A film by Michal Kosakowski


Music of ‘Zero Killed’

by Paolo Marzocchi | Composer

When Michal Kosakowski asked me to compose the soundtrack for his movie ‘Zero Killed’, I had no idea how to handle such a strange work. I have been working with Michal for many years, and I followed the evolution of the installation ‘Fortynine’ (for which I prepared some short soundtracks) into all the versions of what would become the movie ‘Zero Killed’ as we know it now.

Michal sent me the final version of the film with a complete working soundtrack, based mostly on music by Albert Breier, which he had used during editing. Kosakowski is a fine listener, and he has a special sensitivity to combine music with images. The ‘working soundtrack’ with the Breier music worked really well, and I was wondering how I could do better. My perplexity concerned the atmosphere, very dark and gloomy from the beginning, and – in my opinion – too heavy for an almost one-and-a-half-hour long about murders.

So I decided to choose a completely different approach and I started considering the hypothesis of composing ‘baroque music’, using old instruments. This sprang from my intuition. In Baroque operas and theatre, you can stage even the most terrible and cruellest situations, but the audience accepts them because everything is filtered through clichés and conventional formulas of Baroque theatrical and musical languages, which creates a distance between the stage and the spectators. Perhaps this distance could be the solution to making the violence in the film more acceptable. Then I thought why not use a voice, as in Bach cantatas, solemn music that almost celebrates something not completely human. From that point it was clear to me that the right voice was a ‘sopranist’, a man singing with a female voice, as castrati did till the end of 19th century, a sexless voice, something that transcends sex differentiation, weird because it is connected to our deepest and most ancient nature. What I needed was a text, and I found the perfect one in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, Purgatory, IV (v. 61–64):

Vende la carne loro essendo viva;
poscia li ancide come antica belva;
molti di vita e sé di pregio priva.

Sanguinoso … sanguinoso …


He sells their flesh while they are still alive,
then slaughters them like ancient wild beast:
he deprives many of life, and himself of honour.

He comes out, bloodied …

Another non-rational intuition came while watching Kosakowski’s logo animation at the beginning of the film, which looked like clockwork to me, and so was the basis for the main title theme – Baroque Clockwork Aria.

One more thing. I was forgetting the whistle, the main theme instrument. That was my very first idea thinking about a film about murder fantasies … because whistling is what we do when we are alone, and – as Kosakowski said in his statement – ‘murder fantasies are lonely affairs’.