Monday, July 19, 2010

San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Part I


Another weekend of silent film! It was San Francisco Silent Film Festival's 15th year, yay festival!! It's a great time to surround yourself with some of the best aspects of the past: a solid excuse to pull out the 1920-30s outfits from the closet, gorge on movie after movie, and take in the beauty of the Castro Theatre.
The Castro Theatre 1948
Being Tuesday morning, my post-festival depression has lifted a bit and I can, with a clear head, contemplate all the fabulousness of the weekend.

Three films where the highlight of my weekend: Metropolis, Haxan, and Man with a Movie Camera. The music was a big part of the success of these films, so kudos to the evocative and drop-dead beautiful music for Haxan by the Matti Bye Ensemble from Sweden and the amazing, spectacular, dead-on, and sometimes overwhelming music for Metropolis and Man with a Movie Camera by the Alloy Orchestra.

The tireless and always smiling Margarita Landazuri, festival writer and program editor, said about Man with a Movie Camera, "It's like I'd never seen it before!" I felt the exactly same way. Dziga Vertov's documentary about a day in the life of a Russian city (actually shot in three cities: Moscow, Odessa, and Kiev) contained visuals that are engaging for what they show of little daily details of life in 1929: waking up in a typical apartment, getting ready in the morning, at the beauty salon, inner city transportation, leisure time, at work, lots and lots of visual information plus shots of the cinematographer at work. Then add the Alloy Orchestra to bring a sense of urgency and movement to all the shots of people doing and going and you have an experience that is simply amazing.

Man with a Movie Camera
I loved the shots of the cameraman on a motorbike.

The topper - the film with the Alloy score is out on DVD! CORRECTION! I just realized that the version of the film seen at the festival is the brand new, full-length version with a slightly revised score to cover the additional footage. I understand this new version with the Alloy Orchestra is due out on DVD and Blu-Ray November 2010. Ack! What am I saying! I've confused Man with a Movie Camera with Metropolis!! It is Metropolis that is getting the new version released with the extra, complete footage!!

This DVD of the old version (not complete)

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