Michael Ondaatje

The Conversations

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During the filming of his celebrated novel THE ENGLISH PATIENT, Michael Ondaatje became increasingly fascinated as he watched the veteran editor Walter Murch at work. THE CONVERSATIONS, which grew out of discussions between the two men, is about the craft of filmmaking and deals with every aspect of film, from the first stage of script writing to the final stage of the sound mix. Walter Murch emerged during the 1960s at the centre of a renaissance of American filmmakers which included the directors Francis Coppola, George Lucas and Fred Zinneman. He worked on a whole raft of great films including the three GODFATHER films, JULIA, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, APOCALYPSE NOW, THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING and many others. Articulate, intellectual, humorous and passionate about his craft and its devices, Murch brings his vast experience and penetrating insights to bear as he explains how films are made, how they work, how they go wrong and how they can be saved. His experience on APOCALYPSE NOW – both originally and more recently when the film was completely re-cut – and his work with Anthony Minghella on THE ENGLISH PATIENT provide illuminating highlights.
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    Artyom Baryshnikovhas quoted2 years ago
    Most movies use music the way athletes use steroids. There’s no question that you can induce a certain emotion with music—just like steroids build up muscle. It gives you an edge, it gives you a speed, but it’s unhealthy for the organism in the long run.
    Artyom Baryshnikovhas quoted2 years ago
    M: (Barks!) Later, when we were assembling the film, that was one of the sounds the editors used in the track simply because it was there and it sounded okay. But it was still there when we were doing the mix for the previews. I asked, Aren’t we going to change this dog-bark? The editors said, What do you mean? I said, Well, that’s me! And they said, What? We thought it was the dog! So then they began a search for dog-barks. We tried many different versions, but in the end nothing sounded better, in some mysterious way, than that impromptu dog-bark.
    Artyom Baryshnikovhas quoted2 years ago
    When you listen to Beethoven’s music now, and hear those sudden shifts in tonality, rhythm, and musical focus, it’s as though you can hear the grammar of film—cuts, dissolves, fades, superimposures, long shots, close shots—being worked out in musical terms.
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