The World's First Global Film Festival

The Record

Directed by: Jonathan Laskar

Country: Switzerland

Time: 8:38

Synopsis: An antique musical instrument dealer obsessively plays a magical vinyl record that “reads your mind and plays your lost memories.” Even the forgotten ones.

Where did the idea for The Record come from?

The first idea of the magic record came after reading a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. I am really fascinated by his vision of the complexity of the universe and the vertigo caused by some of his writings. When I read The Book of Sand, I ask myself how it would be possible to translate this idea of infinity in a film, and I thought that a record, with music, would be more cinematographic than a book with an infinity of pages.

What inspired your use of repeating defined lines and grids?

It was not easy for me to find the design of the film and it took me a long time. I found that a black-and-white aesthetic, with no shades of gray, gave the best results, especially with the play of light to create a sense of confinement. I had sketches representing all kinds of shadows that you see passing by at night from your window, ornamental patterns of balcony railing, foliage but I finally decided to reduce them to the lines of the blinds. From then on, it seemed quite natural to push this play of lines throughout the film, allowing me to evoke the prison implicitly.

Was there a specific inspiration in your life for the record - and its symbolism?

Once I'd come up with the idea of the magic vinyl record, I had to fit it into a story. The theme of the forgotten memories is more personal and has something to do with my personal experience and my family. Also, when I was 20, I moved to Weimar in Germany and I lived there for 9 years in a room with a window overlooking the Buchenwald camp. I played a lot of music at that time and I started to play klezmer music. I even started to learn Yiddish to be able to sing, even though my family is Sephardic. It was my way of handling the situation.

The film is about memory but the film seems to imply that peeling back the layers to reveal a traumatic memory can take years. Is there an experience that created this POV?

When I started writing this film, with the record as its central subject, I had absolutely no idea that the real story I'd be telling would be about the loss of the mother and the rupture of a child from his culture. At first, I was rather stuck in writing about the content of the memories. It took me a while to get to this theme, as if I had to draw this experience out of myself. And that's what happened. And unexpectedly, it was when I started composing the music myself that I finally found the whole story, the memories and the trauma. I can kind of say that the same thing happened to me as to the protagonist. Although the story is not autobiographical in its details, it is somewhat autobiographical in meaning.

Singers such as Tony Bennett or Glen Campbell, who were suffering Alzheimer's disease could take to the stage and remember lyrics and guitar licks. In your opinion why does music bring back everything you've forgotten?

I believe that musical memory goes beyond the brain. It certainly goes beyond consciousness. When we learn a musical instrument, or a new piece of music, it's a bodily learning process rather than a cerebral one. We can say that we really know a piece when the body plays free of the brain. In the same way, I believe that music is able to rebuild broken links between body and mind.

The main character ages considerably during the piece. Additionally, the film moves from black & white to color. Can you elaborate more on that?

The idea is that the protagonist lost his perception of color when he lost his childhood, and it's by recalling this event and processing this trauma that he's able to see in color again, and opens up to the outside world.