Friday, June 15, 2012

Cinema concert Shinel / The Overcoat and The Immigrant, composed and conducted by Maud Nelissen

The Tent, Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), Friday, 15 June 2012

The Immigrant. US 1917. P+D+SC+starring: Charles Chaplin. 20 min. Music composed by Maud Nelissen and played by Maud Nelissen (piano) and Eeva Koskinen (violin). A fine and charming music by Maud Nelissen that befits Chaplin's film very well. A fine 35 mm print from Photoplay with a good definition of light. E-titles in Finnish.

Shinel / The Overcoat. SU 1927. PC: Leningradkino. D: Grigori Kozintsev, Leonid Trauberg. The same print as in Pordenone, with English subtitles by Richard Taylor. E-titles in Finnish. See my Pordenone 2011 notes on the cinema concert Shinel.

Music composed and arranged by Maud Nelissen; performed by Eeva Koskinen (violin), Pamela Smits (violoncello), Fedor Teunisse (percussion: marimba, vibraphone), Maud Nelissen (piano).

Peter von Bagh: "Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, two young men in their early twenties, made some of the most important Soviet films of the 1920s and 30s. Their famous ”Factory of the Eccentric Actor” group (FEKS) combined the influences of Mayakovsky and Meyerhold with the slapstick of Chaplin and Sennett and, on the other hand, with Griffith and Stroheim’s realistic ability to operate in the real world and on real streets. When visiting Finland in 1972, Kozintsev talked about the circumstances which were full of hunger, deprivation, trouble in the railway traffic and standstills in the industry, and how the absurdity of it all ”meant a sense of joie de vivre to us”: ”The young generation dreamt of carnivals, events with bright colours and powerful rhythms. A sense of a joy of life. We were not angry young men. We were happy young men. Such were the sentiments of the revolution.”"

"Which author could rise to the occasion and give support to the great truth of time? According to Kozintsev, the prophet was Gogol – ”the first figure in modern art to create a grotesque language that corresponds with tragedy. They are not only short stories but great tragedies – they are not just about the private situation of a poor, miserable man but also about a great historical process.” The filmmaking duo’s The Overcoat (1926) ties another short story with Gogol’s classic and is undeniably one of the finest film adaptations of the theme. It is a brilliant vision of St. Petersburg in the midst of night, freezing temperatures, snow, shadows, and Czarist office – a fierce mockery of bureaucracy and a shadow-like ”non-citizenship” that manages to turn into one of the great dream-like ”city films” in the process." (PvB)

AA: I liked Maud Nelissen's new score to The Overcoat now even more than in Pordenone, but I'm still struggling to find a way to relate to the film. I love Gogol, and I am fond of Expressionism, but I still find this Kozintsev-Trauberg interpretation slightly heavy-handed.

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