Saturday, 26 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 317: Wed Nov 13

Vampir Cuadecuc (Portabella, 1970): BFI Southbank, NFT3, 8.50pm

There's very little in cinema quite like this movie. Here's the BFI introduction:
A rare opportunity to see an intensely experimental vampire movie like no other. Both jarring and atmospheric, it was shot guerrilla style on set during production of Jess Franco’s Count Dracula using high contrast b/w 16mm. Modern incursions such as the sight of a smoke machine, Christopher Lee preparing for his staking scene and a brooding electronic score, spin haunting new narratives around the classic vampire tale, and connect it to the dictator-era Spain in which it was made.
Tonight's screening is introduced by writer and curator Mark Nash.

In a 2011 issue of Sight & Sound there's an appraisal of Pere Portabella's oeuvre by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in which he counts tonight's film as his favourite work by the Catalan filmmaker. The movie itself consists of a black and white film of Jesus Franco's "very conventional colour movie Count Dracula (1970), starring Christopher Lee," writes Rosenbaum. "The material is submitted to a great deal of processing in visual textures and accompanied by a kind of musique concrete by Carlos Santos, consisting of such elements as jet planes, drills, operatic arias, kitschy muzak and sinister electronic drones."

Rosenbaum first saw Vampir Cuadecuc at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971 and reckoned it the highlight of that year's crop. "Vampir was my favorite of all the films I saw at Cannes that year. I returned to it several times, and described it afterwards in the Village Voice  as 'at once the most original movie at the festival and the most sophisticated in its audacious modernism', says Rosenbaum in this essay on his website.

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