The film scoring of “The Photographer Of Mauthausen” has meant a tremendously intense journey to my innermost self. I always give all I have got to each and every one of the projects I take on as a composer. This one, however, I must admit, has overcome with emotion my very soul.
In 2009 I had the oportunity to live an experience that would change my life. One of those experiences that you know you will keep with you forever. That year I was invited for the first time to direct Cracovia´s Film Music Festival, an event considered to be the brother of FIMUCITÉ (Tenerife´s International Film Music Festival), of which I am the father and director. I had the oportunity to visit Auschwitz´ famous camps of concentration -Birkenau. I studied in “Aleman” School and I am a great enthusiast of History, especially of the Second World War. Despite knowing what I was about to experience would exceed my expectations, I never imagined I would get shocked to the point of speechlessness for the two hours that followed my visit. I froze, unable to elicit a word. I felt such intensity and pain I immediately knew that, in spite of everything, I had been right in accepting the invitation to visit both camps of concentration. Having said that, I wouldnt go back, despite how important it is.
When asked about where I got the inspiration from for this film score, it has often been inevitable to make reference to “Schindler´s list”. My response has always been: “(Inspiration) came from my personal experience”. This has in fact been one of my healthy obssesions , to walk away from predefined clichés or stereotypes. As soon as I read the fantastic script of the film, I was veryimpressed about the story of the 9000 Spanish prisoners that suffered for years in that so misleadingly called “labour camp”, which was actually turned into an absolute “death camp”. After reading the text, the main topic of the film came up in the form of a musical lamentation, exemplified by the figure of the cello solo that represents our protagonist: Francesc Boix, masterfully interpreted by Mario Casas. His and that of the rest of the 8999 Spanish that suffered and died there.
In order to tell what happened, I decided to structure and develop my score for the film through an orchestry of strings, piano and harp, accompanied by woodwind. Like I said, cello is the absolute protagonist together with other solo instruments like violin or the English horn. I didnt score for Symphonic Orchestra until the end of the film, as that was the moment in which it was necessary a less intimate music, bigger, though equally emotional. I also wanted to represent musically thriller´s trditional characteristic aspects, in all those scenes our protagonist begins to devise a heroic plan to hide a huge selection of negatives that could later compromise the Nazi regime revealing their atrocities. All this is reflected in a series of “leit motivs” in several pieces of the film score. I decided, on the other hand, to adopt a psychological perspective and try to musically describe the sick mind of Fritz Seidler, the highest ranking officer in Mauthausen. A cold-blooded criminal that never shouted and never lost temper. He loved killing with his own hands. I tried to translate Fritz´ sick mind into music with the piece “Sadismo” which, although it was not used in the film in the end (I had originally composed that piece for the scene in which Fritz murders several prisoners that worked as waiters during his son´s birthday party), accompanies the final part of the trailer of the film very conveniently. In our film, in that scene he kills two people, I later learned, however, it was actually 40 people he killed that day in his house, in a family celebration.
I admit to having got emotional like never before on many occasions scoring this film. How would you feel knowing that you have to compose a piece of music for the scene of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp and the fall of the Third Reich? I felt a special bond when I was doing this sequence, as I connected with the prisoners that we see in the film shouting with joy and happiness, waving flags and placards, knowing that they are already free, that hell is over and that they begin to see the light of hope. Another of the scenes that shocked me the most is the one I describe in the piece entitled “Do not separate us!”, which narrates the heartbreaking forced separation of an adolescent child from his father. The first thing I did that night when I finished that scene and got home, was to sit on my son´s bed, watch him and stroke him as he slept calmly.
I have to say that it has been an extraordinary pleasure to work with Mar Targarona. There was a wonderful connection and understanding from the first moment. When your director has the ideas so clear from the first moment, everything flows. From the moment in which we began to work and she asked me to describe the scenes that, to my judgement, needed music, I knew that everything was going to go smoothly. Reality exceeded my best expectations, since we were in agreement in almost every moment regarding all the pieces of music I gave to her during the process of film scoring, and also in all the scenes that needed music as much as in the sense of each of the scores that I sent to her. It has been an absolutely creative communion, and incrediblysatisfactory. Something really exceptional.
This film is a song to life, a necessary film. A story that must be known, so that it will never happen again.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, October the third, 2018