Well, it was fun picking out those YouTube clips where silents had been creatively mashed up with modern music tracks, so here are three more examples. These aren’t the same as silents to which modern composers (or would-be composers) have added new tracks – that’s an interesting subject for another time. Instead these are examples of re-edits or montages to modern music tracks which illuminate or heighten the films in interesting ways. To impose some sort of thematic reasoning to all this, the three videos below all derive from classic German 1920s silents.
Louise Brooks is one of the most popular search terms used on this blog, but such researchers have been going away disappointed. Well, no more, because here’s a dynamic and assured mix of scenes from Pandora’s Box (1929), skilfully edited by Adam Armand to the tune of The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’. It doesn’t tell us anything more about the film or the image of Brooks than we already know, but what else might the film have to say? The video expresses the quintessence of the iconography of Pabst’s film with a song that resonates with sexual torment and urgency. It may vulgarise Pabst’s artistry by reducing it to MTV-style editing, but it also expresses Brooks’ modernity and lasting appeal.
Paul Wegener’s Der Golem (1920), the classic proto-horror film telling of the creation of a clay creature, the Golem, brought to life to protect the Jews of 16th-century Prague, is accompanied by the death metal music of Fantomas, a band who sound like they know a silent film or two. In this case the band wrote a song inspired either by the legend or the film itself, and a fan (‘Monster Island Media‘) decided to do the decent think and match song to clips – which is why lyrics and imagery go together so well. Not exactly most people’s musical cup of tea, but it undoubtedly places the film within a modern, if crude, sensibility. What pop video director could ever have conjured up so convincing a vision of medieval magic?
Others have had the same idea: see here for a more frantically-edited homage.
After all that sex and musical violence, here’s some a little more surprising, and graceful. Scenes from The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) are accompanied by Françoise Hardy singing ‘La Terre’, seemingly for no other reason than the chanson is a pretty one and it brings out the mystery of Robert Weine’s film. Note how well it fits in with Conrad Veidt’s Cesare slowly opening his eyes, and how delicately it accompanies the way the characters move.
The clip’s creator, Clay, has treated other silents to new scores, including Christus (1914), The Abyss (1910), Alice in Wonderland (1915) and Evgenii Bauer’s After Death (1915).
More examples to follow, as the mood takes me.