Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Kollektief Accompanies Murnau's Faust

Last night I was able to walk conveniently from my place to the Palace of Fine Arts to see Murnau's 1926 silent Faust accompanied by a European jazz ensemble called the Willem Breuker Kollektief. The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Jazz Festival.

Both the movie & the music were very entertaining. The score used a somewhat dissonant harmonic language that was more contemporary than the film, but it was well-coordinated with the action. I liked that the score picked up on the movie's humor. There were clever moments where the ensemble did fun things to illustrate the scene, such as when the trombone comments on the action by doing a kind of wah-wah laugh, or when the musicians provide the singing voices of a festive crowd, or when one of the saxophone players switches to the harmonica during a sultry situation.

The band was set up on the Palace of Fine Art's vast stage, with the screen looking rather small behind them. To me, this emphasized the music over the movie. I guess since this is happening in the context of a Jazz festival, this is appropriate. But it would interesting to try this at the Castro Theatre as well.

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