Eye to Eye with an Alien – the Grand Finale of the FMF!
When I first saw this hall, I knew straight away that it was an ideal setting for the legendary Alien – said Robert Townson, one of the best known and esteemed film music producers in Hollywood, affiliated with the American studio, Varese Sarabande since 1989. In the Grand Finale of the Film Music Festival, we heard the famous Biomechanical Symphony, and musical and cinematic dreams were thus once again forged into reality. We succeeded in bringing the celebrated art tandem, Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal, Oscar winners for Frida, all the way to Krakow.In the first part of the concert, conducted by Diego Navarro, the resident of the FMF affiliated with the film music festival on the Tenerife island, where The Biomechanical Symphony had its European premiere, the Tinning Plant of ArcelorMittal Poland in Nowa Huta resounded with celebrated passages from the Alien sci-fi saga, the third part of which (Alien 3) was illustrated with music by famous composer Elliot Goldenthal, a special guest of the finale.
This dark and beautiful music score earned him international fame, even though the composing process was no bed of roses, as Goldenthal himself confessed during one of the Festival Academies in the presence of other creators of the legendary saga. Goldenthal's music to the film could hardly go unnoticed, but the American Film Academy also awarded an Oscar to the authors of the visual effects of the blockbuster movie. The screening was accompanied by the famous precursors of the aliens, known from H.R. Giger's graphic art work, which the audience could watch projected on the concert screen. This was the first time that the famous graphic artist and sculptor agreed to make his work available; it is normally part of the permanent exhibition at the H.R. Giger Museum Bar in Switzerland. The artist, known in the film world as the only person able to depict nightmare with such great love, addressed the audience from a large screen, explaining that the symbiosis between man, animal, and machine he presents in his sculptures and works of architecture is a vision of human evolution born in his heart and imagination. Against the projection of these surreal images by H.R. Giger, the most easily recognised themes from the five parts of the Alien saga were performed. The famous Alien themes by Jerry Goldsmith: Main Title, The Landing, Breakaway, It’s A Droid, Out The Door and End Title were followed by two legendary passages by James Horner from Aliens, which the producer, Robert Townson, referred to as a military invasion of powerful orchestra forces: Futile Escape and Bishop’s Countdown. After an agressive and breathtaking performance by the wind brass section, Elliot Goldenthal entered the stage; before inviting the audience to listen to the themes from Alien 3, he shared the story of his family. – Both my grandparents lived in Krakow. Pointing to the audience, he added – My blood flows somewhere in your veins. For the last couple of days, I've been walking around Krakow, watching people, looking at their noses and thinking to myself: Oh! That may be my cousin...My DNA is around here as well.
Elliot Goldenthal had twelve months to write the music. He experimented with cutting-edge technologies, improving music sampling programmes in order to create something brand new, removed from the music that his predecessors created for the legendary saga. His work on the score coincided with a wave of riots in Los Angeles. The impressions of city devoured by flames could not but be manifest in the score that he composed at the time. After sharing his memories, Goldenthal underlined that a remarkable Polish composer was sitting in the audience. His voice trembled with emotion when he said – Tonight, I am proud to be in the same place with maestro Krzysztof Penderecki. I admire him greatly from the bottom of my heart. It is a real honour for me.
The concert of music from Alien 3 opened with Agnus Dei, a choral theme performed by soprano Karolina Gorgol-Zaborniak, the Pueri Cantores Sancti Nicolai Boys' Choir, and the Pro Musica Mundi Choir, soon to be followed by Bait and Chase, First Attack, Wreckage and Rape and Lullaby Elegy, as well as The Entrapment and Lento. The concert was crowned by the famous Adagio in a rendition by the Sinfonietta Cracovia Orchestra. The main parts of the Alien trilogy were followed by John Frizzel's suite from Alien: Resurrection. The Biomechanical Symphony finished with the legendary, 90-second Requiem known from Alien vs Predator 2.
The second part of the final concert brought the long-awaited meeting with Julie Taymor, American director of musicals, Shakespeare's plays, operas and films, considered as one of the most important contemporary filmmakers of our times. In private life, Julie Taymor is the life partner of Elliot Goldenthal. The depth and preciousness of their artistic tandem could be appreciated on the example of Elliot Goldenthal's music scores to Taymor's movies such as Titus and Frida. Before the hall resounded with ethnic music and song of the Mexican band, the director of the movie confessed – I've been standing in the wings since the start of the concert and I am filled with great happiness. Not only do I know how the music came to be, I also know who created it. Frida Kahlo was an amazing artist. She continues to inspire many people even today. Working on this movie was an important time in Elliot Goldenthal's creative life. This music touched his less known feminine side. What seems the most precious about it all is that the man who once created such dark and grotesque scores could also compose such incredibly lyrical and romantic music. The audience then heard live themes from Frida, The Journey and Portrait of Lupe.
This part of the concert also featured celebrated passages from The Interview with a Vampire, including Libera Me, Madeleine’s Lament, Louis Revange and the extraordinary Born to Darkness, as well as selected music themes from Titus, with the monumental choral-instrumental part, Victorius Titus.
The MCs of the concert, Magda Miśka-Jackowska and Robert Townson, said – You can't just pop in for a while, this is a festival you stay at for at least three days...
The three concerts of this year's jubilee edition of the Film Music Festival in Krakow were supervised by a 400-person strong technical crew. 650 people altogether worked on their preparation and performance. All this wouldn't have been possible without the support of international artists and the loyal audience of the festival. Thank you all for this year's Festival and see you next year!
The sculpture inspired by the figure of Xenomorph (Alien) was provided courtesy of the Alvernia Studios. We would like to thank president Stanisław Tyczyński for his kind assistance.