The best film of all time just got a little better...
September 20, 2009 3:45 PM   Subscribe

The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended. Here on the Equator, in the continent which would one day be known as Africa, the battle for existence had reached a new climax of ferocity, and the victor was not yet in sight. In this barren and desiccated land, only the small or the swift or the fierce could flourish, or even hope to survive.

The man-apes of the veldt were none of these things, and they were not flourishing...
posted by felix betachat (32 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I suddenly know how Ligeti may have felt watching the movie.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:49 PM on September 20, 2009

Their version of In the Hall of the Mountain King had me in tears. Partly because it's hilarious and partly because it reminds me of my first year in the Wichita Youth Symphony.
posted by katillathehun at 3:50 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Some context for this SLYT.
posted by HotPants at 3:53 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

To add a little bit of explanation: this is a version of Also Sprach Zarathustra by the Portsmouth Sinfonia, an orchestra of people who couldn't play which at one time numbered Brian Eno among its ranks, founded by composer Gavin Bryars (writer of the haunting Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet among other things). Off the top of my head I remember the strings on Eno's version of Pachelbel's Canon to be from the Sinfonia, but I may be wrong.

That is to say, it's supposed to be like that.
posted by Grangousier at 3:58 PM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]

The Portsmouth Symphonia always make me happy. The raw energy and enthusiasm give me hope in humanity.
posted by idiopath at 4:00 PM on September 20, 2009

I can't stop giggling.
posted by brundlefly at 4:14 PM on September 20, 2009

Grangousier: That was the Cockpit Ensemble. The Portsmouth Sinfonia appears on "Put A Straw Under Baby" on Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy).

The cool thing about the Sinfonia was that it also included some very competent musicians. Everyone was instructed to play their best. The result holds up much better than mere "so bad it's good" humor, to my ear.

Eno played clarinet, I believe.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 4:18 PM on September 20, 2009

Strangely, their choir made "Lux Aeterna" sound like a pleasing and cheerful harmony.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:32 PM on September 20, 2009

Kubrick shreads?
posted by gwint at 4:41 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yeah the hall of the mountain king is to my ear much worse than also sprach zarathustra. While not quite pure comedy it descends into frenzy too quickly for me. But, the pancake faltering of also sprach zarathustra works for me, really works for me in a weird way in the context of the film. The way that the horns, out of synch and key sound like the cries of elephants or some prehistoric beast. The faltering figuring it outness, like a toddler learning to walk. The drums, like steps and lonely as though this very song is the first music, the ur music. The chaos of it. The nascent imposing of some order still abstract and soft edged.
posted by I Foody at 4:46 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Ah, yes - I googled (after I commented: mistake, sorry). Is there any info on who Cockpit Ensemble were - they're also on the original Jesus' Blood? Bryars' team of traditionally competent strings?
posted by Grangousier at 4:47 PM on September 20, 2009

Everyone was instructed to play their best.

you mean some people don't?
posted by lester's sock puppet at 5:03 PM on September 20, 2009

My conductor was Mr. Bryars, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.
posted by hal9k at 5:10 PM on September 20, 2009 [6 favorites]

you mean some people don't?

It was often said that comedian Jack Benny's famously bad violin playing was all an act and he was actually very skilled at the instrument (the 'you have to be good to play funny bad' theory) but I've seen little proof (either one of Hollywood's better-kept secrets or classic 'publicist kisses ass' story). I'll bet some Google/YouTube research would turn up some Benny virtuosity in about two minutes, but part of me doesn't really want to know. Now, Henny Youngman...
posted by wendell at 5:15 PM on September 20, 2009

you mean some people don't?

In the context of a let's-destroy-the-classics art experiment, I would think that people would be tempted to play "worse" than they could in order to make it more overtly funny.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 5:42 PM on September 20, 2009

posted by jepler at 6:52 PM on September 20, 2009

I found that gravely disappointing. It needed people in cheesy monkey suits beating each other with bones or, given the bad music, banjos*

* or any out-of-tune musical instruments
posted by Davenhill at 6:53 PM on September 20, 2009

It was funnier somehow when I thought it was just a bad high school band. Imagining the kids flailing away earnestly, the parents who arrived hoping to be supportive but now horrified, and the beleaguered, balding music teacher with his face in his palms, weeping.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:07 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

There's a little itch in my brain that only dissonance like this scratches. Thus Squawked Zarathustra is funny, but on another level, it's just pleasing to hear.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 7:18 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

This made me laugh so hard I saw stars. Seriously.
posted by waitingtoderail at 7:40 PM on September 20, 2009

I always tell people that there's a special place in heaven for us beginner band teachers (and believe you me, this sounds exactly like beginner band, but on a good day). Sure, this is all funny and stuff now, but try getting hit with it every day sharp at 9 am. Yow. You learn to be grateful for the small victories ("That was really great! I almost heard a note!!)
posted by Go Banana at 7:59 PM on September 20, 2009

The Firesign Theatre also included a bit of this performance on Everything You Know is Wrong. It made me grin at the time to have recognized it immediately. Thanks, WOXR!
The Sinfonia was once served with a cease-and-desist order by the publishers of Also Sprach Zarathustra. To [Sinfonia manager] Lewis's eternal regret, the case never came to court. "I wanted to bring the whole orchestra in as witnesses. They complained that we'd rearranged the piece, and we said, 'No, we haven't, we just haven't been able to play it very well.'
Eno interviewed about the Sinfonia.

Draft liner notes for the yet to be released CD compilation The Best of the Portsmouth Sinfonia.
posted by Herodios at 8:04 PM on September 20, 2009 [6 favorites]

Someone please tell me that the elephant was alright after whatever horrible thing it was that they did to it. Poor thing.
posted by Artw at 8:30 PM on September 20, 2009

i would just like you to know that this performance, if i might call it that, really, really hurt - as in gouged out my eardrums with a spoon hurt

i've heard them before and i've laughted at their version of the william tell overture

but this hurt - it hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt
posted by pyramid termite at 8:48 PM on September 20, 2009

My cats gave me the biggest WTF look ever after hearing that.
posted by DakotaPaul at 9:06 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

My iPod tries to play the Portsmouth Sinfonia's version of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" at least once every long car ride, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend.

Now, does anybody have any information on the George Garabedian Players?
posted by queensissy at 9:49 PM on September 20, 2009

Well, since we're going there...a couple of the better 2001-related entries from the Something Awful "Inappropriate Soundtracks" series:

posted by Lazlo at 11:31 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Christ, that sucked.
posted by orthogonality at 12:40 AM on September 21, 2009

you mean some people don't?

Part of the late comedian Les Dawson's act was a terrible-piano-playing bit. In fact he was a pretty good pianist, and his first entertainment gig was reputedly playing piano in a Parisian brothel.
posted by Grangousier at 1:25 AM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

queensissy - where did you find the MP3s? Somewhere I think I still have an original single by the Portsmouth Sinfonia (I thnk it was a hooked on classics style thing) that featured the DSPF as well as my personal favourite, the 1812 overture. I'd love to have a digital copy but I couldn't find one. Any pointers?
posted by ciderwoman at 5:57 AM on September 21, 2009

Painfully funny. And I mean "painful" in the literal sense. If I'd been holding a pencil when the audio started, I'd now be deaf. Even so, it hurt enough I won't be doing it again.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:51 PM on September 21, 2009

« Older Space Lego!   |   Keeping an eye on and old friend Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments