This summer sees the release of a beautiful looking short film, Ellis, which focuses on Ellis Island, New York, and how the gateway it represented led to the formation of one of the world’s foremost cities.
Directed by acclaimed artist JR, Ellis tells the story of one such migrant. Starring Robert De Niro, the film winds its way through the crumbling hallways of the abandoned Ellis Island hospital complex, now home to JR’s ‘Unframed’ art installation. It’s a place that reverberates with the hopes and fears of those who passed through it, the echoes especially resonant today.
Entwined with the narrative is a score composed by Woodkid, performed and co-written by Nils Frahm. The delicate piano motifs of Winter Morning I culminate in a crescendo of strings, while the harmonium swells on the B-side are the foundation for De Niro’s narration: an encomium for those who shaped modern America.
Yoann Lemoine, aka Woodkid explained: “Ellis is my second collaboration with JR after the New York City Ballet piece for Les Bosquets. I initially wanted this piece to sound like it was recorded on an old piano that we found in the ruins of Ellis Island, in the restricted area that is not open to the public, where JR pasted the pictures on the walls for the film Ellis.
I had worked with Nils before and I wanted him to create a sound for this piano part that I composed that was extremely gentle and organic. I wanted the listener to hear the mechanisms, the breathing of the instrument. I wanted it to be imperfect, to sound like a ruin, a trace, an echo, the way the pastings on the walls seem to be ghosts, almost imperceptible.
Both the film and the score will be available from July, and you can order a vinyl/CD copy of the soundtrack HERE.