Till we are talking about cinema, the soundtracks that Mark Knopfler composed are kind of science, in which the musician also achieved a well-deserved success.
A former friend of Mark – Dave Pask, believes that what we have to keep in mind about Mark is that he is a musician, but he was also an English teacher. So the soundtracks are attractive from this point of view.
There is a certain idea that Rock music can, with the right technology be able to have the same effect as a movie. In the process of making some movie are spending millions and millions of dollars and pounds and that one movie can play with the reality in two hours.
In the music we have four minutes with guitar, bass, drums and keyboard and also a lyric which can touch people’s hearts. Many people can found themselves in some songs better than in one movie. So it is very tempting to work in movie industry because it gives us the feeling that we are the ultimate art form, but if music can take revenge in that area, we are artists.
In July 1981, at the end of the “Making Movies – Tour”, Ed Bicknell, Mark Knopfler’s manager sent cassettes of that album to British producers including a letter, explaining that Mark was interested in composing a soundtrack.
The highly regarded David Puttnam who is producer of Bugsy Malone, The Midnight Express, The Mission, Bloody Land, Moments of Glory or The Duel – which marked Ridley Scott’s debut in the making, was one of three who responded on that letter from Ed Bicknell.
Mark declined the other two proposals. One movie was about Maria Callas and the other was a mystery thriller which after a watching, no one has the think what was that movie, a thriller or a mystery.
After that, Bicknell received a copy of Bill Forsyth’s “Local Hero” plot. The manager liked it and sent it to Mark in New York. Knopfler was enthusiastic and accepted the proposal. Thus came the first soundtrack of the guitarist and the theme “Going Home”, which today is perhaps better known than the film.
Ed Bicknell commented:
“We get involved in this before actors and the whole team to be chosen. We learned later that David’s son was a big Dire Straits fan and obsessed with Mark’s work in “Tunnel of Love”. He felt that if Mark could capture the emotional effects of the subject so well, he would be the right person for the film.”
A delay in production allowed to Mark to call the band and to record “Love Over Gold”, which was conceived as a double album. This is the case of “Telegraph Road” 14 minutes. Regarding on this theme, the guitarists comments:
“We referred to the instrumental in the middle as the part of the film, because we had the feeling that the camera moved away, giving us a perspective of how things were and how are now. It’s like a movie, with its people and small trains and trucks, lake, fields and buildings.”
With “Local Hero” – Bill Forsyth in addition to writing, also won a BAFTA, considered the second highest prize in cinema.
- 1983 BAFTA Award for Best Direction (Local Hero) – Won
- 1983 BAFTA Award Nomination for Best Screenplay (Local Hero)
- 1983 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay (Local Hero) – Won
There are 14 tracks on the album, and the Dire Straits play one of them. Gerry Rafferty sings “The Way It Always Starts”, theme originally recorded in the sessions of “Love Over Gold”. Renowned saxophonist Michael Brecker participated in “Going Home”.
To inspire himself, Mark visited the set of the film in Scotland, but due to his inexperience he faced certain setbacks:
“They sent me short videos and foolishly composed music for them, completely ignoring the fact that there was possibility of the film being edited. Bill Forsyth came to see me and told me he was going to cut something up. I had to redo much of the work that I did it. But it was interesting, because we used little melodies things that we have picked up here and there. One day I was talking to Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, and they said to me, ‘How did you write those Local Hero stuff? They sound like a thousand years!’.”
The criticisms for the film and the song was so well positive, and after that David immediately hired Mark Knopfler on new project also from Bill entitled ‘Comfort and Joy’, which was not have been so successful artistically. At the time, Bill began to noticed a jazz influence in his technique, as he later admitted.
In 1985, Knopfler told the Sunday Times:
“I enjoyed in this experience because I did not know the tricks of this world. We entered him as illiterate, intimidating, but also exhilarating. It’s good for the mind…fine-tune it, because we understand that the tiniest musical nuance can change the meaning of the image we see on the screen. “
After “Local Hero”, Mark worked on “Cal” a film about a young widow and her relationship with a young boy, against the background of the brutal climate in Northern Ireland. Drawing on his Celtic roots (which he would do repeatedly in solo career), the composer created a fantastic soundtrack. Unfortunately, “Cal” was not a big movie hit and once in 1988 Mark Knopfler talked about this movie.
This story will be continued in another post…