KINEJAPAN digest 615 (Ozu silent's soundtrack)
Michael E Kerpan Jr
Mon Dec 10 19:26:48 EST 2001
Jonah Horwitz wrote asked me:
> Why the scare quotes . . . ?
(when describing the European classics-derived soundtrack that appears
on the Facets release of Ozu's Tokyo no onna).
Because, by and large, the soundtrack comes across as over-wrought.
> Facets has pretty high quality control, though, so I wonder if they've
> done a better job than most in this regard.
I like Facets, by and large. ;~] But they have done some wretched
things with soundtracks to silent films. The most horrible (I know of)
was their inappropriate soundtrack to Kozintsev's and Trauberg's New
Babylon, which was a concoction made up of Chopin piano music. New
Babyon is important in film history (among other things) because it was
the first Soviet film which attempted to use a synchronized musical
soundtrack (albeit without dialog) -- and the music by Dmitri
Shostakovich was an integral part of the design of the film.
Consequently, Facet's release was an essentially a work of artistic
> Would there have been a live "soundtrack" performed alongside the film
> in its original exhibition (apart from the benshi)? What might it
> have sounded like?
Richie mentions a "soundtrack (music and effects)". As I understand
it, this was recorded onto phonograph records that were to be played
along with the film. I presume this was intended to preempt benshi
participation (or was it simply available to be used in benshi-less
venues -- if there were such). Somehow I suspect that the "classical"
soundtrack used by Facets is not the original. I too would like to know
what the original was like. (I wonder if the Shochiku release contains
the original soundtrack).
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