Michael Nyman, the composer best known for his minimalist orchestral contributions to films such as The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, The Draughtsman's Contract and The Piano, brings his offbeat genius to a different sort of film next week.
Washing Machine – The Movie premieres at the Cineworld cinema in Lonson's Leicester Square on December 5. As the title suggests, the film is a single locked-off shot of the complete wash, rinse and spin cycle of a Samsung QuickDrive washing machine.
Whether you interpret it as part of the new movement for peaceful, contemplative ‘slow cinema’ or a shameless grab for column inches by Samsung’s PR team depends largely on your own preferences.
For Nyman’s part, he sees the work as a belated sequel to Handel’s Water Music. He told The Guardian: “The idea of this intrigued me … putting a score to something so visually repetitive and prosaic. As a film composer you are frequently taking a cue from the drama on screen or interpreting it sonically, but here the challenge was to offset the mundanity and also enhance the hypnotic appeal.”
“I have written a lot of music to manufacturing processes, but this is the most elaborate mechanical, mechanistic film I’ve been involved with. I’m interested in the mechanical process, the way that I create musical cycles which are based on repetition and variation and the correlation between that music and what happens in a washing machine process.
“I really want the music to be heard and I want the music to be loud, so I think with this project it’s man over machine.”
In the interest of balance, though, the East End-born secular Jewish composer concedes that the piece is also “the most unusual, bonkers and challenging request I have had in many years”.
For curious listeners who won’t be able to make it to Leicester Square on December 5, Washing Machine – The Movie will be available to view worldwide via YouTube later this month.