Sunday, 21 July 2013

Idle Fanedit Ideas: The Lords Of Berberian

Last year, I had the peculiar pleasure of watching Berberian Sound Studio, a film that at both pays great respect to the under-recognised efforts of sound engineers and recordists as part of filmmaking and depicts, in a magnificently surreal manner, Toby Jones' character and his descent into madness. It was an excellent film, with a magnificent soundtrack by Broadcast and a great performance by Jones. If I had to fault it, I would say that the third act necessarily became very strange even within the context of what had preceeded it in the film.

Earlier this year, I watched The Lords Of Salem, Rob Zombie's most recent film. I don't know if I would say it was magnificent, but I certainly enjoyed it and thought it to be very good. Zombie's tendency to cast his wife in every film he makes has irked me in the past, because she's not a particularly good actor, but in this she is surprisingly effective. The story centres around Moon's radio DJ character, who receives an LP of a hitherto-unknown band (the titular Lords Of Salem) and begins to descend into madness and paranoia as a result of the LP. If I had to fault it, I'd say that the ending is somewhat weak - the first and second acts are great, but the apex of the story doesn't really feel climactic enough.

Inspired by Q2's fantastic Memories Alone (which cuts down and meshes The Wrestler with Black Swan, intertwining their two storylines with the change of making Natalie Portman's character the estranged daughter of Mickey Rourke's character), I've been giving some consideration to how the storylines of Berberian Sound Studio and Lords Of Salem might be overlapped.

There are a few problems:
  • Lords is set in Salem, Berberian in Italy.
  • Lords appears to be set in the present day, Berberian is a period piece set in the 70s
  • There's no immediately obvious way to have any characters from the two films meet or interact.
Nonetheless, the idea does have some potential. Since both films will need to be cut down, I think the way to proceed would be to cut down any elements of Lords that make it glaringly obvious to a casual viewer that the period is wrong - I'm thinking things like technology here rather than clothing or props. Then cut Berberian such that the film being edited is an English-language feature - ie Lords Of Salem.

Given how strange and unsettling both films are, I think there's also scope for some experimentation with things like suggesting a crossing-over between films (eg maybe have Toby Jones opening or closing a door, then cutting to Sherri Moon Zombie responding to that door and not making it entirely clear what's happened).

At the moment this is just another idea percolating at the back of my mind - it'll have to remain that until at least such a time as I pick up Berberian Sound Studio on DVD and can make some notes on its structure. I think it's a promising idea, and one I look forward to experimenting with in future.

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