Monday, November 02, 2015

The Mother Lode

This past Friday evening (Halloween Eve, if you will), I celebrated with a fun and atypical trip to the Colorado Symphony. They were running a special screening of the film Psycho -- a print with the original score removed so that the orchestra could play it live.

I've written here before about both the film and the music. If anything, I've come to enjoy the movie even more. It's fascinating how it puts you on the side of not one but two criminals, tense to know if they're going to get caught, and perhaps even slightly hoping they might not. There are very few false beats in the movie (that psychologist at the end who "explains it all for you" -- badly -- is still terrible). Seeing it with an audience also made me appreciate the surprising number of humorous moments scattered throughout.

As for the music? Well, that remains exceptional, and watching it played live only increased my enjoyment of it. It's a real case of getting to pull back the curtain and see how things work. As I noted in my review of the score, Psycho was composed just for the string section, and watching it performed live lets you see exactly how Bernard Herrmann achieved the effect he did.

Watching the live performance, you can see when a section of the orchestra drops out entirely -- the violas, the cellos, the basses -- and feel the impact that has on the sound. You can see when the players smoothly bow their instruments (or stab them, during the famous shower scene), see when they pluck the strings, and so much more. It was another dimension to the experience that I found wonderful.

I mention it all here for two reasons, despite it being a "one night only" performance this season. First, this isn't the first time the Colorado Symphony Orchestra has performed Psycho in this fashion. It's at least an every other year thing for them, and so I'd encourage anyone interested to keep an eye open for it next Halloween. But moreover, it's not the only film being presented in this way. In just two weeks, Back to the Future is getting the same treatment -- and as part of a globally touring effort, so my non-Denver readers could well have a shot at that one too.

If you're a film lover, the film/symphony experience is one I can't recommend highly enough. I suppose you wouldn't want to see a movie for the first time in such a manner, but for a personal favorite, you'll unlock even more layers of enjoyment. The Psycho experience was grade A fun for me, and I'm already counting down the days until Back to the Future.

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