Sunday, June 13, 2010

Monday movie house : eyes, ears, and memory


A change-up pitch this week. Rather than speaking of specific titles, I'd like to talk generalities.For the most part, RR relies on visual memories,still good. When setting up the list of titles to discuss, one came to mind which is very far back.One sequence has stuck in my mind all these years. When discussing this phenomenon with my brother, he too had a sequence from a different film which is still vivid.My brother's lapel grabber is the people sinking in the sand sequence in the original Invaders from Mars, and the subsequent thing on the back of their necks controlling them. RR's film (NO, this one is definitely a movie, not a film) is a worse movie than RR has been presenting here: Puss 'n Boots. Not a cartoon, folks; live action,one with real actors playing the human parts, and a wee actor dressed up in a cat suit as the title character. Very creepy.The sequence RR remembers does not help: a human sorcerer,drunk, is convinced to change himself into an animal by Puss; he turns into a mouse, runs across the floor, and is promptly gobbled by the cat. Whoah. Never saw the movie again.RR has tracked it down, and there is a story behind it.

Soundtracks stand out or work quietly in the background, with lesser impact than visuals. I peg my interest to the viewing (and hearing) of El Cid, at the South Shore Plaza Twin Drive-In. An excellent soundtrack. So were the early (Dr. No, et al)James Bond soundtracks: RR still owns the 33 1/3rpm recordings of them.The soundtracks of memory which really caught my ear are those of Ennio Morricone, in the C.Eastwood 'Italian' westerns. His sound style matched director Sergio Leone's visual style.I have the orginal recordings, plus Yo Yo Ma playing these and other Morricone titles on CD. Morricone has an affinity for the cello.RR has also enjoyed Morricone's soundtracks from later films: his taut score for John Carpenter's The Thing, as well as The Mission and The Untouchables. He is still working, I believe.Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, seen on a semi-big screen in a dingy hall at college, has sequences where the soundtrack was written first, with the film shot to the score. It works nicely, if one enjoys Eisenstein and/or Prokofiev as RR does; so nicely, it is reported that William Walton's music for Henry V replicates the technique in spots. I cannot confirm, as I have only seen it on the small screen.No film stands out in my memory solely on the basis of sound; a few stand out for lack of sound, even though they are 'talkies', such as Tod Browning's Dracula. The combination of sound and sight strenghtens the memory of the film.

Next time, less pointy headed stuff, as RR recalls the magic of Ray Harryhausen in Jason and the Argonauts.

1 comment:

Barrett Bonden said...

Music in films. The most inseparable link I know of is between the zither and Carol Reed's superbly directed The Third Man. Amazingly the plinky-plunk spans the range between gaiety and menace. As far as I can remember (and jeepers that isn't very far) the zither is silent during the memorable final take where Valli starts in the middle of nowhere and walks right past Joseph Cotten without a sideways glance. Ah, the power of good film-making. Harry Lime, by now dead, is very much alive in this dialogue-less passage.