when i was in college, we went on a field trip to dc to visit museums…at the National Gallery of Art, we saw this massive dada retrospective. and one of the highlights was seeing a performance of George Antheil’s “Ballet Mechanique”.
“The original orchestration called for 16 player pianos (or pianolas) in four parts, 2 regular pianos, 3 xylophones, at least 7 electric bells, 3 propellers, a siren, 4 bass drums, and 1 tam-tam. As it turned out, there was no way to keep so many pianolas synchronized, so early performances combined the four parts into a single set of pianola rolls and augmented the two human-played pianos with 6 or more additional instruments.”
edited versions of the piece were performed over the years, using previously recorded instruments or a slower tempo, but in 2005, science finally caught up to Antheil’s original vision and the piece was able to be programmed and played by a robotic-ensemble.
and that is what i saw at the National Gallery of Art and that is the video up there. it really doesnt do it justice, the piece is mostly percussive and then it echoed around in that giant lobby, soooo LOUD. note the war-time air-raid sirens, and the fans as plane props.
the piece was made to accompany a film by Fernand Léger and Man Ray which is here…its dadaist….
anyway, i was reminded of that after stumbling across this Steve Reich piece and subsequently downloading his piece “Music for 18 Musicians”…
“Music for 18 Musicians was written for a cello, violin, two clarinets (both players double on bass clarinet), four pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, a metallophone, and four women’s voices…although the piece is named Music for 18 Musicians, it is not necessarily advisable to perform the piece with that few players due to the extensive doubling it requires.”
i highly recommend that you just go and find this for yourself. the piece gets really manic and shimmery…Reich was experimenting with psychoacoustics which basically means that “this shit is trippy“.
i like watching this rehearsal video too, it gives you a good idea of what happens later on…
aaaaaaaaaand we come full circle….Antheil begat Reich begat Dan Deacon….go Dan go…
so last year, Dune became one of my favorite comfort movies. im not sure how a film necessarily gets “comfort” status, i guess from watching it a million times, you know it, its easy to watch…and Dunes got camp and mystery and action and cute dudes and its not too slow or steamy, just good. a favorite. apparantly the director David Lynch is completely embarassed of it though. shrug.
anyway, in these cold and (for me) confusing past months, i found myself craving this film, and remembering that i wrote a blog post on 3/17/08 for ten tigers upon first discovering this movie. there were ten tigers quickly became a primarily art/baltimore blog, and anyway i dont think anyone read this post of mine, so i’m reposting it! ha!
and may i just say, i dont think anybody can pull off “buff-twink” better than Kyle Maclachlan.
Fave film of moment: DUNE
First off, just finished watching this for the second time and am definitely in love with David Lynch’s golden boy, Kyle Maclachlan.
But it’s like he and Bruce Campell went to the same Sore Thumb School of Over-Acting. The Harryhausen-esque/early 80’s bluescreen FX don’t help either (see below). But certainly all that can be excused as charming camp.
And then!, the Baron Harkonnen is a completely creepy, incestuous, letch of a villain. He cultivates diseases on his face and carries out ludicrous tortures: “We’ve brought you a little cat, Thufir. You must care for it if you wish to live. A poison has been introduced into you, Thufir Hawat. By milking this smooth little cat body each day you receive your antidote.”
See also: awesome trippy dream sequences, crazy mutant monster people, and a totally believable yet fantastic future-setting…think Fifth Element meets Blade Runner.
Which! totally makes sense anyway because Ridley Scott was slated to direct but dropped out to do Blade Runner instead (also interesting because Sean Young plays Kyle Maclachlan’s alien love interest).
And now that I mention Sean Young…the fact that MALE sci-fi geek is this film’s demographic is absolutely palpable. Sure, yes, all of the women characters are either Sean Young, a tough and capable yet beautiful and vulnerable warrior, or else belong to the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, which is a group of perfect beings who can mind read and use “the voice” to control people…which is cool…but basically they are witches and have been waiting for Paul (Kyle Machlachlan) to come, have prophetic dreams, become the messiah of the universe and go where “women are afraid to go…where [they] cannot see”….see the movie, you’ll get it….
Anyway, Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, is a Bene Gesserit and is the only other female character one can identify with…but she’s certainly no Ripley. Lets just say that Glenn Close turned down the role because she didn’t want to play “the girl who is always running and falling down behind the men”.
Double anyway, totally love it, will watch it a third time and probably read the book [havent read the book]…also, how bad-ass is this treatment proposed by Alejandro Jodorowsky!…
“Jodorowsky had originally planned on filming Dune in the early-’70s, and had enlisted the help of Jean Giraud and H.R. Giger to create the movie’s visual style. Salvador Dali was enlisted to play the part of the Emperor, and Jodorowsky also intended to cast his own son as Paul, David Carradine as Duke Leto, Orson Welles as the Baron, and Gloria Swanson as the Benne Geserit Reverend Mother. The soundtrack was to be done by Pink Floyd. According to Jodorowsky, “The project was sabotaged in Hollywood. It was French and not American. The message was ‘not Hollywood enough’.” – IMDB
Oh, PS: Sting‘s in it too….and is a hyper babe…