After all, it's just a ride….

THX 1138 (1971) – Asian Dub Foundation Screening & Walter Murch In Conversation, London Barbican

barbThere’s nothing like reaping the bounty of one’s hard labour now is there? Over the years I’ve cultivated a passing acquaintance with a few delegates in the indigenous film industry, I’m on name terms with a few colleagues in the team that run the LFF every year, and I’ve picked up a few smaller PR and marketing contacts along the way. One of these was responsible for inviting me to the Kier Duella and Gary Lockwood interview last year, so I returned the favour by devoting some coverage to the London Human Rights Film Festival earlier this year, as a way to say thanks and, well, I was interested and enjoyed watching the documentaries anyway – a win win as we like to say in Local Government. These reciprocal arrangements can work wonders as I was delighted to receive a press invite to a Barbican hosted event this week, more specifically an Asian Dub Foundation rescoring and live soundtrack performance of George Lucas THX 1138 – more details here and, indeed here. Having seen the film at the BFI last year I was less interested in revisiting the movie than I was to see Walter Murch in conversation prior to the concert/screening hybrid, he is of course one of the great technicians of our age he is never less than fascinating on the subject and craft of cinema, and is one of the art-forms leading exponents of editing technique and sound design. His contributions to a small trio of masterpieces – The Conversation, some Vietnam war movie and some gangster flick have assured his footnote in cinema history, and he is never less than fascinating and (to coin one of his terms) certainly not fungible in the flesh;

These unusual aural assimilations come along on the world cinema network ever so often, I can recall a Philip Glass rescoring of the 1931 Dracula, (speaking of Glass guess who’s off to the Opera again next year?) and techno sorcerer Jeff Mills replicating of Lang’s Metropolis from recent memory, I can’t say I’d heard of these guys entering the fray before, and it was quite a sensory overload experience. Here’s a little taster;

The press blurb is here, it was certainly quite apt seeing the film in the brutalist enclave of the Barbican building, I felt positively violated as I left the arena. As expected Walter was a fascinating , opining on his three fundamental rules for editing 1) Emotion – does the edit, the cut provoke an emotional response pertinent to the scene and character? 2) Story – does the edit move the story forward, does it drive the narrative flow? and 3) Rhythm, how does the edit work in concert with the entire film, with the pace and tempo of the film? Unlike some he has fully embraced digital methods in both editing and filming despite being raised on the analog systems, and he shared some of the post production techniques he used for THX1138. The man is a genius in the industry, so it was a pleasure to hear her speak;

I hear from my colleagues that Murch is in London for the summer and will shortly be available for interviews – interesting hmm? As I have said before I generally resist these activities as they risk turning a hobby into something more time-consuming and serious, but I think as with the 2001 event I’ll make an exception in this case, given the opportunity to query him on one of the all time great movie openings, on the ratcheting up of the sound and industrial clanking in the infamous Sollozzo sequence, or more seriously how guilty does he feel for unleashing this nightmare fuel on a generation of youngsters in his only non-fiction directing credit;


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