austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

You can run, it doesn't matter anyhow; I'm bound to get you now

It's dangerous watching silent movies after midnight. See, silent movies are a dreamlike genre: obviously there's no sounds to anything except what gets added in the musical score, so that even the knocking of a door has an abstracted and unreal quality. There's no audible dialogue; that's replaced by relatively short title cards containing the most important points of the dialogue while the actors 'speak' in ways usually but not always in the correct emotional tone often just long enough to establish their existence. And with hand-cranked cameras the conversion to modern steady playback means the timing of how things move will almost certainly be off. There's always something subtly unreal no matter how un-fantastic the subject is.

It was at shortly before 3 am that I switched over to Turner Classic Movies and found the midst of Haxan, which the Tivo aptly describes thus: ``1922. A Swedish history of black magic and witches also describes the Inquisition and other medieval horrors.'' Some scenes the title card explains in Swedish (subtitles in English) show torture devices, and here are woodcuts showing them employed, and here's a person who volunteered to put her thumbs in a vise and get them screwed down and aaaaah here's a spiked collar being snapped shut and here's how it'd choke a confession out of someone sitting on a pot full of fire.

And then there's scenes I suppose are taken from legends and oh, there's a pair of giant mice, or rats, flanking the dungeon entrance like doormen (dormice?) as a devil storms in. Later, a devil appears before a nun, who falls to her feet: the devil grabs what looks like a giant fish and swings it at her. I can't possibly have seen a devil slapping a nun with a fish, though, as nobody could imagine such a scene. That forces me to conclude that I had fallen asleep and was dreaming this, even though I couldn't have imagined it either. But I seem to have carried on -- I'm writing this entry right after it -- so how can I be dreaming it unless you're only dreaming that you're reading this? And is there any logical use for this except as something to make a more baffling dream?

I'm not positive that the devil actually hit the nun with the fish -- it may have just been swinging at her -- but either I imagined that, or the director of Haxan did, or whoever he got the story from did, and in any case that's an extremely odd thought to have under any circumstances.

I repeat, it's hazardous to watch silent movies after midnight.

Trivia: Moses Bruines Cotsworth's reformed calendar proposed a year day not fitting into any week or month to follow 28 December, and when needed a similar leap day following 28 June. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.

Currently Reading: Project Pope, Clifford Simak.

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