August 2014, arsenal cinema

Magical History Tour: Music in film


The connection between music and film goes back to the very beginnings of cinematography. Apart from film narrators, musical accompaniment of early films was an integral part of the film experience, an exciting relationship that has remained till today. We use various examples to present positions within the huge discipline of "Music in Film" and offer an insight into the meaning and function of music in film with (original) compositions, portraits of musicians and concert films.

DEAD MAN (Jim Jarmusch, USA/G/Japan 1995, 1. & 12.9.) Wearing fine garments, William Blake (Johnny Depp) travels from Cleveland to a one-horse town to begin a job as an accountant. Without understanding what’s happening to him, he gets involved in a shoot-out and receives a bullet in his belly. With a Native American who has lived in England and thinks he is the poet William Blake, he withdraws into the woods - this is a unique, hallucinatory journey back to the roots, which is aptly accompanied by the music of Neil Young.

RAN (Japan/France 1985, 4. & 10.9.) Kurosawa worked on this vision of the apocalypse set in 16th century Japan for 10 years. It features motifs from Shakespeare's "King Lear",as well as characters from other films by Kurosawa, historical material or mythological constellations. When the geriatric prince Hidetora chooses his oldest son as his successor, a merciless battle amid the family members is triggered. The composer Toru Takemitsu won the Japanese Academy Award for his music.

THE GRADUATE (Mike Nichols, USA 1967, 2., 4. & 6.9.) After graduating with flying colors, the 20-year old Ben (Dustin Hoffman) lacks the drive to prepare himself for the business career that has been envisaged for him. He gets involved with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a married friend of his parents who consider her daughter a good match for him. Mike Nichols' Oscar-winning film owes part of its popularity to Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack and the use of pop music to transport a scene's atmosphere that was new at the time.

THE HARDER THEY COME (Perry Henzell, Jamaica 1973, 3. & 5.9.) Jimmy Cliff plays Ivanhoe Martin, a young man from the country who goes to the Jamaican capital Kingston to find work and ends up in the slums. After losing his job as a bicycle repairer and musician, he acquires money and fame by dealing marihuana and killing a cop. Reggae had its international breakthrough thanks to the soundtrack of Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, the Maytals, Melodians and many more, which sold an estimated seven million times.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: THE ROLLING STONES (Rollin Binzer, USA 1973, 3., 13. & 29.9.) presents the Rolling Stones at the height of their career - during their 1972 tour of the US. It is perhaps the best recording of the band in terms of image and sound. The film, which documents four concerts in Fort Worth and Houston, Texas, shows the Stones on stage and nothing else - there are no backstage takes, no interviews. Apart from their cover of Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny", the set list only includes songs from 1968 to 1972.

CHRONIK DER ANNA MAGDALENA BACH (Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, FRG / I 1968, 7. & 11.9.) depicts music as a daily struggle that has to be defended against resistance of all kinds. Based on a (fictional) diary by Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena, the film centers on the impact of working conditions on a marriage. "The point of departure for our chronicle came from the idea to try to make a film in which music was not used as accompaniment or as a commentary but as an aesthetic material. One of the film’s attractions will be that we show people making music, we show people really achieving something in front of the camera." (Jean-Marie Straub)

SHADOWS (John Cassavetes, USA 1959, 9. & 14.9.) This  melodrama about skin color, discrimination and the avant-garde jazz  scene (Shafi Hadi and Charles Mingus) revolves around the three siblings of a New York-based African-American family, whose professional and love life are at a turning point. Original locations, improvisation and spontaneity run through this jam session for directors, actors and the camera.

ICH BEI TAG UND DU BEI NACHT (Ludwig Berger, D 1932, 15. & 23.9.) is one of the highlights of operetta films. Without knowing each other, the night waiter Hans and the manicurist Greta live in the same room that is rented out by a business-minded landlady - he sleeps there during the day, she at night. Then they meet. "In this situation comedy about a poor couple which takes turns sleeping in the same bed, Berger was ironic about UFA’s pompous decoration style. He confronts modest illusion - both lovers assume the other is rich - with great deceit. While the film portrays luxurious UFA glamor and the Comedian Harmonists sing to beautiful cinema, Berger’s camera crosses walls and presents the dingy environment of Berlin’s backyards." (Hans C. Blumenberg)

NE CHANGE RIEN (Pedro Costa, Portugal/F 2009, 17. & 26.9.) is a minimalist study about Pedro Costa’s friendship with the actress and singer Jeanne Balibar, filmed in contrast-rich black-and-white. The film follows Balibar from rehearsals to shoots, from rock concerts to singing lessons, from attics in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines to the stage in a cafe in Tokyo, from "Johnny Guitar" to Jacques Offenbach's "“La Périchole".

SONG / SCHMUTZIGES GELD (Richard Eichberg, G/GB 1928, 24. & 30.9., on the piano: Eunice Martins) In Singapore's harbor district, Jack (Heinrich George) rescues the young Malaysian girl Song (Anna May Wong) from a gang of meddlesome sailors. She thanks Jack with her love and starts performing with him in a harbor club. He throws knives and she dances. But Jack is still in love with his ex-lover Gloria, and it’s for her that he takes part in a robbery of a money transport. Destiny takes its course. (hjf)

arsenal cinema: Showcasing Albert Serra

07:00 pm Cinema 1

El cant dels ocells

El cant dels ocells Birdsong
Spain 2008 35 mm OV/EnS 98 min

arsenal cinema: Magical History Tour: Music in film

07:30 pm Kino 2


Ran Akira Kurosawa Japan/F 1985
35 mm OmE 160 min
Aus der Sammlung des Österreichischen Filmmuseums

arsenal cinema: Showcasing Albert Serra

09:00 pm Kino 1

Waiting for Sancho

Waiting for Sancho
Mark Peranson Kanada 2008
Digital file OmE 105 min