Friday, May 04, 2007

The Flood

I watched a ridiculous video in 'Stravinsky' class today, my last 'school day' of the first year of grad school. A bunch of Dutch artists in 1984 tried to recreate a 24-minute long TV show that Igor Stravinsky dreamed up. The piece itself was originally written in the '60's, and Stravinsky has brilliantly scored the TV show with an orchestra playing 12-tone serial rows which sound neither painful nor snobbily intellectual. The score incorporates talking, singing, and ballet dancing to the stories of Noah and the Flood and the book of Genesis (i.e. 'Hey! I made the Earth! Come here, Adam, give your papa a big bear-hug. Eve...don't you touch that apple!') . The TV show, which originally aired in black and white, may be lost, but the original sound recording still exists.
Well. The original concept is brilliant. The original recording of the music is also beautiful. However, the recreated version from 1984 was almost as bad as the all-theremin 'vortex of sound and light' that I had to witness earlier this year. But thankfully the Dutch are funnier than the theremin. The video included a monstrous barrage of outdated special effects, no dancing at all, and 'God' was portrayed by three people (and one of them is Asian) in a pulsating glowing yellow triangle which is green-screened to float on top of all the other action on screen. The action includes gratuitous nudity, as all contemporary Dutch things do (therefore, I love the Dutch). Adam, who is Latino (apparently God isn't picky about race), Eve, and the Devil run around quasi-dancing with their unmentionables hanging out. Then scene cuts to a glowing orb representing the Earth, which cuts to a surrealist painting in which the head of some guy is superimposed, like a carnival-cutout photo opportunity, onto a mirror, or into tiny boxes.
And then the flood comes.
Noah's sons (none of whom look like they could be related, and one of whom is black!) warn their mom to get on the boat, while a fade-in ocean wave slowly encroaches onto the TV screen. The 'Flood' itself is a tumultuous chaos of orchestral sound, but in the TV special, the Dutchmen decided to just show two minutes of calm rippling waves--are you ready?--in various colors, like hot pink, blue, and neon green. Run for your lives! The gentle rippling is coming.
The back of the VHS box says that this production tries to realize Stravinsky's full vision, what with the advent of color television and David Bowie-sequined unitards.
I don't think that this is what Stravinsky was envisioning.

I've saved the best for last, of course- the Expulsion of Adam an Eve from the Garden of Eden. God casts the naked Latino Adam and boobalicious Eve out into the green-screened box of a beach-like scene, and in their shame, Adam and Eve put on clothes. But the clothes are designer clothes. Adam is wearing some kind of fabulous haute couture vesty item with puffy sleeves. And Eve is fixing the strap of her sexy strappy dress. And her high heels...
Man, I'd eat that apple too, if I knew that Satan looked like David Bowie and I'd get to put my toes in some Manolos.
Rest in peace, Stravinsky. May God bless you and may you never see this video from the afterlife.

3 comments:

keith said...

yeah, but i had to sit through "spider-man 3"

wen said...

nice. when i was in grad school (i did a LOT of film studies) i got to watch some uhm, challenging pieces...sometimes it's hard not to laugh (or dance along).

if you are ever tired, check out Warhol's Empire (8 hours of pretty much non-activity @ the Empire State Building) or Michael Snow's Structuralist film, Wavelength (a 45 minute pan across a room).

Jess said...

I love that the theramin concert will be your barometer of suckiness for the rest of your life.