Jelena Novak: "Life" just had its world premiere in Milan. Louis Andriessen mentioned that it is a kind a contemporary "Pictures at an Exibition". How would you describe the relation between the music and the film in the piece?
Marijke van Warmerdam: Louis asked me to make together a brand new 'Pictures at an Exibition' like Modest Mussorgsky who composed this suite in ten movements in remembrance of artist/architect Victor Hartmann. At once I had films in mind and suggested to him to start with some ideas which led to four loosely related short films as shown in 'Life'. For me length related to film is defined by the impact of an image and its concept, not so much by length. Opposite to a painting film is never static and tends strongly to become a story. I am on the other hand quite interested in creating a kind of stillness or even sometimes stand-stillness in film. Abstraction and lack of narration help me to obtain this. It is fascinating that the relation between the music and the films opens both abstraction and the narrative.
JN: In which way your film represents life, is it about life, which life, whose life...?
MvW: "Life" is a big word. Louis is quite right about that, but here it is about an elderly couple apparently contemplating about life. In my point of view this is what we all unavoidably strive for, namely to get old together. At least, it is something I would have liked to look forward to, but it doesn't look like it that I will accomplish this.
JN: How do your four films relate to each other?
MvW: In 'Life' there is a wind blowing through streets and around corners of buildings. For me gusts of wind are as unpredictable as life with all its ups and downs. If all goes well we reach the moment in which the couple is seen. The film with the blinds shows an abstract looking image in which light peeps into the given space. It blows any view away; here the unpredictability of life is repeated, although in the extreme. In the fourth film for me the old couple is disappearing in space and time, in which a hand can no more do than wiping away the condense on the window glass.
JN: What we hear strongly affects what we see and vice versa. How do you think that works in "Life"?
MvW: Light goes 300.000 kilometers per second and sound has a speed of no more than just 300 meters per second. Nevertheless I think that music is three times faster in reaching our emotions than a static image. A film is faster than a static image, but yet not that speedy. Music touches the sentiments deep in us, film images need to be unrolled for our slow eye. In 'Life' the music carries me away at once, while the film is taking its time to have an impact.
JN: What was your first reaction when you heard music together with the film?
MvW: It struck my eye and ear that the long lasting wind blasts in the first film were accompanied with long streaks of sounds and for instance a bit further circular camera movements could be heard in the composition. I have the feeling that sometimes structure and at other times the narrative part is emphasized.
Marijke van Warmerdam, Life, film still