There is such a distinct musical throughline in this movie, with, especially, a lot of Polish folk songs. How did you choose the songs that went into it?
Pawlikowski: I chose them according to several criteria, but the main thing that I love is that I just think they're beautiful songs. I've always been kind of touched and haunted by them, the three main tunes anyway. And I also selected those particular three because they worked in every possible way. I could turn them into very basic source music, which you hear at the beginning of the film, and they also could work as jazz or chanson tunes. It's not so easy to find motifs which work in every possible way. The main song, "Dwa serduszka," ["Two Hearts"] which you hear sung by the little girl in the countryside slightly out of key, becomes this number performed by this big ensemble, and then it becomes the jazz chanson in Paris, first in Polish then in French.
The "Oberek opoczynski" a lady plays on an accordion at the beginning, and then you have it performed at a dance at the premiere of a folk ensemble, and then it becomes a bebop number in Paris, that Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) performs when we first cut to Paris. And then the third song, that becomes "Loin de Toi," at the beginning you hear it in the car when they're traveling. I thought it was wonderful to be able to use these throughout. Some of them, I think the audience is aware that it's the same tune. Others, I think, work subliminally.
And then there's a lot of other songs that are used dramatically, like the Gershwin piece, "I Loves You, Porgy," which becomes a production song, a song where they seek each other out and get closer during the singing lesson at the beginning of the film. And then "Rock Around the Clock," which had the opposite function, which drives a wedge between them, where Zula (Joanna Kulig) kind of responds to it and gets carried away by the music that's being played, which highlights the gulf between them and the age difference as well. They're 10 years apart. And so on.
The Russian musical, which Zula performs at her audition, is very funny. It's not the best for an audition for a folk ensemble, but that's what he likes. And it kind of tickles Wiktor's imagination. And then the so-called Yugoslav song is actually a very patriotic Serbian song, which I have them perform in Split, which is in Croatia. A little bit of mischief.
I didn't actually realize that there were three songs that were throughlines in this movie.
Pawlikowski: Yeah, they're kind of woven in, you know?
And it takes place over a few decades, too, so the music style would change.