David Lynch’s early short film

In the context of my research of surrealist Wilhelm Freddie, I started looking at other artists working in the surreal field. It surprised me that many very different artists have/had a connection to Surrealism. One of the general themes in Surrealism is subconscious.
André Breton (founder of Surrealism) highlighted in The first Surrealist Manifesto: “The importance of the dream as a reservoir of Surrealist inspiration.”
Dreams have been used, and are still in use, as a direct inspiration source; to image creation and storytelling.

I heard a lecture in Cinemateket CPH about David Lynch’s early short films. The speaker was the Danish David Lynch-expert; Andreas Halskov. He presented Six Men Getting Sick (1966), The Alphabet (1968), and The Grandmother (1970).
David Lynch started his art career as a painter; he got experiences of sound and movement while painting. That’s what turned him in the direction of filmmaking; he wanted to see moving painting.

Six Men getting sick:
First animation.
Animated Painting which should be seen six times after each other.
The film is about illness. “The illness that has to leave the body” is a key element in Lynch’s film.
The inspiration from other painters came among others from Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, and René Magritte.

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The Alphabet:
Animation and live action
Inspiration comes from his nice having a nightmare where she repeated the alphabet over and over.
Human voices make almost all sound/folio. A statement takes focus: Please remember you are dealing with the human form!

The Grandmother (1970):
Animation and live action
A boy cultivates a grandmother out of his bed.
It is an avantgardistic film having a blurry border between dream and reality.
The dialog is not meant to be understood. The folio sound is distorted, and the atmosphere sounds deep and creepy in combination with tinnitus sounding insects.

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When the Danish Broadcast showed Twin Peaks in the early nineties, I was like many others hypnotized by the film’s sound and images, the storytelling and the mood. I just listened to the soundtrack an hour ago, and it brings me back to the house and the people I was living with at the time.
One of the recurring scene in the series; Agent Cooper’s dream, is still standing strong in my mind; a dwarf speaks and moves awkward in a red room together with Laura Palmer’s cousin. Agent Cooper appears paralyzed in his armchair. Each time, he comes to this scene, he will get a cryptic message from the dwarf.

Sergei Eisenstein: Alexander Nevsky

As a third film I went to see, directed by Sergei Eisenstein, was Alexander Nevsky from 1938. The film is about the invasion of Novgorod in the 13th century, on one side The Teutonic Knights and the other side Prince Alexander.
It was the first of Eisenstein’s sound film.
Film score composed by Sergei Prokofiev.

A famous scene from this movie is a decisive battle on the ice of the frozen Lake Peipus.
Eisenstein made an analysis of the audiovisual technique they used. In the diagram below Eisenstein deals with 12 shots, representing the tense calm before “The Battle on the Ice.” The chart explains the connection between sound, composition, movement, and duration – the notes are arranged in this way so that he can demonstrate the tremendous precision of the audiovisual synthesis in this series of shots, especially in terms of its timing.

The technically innovative collaboration between Eisenstein and Prokofiev in the editing process resulted in a match of music and imagery that remains a standard for filmmakers.

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Comparing to the other movies, I saw (October and Battleship Potemkin) I found this a little hard to come through; the lines were constructed and the message nationalistic, which in the end scene made sense in light of world war two.
There was less experiment with the editing/montage (knows from previous movies).

Source:
Eisenstein on the audiovisual, Robert Robertsen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Nevsky_(film)

Sergei Eisenstein: Battleship Potemkin

Battleship Potemkin from 1925 was the second film of the Russian director Sergei Eisenstein and was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958.
It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers.
It is a silent film, and there exist various soundtrack versions made after 1925.
To retain its relevance as a propaganda film for each new generation, Eisenstein hoped the score would be rewritten every 20 years. (Wikipedia Dec. 2016).

I had a great experience seeing the movie to the soundtrack of the Danish punk rock musicians Peter Peter and Christian Rønn. The soundtrack composed in 2007 was powerful and noisy but also poetic and silent. The music, the editing, and compositions were overwhelming, present and relevant.

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battleship_Potemkin
Eisenstein on the audiovisual, Robert Robertsen

 

 

Sergei Eisenstein: October

To learn more about the film theory of the Russian director Sergei Eisenstein, I had the great opportunity to see his third movie made in 1928, from the silent period in film history.
The Danish Film Institute have Eisenstein on their program this month.
Yesterday I saw “October: Ten Days That Shook the World.” It is a celebratory dramatization of the 1917 October Revolution commissioned for the tenth anniversary of the event. The film which depicting the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, were censored and cut down by order from Stalin.
A live soundtrack accompanied the film played live by German Axel Dörner (trumpet) and Bukhard Beins (Percussion).

The film is a tribute to the Bolsheviks and appears in many ways as propaganda.
I wasn’t that focused on the story or message; I focused more on compositions, editing, lighting, and rhythm.

Eisenstein is famous for his creation of mass scenes; October is no exception – demonstrations, soldiers, and the storming of the Winter Palace. Lots of people acting the historical scenes at the actual locations where the revolution took place ten years before. Many of the cast had participated in the revolution and the storming of the Winter Palace.

Some particular scenes stay in my mind, example; when those in power open the bridge, to isolate people from the working class district – the camera cuts between a dead white horse and a dead girl both laying in the middle of the bridge when the leaf of the bridge goes up. Because of the amount of cuts and different angles, it felt like the scene was in slow motion. The scene ends with the white horse hanging in its harness for a dramatical moment and then falling into the water.

There was no use of camera movement; editing and people- and object movement created the tension and dynamic.
The composition in each scene was thoughtful made (light, shadow, depth, and point of attention) and could stand alone as pictures.
Eisenstein worked as a stage designer on theaters before film making.

The musician’s audio interpretation added a contemporary and artistic element to the whole experience.

Source:
Eisenstein on the audiovisual, Robert Robertsen
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Eisenstein#From_theatre_to_cinema