OK, the quality’s pretty bad, but this is the start of Michael Powell’s BLUEBEARD’S CASTLE, which is about as rare as a film can get without actually being lost. Some kind of copyright snaggle prevents this one getting issued properly.
Opera dude Norman Foster (not the director of the MR. MOTO films) commissioned Powell to make the 1-hr film of Bartok opera. Powell’s longtime production designer Hein Heckroth created the sets, and Powell leaped at the chance to make another “composed film” of the kind he’d been increasingly aiming for in his work. As far back as BLACK NARCISSUS, Powell would have the score recorded first and played back on the set so that the action could be choreographed to it. Here, every element is built around the music, resulting in a phantasmagoria of shapes, colours and movement. Powell is closer to Mario Bava than we often think…
I wish there were subtitles to Bela Balazs’ libretto, even though you might think the story is familiar enough. My chum David Wingrove, reviewing the film on the IMDb, compares it to Matthew Barney’s CREMASTER 5 and Carmelo Bene’s SALOME. I’ve only seen the former, but the comparison seems just.
Thanks to the late Raymond Durgnat for providing me with a copy.
Hmm, maybe I should post the whole thing?