Le ciné-concert “Nosferatu, Une Symphonie de l’Horreur” à Bogotá, par l’Orchestre Symphonique National de Colombie dirigé par le chef Andrés Felipe Jaime au Théâtre Colón de Bogotá, c’était hier et avant-hier, et à guichets fermés s’il vous plaît !
► Lisez bien jusqu’au bout, car le billet se termine sur une vidéo de présentation du ciné-concert avec le chef d’orchestre Andrés Felipe Jaime !…, dont vous pourrez lire la transcription en français dans un autre billet dédié. ◄
À cette occasion, on m’a demandé d’écrire un texte de présentation pour le film et ma partition musicale. Le voici. Il est en anglais ; je le laisse tel quel — j’ai suffisamment écrit sur “Nosferatu” en français :
Imagine a world where there are no Internet, no computers, no smartphones.
Imagine a world where people speak, but no sound comes from their lips.
Imagine a world where there isn’t even colours!
A world where people move with slight irregularity, as if someone was turning a crank, with a not-quite-regular speed.
Imagine a world where the shadows are as dark as the fears of your worst nightmares. And the lights as bright as the rising sun.
Yes, welcome back to the dreamlike movie world of 1921.
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau didn’t know, when he finished shooting his movie in October 1921, that “Nosferatu” would become such an important film, both in film History, and vampire films history.
He didn’t know, back then, and couldn’t have imagined, that from that point onwards, almost anyone would believe that vampires can not bear the direct light of sun rays, at risk of dissolving into dust —⁠yes! Such profound is the impact of “Nosferatu” on our imaginary. Because there’s no such a thing in Bram Stoker’s novel: it is an invention of Henrik Galeen’s script.
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau had just branded the myth with its own dreamlike and nightmarish vision of Dracula, in its expressionistic, inventive and somewhat bizarre way.
Everyone probably already knows what ensued, just after the release of the film: Bram Stoker’s widow sued Prana-Film for not paying the rights to her late husband’s novel, and every copy of the film had to be destroyed… We are very lucky indeed that, in the end, it was not the case!
Maybe you’ve seen this intriguing film, too, “Shadow of the Vampire”, by E. Elias Merhige (not a very good film in any way, but Dan Jones’ music is great!), who accounts for a romanticized shooting of “Nosferatu”. In this, Murnau (played by John Malkovich) has in fact hired a real vampire to play Count Orlok… Is that the reason Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe) bears a name that means “fright?”…
As for the word “Nosferatu” itself, many have tried to find the origin and meaning of this word, but it seems that opinions are divided, to say the least.
Now, let’s flip through the years again like we just did —⁠this time the other way round, until 2004.
I was just 17, by then, and I was searching for a film in the public domain to write a musical score. I didn’t have to search very far, to tell the truth, and “Nosferatu” was probably the very first one to cross my mind, because, well… I knew everything about Dracula, vampires and werewolves when I was a teenager.
Once I had made my choice, I spent a little over one year and a half working on the score —⁠that is, when I was not in high school!
Young as I was when I composed the musical score, I did my very best to imagine what I could do, musically speaking, to accompany the film and the story as best as I could at that time, with the utmost care and the utmost respect, and with just the right amount of modernization. I chose to write for everyone in the cast, every character, with a kind of tenderness (Count Orlok included). But I felt and I knew that the music also had to attain a kind of “grandeur” at times —⁠hence the 2 percussionists and the 3 synthesizers⁠—, and even become imperiously threatening when the story or the images asked for dread… Lastly, I wanted to illuminate the film too, from time to time, and infuse it with a kind of airiness, because the subject matter is so dark otherwise.
And sometimes, it happens to me that, in my dreams, I pretentiously hope that Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau would not have disavowed this score. But of that we will never have absolute certainty!
Anyway, today, “Nosferatu” is certainly —⁠and by far⁠—, the film that I have seen the most times. (I did not event bother to count.) And each time, I see new details, new aspects in the film, and I wonder, with a little awe, how a film one century old can remain so modern in its themes and imagery.
So, to wrap everything up, I am very glad that the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia has chosen to perform my score to accompany “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror”. Because, as you shall see, there are at least three things we should celebrate:
1. October 2021 is the centenary of the shooting of the film (it even seems that “Nosferatu” was once announced to be released into theaters in October 1921).
2. 2021 is also already the fifteenth anniversary of my score for “Nosferatu”.
3. And well, of course… it’s Halloween!
I hope that you will enjoy the evening: that you will enjoy being scared —⁠but not too much!⁠—, that you will forget everything about our 2021’s world for an hour and a half, and that you will dive as deeply in the story and dark dreamlike fantasy of “Nosferatu” as I did.
And, please, do not forget to applaud appropriately the conductor and the musicians. Because my score for “Nosferatu” is a challenge for them: no break, no intermission! They have to play and stay perfectly focused and perfectly in sync for one hour and a half! And that alone is a difficult matter.