Sunday, November 19, 2017
  • Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017
The Kluges Create Sounds of "Silence" For Martin Scorsese
Kathryn Kluge (l) and Kim Allen Kluge
Husband-and-wife composing team discuss creative challenges, joy of their first collaboration with iconic director

For composers Kim Allen Kluge and Kathryn Kluge, the challenge of scoring director Martin Scorsese’s Silence was daunting. Yet paradoxically it in some respects came naturally thanks to the direction they received from Scorsese who also wrote the screenplay in concert with Jay Cocks. 

The Kluges first met Scorsese about a year ago. “Over the course of that conversation, we enjoyed one of those rare experiences where you meet someone for the first time and click on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level,” recalled Kathryn Kluge. “It was almost like we could start to hear what he was striving for musically.”

Kim Allen Kluge chimed in, “Mr. Scorsese is legendary for his sure-fire instincts about music. Music supervisors say he makes the work so easy. The music is in his head way before the scene is shot. He’s so musical in the way he thinks, feels and sees.”

But the score for Silence was elusive, even for Scorsese. “He wanted something different. He wanted to explore a song world he had never done before,” related Kim Allen Kluge. “He was searching and we were in awe of and honored to be part of the process.” 

The Kluges described Scorsese as not only a maestro filmmaker but also a great musician. Kim Allen Kluge recollected, “Mr. Scorsese told me, ‘I don’t want any music, any score for this film. I want sounds from nature.’ But as I pressed him, he said the sounds have to be like a melody and musical. He was hearing something but trying to find the words.”

Words themselves aren’t enough to describe Silence, which delves into spirituality, an unthinkable test of faith and belief, struggling with self-doubt and mystery, and experiencing the best and worst that human nature has to offer. Based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel “Silence,” the movie is a religious epic about two Jesuit priests (portrayed by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who surreptitiously arrive in a violently anti-Catholic Japan in the 17th century. They and their small band of devout followers face persecution, and both physical and psychological torture.

“The book is very metaphysical, complex and contradictory,” said Kim Allen Kluge who observed that because of the subject matter, it was “almost like any kind of music that we as human beings know would intrude. Mr. Scorsese was taking us into a new kind of Japanese Shinto world--mysterious and spiritual. He didn’t want traditional Japanese music. He didn’t want a Gregorian chant. He didn’t want Western music. What he wanted was sound that emanates from nature. It was God speaking through nature.”

Kathryn Kluge characterized the score as “music that grew out of the mist, the rocks, ocean, wind, rain and cicadas. It all had to come from these things, from a natural, spiritual place.” 

Kim Allen Kluge related, “At the same time it was imperative that Kathryn and I give nature a voice that was very human. Mr. Scorsese explored the full gamut of human feelings in this film.”

He added, “What we created is very subliminal, subconscious music.” 

In a way, the score is akin to what the visual effects artist strives for: To have the effects go unnoticed because they are so woven into--and serve to advance--the story. 

“Mr. Scorsese kept saying we’re creating a Zen score,” said Kim Allen Kluge. “It’s there but not there. In a film score you accept and rejoice that your music becomes part of a bigger world, that your work is subliminal. But Mr. Scorsese takes that to the nth degree in this film.”

Cinephiles
The Kluges compose for film and live performance. They have written for lauded performers ranging from jazz legend Branford Marsalis to classical virtuoso Midori. A recording of the Kluges’ new American Concerto for Piano & Orchestra is slated to be released this month. 

Kim Allen Kluge is a noted music conductor and he feels film music will be a profound part of the future of classical music. “We see ourselves as bridges between the classical music world and the film world,” he said of himself and Kathryn.

Asked about their division of labor--or areas of specialty--when they collaborate as composers, Kim Allen described Kathryn as “very intuitive.” Meanwhile, Kathryn described her husband as “cerebral” and “a visionary...He can take disparate elements, melodies and sounds to create something totally different.”

Among their common bonds, Kim Allen said, is that “we are both cinephiles.” He noted that they have very much enjoyed their diversification initially into smaller films, with Silence now representing “a quantum leap” in their theatrical feature pursuits. “Being able to have a meeting of the minds with Mr. Scorsese at the inception of the project was so important, allowing the music to be intrinsically intertwined with the evolution of the movie. For both Kathryn and I, working with Mr. Scorsese was by far the most natural and happiest collaborative experience we’ve ever had.” 

This is the ninth of a multi-part series with future installments of The Road To Oscar slated to run in the weekly SHOOT>e.dition, The SHOOT Dailies and on SHOOTonline.com, with select installments also in print issues. The series will appear weekly through the Academy Awards. The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Credits for ScreenWork: 

Produced by MARTIN SCORSESE, p.g.a. & EMMA TILLINGER KOSKOFF, p.g.a., RANDALL EMMETT, p.g.a., BARBARA DE FINA, GASTÓN PAVLOVICH, IRWIN WINKLER, p.g.a., VITTORIO CECCHI GORI, DAVID LEE
Director MARTIN SCORSESE
Screenplay by JAY COCKS & MARTIN SCORSESE
Based on the novel by SHUSAKU ENDO
Cinematographer RODRIGO PRIETO, ASC, AMC
Production Designer DANTE FERRETTI
Set Decorator FRANCESCA LO SCHIAVO
Editing THELMA SCHOONMAKER, ACE
Costume Design DANTE FERRETTI
Original Score Composed by KIM ALLEN KLUGE & KATHRYN KLUGE
Sound Mixer GUNTIS SICS
Re-recording Mixers TOM FLEISCHMAN, CAS | EUGENE GEARTY
Supervising Sound Editors PHILIP STOCKTON | EUGENE GEARTY
Makeup and Hair Designer NORIKO WATANABE
Visual Effects Supervisor PABLO HELMAN