THIS FILM IS A PORTRAIT OF POLES
Wojciech Dudkiewicz talks with Michał Lorenc – a composer, a creator of music for the film ‘Smoleńsk’ being made
WOJCIECH DUDKIEWICZ: – You said a few weeks ago, that you did not know yet, whether you would compose music for the film ‘Smoleńsk’ just being made by Antoni Krauze. Has anything changed?
MICHAŁ LORENC: – Yes, a lot has changed, as I was at the presentation of the initial version of the film and I think that it is excellent! It asks these questions which I have been asking myself for years, like Poles. The film does not judge explicitly what happened, does not define whose fault it was, does not impose ways of interpretation various events connected with the tragedy at Smoleńsk. Whereas, it is a moving film, speaking about facts and searching for the truth. Anyway, the main character of the film does not have to look for this truth. The truth comes to her itself.
– As far as I understand you, your evaluation of the film has its consequences: you will write this music….
– Of course, it does and I feel honoured to be invited to cooperate in work on this film. I think that one of the best film in history is being made.
– And you have seen some of them and composed music to many of them.
– It is difficult to compare it with the ones on which I have worked, mainly because of the emotional impact of this terrible event on us about which this film is. And despite various speculations and radical accusations – this film is about maturation. It is not a historical para-document, this is a feature film about investigating the truth, or – more – wisdom. This film is a portrait of Poles after the catastrophe at Smoleńsk. I will admit that I have been emotionally moved during the projection many times. Because the catastrophe touched many of us. The film shows it in an artistic way. It is moving, beautiful and, contrary to appearances, it is not about Smoleńsk, although it also concerns it, but about us. Everyone has his own Westerplatte, as St. John Paul II used to say. This is just what the film is about.
– The film by Antoni Krauze, or rather the scenario were criticized for being one-sided, etc. You emphasize that the film does not suggest anything and, as I think, it was very important for you in making a decision: write or not write. I understood it in this way.
– I will put in differently: it is difficult to build a normal society and be a co-participant of events when people do not ask themselves basic questions. This film asks these questions and fills in a gap. For me it is a beautiful and moving film, to which creation I would like to contribute. Certainly, I am aware that it may not have a lot of viewers and that it will not be watched by many people.
– Why not? Because people do not like politics in films, or a political movie? That movie is a movie, a film is a film and politics is politics?
– We must be aware of the fact that reviews of the film have already been written. And it does not have to be in the way as in the case of the former picture by Antoni Krauze – ‘A black Thursday’ when over a million people watched the film, and stayed till the last film frame with the ending captions. It was surprising: the old event in history was perceived in such a lively way. Although I hope that also the ‘Smoleńsk’ will be accepted with solemnity. I am also sure that this is the first film about such a big tragedy, but not the last one. It will not be so easy. Poland is a country where no film about Witold Pilecki, Tadeusz Kościuszko was made. There are not such films, and cinemas are full of comedies, colourful films promoted by mainstream media.
– You say that this film is a portrait of Poles. Is it a little painful?
– Absolutely not. For example, if when reflecting on the Road of Cross we experience pain, then we can find it also in the film in this sense. But this is a film rather about Resurrection, not Crucifixion.
– How is it in the case of movie music? Did you have to watch the film first in order to be able to compose music to it? Isn’t it that when you know a scenario, topic, general outlines of a film, you have an idea?
– No, I must watch a film which raises my emotions, whose effect is composing music. A composer would always like to write this most beautiful topic, which strengthens and helps the film, not to disturb it. But there are various situations connected with it, because, for example, the topic from the film ‘A little rose’, which I wrote, and you probably got to know on TV from the time after the catastrophe. The topic does not appear in the film as a movie trailer or is not developed. The reason is: it came to me and I had written it just before recording. In my mind it was longer and more developed but I did not manage to write it and join it to the film. Because of forthcoming deadlines, the creative process is not so harmonious as one could imagine, that, for example, a man sits down and starts writing music. Ideas do not fall onto us when we want or they do not usually come at all.
– You said that watching the film raised you emotions. Did emotions gave you an idea?
– Yes, definitely. This first projection gave me a lot. Music reflect the rhythm of the film, so as to help narration, a plot. I already have a few music outlines, and, first of all, I know how this film should proceed rhythmically. It lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes and I watched without music, and times passed very quickly. It is perfectly told which is very obliging for me. Music should evolve some accents, not spoil the image.
– Are there any culminating points of the film which are very significant for the composer?
– Yes, but it is worth noting the context in which the film and its music are created. The history of creating music is different every time and there is no rule. In the case of ‘Smoleńsk’ we are strongly touched by the catastrophe as the nation, as acquaintances – I also mean myself – more and less dear people for the casualties. Whereas, the so-called official narration, accompanying the tragedy, suggests four untrue attempts for landing, alleged mistakes of the pilots. A false image of events appears which is also strengthened by most media. In our country a meta-language has also been created which we used at communist times.
– Are you chased by deadlines?
– The film will have been made till the end of the year. Work on tunes will be time-consuming – as usually. This is one of conditions for the film to be technically correct. Soon after the catastrophe I was asked to write a long music composition of a funeral character. I rarely write music not for image, a film, therefore, it was a very difficult challenge. It was taking place soon after the catastrophe at Smoleńsk, and I had a lot of emotions about it, this tragedy had been touching me very long and very personally. Therefore, it was beyond all my strength then. Whereas, now I feel that the music which I write is a kind of fulfillment of the commitment which I declared and a kind of paying off the debt towards the casualties who did a lot of good for me. In and after their life.