from birth to death. What would you want it to be? Artsy? Romantic? Entertaining? Devout (for those religious types)?
To Kick off … here’s mine:
Mine would be like Nielsen’s Airplane Trilogy meets Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible Pt 1. Full of pomp and nutty-circumstance. Procofiev would write the score, Faure and Poulenc would edit. Bette Middler would do the Choreography.
Editing would be done by peoples’ Republic of China, c.1950. As would the video post processing. Bright colours, and subtitles would be more bright and chatty than the straight Russian-English ones. It would not be mainly a musical, but there WOULD be some major musical set-pieces. If you’ve seen the Ballroom Scene in Bonderchuk’s War and Peace, and the film of Strauss, The Waltz King, please put them together: now add Danny Kaye and his musical acrobatic performance art … that would be the character depicting ME.
IN this film, I am an Adventurer, who drifts into the world of Ivan The Terrible’s last days.
Got your Pepsi and Popcorn? Good. Then I’ll begin.
Voiceover introduction: “In a world … of deathbed paralysis … when all were sombre … there was a man who simply Did Not Know How …”
Cue music … SLOW Slavic string section with bass voices agreeing on sombre ‘Oh’s. We are in a massive chamber and all therein are clad in jewels and finery. A Bed dwarfs the surrounding splendour, such is its glory. The Dying Ivan is on the bed. An Orthodox High Priest approaches and, infinitely slowly, positions the Bible, opened as an inverted V - a tent of pages over the King’s fading head. I skip in, “Yo!” and replace it with one that I’ve already read, and to peoples’ looks of horror, skipping out again, shout “WHAT??” over my shoulder.
Later, I stumble on 150 sailors. They are well depressed, and one of them sings the heart-wrenching Oktober Song.
That’s followed by light relief with the slapstick 'September? October? November?" routine. The action builds up as I commit more and more errors of taste, in unwitting response to the ever-more pompously impending, and pompously attended, Death of the King.
The running gag is, that every time I escape his deathbed room with the tag-line “WHAT???” Also, I typically run out on to the steps of the palace where people are always running up and down. Soldiers and workers … disputing. There’s a touching, though loud, duet between them in the split-chorale, "This Hurts Me More Than It Does You … [Oh No It Fecking Doesn’t!] "
I appear straddling a Huge Cannon which fills the entire width of your screen, and seems to rise for ever. I’m singing something kind of stagy and didactic … an inarticulate cross between Meatloaf and Freddy Mercury. The soldiers and workers obviously seem to make sense of it, cos they kiss and make up in the grande finale. It is a high-production-value song and dance extravaganza set piece “Oh Potempkin!” Complete with Acrobatic-Sailors and C_o_cky/Oiky C_o_ckney Workers.
King Ivan and I are flown up on wires, stage left and right. He is finally going to his heaven, and I am going to mine.
The film ends as the music and dance fades, far below us. King Ivan goes “Can I have my Book back” I begin to throw him that ‘fk-you’ look, but it turns into an ‘aw shucks’, and I toss him the book. As I drift off into the night sky, stage right, he calls after me ‘Eh … Zenda!?’ I look over my shoulder … “WHAT?!”
Oh … connection with my life? For, though I realise now, that I did not get it to start from my birth, I can still, to some extent, justify my own personal response to the topic I have set.
Fact: My Dad, my Immortal Dad died, suddenly, when I was 21. He ‘snapped off’ from my image of him, which has lingered and been an overshadowing theme, against which much of my life, even my ‘successes’, has felt like clumsy trivia. This film’s ending IS a happy one, because there is SOME coming to terms, even though it is not until Both of us, at long last, depart.
er … I’m sure I do have other ‘films of my life’. Bloody well hope so … Obviously, it is just one ‘strand of the bow’. We all have many ways of slicing our ‘one cake’, and many possible works of film and music to make How many of those strings we access at any one time or for any one composition is one of the other questions which we can ask all around this.
Edited for typos and bona fide sabotage of censorbot “C_o_cky/Oiky C_o_ckney Workers”