Geschichte der Nacht


Houses, lines of houses, streets, miles of pavements, piledup bricks, stones. Changing hands. This owner, that. Landlord never dies they say. Other steps into his shoes when he gets his notice to quit. They buy the place up with gold and still they have all the gold. Swindle in it somewhere. Piled up in cities, worn away age after age. Pyramids in sand. Built on bread and onions. Slaves Chinese wall. Babylon. Big stones left. Round towers. Rest rubble, sprawling suburbs, jerrybuilt. Kerwan’s mushroom houses built of breeze. Shelter, for the night.

Epigraph from Geschichte der Nacht; a quote from Ulysses by James Joyce

Commissioning the Third Ear Band to create the score for Roman Polanski’s Macbeth was an assuredly good move. Using their music to embellish static scenes of European cities at night is a less obvious one but not as inappropriate as it might seem. Swiss filmmaker Clemens Klopfenstein uses the group’s music sparingly in Geschichte der Nacht (1979), an hour-long record of unidentified streets in unidentified cities after dark. When there’s no music you have the location sound. There’s no narrative, not even in the common documentary sense, simply the atmosphere of neglect that falls over a city during the night and the early hours of the morning. The copy linked here is at Ubuweb where the contents aren’t always permanent. Watch it while you have the chance. Via Ghetto Raga, a Third Ear Band blog.