Film Noir et Blanc

Saturday night we went to see a movie:  “Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors”.  This silent movie from Germany was accompanied by a live band from St. Louis called The Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra, which features Wurlitzer electric piano, theramin, vibraphone, electric guitar, two violins, viola, trombone, trumpet and one percussionist.  The theater itself is an old relic.  Typically, the front rows of seats are replaced with old couches and sofas and end tables.  For the crowd on Friday, though, there were rows of seats and cafe tables on the side.  It was a pretty funky set-up, with lots of young people in attendance, and a few old fogeys like myself and Steve.  The theramin player was fascinating to watch.  She also played a violin part.  Her intonation was better on theramin, unfortunately.  It was good creepy, goofy fun, though.  German expressionism is interesting.  How would you stylize fear or death or love?  Silent horror film stars don’t scream.  Their eyes widen; they grimace; they gesture, but they don’t scream.  Make-up and background heighten contrasts.  Here’s the iconic image from the film.

Steve likes the childlike exploration of a basic emotion – fear.  It’s not deep and philosophical, really, nor is it very clever or contrived.  I tend to find the old horror films funny.  I mean, here comes Count Orlok walking through town with his coffin under his arm.  Seriously?  I won’t even go to a modern horror movie, though.  I get too tense.  It’s not good for me.

On Friday night, I finally watched “Citizen Kane”, which we borrowed from the library.  I’d never seen it, although the ending had been spoiled for me many times over the years.  I got hooked by Orson Welles’ genius.  The way he pieces together the story, the radio-inspired musical effects, the dialogue and writing, the visuals and directing, and his acting are just brilliant.  Did you know you can buy a T-shirt with his picture on it that says, “I made Citizen Kane when I was 25.  What the fuck have you done?”  His creativity is evident, and was technically ground-breaking at the time.  I mused about the psychology of the story for hours afterwards.  Agnes Moorehead’s portrayal of his mother was just eerie.   Issues of control and freedom and power squeak out in each scene.  So, I’m in total agreement with everyone who says it’s possibly the best American film ever made.

One more thing: what do you do with leftover movie popcorn?  Feed the squirrels.  I put it out on the old wicker chair.  It’s already gone.  Now it’s snowing.  Food is going to be harder to find.  I might need to see another movie.

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