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Philip GlassSince Koyaanisqatsi and its companion pieces Naqoyaqatsi and Powaqqatsi did not employ text, how did you view the role of the music for these films?

We did it reel by reel. Godfrey would show me an assemblage of images; the editor hadnÕt really cut it, but I knew what the subject would be. For example, it might be a whole section of clouds; I didnÕt know exactly how it would be cut, but I knew the subject was clouds and it would be seven or eight minutes long.

Sometimes I was able to go far ahead of the process; I knew Godfrey would be shooting the opening images at the Serra Pelada mine in Northern Brazil, and I wrote 10 minutes of music to fit Serra Pelada; then we recorded a demo of that, and then went to Serra Pelada, and the cinematographer was listening to the music when he was filming. I began to understand that the synchronization of music and film can happen in many different ways, not necessarily the way that we normally do it.

The process of synchronization is not necessarily a formula; itÕs a process. If you stop using the formula and you go back to the process, very interesting things can happen. As you know, films are types of work that tend to honor the past rather than pursuing experimental concepts. That doesnÕt mean you canÕt make beautiful films; Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters [1985], which I did with Paul Schrader, was done as kind of a combination Ņ we talked a lot about it, and then I proposed a way of working, then was able to find a way to proceed. With Paul, I was able to find yet another way of working, which actually made it a lot easier to do the The Hours later on, because Mishima, like The Hours, plays with time. I found a way of playing with time with Mishima; I had to change it for The Hours, but as least I had an approach.

In your scores for films where the text or edited structure is front and center, such as The Hours or The Truman Show, how do you see the musicÕs function in relation to that text and imagery?

With The Hours, you have a story that takes place in three different decades. ItÕs kind of the same story but told in three different ways, and when I saw the film I realized that one way to do this story would be with three different pieces for three kinds of scenes. But I chose to do the same theme in all three places, and I felt that by doing that I could take a rope and yank the movie together, because there was a centrifugal force to the story, it seems to spin you out of the center. And I wanted to go back into the center.

I thought the story was about how the barriers of time begin to disappear as the continuity of subject and emotion becomes more outstanding. Using the same theme for all three settings made you consider the emotional point of view of the solid being crossing over.

The mid-Õ90s saw you undertake a series of re-scorings of films by Jean Cocteau, including La Belle et la Bte, in which you actually replaced the original music with your own new composition.

It wasnÕt really about replacing the original music, a beautiful score by Georges Auric, which I admired. What I was interested in was, I knew that people were making movies out of operas, but could I reverse the process? Could I make an opera out of a movie? It was about redefining the relationship between narrative and music. And very interesting things happened which I had no idea would happen. In the film OrphŽe we look at it from the point of view of Cocteau Ņ weÕre looking at it through a camera lens; youÕre looking at what he wants you to see. When you take OrphŽe and turn it into an opera, youÕre looking at a stage; then your eye is free to look over the whole thing.

With La Belle, I tried to change that process by fitting the opera text into an existing film. With Les Enfants Terribles, we created a tableaux of dance in which the three sets of couples stack behind each other, each telling the same story, and IÕm using the text from the film to tell the story.

These things are all different ways of asking the question, How does music and film and movement go together? If you ask that question without accepting a formula, then you find a different answer.

In any kind of music for film or for stage, isnÕt the key challenge in how not to be too literal in oneÕs interpretation of the images and/or text?

Right now IÕm doing an opera about Kepler, and I did an opera about Gandhi, and someone said, Well, I liked the album, but you know Gandhi wasnÕt like that. And I said, Yes, for one thing, he couldnÕt sing.

When we talk about opera, or when we talk about film, weÕre talking about poetry. Film is not history, film is poetry. Opera is not history, opera is poetry. And the relationship of film and opera is extremely interesting, because in both of those forms all of the elements are collaborationally present Ņ text, image, movement and music. Those are the four elements Ņ the air, fire, water and earth Ņ that film and opera share. When you put them together, you have opera, and now we have film.

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