On Thursday 12th November 2015, I went to the live preview for fans of Gütterdammerung, self proclaimed as a “dark fairytale” and the “loudest silent movie on earth”.
At the time I am writing this, the Gütterdammerung website reads:
In honour of the victims in Paris and our friends from EODM, we have decided to keep our showcase trailer offline for 7 days.
Our showcase on the 12th was an amazing gathering of rockstars and fans both in film, on stage and on the tribunes of the London Forum.
A celebration of rock and roll brotherhood and togetherness with a crowd singing loud as one voice. Rock and roll is the sound of freedom.
Rock and roll will always sound louder than Kalashnikovs.
The Voices of freedom will sing louder than the voices of hate!
Our thoughts are with Jesse, his band, his crew
and all victims of terror worldwide.”
In respect of this statement, I am not posting a link to the trailer for the movie but will be writing a feature for Stereoboard.com nearer to the time of release.
So, “the loudest silent movie on earth”. Intrigued by this concept and by the fact that the cast list includes some of the most iconic, influential characters in the world of rock and roll, I dragged my buddy along to The Forum in Kentish Town, London, to find out more.
Greeted at the door by mysterious hooded monks who marked crosses in black ash on our foreheads, we gave way to keeping an open mind and tried not to let the words “pure cheese” dominate our thoughts. After all, when the likes of Slash, Iggy Pop, Josh Homme, Henry Rollins, Lemmy, Tom Araya and Jesse Hughes are all part of the cast, you wouldn’t imagine that this might be some kind of spoofy pantomime, would you?
When the film rolled, we were treated to excerpts of scenes from the movie which is due to go on tour accompanied by a live rock band next year. Directed by Bjorn Tagemose, Gütterdammerung is shot in the style of the classic 1920’s Hollywood movies of the silent era. Beautifully shot, the black and white photography is crisp, clean and atmospheric and effectively highlights the conflict between good and evil in what I am hoping will be a clear story-line. With cliches taken from every orifice of the heavy rock world: naked celestial virgins, religion, rebellion, wild and dusty plains, banished guitars, the film explores a world without sound, extreme in its quest for purity.
Instead of a lonesome piano accompaniment, a live rock band, fronted by up and coming rock showman and talented vocalist, Jesse Smith, take control of the mood. Their presence is cleverly entwined behind the screen, their shadows, larger than life and placed in such a way that their reactions to the action on screen appear almost 3D.
In between the scenes where we are introduced to the acting skills of Eagles of Death Metal’s Jesse Hughes (who plays the bounty hunter) and Tuesday Cross (who plays the “bad girl”) Henry Rollins (who plays the Priest Svengali) and Iggy Pop, wings, horns and all, (who plays the fallen angel “Vicious”), we were treated to live sets from said members of EODM, an appearance from Henry Rollins and a surprise guest appearance from the high priestess herself, Grace Jones (who plays “the ultimate nemesis”). I have never been so close to Grace Jones and am sorry to say that I failed in getting a decent photo, it was a moment to savour and feast with the eyes instead of fumbling about for a perfect shot. She commanded a rendition of “Nightclubbing” (Iggy Pop) with total supremacy.
Following this was a very tongue in cheek Q&A hosted by actor Kevin Eldon. I was hoping for some clear and meaningful insight into the making of the movie and it’s concept, but to be honest, I was none the wiser when the questions, delivered in a comedy fashion, were disappointingly answered in a similarly nonsense way by the panel (Jesse Hughes, Henry Rollins, Borjn Tagemose).
So first impressions?
Well, it could be considered as just a glorified music video but on the other hand, it’s an interesting concept, captured as a visual and audio thing of beauty. When it tours in 2016, I recommend an open mind and expect to embrace a bit of corny acting by some game rockstars. This is something quite out of the ordinary; its a totally crazy, gigantic piece of rock and roll heaven and hell with a sniff of ‘spoof’ sprinkled on top. It is stuff that will have you glued to the screen if you are a fan of all artists involved.
And as for the storyline? Well I have a hunch that rock and roll never dies and that above everything, it will be returned to glory.
Long Live The Fans!