Based in Berlin, Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz is a composer of music for film, television and theatre. Antoni invited me into his home to talk about his work in Agnieszka Holland’s Mr. Jones. The film Mr. Jones premiered at Berlinale (The Berlin Film Festival) and will be screening at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. I especially enjoyed the music of the film and was excited to learn more about the process Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz took in developing the score for the film and the working history that Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz and Agnieszka Holland have had and these roots in Poland.
Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewicz: Agnieszka and I, we are part of one family. So, I grew up in a filmmaking family in Warsaw and Agnieszka was part of it and at some point in my life, because I showed gifts for music, and an interest in composing and in cinema. I started connecting the dots and I started experimenting with writing music and with writing music for picture. The beginnings were amateur. I had a circle of friends who were involved in amateur filmmaking, and we were trying things out. And than, as I was part of the conversation at the dinner table anyway, I started to get involved in this aspect as well. People I knew closely were working with amazing film music composers such as Jan Kaczmarek and Zbigniew Preisner. These were frequent guests at our house and they were both very inspiring figures. Very powerful figures. And it sparked my interest, this ability to influence emotions of a viewer through means of just the script, and not obvious. That was something that was very exciting to me and it fit my character well.
Antoni: Then came my composition studies and soon after that, I started working with Agnieszka on her feature film called Julie Walking Home. I was 22 years old at that time. I remember that it was a film with an international cast and it was a very philosophically complicated, complex film, which I approached with a lot of boldness and intuition. I watched this film a couple of years ago, so after some 15 years and I was actually quite amazed by how much guts I had to put very powerful music under a very subtle film. But it worked out well. And from that point, I was welcomed into this circle of the family with Agneizka. And it was natural for us to reconvene very soon and work together on many projects. I don’t know how many there have been, I have lost count. probably around a dozen. Prior to that I had begun workin with other directors, including some here in Germany, and other countries and this is actually how my film composing career started.
Antoni: With Agneizka, because I have implemented this with other directors I worked with is we keep the editing open when I begin my work, it’s still open. I usually organize it so that I can join Agnezkia and her editor at her house in France and spend 10 days or 12 days and what happens is a back-and-forth. I make demos, I bring them over to them to the editor room, that is kind of next door, and they try it out and sometimes, especially if it concerns very rhythmic or very pulsating sequences, it turns out that it’s better to edit to music then the other way around.
Antoni: So I think it was the case with the train ride sequence to some extent. It was sort of put together when I saw it first and then I came with this musical idea which was very methodic and very machine like and they put it to the picture and they started tweaking the picture a bit so that it fits it more, because we wanted to have almost a sense of musical video sequence and it was suppose to be perfectly matched. It’s also kind of a play of the form and the genre. It’s stylized a bit to make you think of sort of Soviet propaganda films from the 30’s and 40’s. Which were very musical and often had brilliant music used for that.