Mein Kino für Die Ohren (My Cinema for the Ears), a 59-min film by Uli Aumüller, is not only a fascinating “under the hood” peek into aspects of the creative processes of two important contemporary composers, but also an impressive experimental work for video and tape in its own right. The DVD is presented primarily in French with some English, along with optional German, French, and English subtitles. It also includes four audio tracks in stereo format.
The film depicting the lives and creative processes of Francis Dhomont and Paul Lansky is difficult to describe. It skirts idiomatic elements common to art film, documentary, and video while presenting a nonlinear examination of its subjects. Although this may be considered a strength in many aspects, it also may lead to some confusion as to where the documentary ends and the experimental film begins. With footage of Mr. Dhomont recording samples in the field and in the studio, and footage of Mr. Lansky tweaking samples on the computer, viewers are treated to a brief glimpse of both composers working in their respective environments. Mr. Aumüller punctuates the film with footage of conversations between both composers, with Mr. Lansky speaking in English and Mr. Dhomont speaking in French (and a little bit of the other way around, to be fair!). Some of these interchanges seem scripted, although they contribute to a kind of subtle dry wit that underlies the whole film. However, while it is interesting to see the impetus for Mr. Lansky’s Table’s Clear, the viewer is somewhat less interested in seeing Mr. Dhomont skipping stones on a lake. The “action” elements are a bit contrived in spots.
One of the most interesting aspects of the film is the cohesiveness between dramatic and artistic elements. A discussion between Mr. Dhomont and composer Christian Calon about music made for the ear, rather than for paper, flows into a series of stunning water transformations accompanied by Mr. Dhomont’s Un autre Printemps. During such scenes, though, one wonders whether the accompanying water sounds in the foreground are part of Mr. Dhomont’s composition or part of the film. However, on rare occasions the video trivializes the audio. The direct synchronicity of elements during Mr. Lansky’s Night Traffic seems a bit too comical at times. During this part of the film, the video resorts to a clichéd montage of the industrial city, rather than balancing the audio and visual elements in a more experimental format as in the bucolic scenes.
While Mein Kino für Die Ohren offers much to the viewer, we see Mr. Dhomont much more than Mr. Lansky, and learn much more about his musical impetus. Curiously, Mr. Aumüller seems to be aware of this, offering three audio tracks by Mr. Lansky (Night Traffic, Table’s Clear, Idle Chatter Junior), while offering only one by Mr. Dhomont (En cuerdas). Both composers are quite equally represented on the DVD as a whole, but one wonders why the discrepancy between film and audio appearances exist.
The DVD is well worth [its] purchase price. Video artist Robert Darroll is integral to the success of the DVD, and both he and Mr. Aumüller should be commended on the wonderful visual elements for this project. A combination of education and art, this would make an excellent film to show composition students, although it may not be what most of them would stay home on a Saturday night to watch!