David is proud to have been associated with the Emmy Award-winning HBO film, “Wit” as music consultant to director Mike Nichols. Based on the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Margaret Edson, “Wit” features Emma Thompson as Vivian Bearing, an English professor and John Donne scholar with a biting wit that educates and alienates her students, one of whom will become her hospital examiner. As she undergoes a rigorous program of experimental therapies for inoperable cancer, she becomes the subject for others to study. The film also stars Christopher Lloyd as her chief physician, Eileen Atkins as her mentor, Audra McDonald as her bedside nurse, and Harold Pinter as her father.
DL: “The film was brilliantly directed by Mike Nichols, with whom I quickly developed a rapport and friendship. This is a guy whose comedy albums with Elaine May are still fresh and guffaw-provoking, whose landmark and award-winning films include “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” “The Graduate,” “Catch 22,” “Postcards from the Edge,” and “Silkwood,” to name a few. I’m truly honored to have worked with him.”
With a film that deals with the heady existential poetry of Renaissance poet, John Donne (1572 – 1631) – in particular his Holy Sonnets, the most familiar being “Death Be Not Proud” – an easy and logical route for music selection would be towards music of the Renaissance, perhaps heavy on the harpsichord or lute. From working with Mike during the final editing process, it became clear that the film needed a different musical approach. The use of Arvo Part’s ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ particularly struck a nerve – both poignant and calming in several scenes.
The music heard in “Wit”:
Dmitri Shostakovich – String Quartet No. 15 (2nd movement)
Arvo Pärt – Spiegel im Spiegel
Charles Ives – The Unanswered Question
Henri Gorecki – Symphony No. 3 (2nd movement
David also worked with Mike on the early stages of production for “Angels in America.” In addition to providing some pre-recorded music for filming and for the initial screening to HBO executives prior to the engagement of Hollywood composer Thomas Newman, he worked with the art directors by providing digital photos of various San Francisco locations, which they used for the creation of sets for the filming in Rome at Hadrian’s Villa.
The cast includes Al Pacino as Roy Cohn, Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright, Patrick Wilson, Meryl Streep (who makes for a remarkably convincing octogenarian rabbi), and Emma Thompson (who appears as the Angel, a homeless woman, and a nurse).