Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wagner the film director

Okay, classes started Monday so I've been a little busy. But I have my book review done (hopefully more about that later) and I have important scheduling things done for the semester, so I can relax a little now. I had my second Film Music class yesterday, and the first real lecture class (Monday was the typical "Syllabus Class" on what to expect, along with a getting-to-know-you activity). It was fun, a discussion of how Richard Wagner was a major influence on the modern film experience. An obvious starting point is how Wagner regarded the ultimate expression of art to be in combinations of all art forms (Gesamtkunstwerk). Movies are an excellent example of that: a combination of literature, drama, visual arts, dance, music, etc. But Wagner was also effective in changing the behavior of audiences, by hiding the musicians and conductor in deep pits, darkening the house and instituting classless seating. These innovations discouraged audiences from talking to each other during productions or being distracted by the antics of the conductor, so they could get immersed in the illusion of the theater. This behavior has carried through to movie theaters, carried to even bigger terms with surround sound systems to envelope the audience in the sound environment of the film.

Tonight is the first weekly class screening, King Kong. No, not the Peter Jackson version in theaters now, but rather the original 1933 production with the fabulous Max Steiner score. Here is the schedule for the rest of the semester, in case you want to watch along with us:

High Noon, Citizen Kane, The Birth of a Nation, The Jazz Singer, The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, Ben Hur, Psycho, E.T., The Mission, Run Lola Run, and The Red Violin.

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