And Gene Kelly. I also have Gene Kelly. And his beautiful, perfect ass.
December 2, 2016 11:21 AM   Subscribe

"But seriously. If you're going to create a world where an entire town of Puritanical eighteenth-century Scots(wo)men have their town converted into a forward-motion-only time machine that will, in the span of just one year in their eyes, deposit them in the year 38235 — that's thirty-eight thousand two hundred thirty five — in what frickin universe does it make any sense whatsoever to make your story about a guy one of the village girls develops a crush on, on day goddamn two!?!"
posted by MartinWisse (82 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had never actually seen Hello Dolly until recently, and was frankly astonished to discover that it's actually a vintage 70s horror tale of witchcraft and possession.

It's clearly a story of a witch, Dolly, using sympathetic and ritual magic to invoke the spirit of her beloved dead husband and help it possess the body of an innocent, if curmudgeonly shopkeeper, so he can live and be her loving husband once more.

It's so obvious that the whole thing about bringing the other couples together is to create sympathetic resonance. The whole restaurant scene is about connecting that resonance to her own experience with her husband. (Hint: IMMEDIATELY after singing, "Dolly will never go away again!" what does she do? She goes away.)

And finally, we have the evidence of the completed ritual where the host says "As I always say" and follows it with a statement that is in character for Dolly's dead husband, but completely and utterly out of character for him.

It's a horror story. I rest my case.
posted by Naberius at 11:34 AM on December 2, 2016 [25 favorites]


(In both the musical and the film, part of the plot concerns a Brigadoonian named Harry who tries to leave the town, knowing full well that he's killing everyone who remains, and in the process of attempting to escape he's accidentally killed himself. I maintain that the story would be way, way stronger if he were killed on purpose, and Shirley Jackson probably agrees.)

[this is good]
posted by anastasiav at 11:35 AM on December 2, 2016 [23 favorites]


There's probably a 5-7 year long HBO series of ever-unfolding mystery levels contained within the article in this FPP.

I played the role of Jeff in a production ~20 years ago, mostly because I was the boyfriend of the director and can't sing, and that part was written as a non-singing role. It was a fun show to do, the music is great, with lots of great moments and interactions. The overarching horror of the actual plot was even back then a bit of a discussion amongst cast members mostly as points of black humor.

I fear that 2035 won't be a very pleasant planet to wake up on at this point. The future felt different in 1995, and most certainly did in the immediate post-WWII era.
posted by hippybear at 11:42 AM on December 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: I was only negligibly on handshake terms with reality

But I question the premise of the article. It's not like the Brigadoonians spend their day wandering around the new world of the far distant future. They don't leave the town. Unless the world of the distant future has built a giant spaceport right next to them in the Scottish Highlands (which I guess is not that unlikely, so forget I said anything), they will hardly notice any changes.

Fine, they'll be confused by airplanes in the sky. And I guess if they materialize in 2135 and a gay, black, cyborg tourist from Mars stumbles across the town then they are going to be confused, but it seems like the premise that the Brigadoon is isolated from the rest of the world - by choice. They are like the tribe in the Amazon who has no contact with the outside world.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:45 AM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


There's probably a 5-7 year long HBO series of ever-unfolding mystery levels contained within the article in this FPP.

Yes, please.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:45 AM on December 2, 2016


I guess if they materialize in 2135 and a gay, black, cyborg tourist from Mars stumbles across the town then they are going to be confused

This will happen in episode 4 of the series. Every episode is a single day in the life of the village.
posted by hippybear at 11:47 AM on December 2, 2016 [26 favorites]


As long as that HBO series is a Deadwood spinoff, so we can hear "cocksucker" spoken in a proper Scottish brogue.
posted by delfin at 11:48 AM on December 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Unless the world of the distant future has built a giant spaceport right next to them in the Scottish Highlands (which I guess is not that unlikely, so forget I said anything), they will hardly notice any changes.

Well, there is a little thing called climate change.

You know the saying:
"If you don't like the weather in Brigadoon, just wait a couple days and watch as your skin melts from your bones and your eyes boil in their sockets."
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:49 AM on December 2, 2016 [34 favorites]


Wow. WOW. I thought I was the only person to ever think this, after my grandmother took me to a production of the musical back when I was a little kid. I since had this discussion several times, once with a friend in a pub in Glasgow, and another time here in LA, at Canter's.

It's Never Lurgi, I think they might notice things after a week after the weather starts getting really, really strange and increasingly inhospitable. I wonder how long they could actually physically survive, given the likelihood of runaway global warming.

In short, Brigadoon is a tale of pants-shitting horror.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:50 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's HBO. The language will be coarse, boobies will be prevalent (and possibly also full frontal male nudity given what I've seen on HBO recently) and sex and violence will be linked like always.

Also, when someone says "cocksucker" they will say it with gratitude instead of as an insult.
posted by hippybear at 11:51 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Her previous essay, about why Trump's steak preferences are important, is also excellent. Subscribed.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:52 AM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Why am I surprised that there's an entire Tumblr of Gene Kelly's butt? (from a link at the end of the article)
posted by dnash at 11:53 AM on December 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


If you're near any sort of regional theater group mounting a stage production, maybe skip that? Unless your brand of masochism extends to an aural bath of earnestly insistent faux-Scottish burrs.

My community theater did a production of Brigadoon when I was seventeen. Even though I was in it, I agree completely.

We gave the role of Mr. Lundie to the editor of the arts and entertainment section of the local paper, partly as a sort of George Plimpton move so he could write about rehearsal as a sort of free publicity, and partly becuase he was of Scottish descent himself. Clan MacDonald, and I remember that during the scene at the wedding when Mr. Lundie is announcing the entrance of each clan, he was unable to stop himself from grinning broadly whenever announcing "Clan MacDonald!" each time.

I also remember much talk about whether the dude with the dance solo during the chase scene in Act II was wearing underwear under his kilt. And that my costume was a dress that had been yellow two shows ago, but was turned blue through the judicious use of a bottle of RIT, and the stomacher I wore over it made me sweat to the point that the dye wore off and stained my boobs teal.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on December 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


the dye wore off and stained my boobs teal.

Simply a foreshadowing of your days spent here on The Blue.
posted by hippybear at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


I love this premise for a TV series. I might make the time jumps a bit smaller—short enough that, say, someone they met as a 20-year-old might visit them again as a 70-year-old. And give them 72 hours or a week at each time point, long enough to have a story. Intrepid villagers could go out into the world, and "be sure you get back in time!" could be one of the sources of tension.

Here's a story: a ten-year-old history buff stumbles upon the village. Fascinated by seeing in person people who do a thing she's only read about, she hangs around them. They explain that she has to keep the village a secret, and can only visit for a few more days, and then they'll be gone. Not sure she believes them, and remaining enthralled by life in the village and by the villagers, she stows away—they think they've said goodbye to her and she's gone home, but they wake the next day 50 years in the future, and there she is in somebody's barn or storage closet or something. They're horrified. She dashes back into the real world, where she finds her mother, now over 80; a sibling who is an old man; and so on. Her heartbreaking choice: does she reveal herself to them, trying to explain how she can re-appear 50 years later still the child they lost so many years ago? Or does she stay in the village?
posted by Orlop at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2016 [21 favorites]


The irony is that I had been the one wearing the dress in the earlier show when it was yellow.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:00 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Orlop: Or make it a year per night instead of a century per night, show the passage of time and the development of modern culture across time during the series. It'd be a critique and commentary as it went along. The same ten-year-old could end up finding the village repeatedly and be aging to be an old woman while her village friends slowly become her peers and finally her juniors.

The casting and/or Benjamin Button SFX on this would probably be too expensive, but would make for exellent viewing.
posted by hippybear at 12:03 PM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Why am I surprised that there's an entire Tumblr of Gene Kelly's butt? (from a link at the end of the article)


The only surprise is that I didn't know it existed/wasn't already following it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:08 PM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I told her I fear she's given Ryan Murphy the idea for his next show.

I'm a musicals freak from way back, and often cite My Fair Lady as my favorite all-time. But much of the rest of Lerner and Loewe's ouevre is certainly a mixed bag. Camelot's good.

But Gigi? Her grandmother is raising her to be a high-class hooker, and the older guy is waiting for her to get legal and "trained." Pygmalion, but with more kinky sex, as adapted by an 8x-married guy.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:14 PM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


in the span of just one year in their eyes, deposit them in the year 38235 — that's thirty-eight thousand two hundred thirty five

When I saw Brigadoon for the very first time in high school, this is what disturbed me the most. I remember walking out of there thinking, "wait a minute, isn't the sun going to start frying them in a few more years?"
posted by Melismata at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]



Back in the Simon & Simon days, I thought that Gerald McRaney had the finest ass on television.


Major Dadbod
posted by turntraitor at 12:25 PM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Time for a bunch of liberal and marginalized Americans to move up to Svalbard in Norway and pray real hard. We'll miss World War III and up there it will get pleasantly balmy, plus there's the seed vault and all. Sure, the sun will expand and evaporate the oceans after a few "years," but it will all have been worth it, plus everybody will be tired of town hall meetings and processing sessions by then anyway.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Huh. I was at that debate tournament. It was BU, not Brandeis, but everything else is consistent with what I remember of that fateful day. It snowed so much that we had to walk all the way back from the MIT frat house where the party was. Yale's team stumbled out of that next-morning round so dazed at the regular-prison-versus-cryo-prison topic and its zealous advocate that they began making polite inquiries as to whether the water had been dosed.

Ain't no party like a college debate party.
posted by Mayor West at 12:32 PM on December 2, 2016 [46 favorites]


God didn't bless them. The witches cursed them.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:16 PM on December 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


nah this is what happens when you pray and Jesus is busy and you get His dad instead, who jumps at the chance to royally fuck with a whole community of people like back in the OT days
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:26 PM on December 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


okay but can we talk about time prison bc i wanna talk about time prison. does choosing time prison mean you get out in 30 minutes in the real world? or do 15,768,000 years pass

is there an obvious third option i am missing, i assume yes
posted by poffin boffin at 1:29 PM on December 2, 2016


what if time prison but you have to listen to Al Stewart's "Time Passages" the whole time
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:32 PM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


what if it's the steve miller band's fly like an eagle except every time they say eagle it gets slower
posted by poffin boffin at 1:39 PM on December 2, 2016 [15 favorites]


I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of Brigadoon as a mechanic where everyone goes to sleep and wakes up 100 years later. I want to write a spinoff about a young boy in Brigadoon whose parents tell him how very important it is that he go to sleep every night, but he rebels and manages to stay up the whole night, and when he leaves his room, nobody's there. Entire village is deserted. They're all 99 years and 364 days in the future now, and he's out of sync with them.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:49 PM on December 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


I've never seen it, but is the perpetrator, Mr. Forsyth, still in the village? Would the curse be lifted if, you know, something happened to him?
posted by zompist at 1:51 PM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


We'll miss World War III and up there it will get pleasantly balmy, plus there's the seed vault and all.
posted by Countess Elena


Wait, can we use nuclear winter to counter global warming?
posted by yeolcoatl at 1:58 PM on December 2, 2016


Why am I surprised

Why, indeed? If 2016 is Pandora's Box, there must be some hope at the bottom.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:09 PM on December 2, 2016


Wait, can we use nuclear winter to counter global warming?

I guess we'll find out!
posted by tobascodagama at 2:09 PM on December 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


I wonder about communication. Wouldn't people in 1735 Scotland have spoken Scots? Even if they did speak English, the language has evolved so much and so many new words have been coined that the Brigadoon people and the Americans may as well have been speaking two different languages. How did they understand each other?
posted by SisterHavana at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2016


The time prison thing is a feature in the book Solitaire by Kelley Eskridge.
posted by Lexica at 2:13 PM on December 2, 2016


There is a saying that the best English in Scotland is spoken north of the Highland Fault Line because they are speaking it as a second language. So maybe they are Gaelic speakers and have learned English from English soldiers, not Lowland Scots speakers?
posted by alasdair at 2:50 PM on December 2, 2016


But the villagers all talk about the magic rules as though they're ancient history to them too. Seemed like time was passing normally for them, but outsiders could only enter the village one day every hundred years.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 3:02 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


what if that one day lasts a hundred years though
posted by poffin boffin at 3:03 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


One day every hundred years... of solitude?
posted by nickmark at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


SisterHavana: modern American English is not dissimilar to 18th century (or earlier) English-English in terms of accent. Highland Scots was an entirely different matter — the lowlands language was a hybrid with some overlap with English, but not much more mutually intelligible than Dutch, while many highland villages would still have spoken Gaelic (an entirely different language, and note that Scots Gaelic is not the same as Irish Gaelic). But probably someone would have been able to understand the Americans, although they might have mistaken them for absentee landlords.

More amusingly: Brigadoon experiences one year per 365 centuries of our time. So by the end of their first year they'll have been clobbered by a third of a millennium of global warming. If they survive it, then by 27.4 subjective-years they'll be a million years in our future; the carbon dioxide pulse will be over, the Anthropogenic era will be waning, and by and by they will be seeing re-speciation in the wake of the sixth great extinction. If they've survived at all, things will be getting very weird, sooner rather than later as macroevolution into all the niches rendered extinct by early H. Sapiens activity are re-occupied by newcomers. Tool-using raccoons, anybody? (There are endemic raccoons in Germany.) Language-aware wolves?
posted by cstross at 3:22 PM on December 2, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think they're missing the whole point of Brigadoon, which is Cyd Charisse and some dancing guy.
posted by bongo_x at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Language-aware wolves?

Heh.

Bystander: "It's a were-wolf!"

Wolf: "Not 'a were-wolf', 'aware wolf'. (Sigh.) I get this all the time."
posted by Four Ds at 3:39 PM on December 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


In short, Brigadoon is a tale of pants-shitting horror.

More accurate to say Brigadoon is the prologue to a horror tale. As he points out in the essay, this is only day 2 or 3 of their journey through time, and none of them have yet realized what they're in for. In 1735, nobody knew that the future was going to change so radically and get weirder and harder to comprehend at an exponentially increasing rate.
posted by straight at 4:12 PM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


In 2035, they'll wake up, and even if they have much contact with the modern world, as long as it's not catastrophic, most of the village will end up going to bed thinking, "Well, that was an odd day. I imagine things will be more normal tomorrow."
posted by straight at 4:15 PM on December 2, 2016


Two unicycles and some duct tape, that's similar the premise of the pretty great Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge.
posted by ver at 4:34 PM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


I sympathize with escape-y guy. Sure, it might be more noble to sacrifice yourself, but given that he's clearly aware that the reverend has thrown them all into a dreadful prison, and given that the villagers didn't immediately set the reverend on fire when they found out (because this was clearly a deal with the devil, not god. It's got the classic structure of any gift of the devil, you get exactly what you want in a way that will make it a horror to you) and instead are chirpy about it, well. You gotta do what you gotta do.
posted by tavella at 4:45 PM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Clicked because the headline caught my attention. It took reading the entire essay start to finish before I realized that Gene Kelly and Gene Wilder are not the same person. #millennial

Did Gene Wilder really have that great of an ass when he was younger? AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE
posted by Snacks at 4:59 PM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nice article, but that link at the end is the real treasure.

I didn't notice Gene Kelly's ass until about 20 years ago when my then preschool age son went through a Singing in the Rain phase and for a brief time that video was at the top of the home rotation.

If only Woody or Buzz had had that body...
posted by she's not there at 5:32 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


took reading the entire essay start to finish before I realized that Gene Kelly and Gene Wilder are not the same person.

Bless your heart.

FUCK. I'm old. How the fuck did that happen.
posted by dnash at 6:00 PM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


AND YOUR NAME IS NOT EMPRESSTEALBOOBS WHY NOW?!?

I always thought it would be less horrible if they just allowed Tommy to switch places with Harry and nobody had to die or anything. But ohhh no.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:01 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Gene Kelly and Gene Wilder are not the same person

Well, you never see them together...
posted by Naberius at 6:05 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Change my MeFi name to Cyd Charisse's Mesmerizingly Elegant Clavicle. STAT.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:30 PM on December 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Ha, I'd love to see her take on Finian's Rainbow.

In the case of Brigadoon, I can easily tune out the nightmarish terrifying overtones not only for the sake of Gene Kelly's ever-riveting ass but for stuff like this here. The music really is splendid throughout.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Wait, can we use nuclear winter to counter global warming?"

I read an article by some climate scientists about atmospheric engineering suggesting our best hope was a massive volcanic eruption that caused a volcanic winter, or a strategically-deployed nuclear winter! So maybe!

"More amusingly: Brigadoon experiences one year per 365 centuries of our time. So by the end of their first year they'll have been clobbered by a third of a millennium of global warming. If they survive it, then by 27.4 subjective-years they'll be a million years in our future; the carbon dioxide pulse will be over, the Anthropogenic era will be waning, and by and by they will be seeing re-speciation in the wake of the sixth great extinction. If they've survived at all, things will be getting very weird, sooner rather than later as macroevolution into all the niches rendered extinct by early H. Sapiens activity are re-occupied by newcomers. Tool-using raccoons, anybody? (There are endemic raccoons in Germany.) Language-aware wolves?"

I feel like we've just found cstross's next book!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:11 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, the Tangents You'll Take

It's all goin' on in the theatre, isn't it? After EmpressCallipygos's tale of recycled costumes, I was just lying here trying to tally up all the different shows I've worn the same basic costumes in. I'm a tall lady with wide shoulders and gangly limbs; even when I'm at my ideal weight I'm not the easiest fit in our little community.

A few years back, another theatre friend and I went to a local production of The Importance of Being Earnest. In the program, I saw it was costumed by L.C., who is hands-down the best name in town, especially for authentic period work; I also noticed that Lady Bracknell was being played in drag by R.M., a big, burly, six-footer whom I had never seen without his Zach Galifinakis beard. The costumes were perfect, including the freshly shaven Lady B.'s.

At intermission, I leaned over to my friend and said, sotto voce,

"I don't generally care for drag in this play, but R.M. is really killing it."

We talked quietly for another minute or two, and then she said,

"And how about those costumes?"

I replied,

" I got so excited when I saw L.C.'s name in the program, because I know I'll be wearing them myself soon enough."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:39 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


My first boyfriend and I did a community theater production of The Sound Of Music (him directing, me musical director and piano), and after we had the nun outfits we then did Nunsense, and then Nunsense II (the first community theater production, complete with opening night phone call from Dan Goggin), and it's like, once you have the clothes, you might as well use them as much as possible.
posted by hippybear at 8:51 PM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I get the feeling the article describes of the potential for horror in the story's events, but I'm not really sure that's so much an alternate take than kinda the point, at least by extension. The story is essentially an ultra-conservative ideal, where change of any sort never happens and the world can be ignored. The desire to live in Brigadoon, in all its "purity" is a desire to suspend change, retard growth, and live in a fantasyland. Just because Tommy decides to go that route doesn't make it the right or adult choice. Jeff's resistance is also important to the story. The desire to get away and avoid responsibility is seductive and has understandable allure, but the price is high. Tommy embraces the fantasy and drops out of reality as much as Sam does in Brazil, but Tommy isn't faced with torture or authoritarianism, just normal life that he doesn't want to participate in. That's not heroic, and is only romantic in the same way the beginning of any romance can feel like a suspension of time.

The movie follows Tommy, so it isn't condemning him, but it needn't be seen as endorsing hiding from reality in Brigadoon either, that's the point of the cross current subplot about the guy wanting to escape form Brigadoon. He's Tommy's counter-image, in wanting to escape the fantasy to reality. The act of doing so would bring the real to Brigadoon and end it because it makes it clear there is a choice involved in hiding, and awareness of that ends the illusion of continuous unchanging sameness. That Jeff is the one who is accidentally involved in Harry's death suggests the movie is really more invested in his position as a sort of intermediary between the yearning for fantasy and the responsibility in facing reality. His sarcasm about everything acting as a signal of his split, aware of reality, but not wanting to face it directly.

It should go without saying that the movie has some resonance with the current political scene if you wanted to pursue those connections a little further, just as it had some connection to the political scene at the start of the cold war, when the play was first produced.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:36 PM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


In this particular case the time skipping phenomenon was set up by a kind and loving god. There isn't much point to discussing potential consequences when you're starting from there.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:19 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Although I have to admit I've always wondered what the aftermath for Jeff might look like when it's found that two people walked into the forest and only one walked out.)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:28 PM on December 2, 2016


Jeff is such a drunk that there's no story he could tell them that any authority would believe.
posted by hippybear at 11:38 PM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


A kind and loving god that kills every single man woman and child in the village if one of them leaves? You have a very different definition of kind and loving than I do.
posted by tavella at 11:41 PM on December 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Gusottertrout, the reason why Brigadoon makes so many people uneasy is because-- I believe-- it's such a warped version of the original story, Germelshausen (linked in the article). The original story is about a young artist in the mid 1800s who finds a village in the mountains in Germany which only appears out of the mists every once in a hundred years. He falls in love with a young maiden from it and attends the village dance with her. Sounds like Brigadoon, right? A key difference is-- the village is not blessed. It's cursed.

Even if you know the ending, the story is great, with many layers of unease leading up to a final reveal. The young man thinks of his mother, and how she'd die if he vanished, never to see her again, and when he mentions her, the girl pleads with him to leave the village, to go to a clearing and not leave until midnight. He does, and the village vanished in an awful storm. It's very Gothic, but it almost has Lovecraftian cosmic overtones of horror, in terms of how creaking and dismal and out-of-time the village is, and how every rational thought in the young man's brain screams until the girl begs him to flee. In this story, the village has been in stasis for four days, or since the 13th century-- the Avignon papacy is mentioned-- and if you think about it, the eventual apocalyptic end to the village, come climate change, nuclear winter or both, seems appropriate given the horror of the curse. The detail is light about the nature of the curse. The young man never finds out why it happened. I think it works perfectly though, unlike the elaborate, absurd, almost sitcom-level of detail gone into Brigadoon about how this whole "blessing" came about.

So yeah. Given L&L's ham-handed interpretation of Colette's source material in Gigi, I guess it's not surprising they'd biff Germelshausen either (the reason they didn't use Germany is a setting is that it obviously wouldn't be palatable to post-war American audiences, hence Scotland).
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:32 AM on December 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


Right, but in transposing it to a Broadway and then film musical they, for good box office reasons, changed the tone to better fit the audience. Doing that may lessen the horrific elements on the surface, but that's often the way with musicals, where the unease is present, but at a slight remove, creating a feeling of overall dissonance for people who invest themselves in the production.

I mean think of the Rodgers and Hammerstein/Hart musicals like Oklahoma, South Pacific, or Carousel (though that last I never cared much for). A good part of the tension in those works comes from the space between the world as described by the music and shown by the surface elements and the world as described in the plot and through dialogue and its extension into action.

The darker elements are necessary accompaniments to more idyllic attitudes presented through song, that's what the songs often are working against in a way. In Brigadoon's case, I think the movie is likely a little stronger than the stage version, but that's judging from inadequate information on my part, just readings about the play, not seeing a strong version on stage. And there was/is some criticism of Brigadoon for being too at ease with a conservative tone, where the accusations are the story is favoring Tommy's retreat as a viable or even desirable choice.

So, yeah, the argument can certainly be made that the film goes lighter on the more horrific possibilities for the villagers in a way, but in doing so it also shifts the meaning from being about the horror for Brigadoon itself to being about the choice Tommy is making between the larger real world and Brigadoon, or as I'd have it reality and fantasy. That much of the audience might side with Tommy doesn't remove the implicit price in their choice, it just better emphasizes how appealing that desire is even though, through Harry and Jeff, we get some notion of what's being decided against.

It's a different thing and one can certainly criticize the "blessing" element as presented, but it does work better to draw the audience into making a choice than it would were it so clearly a mistake as a curse might have it.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:16 AM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


i contend that if you're ever going to see a community/school/regional theater production, "Brigadoon" is a good bet. It's not that it won't be awful (it will be), but it's already (at best) a bizarre show (see TFA), and there's a better than average chance the production with be a sublime disaster, approaching fiasco. It happened for me once. It was amazing. I hope it happens for you.
posted by thivaia at 6:53 AM on December 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can we reach out to this author to join the blue? Their bean plating is strong.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


My awesome college theater department did Brigadoon with the horror subtext turned way up. The runaway boy was costumed as a Johnny Rottenesque punker, all plaid and piercings, and the younger members of the village start to add their own punker touches to their costumes as the play progresses, ending with a small cadre of shocked, radicalized young people at the end of the show. The leads were played as oblivious to what was going on with the villagers, but you KNEW this wasn't the end of the story.
posted by Malla at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thanks for bringing in the original short story, suburbanbeatnik! I hadn't heard of that. Lerner & Loewe sucked the life right out of that one, didn't they? God forbid a musical have interesting, challenging ideas in it.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:05 AM on December 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


God forbid a musical have interesting, challenging ideas in it.

Countess Elena, I'm pretty sure that was one of the sub-points of "The Producers", they did have after all, the song titled "Keep it Gay".
posted by sharp pointy objects at 12:22 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


God forbid a musical have interesting, challenging ideas in it.

Sondheim called. He has Opinions about this.
posted by hippybear at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


If Germelshausen had been turned into a musical by Sondheim, that truly would have been The Best Thing Ever. He would have embraced the weirdness and creepiness and horror. Instead we got Brigadoon, which has great songs but the worst case of Fridge Horror of any property that ever existed.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah, but I mean... *gestures toward Anyone Can Whistle*
posted by hippybear at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2016


Oh for sure, I've been a Sondheim fan since my days in the drama-kid clique in high school. But before he came along, musicals had a reputation that has been tough to shake.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:42 PM on December 3, 2016


MeFi has enough writing chops that surely we could group-write a series for HBO on this, yes? There's already a pilot-season's worth of good ideas on this thread. I think a reboot of Brigadoon is a fabulous idea.

gusottertrout, thanks for helping me think of Rodgers and Hammerstein that way. My personal feeling after a childhood watching and acting in R&H musicals (was Ado Annie in Oklahoma as a HS senior) was that I needed to run screaming into the kinky embrace of Kander and Ebb; Cabaret was a revelation. But I'd forgotten the subtler darkness of Judd Fry and "They've Got To Be Carefully Taught."
posted by gusandrews at 12:57 PM on December 3, 2016


We could call our gritty reboot of Brigadoon, BrigaDoom.

Mom used to sing us to sleep with "Pore Jud is Daid." And she still occasionally has the nerve to ask us how we got so weird.


Sometimes she would change it up with "Hello, Dolly," but only when she felt up to doing the Louis Armstrong voice.

posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:11 PM on December 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Can we reach out to this author to join the blue? Their bean plating is strong.

Ya late! The author is already a mefite.
posted by prefpara at 4:24 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


gusottertrout, thanks for helping me think of Rodgers and Hammerstein that way. My personal feeling after a childhood watching and acting in R&H musicals (was Ado Annie in Oklahoma as a HS senior) was that I needed to run screaming into the kinky embrace of Kander and Ebb; Cabaret was a revelation. But I'd forgotten the subtler darkness of Judd Fry and "They've Got To Be Carefully Taught."

I've always liked musicals, though for a long time it was mostly more the the movie versions that were more backstage or variety/revue driven like Singin' in the Rain, while stuff like Oklahoma! and South Pacific I imagined as corny Broadway stuff that couldn't really be that good since it wasn't as aware of itself or something.

That's a hindsight projection, I didn't actually have a clear reason to feel that way other than fully integrated book musicals didn't seem emotionally genuine so I just thought of them as somehow stunted. One week when I was sick and not much else was on, I turned on Oklahoma! a little before the "Pore Jud is Daid" scene and was fascinated by Jud's relationship with Curley and Laurey being much much darker than I'd have imagined, then a little later I watched South Pacific and was all of a sudden aware that the movie dealing with racism, miscegenation, prostitution and other uncommonly represented matters of moral difficulty and wasn't at all as simplistic as I'd allowed myself to believe.

Now Lerner and Loewe really don't have the same kinds of moral complexity in their shows, at least not as clearly on a textual basis, they push more towards a conservative romanticism of the ideal, with Brigadoon and Camelot dealing with that concept most directly, but with My Fair Lady and Gigi too allowing the romantic elements to drive the plot and resolve their conclusions a little too neatly for them to feel as immediately challenging since the major character developments are mostly bent towards that single end where the complicating matters might be seen more as foils to the romance then as important and multifaceted elements of equal importance on their own.

The character's drive carries the audience response along with it, giving a feel of more single mindedness to the proceedings. But the shows do contain darker elements in their stories that can make the seemingly nostalgic or romantic resolutions more fraught with ambiguity than the emotional tone might suggest as the complicating factors in the romances can be understood as informing the ends, even if the characters may be blind to that themselves. Though, as I mentioned, some critics are less generous in their criticism and find their musicals too reactionary or lacking in consequence. For me personally, Brigadoon and Gigi gain quite a bit in their filmed value due to Vincente Minnelli directing them. Without that additional creative influence I'm not sure I'd like them as much.

I do think, however, that the idea of a Germelshausen show version of the story would be damned interesting though and it'd be a welcome variation to the Brigadoon take on the story.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:26 PM on December 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jack Sparrow and the Brig o' Doom
posted by oheso at 4:25 AM on December 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


If anyone wants to actually read the wonderful horror story sketched out by the article, there is Thomas Ligotti's "The Mystics of Muelenburg." It's not the exact same story, but also it is the exact same story on psychedelics and steroids.
posted by byanyothername at 11:32 AM on December 5, 2016


It seems questionable if enough fertile land came with them to support them once the stocks run out, even if it's effectively perma-summer for them and they can do multiple crops per their year. And even if it did the crops are unlikely to do with their environment constantly changing. Even normal climatic change is likely to be quite violent when 90 days of growing season is 9000 years.

Not to mention, even in the 18th century, villages were hardly self-sufficient for things like tools. Hope they have a really good smith, because they are going to be doing a lot of reforging.

And of course anyone who had a family member marry into another village will never see them again. Really, I think it stands as a metaphor for modern conservatism: a fantasy of no change that with the slightest thought is revealed to be an utter horror for anyone who can think clearly.
posted by tavella at 12:06 PM on December 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


Frank Herbert's Brig of Dune.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:12 PM on December 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tavella, I would favorite your comment a million times if I could.

Also, Byanyothername, thanks for the rec on "Mystics of Muelenburg." It reminds me a bit of Borges, as well as Delany's Dhalgren. Which seems like a good ending point for a town like Brigadoon. Walled off from the rest of humanity, it is trapped in an infinity loop of unending horror, one that mortal minds aren't made to comprehend.

Chills.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:20 AM on December 6, 2016


Thank you for posting this wonderful thing.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:34 AM on December 31, 2016


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