Caspervek - Haxan

Unique and thought-provoking. A vision, halfway between fiction and documentary that encourages us to explore the importance of witchcraft, rituals and superstition through the ages.


Häxan explores the roots and superstitions surrounding witchcraft, beginning in the Middle Ages through the 20th century. Based partly on Christensen's own study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors, the film proposes the notion that such witch hunts may have stemmed from misunderstandings of diseases and mental illnesses.

After finding a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum in a Berlin bookshop, Christensen spent two years—from 1919 to 1921—studying manuals, illustrations and treatises on witches and witch-hunting. He included a lengthy bibliography in the original playbill at the film's premiere. He intended to create an entirely new film rather than an adaptation of literary fiction, which was the case for films of that day.

Christensen obtained funding from the large Swedish production company Svensk Filmindustri, preferring it over the local Danish film studios, so that he could maintain complete artistic freedom. He used the money to buy and refurbish the Astra film studio in Hellerup, Denmark. Filming then ran from February through October 1921. Christensen and cinematographer Johan Ankerstjerne filmed only at night or in a closed set to maintain the film's dark hue. Post-production required another year before the film premiered in late 1922. Total cost for Svensk Film, including refurbishing the Astra Film Studio, reached between 1.5 and 2 million kronor, making Häxan the most expensive Scandinavian silent film in history.

Häxan has become regarded by critics and scholars as Christensen's masterpiece.  It is listed in the film reference book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, which says "Part earnest academic exercise in correlating ancient fears with misunderstandings about mental illness and part salacious horror movie, Häxan is truly a unique work that still holds power to unnerve, even in today's jaded era."

After finding a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum in a Berlin bookshop, Christensen spent two years studying manuals, illustrations and treatises on witches and witch-hunting. 

The Soundtrack

Caspervek's Soundtrack for Häxan was premiered in February 2015 at the National Art Museum of Tallinn (Estonia) for the band's regular line-up. After years of silence, in 2019, Brais González rewrote the score to add accordion, premiering it again at the Vicente Risco Foundation in Allariz that autumn. The new music includes elements of contemporary music and new musical languages and also many references to medieval music and Gregorian chant.


Details

  • Original title

    Heksen

  • Director

    Benjamin Christensen

  • Writer

    Benjamin Christensen

  • Runtime

    105 min

  • Year

    1922

  • Country

    Denmark/Sweden

  • Company

    Svensk Filmindustri

  • Genre

    Documentary. Horror


Cast

Documentary


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Caspervek - The Golem

With no doubt, Der Golem is the screen's first great monster movie.


Prague ghetto, Middle Ages. Rabbi Loew creates a clay statue to save the Jews from ongoing brutal persecution. The statue is found in an old synagogue in the 20th century. Brought to life by an antique dealer, the golem is used as a menial servant. Eventually falling in love with the dealer's wife, it goes on a murderous rampage when its love for her goes unanswered.

Wegener had been unhappy with his 1915 attempt at telling the story, due to compromises he had to make during its production. His 1920 attempt was meant to more directly convey the legend as he heard it told in Prague while he was filming The Student of Prague (1913). In 1919, Wegener announced plans for Alraune und der Golem, uniting the two folklore characters in one film. Though posters and other publicity material survive, it was almost certainly never made. Instead, Wegener produced his 1920 film, but later starred as Professor Jakob ten Brinken in the 1928 version of Alraune.

It was shot at the Tempelhof Studios in Berlin. Architect and designer Hans Poelzig created the film's scenery as a highly stylised interpretation of the medieval Jewish ghetto of Prague. 

Critical reception for The Golem upon its initial release was positive. The New York Times' 1921 review praised its "exceptional acting" and "expressive settings", the latter of which was compared to those of another early German expressionist horror film, Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). In the following years since The Golem's release and rediscovery it has been considered an early classic in horror cinema, and one of the first films to introduce the concept of the "man-made monster".

Rabbi Loew creates a clay statue to save the Jews from ongoing brutal persecution. The statue is found in an old synagogue in the 20th century. Brought to life by an antique dealer. 

The Soundtrack

Caspervek will release his new score for Der Golem in 2021. The soundtrack, written for saxophone, piano and percussion, will include references to German expressionist music, as well as the sonorities of klezmer music.


Episode

Details

  • Original title

    Der Golem

  • Director

    Paul Wegener

  • Writer

    Paul Wegener
    Gustav Meyrinck (novel)

  • Runtime

    80 min

  • Year

    1920

  • Country

    Germany

  • Company

    PAGU

  • Genre

    Fantasy. Horror


Cast

  • Paul Wegener

  • Albert Steinrück

  • Lyda Salmonova


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Caspervek - Man with a movie camera

A seminal film for understanding the development of both documentary and experimental cinema. A fundamental work also in the development of cinematographic effects.


Man with a movie camera presents urban life in the Soviet cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Moscow, and Odessa. It has no actors. From dawn to dusk Soviet citizens are shown at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. To the extent that it can be said to have "characters", they are the cameramen of the title, the film editor, and the modern Soviet Union they discover and present in the film. 

The film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invented, employed or developed, such as multiple exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, match cuts, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, reversed footage, stop motion animations and self-reflexive visuals.

Vertov was an early pioneer in documentary film-making during the late 1920s. He belonged to a movement of filmmakers known as the kinoks, or kino-oki (kino-eyes). Vertov, along with other kino artists declared it their mission to abolish all non-documentary styles of film-making, a radical approach to movie making. Most of Vertov's films were highly controversial, and the kinok movement was despised by many filmmakers.

Working within a Marxist ideology, Vertov strove to create a futuristic city that would serve as a commentary on existing ideals in the Soviet world. This artificial city's purpose was to awaken the Soviet citizen through truth and to ultimately bring about understanding and action. The kino's aesthetic shone through in his portrayal of electrification, industrialization, and the achievements of workers through hard labour. This could also be viewed as early modernism in film.

Man with a Movie Camera's usage of double exposure and seemingly "hidden" cameras made the movie come across as a surreal montage rather than a linear motion picture. Many of the scenes in the film contain people, which change size or appear underneath other objects (double exposure). Because of these aspects, the movie is fast-moving.

Vertov strove to create a futuristic city that would serve as a commentary on existing ideals in the Soviet world. This artificial city's purpose was to awaken the Soviet citizen through truth and to ultimately bring about understanding and action.

The Soundtrack

Caspervek's Soundtrack for Man with a movie camera is set up (like many of the scores that have been created for the movie) as an album, where each track matches the different parts and chapters of the movie. The music moves between minimalism, references to contemporary jazz, the music of Philipp Glass or Steve Reich, the use of loops, pre-recorded electronics, and field recordings. In 2020 a new version of the soundtrack was made for a quartet line-up (violin, clarinet, piano, percussion) together with soloists Mario Peris (violin professor at the Vigo School of Music) and Marta Sancho (clarinet professor at the A Coruña School of Music).


Details

  • Original title

    Человек с кино-аппаратом

  • Director

    Dziga Vertov

  • Writer

    Dziga Vertov

  • Runtime

    67 min

  • Year

    1929

  • Country

    USSR

  • Company

    VUFKU

  • Genre

    Documentary. Experimental


Cast

Documentary


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Caspervek - Nanook of the north

History of documentary film. A truly pioneering attempt to lay the foundations of documentary narrative.


This amazing documentary follows the lives of an Inuk, Nanook, and his family as they travel, search for food, and trade in the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec, Canada. Nanook, his wife Nyla, and their family are introduced as fearless heroes who endure rigors no other race could survive. The audience sees Nanook, often with his family, hunt a walrus, build an igloo, go about his day, and perform other tasks.

In 1910 Flaherty was hired as an explorer and prospector along the Hudson Bay for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Learning about the lands and people there, Flaherty decided to bring a camera with him on his third expedition in 1913, but knowing nothing about film, Flaherty took a three-week course on cinematography in Rochester, New York.

Using a Bell & Howell camera, a portable developing and printing machine, and some lighting equipment, Flaherty spent 1914 and 1915 shooting hours of film of Inuit life. By 1916, Flaherty had enough footage that he began test screenings and was met with wide enthusiasm. However, in 1916, Flaherty dropped a cigarette onto the original camera negative (which was highly flammable nitrate stock) and lost 30,000 feet of film. With his first attempt ruined, Flaherty decided to not only return for new footage but also to refocus the film on one Inuit family as he felt his earlier footage was too much of a travelogue. 

The building of the igloo is one of the most celebrated sequences in the film, but interior photography presented a problem. Building an igloo large enough for a camera to enter resulted in the dome collapsing, and when they finally succeeded in making the igloo it was too dark for photography. Instead, the images of the inside of the igloo in the film were actually shot in a special three-walled igloo for Flaherty's bulky camera so that there would be enough light for it to capture interior shots.

Flaherty dropped a cigarette onto the original camera negative and lost 30,000 feet of film. With his first attempt ruined, Flaherty decided to return to Canada for new footage. 

The Soundtrack

Caspervek will premiere the soundtrack created for Nanook of the North in 2021. The score will be created for a mixed wind and string quintet ensemble.


Details

  • Original title

    Nanook of the North

  • Director

    Robert J. Flaherty

  • Writer

    Robert J. Flaherty

  • Runtime

    79 min

  • Year

    1922

  • Country

    USA

  • Company

    Revillon Frères

  • Genre

    Documentary


Cast

Documentary


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Caspervek - Battleship Potemkin

The greatest Soviet film of the silent era. An iconic film with some of the most popular images in the history of cinema.


The film is set in June 1905; the protagonists of the film are the members of the crew of the Potemkin, a battleship of the Imperial Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet. Eisenstein divided the plot into five acts, each with its own title. 

On the 20th anniversary of the first Russian revolution, the commemorative commission of the Central Executive Committee decided to stage a number of performances dedicated to the revolutionary events of 1905. As part of the celebrations, it was suggested that a "... grand film shown in a special program, with an oratory introduction, musical (solo and orchestral) and a dramatic accompaniment based on a specially written text". Nina Agadzhanova was asked to write the script and direction of the picture was assigned to 27-year-old Sergei Eisenstein.

In the original script, the film was to highlight a number of episodes from the 1905 revolution: the Russo-Japanese War, the Tatar and Armenian massacres, revolutionary events in St. Petersburg and the Moscow uprising. Filming was to be conducted in a number of cities within the USSR.

Eisenstein wrote the film as revolutionary propaganda, but also used it to test his theories of montage. The revolutionary Soviet filmmakers of the Kuleshov school of filmmaking were experimenting with the effect of film editing on audiences, and Eisenstein attempted to edit the film in such a way as to produce the greatest emotional response, so that the viewer would feel sympathy for the rebellious sailors of the Battleship Potemkin and hatred for their overlords. In the manner of most propaganda, the characterization is simple, so that the audience could clearly see with whom they should sympathize.

One of the most celebrated scenes in the film is the massacre of civilians on the Odessa Steps (also known as the Primorsky or Potemkin Stairs). This sequence has been assessed as a "classic" and one of the most influential in the history of cinema. In the scene, the Tsar's soldiers in their white summer tunics march down a seemingly endless flight of steps in a rhythmic, machine-like fashion, firing volleys into a crowd. A separate detachment of mounted Cossacks charges the crowd at the bottom of the stairs. The victims include an older woman wearing pince-nez, a young boy with his mother, a student in uniform and a teenage schoolgirl. A mother pushing an infant in a baby carriage falls to the ground dying and the carriage rolls down the steps amid the fleeing crowd.

The revolutionary Soviet filmmakers of the Kuleshov school of filmmaking were experimenting with the effect of film editing on audiences, and Eisenstein attempted to edit the film in such a way as to produce the greatest emotional response. 

The Soundtrack

Caspervek's Soundtrack for Battleship Potemkin was an attempt by Brais González to mimic the compositional language of the great Soviet composers, such as Dmitri Shostakovich or Sergej Prokofiev, adapting it to the cinematographic context of the band. The film is awaiting the premiere of a new version of the soundtrack for 2022.


Details

  • Original Title

     Бронено́сец «Потёмкин»

  • Director

    Sergei Eisenstein

  • Writer

    Sergei Einsenstein
    Nina Agadzhanov

  • Runtime

    77 min

  • Year

    1925

  • Country

    USRR

  • Company

    Goskino

  • Genre

    Historical. Drama


Cast

  • Aleksandr Antonov

  • Vladimir Barsky

  • Grigori Aleksandrov


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