Per-Olav Sørensen • Director
“A romantic comedy with no dialogue – 100% musical!"
- Cineuropa met up with the Norwegian director as his new film, Ta meg med!, was released
Norwegian director Per-Olav Sørensen has just finished principal photography for Kampen om tungtvannet (The Heavy Water War – see article) in Telemark county. Four months of shooting, often in difficult conditions, were needed for this big-budget international production, which covers a dramatic event during the Second World War: the Norwegian heavy water sabotage. However, Cineuropa did not meet him to talk about this TV series; rather, we wanted to discuss the imminent Norwegian premiere of his feature film Ta meg med! (Take Me With You!), produced by Monster Scripted.
Cineuropa: How would you define Ta meg med!?
Per-Olav Sørensen: It’s a romantic comedy, 100% musical, with no dialogue, and with only the 25 songs that inspired the plot: it was a tall order to develop a coherent story after making such a decision. Drawing my inspiration from the songs while writing the screenplay allowed me to discover the depth and finer details of some of the texts, and to appreciate the melodies even more. Afterwards, following a request from myself, these melodies were enhanced by four talented arrangers. These songs are really to be treasured: they belong to Norwegian cultural heritage. The songwriters involved are Jan Eggum and Halvdan Sivertsen – they are held dear by the Norwegians and, between them, have over 700 songs in their repertoires.
They are also singers.
Not in my film. The voices that can be heard are those of the five actors: everything was recorded live at the time of shooting, using a boom mic for the sound. The actors were provided with earpieces, and before each take, we gave them the key and the right tempo. There was no splicing in the studio afterwards: this live sound forms the skeleton of the film. It’s a fairly complicated way of working that requires meticulous preparation in advance and leaves hardly any room for improvisation, but it worked well.
Do your actors dance?
Oh, no! Ta meg med! isn’t The Young Girls of Rochefort by Jacques Demy, which, incidentally, I admire greatly. Rather, it is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, at least relatively speaking: the plot is realistic and brings us into contact with all of the trivial aspects of people’s ordinary lives. We focus on practical, day-to-day existence. The theme of thwarted love stories is in there, along with its attendant feelings of affection, disappointments and melancholia. In my film, three women and two men are brought together: they are characters who are shy and reserved. Like many Norwegians, they are concerned about ensuring their personal privacy; they are solitary figures in a state of emotional frustration, at least at the start of the story. They are lonely characters despite them being neighbours and living almost under the same roof. I let them express themselves… through song.
Originally, Ta meg med! was a musical stage show that you came up with and that was staged in summer 2012. How did the transition from stage to screen happen?
My concept is the same: the lyrics of the songs are enough. What’s different, of course, is the setting. We filmed in Oslo, most often in Kampen. I chose it because it’s a quiet neighbourhood, with its cottages and its little flowery inner courtyards. We only did 15 days of shooting with a tiny crew and a small budget, without any financial assistance from official bodies: for me, that corresponds perfectly with the modest universe conjured up by the songs.
What are your ambitions for this film?
First of all, I hope it will be seen and appreciated in Norway: I would like to encourage lazy people to go and see it in a big movie theatre. I am proud of having been bold enough to create something different, at least here, where musical films are practically non-existent.
(Translated from French)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.