Movie: Faust (1926)

This afternoon I went to watch the silent film classic “Faust” in the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer (the Anglican cathedral here in Calgary) accompanied by a live piano score. I’ve been a film buff for many years, but I haven’t had much exposure to silent films. As my current work-in-progress takes place in the 1920s, I thought it would be worthwhile to see what my characters might have seen.

The film opens with the Archangel and the demon Mephisto making a wager over the soul of Faust. Mephisto sends the plague to Faust’s village, and gives Faust a chance to save people, if only he’ll make a pact to give up his soul. The original pact is for one day only, but when Mephisto convinces Faust to embrace youth, the trial day turns into an eternity of youth, pleasures and debauchery. Faust bores of this life, and falls in love with an innocent young woman named Gretchen. He corrupts her, and she bears his child, to be thrown out and reviled as a whore. When her child dies, she’s convicted as a murderess, sentenced to be burned at the stake. When Faust realizes what has happened, he commands Mephisto to take him to her. He does not arrive in time to save her, and Mephisto turns him back into his aged self. He throws himself on the pyre with his beloved Gretchen, and she recognizes him, even in his old age. Love has redeemed him, and the Archangel rules that the Devil has not won the soul of Faust. The film closes as it began, on the image of the triumphant Archangel.

At first I had to remind myself that the effects were striking for the time period, but after the film had progressed, I stopped reminding myself and lost myself in the imagery. The play of light and shadow was captivating, and the look and makeup of Mephisto is something that must have heavily influenced later depictions, as he looked like our modern conception of the Devil, or even of a vampire. His hovering over the town was also used in the cartoon ‘Fantasia’.

I found it interesting that Mephisto is also aged at the start of the film, but when he gives Faust his youth, he also turns into a youthful version of himself. And he has a sense of humour, taking a woman’s love potion (likely brandy or another spirit) and mixing it up with a few other ingredients to turn it into a real love potion. She drinks it, and falls in love with Mephisto, to his amusement and dismay. Though Faust’s journey is a dark one, Mephisto’s antics had many in the audience snickering. There was much applause at the end, and the composer and pianist spoke briefly afterwards.

According to Robert Bruce, the pianist who scored the film today, every theatre would have had its own set of musicians to create a live score for each film that played. However, unlike his score, most would be made up quickly, given that new films would screen regularly. I can imagine this could be a challenge to the musicians and it’s fascinating to think that if you went to see the same film in several theatres, you could hear a different score in each. I wonder if anyone actually did that, just to have a different experience of the same film?

The presentation was hosted by the Pro Arts Society, and now that I know they exist, I’ll be checking out their future events.

Oh all right, I confess.

Yes, I am a Francophile… obviously. However, I forgot to mention something.

I’m also an Anglophile. In fact, I have it BAD.
Fortunately, I’ve never had to choose sides in a time of war.

Give me Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire tea, an eccles cake, and an episode of Doctor Who, and I’m the happiest girl in the world. (If Doctor Who isn’t airing, then I’ll take several episodes of the property show ‘Location, Location, Location’ as a consolation prize.)

I also love yorkshire puddings, sponge cake with custard, bacon sarnies, Scottish shortbread… the list is nearly endless. It isn’t all about food, though I could certainly go on for ages.

There’s music (David Bowie, PJ Harvey, the Pet Shop Boys)… literature (Shakespeare, Hardy, Lord Byron, Shelley, Mary Shelley, Douglas Adams, Elizabeth Gaskell, the Bronte family)… and many films and television series that continue to impress me. (And, Hello to Jason Isaacs!)

It’s far easier to find British things here: films don’t have to be subtitled, recipes are easy to read, as are books. My French isn’t good enough to be able to comprehend all those things without translation, though I have stumbled through a few things with the aid of my dictionary.

So, I’ll take a cup of tea with that pain au chocolat, please et merci. :)

Review: Hard Candy / Penny Candy, by Jade Buchanan

Coming home to Bandit Creek seemed like a good idea to Penny Anderson, especially after things start to rekindle with her old high school sweetheart and candy store owner, Craig Baxter. But, she can’t forget the other reason why she’s here… To finally discover the truth of her mother’s death so many years ago.

Penny Candy is the ‘sweeter’ version of Jade Buchanan’s double-header of stories, the latest release in the Bandit Creek series of novellas. This one is a more traditional romance, and I love the back and forth between Penny and Craig, and especially the promise of running wild in the candy store. Check it out at Amazon or Smashwords.

Penny Anderson is sick of the questions that keep running around inside her head. Coming home to Bandit Creek is her opportunity to find out the truth of her mother’s death, as well as to discover if the flame still burns brightly for her high school sweetheart. Only, she never reckoned on the unexpected lust for not one, but two men. Craig Baxter and Douglas McKenzie have their sights set on Penny and they aren’t about to let her go.

Feel like something a bit more naughty? This novella takes the storyline of Penny Candy and adds some more spice for those who like their romances extra hot. A delicious ménage makes this a great read. Check it out at Amazon or Smashwords.

RIP Steve Jobs.

He was only 56. That’s far too young for anyone to die, and who knows what might have come from the brain of SJ in the future, and from Apple?

Of course Apple will go on, and I’m sure with Jon Ive designing, it’ll be awesome. But it won’t be the same without SJ.

I’ve been using Macs for a long time…. my elementary school had Apple II’s, but I didn’t get my own Mac until 2000/01, when I bought a Grape iMac off a friend of a friend. From then on, I was hooked. I even ended up being a tech at a computer lab on my university campus – one stocked only with Macs. No, I don’t have an iPad, or an iPhone, but my computers have all been Macs. (The aforementioned iMac, a white Macbook, and now a Macbook Pro that I adore.) I wouldn’t use anything else.

Thank you for the best computing experiences of my life, Steve. I’ll raise a glass to you.

Obituary at CBC.ca

Review: Siren’s Song, by D.L. Snow

Siren's Song, by D.L. SnowA great new novella is being released today on Amazon. It’s Siren’s Song by the excellent D.L. Snow. Here’s the blurb:

After giving up fame, Joss Jones just wants a normal life.  Maybe she’ll find it in Bandit Creek.  Or…maybe not.  From the moment she moves into the old mansion she inherited, she’s stalked by a ghost who enjoys tormenting her before dragging her back in time to Bandit Creek, 1899.  Has she gone crazy or is this old mining town, full of saloons, gambling, whoring and fortune seekers her new reality?  It feels real enough as does the ghost who brought her here.  His name is Morgan Hawes and he’s a living breathing human being who is very much alive.  Is Morgan Hawes the key to Joss finding her way home or is Joss stuck for the rest of her life as the Siren of Bandit Creek?

When I started reading this novella, I absolutely could not put it down. Cleaning, dinner,… everything had to wait until I had devoured this story. Thus, I can say that you MUST check it out. An excerpt is up at banditcreekbooks.com, and it’s available on Amazon for purchase.