Why you should care
Because this is a novel take on the new and the next.
There’s nothing new in the idea of touring around classic silent films like Metropolis, Nosferatu, or Battleship Potemkin with live, contemporary musical accompaniment. Philip Glass did it, the Kronos Quartet did it, even a bunch of indie rock bands like Pere Ubu have done it. And after the success of The Artist in 2011, there’s nothing all that radical about making a contemporary silent film.
But here’s a head-scratching and mind-boggling twist on this new appreciation of silent cinema: Belgian-Swedish avant-garde artist Bjorn Tagemose has just directed Gutterdämmerung, a sprawling, ambitious, dystopian sci-fi horror (mostly) silent epic dark punk fantasy, and one that works in its own way as a kind of satanic allegory. If that itself isn’t enough to make you all tingly and itchy, Gutterdämmerung features a cast composed of some of the orneriest cusses from the last 45 years of underground music.
Seeing perdition once again overtake the world, a sinister puritanical minister enlists an uncorrupted young woman to undertake a quest to find the satanic Grail and destroy it.
The plot goes a little something like this. In order to purify the world, God plucks from it the evil satanic Grail (i.e., the electric guitar). In an instant, the Earth is wiped clean of all impure urges, as sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll are not only forbidden, they’re not even an issue anymore now that the source of all sin has been removed from the picture. Meanwhile, a rebellious angel named Vicious (Iggy Pop) looks down on how painfully boring the world has become and takes it upon himself to make this creepy, dull little blue planet a lively action spot again. So he steals the satanic Grail from God and returns it to Earth. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose.
Seeing perdition once again overtake the world, a sinister puritanical minister (Henry Rollins, who co-wrote the script) enlists an uncorrupted young woman (Olivia Vinall) to undertake a quest to find the satanic Grail and destroy it. Along her treacherous journey, she is forced to confront the likes of Motörhead’s Lemmy, Nina Hagen, Grace Jones (as one of hell’s most fearsome demons), Volbeat and Slash, together with assorted members of Slayer, Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal (who provided the sound track to another kind of hell in Paris recently). But the biggest threat may come from a bass player in an all-girl band (porn star Tuesday Cross) who is determined to stop her.
No, it’s not a joke, but it is utterly insane. What’s more, the film will be touring as an audience-immersive spectacle, with the live sound track provided by the Gutterdämmerung house band led by Kevin Armstrong. Topping it off, screenings will also feature special effects designed to explode throughout the performance space to accentuate the action on the screen. It sounds both unbelievably cool and, given the generally antsy atmosphere hanging over the world these days, absolutely terrifying.
Although no specific dates or cities have been named yet, following its London preview Gutterdämmerung is set to begin touring in early 2016.