Friday, 29 June 2007

THE DOCUMENTARY RIVERMUSIC


By Fatmir Terziu*
Director, scriptwriter, cameraperson and editor of the film

Rivermusic starts with an establishing shot of the river water while music starts in the background. Then viewers can see some of the scenery around the riverside, like trees, and paths littered with fallen leaves. This perfect combination of three shots is a model of Eisenstein’s theory of documentary film. In the next shot Mariela is shown playing in the piano. The camera zooms to her hands as they play. It is now that the viewers know that it is Mariela who is playing the music. Then the camera is back in the exterior, showing more trees and bushes.

The documentary Rivermusic is about a talented young pianist who comes from Albania, but is currently living in the UK. Her name is Mariela Cingo. She brings with her a wealth of experience, and a desire to perform a varied programme. She was born in KorcĂ«, Albania on 14 August 1978. She started to learn music from the age of 6, and gave her first concert at the age of 7. By the time she was 12, she had played the Haydn Piano Concerto in D with the KorcĂ« Philharmonic Orchestra. At the age of 17 she moved to the UK to continue her studies under the tuition of Professor Raphael Terroni at the London College of Music and Media. There she won many prizes, including the Piano Concerto Prize for her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. As a young pianist in demand, her recent engagements have included performances of: Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto - with the Sutton Symphony Orchestra Schostakovich's Second Piano Concert - with the Orchestra of the London College of Music. The idea for the production of this documentary comes from the talent of this young musician.
This documentary shows that inspiration of music comes from the real life. It shows this action by exploring the young musician’s life with her music. The main conflict is between her experience in Albania and her new ones in the UK. Ultimately it makes the audience feel that Mariela’s love of music started since she was a child and to understand what musicians play today, what composers write, is simply something that God inspired to them, and it is simply an expansion of the flowing of the river or of the steps of a person walking in the park.
The documentary explores how Mariela Cingo is inspired in her life of music by the riverside. Rivermusic also, has two other interviewees, Lydia Holland, chairman of the White Hall Orchestra and Michael Fage, a conductor of Royal Festival Hall and BBC play writer, who would be speaking in behalf of Mariela. The title, Rivermusic, itself means music inspired by the river. That is why Mariela is always seen walking at the riverside.
The sequence’s action presents the young musician’s ambition with music. The factual information it contributes to the documentary is that beautiful scenery can inspire artists, like the Carmague in France that has inspired lots of musicians, painters and writers.
Rivermusic starts with an establishing shot of the river water while music starts in the background. Then viewers can see some of the scenery around the riverside, like trees, and paths littered with fallen leaves. This perfect combination of three shots is a model of Eisenstein’s theory of documentary film. In the next shot Mariela is shown playing in the piano. The camera zooms to her hands as they play. It is now that the viewers know that it is Mariela who is playing the music. Then the camera is back in the exterior, showing more trees and bushes.
Suddenly, Mariela starts walking in the riverside path towards the camera. This very long shot expresses the arrival of Mariela. As the camera moves to a medium shot, Mariela begins speaking about herself and the inspiration she has got to play her music. The music still continues. As Mariela is speaking, the camera again shows her playing the piano and then backs to her in the riverside. This combination of the shots from a very long shot to a medium shot to a very close up and then back to a medium shot start in the exterior, then in the interior and then back in the exterior. This sequence shows a pattern of different type of shots (from very far to very close) and also of the venue (exterior or interior) of the shot. The alternation of the framing also leads the transition between shot six to shot eight, and from shot eight to shot ten; there is a transition from very long shot to medium shot. The only shot within the series that demonstrates the opposition close distant is in fact shot eight.
As Mariela finishes speaking (but the music still continues in the background) the camera focuses on a medium shot of a tree. With the music still continuing there is another shot of Mariela playing the music. The viewers see her fingers pressing the keys in an extreme close up shot. Then in the twelfth shot the camera is again following the rule (exterior to interior to exterior) by focusing on some bushes.
As the riverside has inspired Mariela when the morning ends, she makes her journey to work by train. There is a very long shot of the London Eye through the train window. The viewers see the London Eye to know that the setting for the Video Diary is London and that this is close to where Mariela plays her music. Then as the train stops, the camera zooms out to show the train next to the Royal Festival Hall. The train in this shot gives the impression that Mariela’s journey to work is over. In the next shot the camera rotates around the Royal Festival Hall where Mariela regularly plays her music. The camera moves from a side view of the Royal Festival Hall to the front view. Furthermore, the camera gives even the tiny details like the name (Royal Festival Hall) and a few decorative trees around the front to give the impression that this is a cultural place. To give a clearer meaning the camera is then focused on a Royal Festival Hall programme showing the concertos from Rachmaninoff to Mozart that Mariela has played before. In this programme the viewers see that great composers have composed these concerts. But in these shots, from shot fourteen to shot seventeen, the viewers don’t see Mariela, but are still listening to the music that she is playing in the piano. The images in this sequence have replaced words for describing the journey she takes to work.
The next four shots describe Mariela’s journey back home from work. In shot eighteen Mariela is walking between two buildings towards the camera. This is a very long shot showing Mariela to the viewers. The camera zooms from the long shot into a medium shot. Shot nineteen, twenty and shot twenty-one are like a large shot divided into three parts, with the camera filming from different angles. The first shot of this sequence, a long shot, is filming from the side as Mariela walks among a crowd of people. The second shot of this sequence, a medium shot, shows Mariela walking towards the camera with people in the background. While the last shot, a medium shot again, has the camera completely turned around. Mariela walks away from the camera as a number of people come towards it. This sequence has the three shots with the same general meaning and the camera is in a static position, which means that these shots can be united. This is another example of Eisenstein’s theory of documentary film.
In all the shots so far the music has continued in the background, but the music stops for a few shots as the camera enters Lydia Holland’s living room. In both shots, twenty-two and twenty-three, Lydia Holland is sitting in a sofa. In her hand she holds a clarinet, and in the background can be seen some flowers and a picture in the wall. As she is talking, her cat enters the living room and jumps on her lap. To replace the music Lydia Holland praises Mariela and her ability to play music. These two shots are medium shot with Lydia Holland in front of the camera. From these two shots the viewers understand more about Mariela.
Obviously, the next shot consists of the other interviewee. This time the camera is in Michael Fage’s study. Michael Fage is standing next to a bookshelf full of books. The viewers can also see a desk lamp in one of the shelves. This is a medium shot. It begins straight after the last one so that Michael Fage’s praise to Mariela adds to the praise said by Lydia Holland. Both interviewees are a vital part to this Video Diary, as they add most of its meaning. The events in the sequence are structured around by the narrative and by the interviewees. There are two differences between the two shots; one of them is that when Michael Fage begins speaking, the music, which had stopped in the previous two shots, starts again, and the other is that the masculine voice of Michael Fage is clearer to hear than the quiet feminine voice of Lydia Holland.
In shot twenty-five the viewers see a very close up of Mariela as she plays in the piano. The camera in this dynamic shot moves from her fingers playing in the piano up to her face and back down again. As the music continues and the viewers see the images of Mariela playing in the piano, Michael Fage’s voice also continues as a voice-over. What Michael Fage says is in relation to the images showing Mariela playing in the piano.
Furthermore, in shot twenty-six, the viewers can see Mariela back at the riverside. She is standing in the riverbank with a book in her hand. The river can be seen just to the right of her; there are also trees in the background. In this medium shot Mariela is facing the river away from the camera. The music still continues in the background as Mariela starts speaking. The song of a bird that is singing in the background can also be heard. Between the last two shots there is a small space filled with a very close up of a berry tree. Then Mariela starts speaking again as the camera changes from a medium shot to a long shot. The music is still continuing in the background. In this final shot Mariela is walking at the riverside path away from the camera, trees can be seen on either side of her. The camera zooms out as Mariela disappears from view. These two shots now also fulfil a regulatory function by re-establishing the alternation of framing and the look in a series in which the one and the other are subject to a break. The documentary ending gives clearly the message that she is walking in this path, meditating on life, trying to find out how she came to walk the path of life that she walks now.
At last the main issue of this documentary is to contribute something that was clear even then, Mariela’s musicianship and her excellent understanding of the music emotionally. Furthermore, it is like an exploration of all the young talented people living in the UK. The interviewees are playing out that Mariela has played with them in several concerts and now she can count her rests and come in at the right time as well as any orchestral player. They think that this is great help for a concert pianist because some concert solos are not really very familiar playing with an orchestra. So they always enjoy any opportunity of playing with Mariela. For them she has a sparkling carrier in front of her.
To sum up, I have analysed Rivermusic as a real documentary. It is about Mariela Cingo, a young talented musician living in London. Furthermore I have tried to analyse that this documentary is compact to the Video Diary documentaries and corresponds completely to brief 3 of our group work. Rivermusic could be seen as a biography documentary. The sound needs to be more developed even though the relationship of the soundtrack and the images in this documentary is well tuned. The images in this documentary created another firm understanding of the techniques of Video Diary making. Music too has a general meaning in the theme of this documentary and was developed well even though in the middle it needs to be improved a bit more.



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