Friday, September 14, 2007

Day 3 - The 1st International Silent Film Festival (9/13/07)

Unfortunately, due to heavy rains and the traffic gridlock that automatically follows in the streets of Manila, I arrived late for the screening of Buntaro Futagawa's 1925 "Orochi" (The Monster Serpent). I therefore could not write an objective review of the film. I hate being late, especially for a movie. Hay naku. Fyucha.

Anyway, the movie supposedly "depicts the trials and tribulations of Heizaburo Kuritomi, whose troubles stem from his love with two beautiful women of which he cannot convince either that he is a good man. He then becomes a killer trying to save one of them from a criminal who had rescued him subsequently after his escape in prison. The film is one of the few silent chambara-samurai warrior picture films to survive in relatively complete form at this point in time." Of course I didn't know that (kasi nga I was late! Aaaargh!) as I sat there while images passed through my glazed eyes and went over my head. I could not even identify who the protagonist was at first. For some reason, the silent film has English subtitles, as if there's an imaginary, all-knowing narrator telling people what's happening onscreen, even the thoughts of the characters. A great silent film, in my opinion, doesn't need narrations or subtitles (unless they're for the intertitles). That's why I love silent films: they had no choice but to tell the story visually, without sound effects or dialogue. They were responsible for some of the most powerful and poetic images in cinema history.

The band that provided the live score was the Makiling Ensemble, and they did a great job with the chanting, the violin playing, guitar plucking, and, um, percussing. Hard to believe that they did not have enough preparation for it. The looks on their faces towards the end of the movie suggested relief that it was over, and pride as the audience applauded several times. (Read their blog about the event HERE).

I'm looking forward to next year's silent film fest. I hope they could show more German silent masterpieces like Der Nibelungen, perhaps a Russian classic, or Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, which in my opinion boasts the best performance ever by an actress (Maria Falconetti).

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