prepping for Die Nibelungen parts 1 & 2

Well, I’ve now screened both part 1 and 2 of Lang’s Die Nibelungen on DVD in prep for my playing for these two at the Burns Film Center on Weds and Thurs. Got these out of the NYPL; I don’t own DVD’s of silents, just reserve ’em and check ’em out of the library when I need to screen one for a show.

I don’t know how I got through these films back in my early days of playing when I was at NYU; I remembered having played for them in one of Everson’s classes. The films are very long and feel sluggish – at least on a computer monitor in my apt with the sound off. There isn’t a lot of drama happening on screen and the stories are pretty simple. Granted, these look as though they were transferred at 18 or 19 fps, and we probably won’t have that “luxury” at the Burns Center (fine by me). The film is, however, extremely well photographed and staged; the settings and costumes and uses of locations are amazing, and I think the film will come to life in a theatre with an audience. This kind of film will be one of those where I’ll get to do a lot of creating melodies – and even finishing them and repeating them – while we wait for things to happen. A nice change of pace and a good challenge to have every once in a while. The films have original scores by Gottfried Huppertz – which are on the Kino DVDs, performed by the Munich Radio Orch – brooding and Germanic and full of whole-tone scales. Will really give the Clavinova at the Burns a workout (also forearms).

Friday I play for Destiny at the Burns as part of the Lang series there. Will have to look at that DVD soon. They’ve also booked me and Bruce Lawton for a program of Chaplin shorts on Dec 30th. We’ve done a silent comedy program for them every late Dec since they opened. Those shows are always fun and we get a lot of families and seniors as well as their usual film crowd.

Saturday at MoMA is Jeckyll & Hyde and The Green Goddess, which I’ll do (both) on piano. Sunday is opening day at the Silent Clowns series, showing Lloyd’s Grandma’s Boy – my print (hey, I better dig that out!), a nice 16mm which Bruce filled out with some footage from another print that was missing in mine. Making some progress on dealing with the fact that the N-YHS auditorium side door is out of commission because of renovations to the museum, and that people will be entering in the back door (which lets light onto the screen). We should have blackout curtains hung by our second show, in Oct, unless something amazing happens in next coupla days. The N-YHS staff have been great about helping us with this.

See you at the silents!


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