War Work: 8 Songs with Film
War Work is a series of interlocked films built from contemporary archive material from the Great War. Filmed in Great Britain, France and Germany, the broken bodies of soldiers are juxtaposed with unbridled recruitment propaganda films, images from the Dada movement and expressionist poetry. The film is accompanied with a specially written score sometimes played live by the Michael Nyman Band, othertimes as a recorded soundtrack.
Recycled from archive films, Michael Nyman brings everything back to life which has faded from memory: unknown soldiers - simple bodies without identity - or those who disappeared during the war - identities without bodies. In this way, he reaches back to the ideas of the Dadaist movement, when battlefields provided inspiration for an absurdist vocabulary. Nyman also draws from other sources, having been greatly moved by the heart-rending writings of August Stramm, who was one of the earliest German expressionists and who died at the front in 1915.The "8 Songs” referred to form a song cycle and reference a series of songs by French poet Gaston de Ruyter titled "Chansons Vieilles Sue D’Autres Airs” that is "Old Songs To Other Tunes". They include lyrics from First World War poets including David Bomberg, Isaac Rosenberg and Alfred Lichtenstein.This "film with music" has created a work reminiscent of Nyman’s silent film compositions and thematically linked to works which have a utilitarian perspective on the body such as "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat" and "Facing Goya”.
"War Work: 8 Songs with Film” (2014) was directed and composed by Michael Nyman, and edited by Max Pugh but this seven screen version is the world premiere of the work in this form.
About Michael Nyman
As one of Britain's most innovative and celebrated composers, Michael Nyman's work encompasses operas and string quartets, film soundtracks and orchestral concertos. Far more than merely a composer, he's also a performer, conductor, bandleader, pianist, author, musicologist and now a photographer and film-maker. Although he's far too modest to allow the description 'Renaissance Man', his restless creativity and multi-faceted art has made him one of the most fascinating and influential cultural icons of our times.
Michael Nyman is a composer, pianist, librettist, writer, musicologist, photographer and film-maker whose work encompasses opera, concert music and film soundtracks of which The Draughtsman's Contract and The Piano are the best-known. Since founding the Michael Nyman Band in 1977, which tours the world, he has worked with leading film directors and has collaborated with artists such as Mary Kelly, Damon Albarn, Carsten Nicolai and the recent Oscar winning Man on Wire star Phillippe Petit. An exhibition of his photographs and video-works was recently shown at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill and more exhibitions are planned. His music is available via an extensive range of recordings on his own label, MN Records.