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Interview with Bill Morrison, director of Her Violet Kiss
Monday 7 February 2022, by ,
A woman attends a party where she is observed by and finally meets a mysterious guest.
From which material did you build up Her Violet Kiss?
Her Violet Kiss sources material from a lost German film, Liebeshölle (1928), directed by Wiktor Biegnaski and Carmine Gallone, and which was released in the USA as Pawns of Passion in 1929. I was working with the only known surviving copy of the film, which was a 35mm nitrate print of the American version. Michael Montes created the score.
Why did you want to work on party sequences?
I scanned a deteriorated nitrate print of Pawns of Passion from The Library of Congress. I re-purposed the sixth reel, which showed this party scene. I thought it was an extraordinary scene the way it was shot in 1928, and that it had been greatly enhanced by the organic nitrate decay to the celluloid reel. I found an affinity between the party scene in which a mysterious masked stranger seeks out an isolated woman and the ongoing health pandemic we are currently experiencing across the globe.
How was created the soundtrack? Was it added before or after editing?
Composer Michael Montes’ soundtrack really drove the project. He presented me with the finished track and told me I could use it if I had some film, I thought would work with it. I immediately thought of this scene and matched the edit to the score.
How much are you interested in the question of encounters? Do you plan to direct further films on this theme?
A number of my films revolve around momentous random encounters between two people, including Light Is Calling, The Mesmerist, and The Film of Her. But no, I do not set out to make films about “Encounter” as an abstract theme. My films follow a material or historical event which, when explored, culminates in the film you are watching. That is the only encounter I am concerned with.
Is there any particular short film that made a special impression on you?
Too many to list here. But Chris Marker’s La Jetée made an enormous impression on me when I first saw it as a 20-year-old.
What’s your definition of a good film?
One in which the form and content of the film are merged, and at once validate and realize one another.