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February 6th, 2010

The Golem

Last night, we went to the Rubin Museum on 17th Street to see Paul Wegener's 1920 film Der Golem, with an original guitar score by Gary Lucas.

Wow.

I haven't seen a lot of early silent film, so I'm not sure whether what I noticed is a function of early German Expressionistic Fantasy, the work of Paul Wegener, or silent film in general.  But, for me, watching Der Golem was a lot like reading a comic.  The story unfolds in discrete scenes, many of which last only as long as one action (looking over a parapet, turning a page), very much like comic panels.  And there aren't a lot of words--only a few title cards, only two or three of which convey dialogue.  Everything is done with gesture and attitude and expression and lighting.  

See for yourself:


Things we loved about this movie:  The pointy hats.  Knight Florian's Very Big Feather.  The Emperor's round hat.  The Golem's elevator shoes (yes, I'm all about the costumes).  Miriam's mud-repellent velvet dress.  The slightly Gaudeyesque ghetto of Prague.  I wasn't too enthralled with Miriam falling into the arms of the Blond Aryan Kight, but was slightly mollified by the unexpected way that plot thread worked out.  (See what grammatical knots I tie myself into avoiding spoilers for you?  You're welcome.)

I also loved Gary Lucas's wonderful guitar score, which segued seamlessly from "The Ride of the Valkyries" to horror movie shrieks and riffs and rock-inflected dance music for the Emperor's Rose Ball, and a bunch of other stuff I'd have to see the whole performance at least twice again in order to catch, because I kept getting caught up in the whole, enchanting gestalt of music, image, and story, thereby losing the ability to pick it all apart. 

A lovely evening.  I adore the Rubin and it's Cinema Cabaret.  We shall certainly go again--even when the current run of SF classics is no longer running. 

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Ebert on Jermyn Street

frostokovich sent me a link in my email which I wanted to share with you all, along with my response.

The link is to an entry in Roger Ebert's blog in which he spells out something I felt very strongly when I was in London last fall.

Much as I have always loved London, and as much as we enjoyed the plays we saw at the Globe and wandering around the British Museum, we agreed that London had changed drastically, and not altogether for the better.  Liberty's has been sold to some glitzy modern department store.  They've relegated all the Morris fabrics to a tiny back corner, and there wasn't a single Liberty print scarf to be seen.  Regent Street might as well be 5th Avenue, with The Gap and Abercrombie's and other chains replacing the off-price china stores I remembered.  Sainsbury's still has celestial Cheddar cheese, but you can go to a Sainsbury's anywhere.  On the good side, there's still the British Museum and the V&A.  And to be fair, the new British Library's pretty cool.

Still. 

I know the world changes, and has to change.  Living in New York, I live with change every day.  But some things are harder to bid good-bye to than others, and leave a larger hole in the good things of civilization.

Jermyn Street is one of them.  I never stayed at the Eyrie hotel.  And now I never will.  I'm glad I read about it, though.

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