (1944) played by his wife yvonne loriod (1956)

* from p. adams sitney's the rhetoric of robert bresson: from le journal d'un curé de campagne to une femme douce

** from i seek not description but vision: robert bresson on l'argent (interview with robert bresson by michel ciment) - both found in robert bresson edited by james quandt, cinematheque ontario, 1998

1 comment:

the art of memory said...

if anyone knows a better way to have a sound link, i would be interested, i don't like the megaupload so much.