Tag Archive: Max Richter

220px-george_charles_beresford_-_virginia_woolf_in_1902_-_restorationOn this day in 1941 Virginia Woolf took her own life aged 59 by  weighing down her jacket with stones and drowning in the River Ouse near her home in Sussex, England.

By way of tribute, below is a You Tube link to Max Richter’s haunting music composed for Wayne McGregor’s Woolf Works which begins with a reading of Woolf’s suicide note to her husband, signed ‘V’ which is beautifully read by Gillian Anderson. Continue reading


Why Woolf Works works

woolfworksIt might seem an odd notion to base a dance performance on three novels by Virginia Woolf, but Wayne McGregor is a choreographer who makes his own rules. He proves that great prose can inspire and captivate in the same way that the rhythmic flow of lyrical poetry can.

Woolf Works was premiered to huge acclaim in 2015 and is divided into three sections: ‘I Now, I Then’ is based on the themes in Mrs Dalloway; ‘Becomings’ takes its cues from the surreal wit & vitality of Orlando and ‘Tuesday’ is inspired by The Waves, Woolf’s most experimental novel.

This final section is also named after the heading to the suicide note Woolf left for her husband. This letter, which begins “I feel certain that I’m going mad again”, is beautifully read by Gillian Anderson as a preface to the profoundly moving conclusion.

The revival of these pieces was a hot ticket at The Royal Opera House but has now reached a wider audience thanks to a live worldwide broadcast in over 1,500 cinemas and more than 35 countries on February 8th 2017. Continue reading


I’ve just seen remarkable animated movie,Waltz With Bashir by Israeli director Ari Folman which is rightly making waves and collecting trophies across the film festival circuit.

As a kind of moving graphic novel, it highlights the absurd and surrealistic nature of the recent bloody conflicts in Beirut and The Lebanon although, in interviews, Folman has been at pains to point out that this is not simply a war movie.

Rather it is a study in the psychological impact on those who find themselves taking part in atrocities, most of the time with little awareness of who they are fighting against and why. In this way it has literary parallels with works like Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse 5.

The director himself is depicted interviewing actual participants and psychologists in an effort to shed light on the black hole in his memory bank. Gradually he pieces together that which his mind has blocked out, the witnessing of his part in the horror of Sabra and Shatila massacre.

The soundtrack is perfectly pitched with an evocative and melancholy score by Max Richter and includes a wonderful sequence using PIL’s ‘This Is Not Love Song’.

If this was a conventional movie, the battle scenes would be practically impossible to watch – the brief but shocking news footage at the end of the movie tells us all we need to know of the reality.

However noble their intentions, war movies tend to have a strong voyeuristic element and convention demands that we look either for heroes and a sense of hope amongst the carnage and destruction. You will find neither in this sobering film.

Instead the movie works more as an allegory to warfare. In that sense it would be inappropriate to see it as an overtly political film. Folman has stated that the only conclusion he wants people to draw is that ” war is stupid, it’s a waste”.

It is a measure of this film’s power that this message does not seem like a platitude.

Atonement – the movie

Atonement posterFinally got to see the movie adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel ‘Atonement’ and it really lived up to my high expectations.
With only his second full length feature, English director Joe Wright follows his bold makeover of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ with a film that works on every level.
It’s a book that didn’t wow me but after seeing this movie I think the fault lies with my superficial reading rather than McEwan.
Keira Knightley(Cecilia Tallis) is sexy and sultry – James McAvoy (Robbie Turner) was great in ‘The Last King of Scotland‘ and is equally good here.
The casting of Briony Tallis at ages 13 (Saoirse Ronan) & 18 (Ramola Garai) is perfect and sets up the moving closing cameo from Vanessa Redgrave as an older Briony .
The music by the young Italian composer, Dario Marianelli, creates just the right atmosphere – the piano pieces (and the clacking typewriter effects) reminded me of Max Richter’s sublime ‘The Blue Notebook’.
The screenplay by Christopher Hampton recreates McEwan’s precise use of language but it is the voiceless looks and small gestures Wright captures, particularly in the first part of the movie at the country house, which are really memorable.
This is where cinema works its magic – enabling a small action like the crushing of a flower in the hand to take on a poetic weight.
A marvellous movie.
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