Saturday, October 01, 2011

The score for the abandoned ending Novyi Vavilon / New Babylon

[La nuova Babilonia] (SU 1929) 6' (actual score 4'10"). Score by Dmitri Shostakovich, performed by FVG Mitteleuropa Orchestra, conducted by Mark Fitz-Gerald. Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, the illustration is in English, 1 Oct 2011.

David Robinson (GCM Catalogue): "At the end of Shostakovich’s manuscript score for New Babylon, following the music which now ends simultaneously with the film, on an unresolved chord, is an additional section, consisting of 130 bars, which Shostakovich has crossed out as eliminated. In fact we know, from a shooting script that was published in a film magazine in December 1928, that this music was intended to accompany a sequence of images which was conceived and perhaps shot, but which now has no place in the film. Jean, whom we have just seen digging a grave for Louise, is told to pose for a photograph for the Album of Heroes. He is “hunched, wet, insignificant and destroyed”. The photograph is taken by magnesium flash. A sergeant paternally pats his shoulder (title: “You’ll get used to it.”). Some commentators seek to perceive this cut as a change in the political significance of the end, but it seems more likely to have been an artistic choice: this little coda could only have been an anticlimax to the present ending, abrupt and uniquely unsettling."

"Now restored by Mark Fitz-Gerald, this musical fragment will be accompanied at the Giornate performance by projection of the script of the rejected ending, with images to evoke the visual textures of the final sequence of the film. This is however in no way intended as a “recreation” of the rejected and now lost ending. We are grateful to Don Fairservice for his generosity in editing this material for the occasion." – DAVID ROBINSON

AA: The illustration film worked very well as an "extra" to the New Babylon cinema concert.

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