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Faust Revisited @ PhilaMOCA.

July 1, 2014

Text by Donte Kirby.

The 1926 silent film Faust was given a new, experimental score produced by Adam Clair and screened at PhilaMOCA last Thursday to a sparse crowd.

The evening started with the short silent film A Trip to the Moon with accompanying score “Four Organsby Steve Reich. It cleared the palette and got the audience in the right mindset for the two-hour feature film of a bygone era.

Clair’s goal was to explore how music affects the way we interpret film and vice versa. The plot sees dominion over all of earth at stake when an angel and a demon place a bet on whether the latter can corrupt Faust’s soul in a classic exploration on man’s ability to choose between good and evil.

Clair’s score, featuring everything from mid-century experimental pieces to modern pop songs, made scenes feel more like an action film, where one becomes more invested in the action taking place and not so much the outcome of the scene. The punch of truly emotional scenes, like the accidental death of Faust’s baby, couldn’t be lost, but the original orchestral score might lend itself better to these tragic or heartfelt moments.

“It’s kind of similar to watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to The Dark Side of The Moon,” Clair described. “But weirder.”

He said he didn’t sync the music perfectly with every scene because he wanted to challenge the viewer. That challenge made the screening more fun and engaging.

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