"The seconds of your life are ticking away, if somebody tells you that there is a rule, break it. That is the only thing that moves things forward." - Hans Zimmer
"Somehow, floating somewhere between our eyes and our ears is our heart. It is closer to our head than our chest, I am convinced. Why else, when these geniuses get it right, blending both what the eyes see and the ears hear, do we feel it in our throat, that swelling of sorrow, of pain, of joy. " - me
In 1982 an incredible ordeal was initiated. It required famously moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill to reach the mouth of another river, promising to reach a land rich in rubber trees deep in the Peruvian jungles of the Amazon. The movie, "Fitzcarraldo", is the story of the 1890's Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald. This movie was filmed without the use of special effects. Werner Herzog, the writer and director, believed that no one had ever performed a similar feat in history, and likely never would again, calling himself "Conquistador of the Useless". And so began the adventure story that turned into an award winning film.
In the past 6 months I have downgraded my cable bill to just a few channels, so i can watch documentaries and get through some classes. What kinds of classes you ask? Well, I am knee deep into the many hours of the formal teachings of master composer Hans Zimmer and filmmaker Werner Herzog. In this day of connectivity, we all can now take a week or two of study under these genius folk. Sure, one could go down the rabbit holes of youtube and the like for some information, but why not go right to the horse's mouth ? If one has seen some of Herzog's work, one would understand why I have leaned toward's his teachings. One only has to look as far as the trailer to "Happy People: A year in the Taiga" for inspiration.
From another angle, one intimately blended with Herzog's type of craft, Hans Zimmer has haunted me with his soundtracks for as long as I can remember. Sure, you may, or may not in fact, know his touch upon your heart, your soul, your fears, your hopes unless you are accustomed to reading the credits at the beginning or endings of films. Zimmer has scored movies like Dunkirk, Interstellar, Inception, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sherlock Holmes, 12 years a Slave, Pearl Harbor, Last Samurai, and Blade Runner 2049 to name just a few. But, none have moved me like The Power of One (1992) or Gladiator. Perhaps unknowingly, Zimmer has tugged at your heart many times over the years if you have watched any of the great films of the last several decades. There is something magical in how music enriches a piece of filmmaking, and it appears to be true genius when the right score is placed upon a scene, it has to be right to evoke the desired message. Somehow, floating somewhere between our eyes and our ears is our heart. It is closer to our head than our chest, I am convinced. Why else, when these geniuses get it right, blending both what the eyes see and the ears hear, do we feel it in our throat, that swelling of sorrow, of pain, of joy. Now, as an example of the magic, watch the video here of the final scene of Gladiator. Listen carefully how Zimmer's piece, with the amazing overlay of the angelic voice of Lisa Gerrard, sneaks up on you, and tugs at your heart. In just five minutes, Zimmer takes the visuals, swells your throat fully with sorrow, and then in a mere few transitional notes, in the last minute, springs us forward to hope and faith. This is the genius of Hans Zimmer. His is the magic you hear, yet, truthfully, it is the magic you actually feel. In summary, it is a team effort, Herzog pins the scene to the retinas of your eyes, and Zimmer jams it down into your throat.
These Masterclasses have been a true gift to me. I can no longer just truly watch a documentary or film, one cannot put the genie back in the bottle. This process has changed things. This is about learning to tell stories, it is about capturing stories, hearing stories, feeling stories. It is about giving stories depth and breadth, it is about moving mountains, moving us and our hearts. This has been a passionate curiosity of mine for at least three decades now, these men have helped to lift the veil of these mysteries teaching me how, and why, they affect me so. Gratitude.
"Why now" one might ask? "Why not" I might respond. Time is short, there is much to learn, much to share, stay tuned. Besides, a few months ago after spending time with the genius of The Rolling Stones, (link here) I promised myself I would no longer wander about and wonder, I would venture in. And so, the process has begun.
"Why else" one might ask ? Because I am pathologically curious, perhaps I wonder too much. Because, "we only think we have enough time", time remaining that is.
And with that, I will leave the reader with another genius, Ennio Morricone's beautiful piece, the theme to the film, "The Mission". But, before I close, do me a favor. Turn off the television, click the "play" button, and close your eyes. And while you drift off into this auditory beauty, I will make us some tea and we can take a few classes together. Once again I say it, "we just think we have time".