Mashing it with the fab four

Let us continue with our examination of those creative meetings of silent films with modern music. Today’s selection takes us that much closer to the borderline of copyright tolerance, and it’s a surprise to find Beatles music still so prevalent on YouTube. So, upholding the spirit of validity in creative re-invention, and before they all get taken down by the strong, protecting arm of Apple Corps, here’s a selection of silent montages imaginatively put to the music of the Beatles (or vice versa). Because the Beatles turn out to have inspired the masher-uppers in a number of imaginative ways.

We start with a relatively conventional fan video, but one very pleasingly done. YouTuber zuebee (who has a taste for adding pop songs to classic film clips) here gives us tribute to Clara Bow by matching clips from It to the Beatles”Honey Pie’: “Oh honey pie my position is tragic / Come and show me the magic / Of your Hollywood song”. It’s an obvious choice of song really, and the lapse into the use of stills is not to my taste, but words, music and image are skilfully blended, and it captures the spirit of the It girl.

So, you have decided to create a mash-up of scenes from Metropolis and the Beatles – which song will you choose? Quite possibly you may not have thought of ‘Birthday’, but Rob Karg did, and the result is a joyous confection, though it’s a shame the image quality is so very poor. It’s a crazy mix that turns the film into a wild celebration for the sake of celebrating wildly.

Metropolis seems to be a popular choice for Beatles fans with a silent film fixation. Try sampling it with ‘I’ve just seen a face’, or this quite peculiar use of ‘Lady Madonna’ with the video creator’s own, intertitled agenda.

Not every silent chosen for such treatment is a familiar one. KeyAliceSun has taken Hans Richter’s 1928 avant garde work Vormittagsspuk and found the ideal accompaniment for it in ‘Happiness is a warm gun’. The song was presumably first chosen because of the film’s central gun imagery, but the song’s fragmented structure and radical style suit the film’s playful experimentation. Lennon would have approved.

KeyAliceSun has also given us The Great Dictator meets ‘Because’. OK, it’s not a silent film, but it is Chaplin and the sequence is shown without dialogue and is purely silent in spirit. It’s the scene where Hynkel plays with the globe (“Because the world is round it turns me on”), and the song matches the scene’s dreamy atmosphere perfectly, so that they seem made for each other.

There are other such examples to discover. ‘I’ve just seen a face’ turns up again, sweetly put to Buster Keaton and Margaret Leahy in The Three Ages, Harold Lloyd’s boy-next-door persona fits well with ‘Act naturally’, while Chaplin eating his boots is put to the somewhat obvious choice of ‘Old Brown Shoe’. And so on.

Back to serious stuff eventually, I promise.

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