Mary Bee Cuddy in a video combining auditive and visual Americana

I uploaded a video on my YouTubechannel dedicated to Mary Bee Cuddy, the leading female character in The Homesman (USA, 2014), a film directed by Tommy Lee Jones.

Wikipedia tells us: “The film shows the unsparingly harsh and difficult life of early settlers of the American Midwest in the 1850s. The Homesman has been called a ‘feminist western’. Critics have noted that the lives of women during this time are rarely explored, as opposed to men, (…).”

I am impressed by the story of Mary Bee Cuddy (played by Hillary Swank), the courageous and compassionate leading female character in The Homesman.

Except for one, all photos in the video are stills from the film (btw: notice my choice for presenting them in ‘sepia big grain’), and most of them focus on Mary Bee Cuddy. I combine these shots with music by John Adams: Christian Zeal and Activity, as I tend to associate this piece of music with Cuddy’s character and outlook on life. IMHO John Adams‘ music and the stills from The Homesman offer a good combination of auditive and visual Americana. I hope you’ll grasp that unmistakeable Americana-feel as you watch the video.

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Prachtige verfilming uit 1998 van Vestdijks roman ‘De Ziener’ (1959)

Even iets over een bijzonder geslaagde, al wat oudere Nederlandse speelfilm. Ik heb nu eindelijk es naar de (paar jaar geleden door mij aangeschafte) verfilming gekeken van Vestdijk-roman ‘De Ziener‘, die tezamen met nog twee andere boekverfilmingen – ‘Ivoren Wachters’ en ‘Het Glinsterend Pantser’ – in 2012 op dvd werd uitgebracht. De drie romans werden in 1998 voor televisie verfilmd ter gelegenheid van Vestdijks 100e geboortedag in datzelfde jaar.
                  Carine Crutzen als Toos Rappange, de lerares Frans in ‘De Ziener’

‘De Ziener’ vind ik een juweel, een meeslepende film die van begin tot eind weet te boeien.
Het verhaal speelt zich af in de jaren vijftig in een kleine Nederlandse stad, waar de 40-jarige werkloze Pieter Le Roy in zijn vrije tijd vrijende paartjes begluurt. Bij zijn nieuwe huurster, een lerares Frans, komt wekelijks een leerling op bezoek – een jongen die zij ook op school lesgeeft – om Franse literatuur te bespreken. Om hen te manipuleren, stuurt Le Roy een roddel de wereld in over een vermeende relatie tussen de twee. Behalve beroering in de kleinsteedse gemeenschap brengt Le Roy’s gemanipuleer de juffrouw en de scholier nader tot elkaar, maar houdt de relatie stand?
                       Porgy Franssen als ‘ziener’/voyeur Le Roy

De kleinburgerlijke benepenheid van de jaren vijftig wordt in ‘De Ziener’ ten voeten uit getekend, met een prachtige Carine Crutzen als de 36-jarige vrijdenkende lerares Toos Rappange in de hoofdrol en ook sterk spel van Porgy Franssen als de ziekelijke ‘ziener’/voyeur Le Roy en van Gijs Naber als Dick Thieme Backer, de sympathieke 17-jarige leerling van de juf. Dat het ontrollende drama moeiteloos invoelbaar is vanuit elk van de drie zeer verschillende hoofdpersonages is behalve de verdienste van Crutzen, Franssen, Naber en regisseur Gerrit van Elst natuurlijk ook de grote verdienste van Simon Vestdijk. Een heel mooie boekverfilming!

                                     Omslag van een van de edities van de roman

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Von Trier’s ‘Melancholia’: deeply romantic and full of longing… with the help of Wagner

In my experience they are few, films that get deep into your system and always stay with you, but I think I just watched another one over the weekend: ‘Melancholia’ by Lars von Trier.*


Trailer of Melancholia

From start to finish I immensely enjoyed this deeply romantic film. A film all about longing. I couldn’t think of a better choice than Wagner’s (Tristan Vorspiel) music for this film.


Prologue, the opening minutes of Melancholia

I think it’s quite obvious to label this film as ‘deeply romantic’ and about ‘longing’, but to my surprise the vast majority of web-reviews and web-articles on the film fail to mention these two all-pervading elements and instead merely stress the course of main character Justine’s depression, which is indeed a predominant element that moves forward the film’s story. However, there can be no doubt about Von Trier’s deliberate choice for Wagner’s music throughout Melancholia to evoke a constant sense of longing.
The film focuses in particular on how two sisters, Justine and Claire, experience the oncoming and eventually unavoidable destroyal of humankind, caused by a collision of the planet Melancholia with Mother Earth. Thanks to a fascinating story, Wagner’s overpowering music, an excellent cast, a wonderful cinematography and last but not least many memorable scenes of great beauty – in which Von Trier has interwoven allusions as well as direct references to great works of art – , Melancholia satisfies on all levels.


Bruegel’s Hunters in the snow, appearing twice in Melancholia

The film carries elements of philosophy and psychology and its value and strength – as I see it – lies neither in credibility nor coherence of its story, but in how a chain of human experiences comes across, giving us a meaningful peek into the human psyche under stressful circumstances. Under those conditions it’s no surprise that in several scenes the film also refers to altered states of consciousness and to the visionary.


Philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s ethical verdict on Melancholia: awareness of our finality should offer us optimism instead of pessimism

Von Trier’s Melancholia ponders mankind’s finality and its place, value and purpose, both on earth and in the universe. This can be experienced in particular during meditative segments where dialogue is absent and the imagery and Wagner’s music take over to put us in an unmistakable mood of – to put it in Wagner’s own words about his Tristan und Isolde – “an endless yearning, longing, the bliss and wretchedness of love; world, power, fame, honor, chivalry, loyalty and friendship all blown away like an insubstantial dream,” for which there is “one sole redemption – death, finality, a sleep without awakening.”

* For an interesting interview about Melancholia with director Lars von Trier (but not before you’ve seen the film), check this link.

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Watch my spectacular edit now in 1 go: perfect fit of Murnau’s ‘domestic’ Faust & Brock’s ‘export version’-score

My experiment concerned with adjusting the ‘domestic version’ of F.W. Murnau’s cinematic masterpiece Faust to Timothy Brock’s Faust-score – composed for the ‘export version – has reached its completion. The result of my effort can now be watched in one go on my YouTubechannel or here embedded below. Watch the spectacular result of an incredible amount of editing from my part and see how I’ve found a way to combine the ‘domestic cut’ of Murnau’s Faust with Timothy Brock’s brilliant score for another cut of Murnau’s Faust, the so-called ‘export version’, which is almost 10 MINUTES LONGER(!) than the original domestic cut. Do you recognise the challenge here? I succeeded in fitting Brock’s 115min export version score to the 106min domestic cut, by endlessly manipulating the duration of sequences in the domestic cut to get it sync with Brock’s score. As a consequence the adapted domestic cut became of course also 115 minutes! Imagine the job I had to do here, I had to edit in such a manner that the film should keep its natural pace and feel, while all the time I had to manipulate its speed. Sometimes sound and image were half a minute out of sync! Also, beyond the manipulation of speed/duration of sequences, the film is presented entirely in its original order. If one keeps that in mind I think the result of my effort is quite spectacular.


An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit.


The Faust-cut for which Timothy Brock wrote his score, the ‘export version’.

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Raga Unveiled – ambitious cinematic effort to grasp the essence of Hindustani classical music

I reported earlier on ‘Raga Unveiled’, an ambitious cinematic effort to take a look at the history and essence of the Hindustani classical music system. In this film – directed by Gita Desai and released in 2009 – scholars and great artists of today unveil the raga and demonstrate evrything you always would have liked to know about Indian classical music.
Here’s the trailer:

For anyone interested in raga music this 260 minute-film is a ‘must’ and of course it’s needless to say that you should see and buy the film on dvd in much better quality.

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Shankar Tucker conquers a world audience via YouTube

I’ve been tracking down his uploads ever since I noticed his presence on YouTube early this year. Shankar Tucker is quite a phenomenal guy who has conquered a world audience by storm via his YouTubechannel in less than a year.


One of Shankar Tucker’s videos: Sapnon se Bhare Naina, with singer Rohini Ravada

Shankar Tucker plays the clarinet and a handful of other instruments and is interested in Indian Classical music and Indian folk music traditions. He incorporates these different styles with elements of Jazz, Electronic, Classical and Pop in his compositions. He spends a lot of time in India, where he studies Hindustani music on clarinet with flute-bansuri player Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia. So far Shankar Tucker’s channel has featured collaborations with a bunch of great singers, such as Mahesh Vinayakram, Aditya Rao, Rohan Kymal, Vidya and Vandana Iyer and Nirali Kartik.
Here’s a link to the Hindustan Times writing about him in September 2011, a.o. things saying: “(..) a student of flautist Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia at the Brindaban Gurukul in Mumbai, he has picked the clarinet over flute”. And then, so funny what follows: “(..) he disclosed in an interview to an Indian Express that his guru doesn’t even know about his fusion experiments.” :))

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Murnau’s classic ‘Nosferatu’ with fabulous church organ accompaniment by Mathias Rehfeldt

Wow, fabulous… veery impressive! The awesome organ playing here works perfect as an addition to the events in Murnau’s classic ‘Nosferatu’. Hats off to Mathias Rehfeldt’s brilliant achievement! A must-watch!

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Experiment: adapting Murnau’s ‘domestic’ Faust to Timothy Brock’s ‘export version’-score

I’ve finished a very interesting experiment concerning the cinematic masterpiece Faust by German director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. In eight videos on my YouTubechannel, all embedded below here in this post, the so-called ‘domestic version’ of the film is shown in a slightly different way than usual. For a good reason. The videos show the result of an incredible amount of editing from my part, the result of an experiment to find a way to combine the ‘domestic cut’ of Murnau’s Faust with a brilliant score, written by Timothy Brock for another version of this film, the so-called ‘export version’.

The Faust-cut for which Timothy Brock wrote his score, the ‘export version’.

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Now, let me show you what I’ve done and explain a little bit further how and why I did this.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 1

F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece-film Faust was released in 1926 and there are seven known versions of the film. The most well known version is the so-called ‘export version’ with english titles, that premiered in december 1926 in the USA. The duration of the export-version is 115 minutes and 30 seconds, while the newly discovered ‘domestic version’ a couple of years ago lasts 106 minutes, the domestic version being the original ‘German print’, the one with German titles that was shown at the time in German cinema theatres.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 2

The export print is darker and softer, lacking the detail and clarity of the domestic version. Incidentally, the differences between the export and the domestic version are considerable. There’s no difference in terms of the overall structure of scenes and storyline, but the pacing and lengths of scenes often vary greatly and there are often striking differences in the order and in the composition of shots, the domestic version certainly being the superior of the two.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 3

Timothy Brock’s orchestral score, written for the Faust-export version is a masterpiece, a fantastic accomplishment, perfectly keeping with the operatic and epic nature of the film. The way Brock uses operatic- and leitmotif-storytelling and storydeveloping techniques in his music for the export version of the film is absolutely stunning. But, as soon as Brock’s score is played with the domestic version, picture and sound are almost evrywhere out of sync, that is, numerous details and leitmotifs of the score then miss the point, lose their ‘iconic’ meaning and strength and simply can’t work as they do so perfectly in the export version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 4

Isn’t it possible then to combine Brock’s music with the greatly cut and very clear print of the domestic version? The answer is ‘no’ when you play the music along with the domestic film in its original speed. The answer is ‘yes’ (that is, in my opinion) if you manage to adjust the speed of numerous sequences of the domestic film. Only when countless sequences are ‘manipulated’ in terms of duration the music is able to work once more on the pictures (and vice versa) as it does in the export version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 5

Now, I took it as a challenge to try to make Brock’s music work as well in the domestic cut version of Faust and with this aim in mind I’ve edited the complete domestic Faust.* I think the result of my editing is quite interesting and after the changes I made in the duration of countless sequences – a time consuming job that requires precision and a lot of patience – I personally think this brilliant music now also works very well for the complete domestic version.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 6

For me the result has been quite spectacular. I’ve tried to keep the duration manipulation of sequences within reasonable measures, in order to maintain as much as possible the natural look, tempo and feel of the domestic Faust version.
**

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 7

I use all of Brock’s score and all of Murnau’s film, there’s no material left out by me. Enough said, hope you’ll find this ‘experiment’ as fascinating as I do and I hope you’ll enjoy these videos.

An adjusted domestic Faust with Timothy Brock’s score, my edit, Part 8

* If one might argue there’s already published a 2dvd set of Murnau’s Faust that plays both the export version and the domestic version with Timothy Brock’s score, I’d like to remind one then once more that Brock wrote his score (in 1995) for the ‘export version’, a perfect fit. If, however, the (later discovered) domestic version is played with Brock’s score on that dvd edition – an excellent release btw, the best you can get of Murnau’s Faust – evrything is totally ‘out of sync’ almost all the time, from seconds to even halve minutes. So, the option given with that dvd-edition to play Brock’s score with the domestic version was useless, didn’t pay off in any way. Seeing the wrong outcome of Brock’s score with the domestic version on that dvd-edition made me wonder and think about an alternative and that’s how I must have come up with the idea for an experiment, the result of which can be seen in the eight edited domestic Faust-videos in this post.

** An important question to be asked and probably raised immediately by film experts and critics: does the film still look like Murnau’s Faust after my experiment? A valid question of course. Personally I think it still looks like Murnau’s film in evry way, despite the fact that I affected the original ‘domestic version’ by manipulating the duration of shots and scenes. Anyhow, my ‘adjusting’ method was inevitable to make Brock’s score work for the domestic cut.

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Light of Asia – rarely seen Indian epic, screens August 6th 2011 in London with a new live score

Light of Asia
On 6 August 2011 the British Film Institute in London screens Light of Asia (1925, dir. by Franz Osten & Himansu Rai), a spectacular and rarely shown epic with a new live score from Pandit Vishwa Prakash and his team of musicians (Sanju Sahai, Surjeet Singh, Mitel Purohit, Debipriya Sircar, Jonathan Lawrence and Uttara Joshi). Read more about it here.
A fantastic project!

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Beautiful Bollywood-film ‘Aan’ (1952)

The beautiful Bollywood-film ‘Aan’ (1952) was once brought to my attention by Concertzender-producer Henk Braaksma, who considers this his favourite Bollywood movie.


The complete movie

For the Concertzender Henk Braaksma produced a programme on the soundtrack of this film, see this link (and then listen on demand there by clicking on the speaker icon on top of that page).


The beautiful opening song of ‘Aan’: Aaj Mere Mann Mein Sakhi

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