When Krzysztof Kieslowski’s movie, The Double Life of Veronique screened in Cannes 1991, a woman from the audience yelled as the lights turned on after the show. “Leave us in darkness. Let’s live this marvellous story to the very end.” The transcendental music of the movie, that had a major role in carrying away viewers and made indelible marks on their psyche, became a talk of the festival and the name Zbigniew Preisner was everywhere. No other filmmaker-composer duo than Krzysztof Kieslowski and Zbigniew Preisner could create back-to-back masterpieces and all their collaborations are part of the world cinema history.
Their awesome body of work includes No End (1985), A Short Film About Killing (1988), A Short Film About Love (1988), The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Three Colors: Blue (1993), Three Colors: White (1994), and Three Colors: Red (1994).
In this conversation, Zbigniew Preisner remembers his legendary collaboration with acclaimed Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski, which started when Preisner was 25 years old and that lasted 17 movies made over 9 years. He called it coincidence and good fortune to work with a great man like Kieslowski. Preisner was always aware of the change in the mood and meaning of the visual when proper music added to it.
The Sugar Cube And The Coffee, A Lesson In 5 seconds By Krzysztof Kieslowski
It was when he was working on his first movie, The Weather Forecast in 1981, Kieslowski sent for him. Sipping vodka in a disgusting Warsaw bar, as Preisner recollects it, Kieslowski told him, “I know you are from the art club of Krakow. You guys are never on time. But, I would really like to ask you. This is my first movie under martial law. It’s called No End. I want you to work really hard on it.” “Don’t worry Mr. Kieslowski, I have screwed up bigger productions,” replied Preisner. What started at that godforsaken bar, with No End, went to places and stole hearts of millions of film lovers all over the world.
Preisner says Kieslowski knew what music can do with moving images and was never afraid of using it. Kieslowski wrote down his screenplay just like a musician had written down his notes. Their perspectives of storytelling were so identical that they never used to talk more about the movies they are working on. Kieslowski was searching for a musician who is artistically creative and reject all existing canons and he found his man in Preisner.
“The Multitude Of A Man”, Orson Welles And Filmmaking
For Preisner, writing music for a film is a metaphysical process, adding something that viewers can’t perceive, the atmosphere of the movie, because only music can reveal something that we can’t see, but feel. He says the only metaphysical element in a film is the music. The most important trait that made him distinct from other composers is his intuitive sense of when silence works better than music in a movie. “For what’s different to be seen different, there has to be a difference,” Preisner reveals the secret for writing music for movies and reminds us, in cinema, “silence is more than music.”
Written By: Ragesh Dipu