Paranormal cinematic experiments
February 24, 2012 12:34 PM   Subscribe

"Over eighty percent of silent films are lost. I’ve always considered a lost film as a narrative with no known final resting place... It’s eventually occurred to me that the best way to see them would to make contact with their miserable spirits and invite them to possess me." Filmmaker Guy Maddin is summoning the ghosts of lost silents at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, with a cast including Udo Kier and Charlotte Rampling -- and streaming the results live on the web.

"These are not direct re-creations or the imitations of the films themselves. I would never dare consider myself capable of even the lousiest impersonation and wish to pay respect to all -- Jean Vigo, Ernst Lubitsch, F.W. Murnau, Ed Wood and all.

"Every day my actors will plunge themselves deep into a trance, and open themselves up to possession by the unhappy spirit of a lost film. And every day my actors will act out the long forgotten choreographies that once lived so luminously on the big screen for thousands, maybe millions of viewers."

The project is called Spiritismes.

Bonus: Maddin's 2000 short The Heart of the World.
posted by muckster (6 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
As performance art, it sounds original, at least. Theatre, film, new media, etc. While I would like to think nobody involved actually believes they're being possessed by spirits (of what, I don't know...actors, the film itself?), I'll probably be disappointed.
posted by TropicalWalrus at 12:57 PM on February 24, 2012

I love love love Guy Maddin. One of the greatest filmgoing experiences of my life was seeing Brand Upon the Brain!at Chicago's Music Box Theatre with live orchestration, foley, and narration by Crispin Glover.

Guy Maddin himself is almost distressingly normal in person, though. At least David Lynch sounds weird, as a warning.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on February 24, 2012

I ignored the why history needs piracy thread, but that 80% freaks me out. In fact, the BBC has recovered an awful lot of relatively recent lost material from "illegal" home recordings.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:24 PM on February 24, 2012

I recently saw an animated sequence that Andy Smetanka (who had previously worked with Maddin on My Winnipeg) made for what eventually turned into Spiritismes. It involved a house being attacked by giant snails. Smetanka said he based it on some production drawings.
posted by RobotHero at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2012

Has anyone bothered bringing up Maddin's work when they talk about The Artist?
posted by lslelel at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2012

They're really pretty different things. (Here I will try not to sound like I'm down on The Artist, which I did genuinely enjoy.) The Artist is really much more interested in talkies than it is in the silent era-- almost everything that it references is from the 1940s or even 1950s (Citizen Kane an awful lot, Vertigo obviously with the 'borrowing' from Hermann's score) and has a sound-era sensibility to its music cues. Even leaving aside the bits with diegetic sound, it's still a film that couldn't have been made in the teens or 20s. Madden's silent-ish stuff really does feel more like a weird relic from a hundred years ago, although he's also typically less interested in referencing the canon (or if he is, he's referencing stuff I'm not familiar with). It's less of an homage to film history and more of a pastiche, if that makes any sense.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:50 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

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