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Potemkin rocks

Posted at 10:40 PM on January 26, 2008 by Euan Kerr

I am fresh from having experienced the Minnesota Orchestra play the accompaniment to "Battleship Potemkin," and what an experience it was.

The film looks stilted by modern standards, and even with restoration looks battered by age. Yet Eisenstein's images combined with the music of Shostakovich created a magnificent and moving spectacle.

At the question and answer session after the film Esa Heikkila who came from Finland to conduct the piece, admitted his children now think he's a little nuts. That's because he's spent the last two weeks at home sitting in front of a silent television conducting music which was only in his head. The madness paid off in the concert hall.

He said that conducting music for a film this way is like working with a singer who is completely deaf, but always right. The fact that the orchestra's final note faded exactly at the same time as the final image shows Heikkila got it right too.

January 2008
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