Great composer with a movie camera: Nyman | Hürriyet Daily NewsFeb 21st, 2012
Michael Nyman’s visit to Istanbul started as a “disaster,” the great composer, and a new filmmaker, admitted.
Nyman, who is known for his famous compositions for films of masters such as Peter Greenaway, Jane Campion and Michael Winterbottom, has reinvented himself as a filmmaker recently after “the music industry decided he no longer can work in films.” That blessing in disguise led Nyman’s path to Istanbul, where he presented his films to movie and music aficionados in Istanbul.
Nyman was in Istanbul over the weekend to present his “NYman with a Movie Camera,” his scene-by-scene remake of the 1929 Soviet Russia classic “Man with a Movie Camera.” However, Feb. 18’s screening was marred by glitch sounds and distorted images due to a technical failure in the copy of the film.
“I left my house at 4 a.m. for this screening,” a disappointed Nyman said. “And it turned out to be a disaster.”
The other day the Englishman had a full house watch his short films at Salt Beyoğlu, “100 for Zegna,” “Witness 1,” “Tieman” and “Love Train.” Thankfully, he was in a better mood. But was Nyman really serious when he said the industry did not want him – the man who composed the music for “The Piano”? Apparently he was.
“You can’t create a soundtrack if there is not a film to create a soundtrack. And you can’t create a soundtrack for a film without either a director or a producer or a studio inviting you,” he said to Hürriyet Daily News.
“Why I [changed] from being Mr. Popular to be Mr. Unpopular? I have my theories. My theory is, every soundtrack from every composer sounds the same. But when you listen to the soundtrack to ‘Piano’ you wouldn’t necessarily think it was written by the composer of ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract.’
“So I think I am the victim of my own originality because contemporary soundtracks are not original at all.”
Reconstruction of old movie
Nyman’s involvement with “Man with a Movie Camera” goes about a decade back, when he was asked to compose a musical score to the Dziga Vertov masterpiece. A few years ago Nyman decided to make a scene-by-scene reconstruction of the 1929 movie, delving deep into his archives and starting to shoot some more images – all in order to “mirror” Vertov’s film. For example, for every scene in which a bus crosses the Russian streets, there is an image of a bus shot by Nyman in some part of the world. Or for some Russian women cleaning the windows in Vertov’s film, you see a window-cleaner shot from the 1990s.
Nyman wraps it in 64 minutes, exactly the same length as Vertov did. But at the end he had a deeply different movie than the classic one.
“‘Man with a Movie Camera’ was a particularly innocent eye on Soviet communism. [Vertov] was presenting this idealized society, the Soviet Union, but in two or three years, was corrupted by Stalin Purges,” Nyman said. “Basically, my film is dystopic rather than utopic and pessimistic rather than hopeful. But that’s something that came about in the process of making the film; I didn’t sit down and say: Here is my analysis on Vertov.”
Just as Vertov did, Nyman had some footage on sports in his film – football games in London and Mexico City in addition to Barcelona’s 2009 championship parade – allowing the viewer to think about sports’ role in modern society being a simulation of war.
“Mirroring of the sport section has two subjects, one is football. We know when English teams play in Istanbul against Beşiktaş or Galatasaray, there is a lot of competitive enmity,” he said. “But there is the other sport, a sport called zoor, that kind of gymnastics thing from Iran that I was very privileged to film. I get the impression that it is a combination of gymnastics that have had something to do with war. The war-likeness of the activity has become synthesized into a ritual display of strength.”
He was in football game
On the night of Feb. 19, Nyman was at Istanbul’s İnönü Stadium to watch Beşiktaş play a football game against Gençlerbirliği. It was not a surprise he had his camera with him, continuing to collect images – maybe to be used in a future film.