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The Neighbour

“The Neighbour” is a piece of dance on film choreographed by Jo Strømgren with music by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. He plays piano in an apartment and inadvertently scores a fight occurring between the couple living next door. The film includes a behind-the-scenes look at how it was created, and it won the Eurovision Rose d'Or Award in 2009.

AIRED: February 01, 2019 | 0:27:41
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TRANSCRIPT

[ Piano playing ]

♪♪

[ Clattering, crashing ]

Arild: You had Leif Ove Andsnes as a neighbor?

Yes, and this... You heard him?

Yes, and being a neighbor to a musician

can be a nightmare. Yeah.

But I was lucky. He was a good musician.

So I never had to complain about his rehearsals.

Actually sitting in your apartment now,

and it was here that you made a film.

Normally, we go to a studio or some other location.

Why did you choose to do it in your own flat?

[ Speaks indistinctly ] Perhaps?

[ Both laugh ]

Yes, I think so.

Yes, it's...

Must have been terrible,

whole long time that you worked here.

Well, rehearsals and then filming and everything,

and so basically you have to...

It's like moving, and then not once,

but you also have to move back.

[ Laughs ]

Yeah, it's always with the so-called good ideas

a long time in advance,

and when you finally stand there, you regret horribly.

I think, "Okay, but as long as it's in the service

of the artistic product, it is good,

but I'm not doing it once more."

It's quite extreme, the choreography here.

Do you have to show it yourself, or how did you work?

Well, Dimitri and Line are quite physical and acrobatic.

They're able to do extraordinary things to start with,

and Dimitri was also originally a circus performer,

but it is not about acrobatics, this movie,

so we had to find out,

what things can we do in this apartment

that associates over something emotional?

Mm-hmm.

And, yes, it is some parts quite impressive and surprising,

but that's not the reason why we do it, you know?

How can you use an apartment in unusual ways

to give a picture of what's going on inside somebody?

Mm-hmm.

Leif, for once, this...

Actually, you knew Stromgren from beforehand.

[ Chuckles ] Yes, he was my neighbor in Bergen

for quite a number of years actually,

so he has heard me play through the floor.

Apparently, in his bathroom, they could hear very well

when I was in my practice room.

But you couldn't hear him dance?

[ Laughs ] No, not very often,

but he had a piano himself,

and he sometimes thought I was not at home,

and then he could play freely, but I did hear him.

And the idea came from you

or from you, or how do you start?

It came from him, and he called me up,

and I wondered, is this a kind of private revenge

for all these hours of practicing

he has had to listen to?

But then I got the explanation of,

and I found it very fascinating,

the story line and how this would work

with the two apartments and the music going

from one to the other and it affecting the couple

on the other side,

so I got very interested in the project.

You have made several projects now with different artists.

Is that important for you as an artist,

to meet new challenges?

Well, it's been quite a different year for me

doing these kind of projects,

and I think I've learned a lot from it

and not least to also to think maybe for the future,

"How can maybe a concert, a more normal concert, be different?

How can we do it with lighting

or small theatrical aspects to make the music

come more directly through to the listeners?"

It's not so easy these days to come into a big concert hall,

and there's just the piano and a pianist

and, you know, 100 feet away,

and you're supposed to be overwhelmed by this music.

I think these other aspects might help us

sometimes get more into the sound.

Mm.

It's not the first time that you are doing movie

or a dance film,

and it's always important or interesting to hear,

how do you cooperate with a TV director?

Jo: My experience has been to collaborate

and be part of almost like a flat structure of

sharing ideas, so I don't really know

how it is to do work the traditional way,

of pleasing a director. Mm-hmm.

So me and Stein-Roger Bull, we have had...

Actually, we don't know who's doing what anymore,

and he's, as far as I remember,

has had several opinions about the choreography, as well.

And, yeah, and it's kind of...

I mean, this project is also a chance for

each person involved, who's extremely professional

in very specific art fields,

to get together and not be professional,

but because I think anybody who makes a hard core career

in one field is always missing the chance

to be childish again or do it the naive way,

to reinvent the wheel, so it is...

Yeah, so it's been definitely a little bit

of a characteristic of this film, as well.

The executive producers, Stein-Roger Bull

and Jo Stromgren, they wanted from beginning

you to play Bach, but you changed it.

Why?

Well, it's very understandable to want to have Bach

because he's so universal, and it's so open.

You can use Bach in so many ways,

and it's used very often with dance, of course.

I was thinking about it, and then I suggested

Janácek, "In the Mists,"

which are these four pieces for piano solo, to them.

And I did that because I felt that it went very well

with the psychological aspect of this couple

and what they are going through and the dance, and it's...

This music is quite an anarchy in the way

that it just throws you from one character to another

from very intimate to angry, slow, fast.

And it has something very bittersweet about,

sour-sweet about the harmonies and everything,

which I think fits extremely well

with what's going on here.

[ Objects clattering ]

[ Breathing heavily ]

[ Grunting ]

[ Thudding, clattering ]

[ Woman gasping ]

[ Gasps ]

[ Piano playing ]

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[ Thudding, crashing in distance ]

[ Piano playing stops ]

[ Dog barking in distance ]

[ Piano playing resumes ]

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[ Piano playing stops ]

[ Knocking ]

[ Knocking continues ]

[ Knocking continues ]

[ Piano plays ]

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[ Sighs ]

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[ Music intensifies ]

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[ Thudding, crashing ]

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[ Thudding, crashing continues ]

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[ Melody softens ]

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[ Song ends ]

[ Piano plays ]

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[ Song ends ]

[ Piano playing resumes ]

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[ Door hinges creak ]

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[ Rumbling, piano playing stops ]

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[ Door hinges creak ]

[ Roars ]

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