A nice initiative in my local town (Cesena) was to have a film night with selected piazzas and other open air venues given over to free movies and cinema talks. I chose to see Jean Epstein’s 1928 silent film of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher (La Chute de la maison Usher).

One reason was because I had never seen it, although I have since discovered that  you can see the movie at the Internet archive.

The other reason was  that I was intrigued by the fact that there was a live soundtrack by a three-piece Bolognese rock band Massimo Volume.

This was probably a one-off commission but they did a great job bringing out the gothic drama and not trying to impose their style on the film . Their soundtrack was certainly an improvement on the medieval music by Rolande de Cande which you hear on the online version.

The fim itself retains its gothic power and creates a surreal world of its own (helped in part by contribution of Luis Bunuel).

Jean Debucourt  as Roderick Usher has mesmerising eyes that make him look either mad or high on some illicit substance. Madeline flops about in a distracted state. She  is his wife in the movie (she was his sister in Poe’s short story) and for some reason Epstein decided on a feel good ending where they both survive the destruction of the house. It would have made more sense for them to be consumed within the crumbling mansion but perhaps even in 1928 the general public didn’t like to see the protagonists meeting a sticky end.

Related link:
Review on Roger Ebert’s Great Movies

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