We keep an eye (and ear) out for distinctive physical releases, and music for Ghazala is one of them: a short film available on DVD accompanied by its digital score, available separately. The project has been a labor of love for pianist Alex Kozobolis, who is no stranger to our pages; surprisingly, in this case he’s the screenwriter and director, passing the reins to Harry Edwards for the score. The film has taken Kozobolis a year to complete, and is based on a short story that he wrote a few years back, based on a photo of a snail shell that has its own storied history.
It’s probably unfair to call music “filmic” when one already knows that it has been used in a film; but that’s the impression one gets when listening to Edwards’ music. A gentle sense of pacing pervades throughout, with emotional moments punctuated by judicious use of strings. This is most apparent on “Strangely Familiar” and “For Her”, two of the longer tracks (and not by much; the score is only 22 minutes long, ten longer than the film). Offsetting string lines underline the sense of tension seen in the characters.
The bells of “He Could Have Told Him” sound like wind chimes or the brass echoes of a flock returning to pasture. Heard again in “Barefoot”, they suggest the passage of time, another theme apparent in the film, which plays with narrative structure, suggesting that memory and reassessment make time fluid. The line from “Innocence and Naivety” to “Fire” is straighter on the digital score than it is in the film, suggesting a director’s cut (or in this case, a composer’s cut). But “Fire” is not the closing track of the film; that honor goes to “To See Her Eyes Brighten”. The screenwriter and composer have provided viewers and listeners with two possible interpretations, each with its own score.
As the film is about to make the festival rounds, we’re not sure how long it will be on Vimeo, so for now we have the rare opportunity to watch a work before the festival crowds see it. Watching the film, one is suffused with a sense of melancholy, but buoyed by the possible ending. Optimists will view it one way, pessimists another; but each reading possesses its own shade of beauty. Congratulations to the composer and director on a lovely confluence of sight and sound. (Richard Allen)