Yakov Protazanov / SUHH, 1924 / 75 min.
Ask performers Helena Basilova and Salvador Breed to create a sound track for a 1920s silent Soviet film and the result is amazing. We journey to the red planet Mars, where the beautiful Aelita reigns supreme. A diehard communist engineer dreams of this beautiful but ideologically slightly unhinged autocrat…
Russia 1924, the dawn of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. An engineer in Moscow, a staunch promoter of revolutionary progress, dreams of travelling to Mars, the red planet that is sovereignly ruled by the beautiful queen Aelita.
While Aelita twists the amorous engineer around her little finger, a soldier who accompanied the engineer on his space travel tries to ignite the proletarian revolution among Aelita’s subjects. The Soviet engineer feels called upon to instruct his beloved in the true ideology …
Aelita is very probably the first science fiction film to have been made in the Soviet Union (1922 -1991). Director Yakov Protazanov based himself on the novel of the same name by Alexei Tolstoy. The set department was asked to design spectacular modernist sets based on taut geometrical and constructivst shapes.
Jump into space
The production design foreshadowed ‘the jump into space’, the ultimate technological challenge for a nation of workers and engineers who almost casually diverted the course of rivers, built factories overnight and sung the praises of electrification. With a live performance and live sound design.
The screening will be accompanied live by pianist Helena Basilova and sound designer Salavador Breed. The two explore new ways of combining sound design, live music and sound collages into silent film scores.
Basilova has worked with composers and artists from all over the world and has performed at such venues as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Carnegie Hall in New York. Breed is interested in ‘space’ as a compositional element of the soundtrack. He has previously worked with artists like Nick Knight and Warren du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones. His installation work has been featured at the Dutch Design Week and the Salone del Mobile in Milan.
Eye on Sound
What would Sergio Leone’s films be without Ennio Morricone’s world-renowned scores? And what remains of Blade Runner without Vangelis’ unworldly synthesizers? Who doesn’t immediately think of Miles Davis’ languid nocturnal jazz in the case of Ascenseur pour l’échafaud? Music and sound are an essential part of the cinematic experience. In fact, they are vital to the experience of film.