[Image description: Helen Keller sits by a radio, with her hand over it, in order to feel the vibrations of the music playing]
Helen Keller wrote the following letter to the New York Symphony Orchestra in 1924, describing listening to the “Ninth Symphony” composed by Beethoven - who was also deaf - over the radio:
I have the joy of being able to tell you that, though deaf and blind, I spent a glorious hour last night listening over the radio to Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” I do not mean to say that I “heard” the music in the sense that other people heard it; and I do not know whether I can make you understand how it was possible for me to derive pleasure from the symphony. It was a great surprise to myself. I had been reading in my magazine for the blind of the happiness that the radio was bringing to the sightless everywhere. I was delighted to know that the blind had gained a new source of enjoyment; but I did not dream that I could have any part in their joy. Last night, when the family was listening to your wonderful rendering of the immortal symphony someone suggested that I put my hand on the receiver and see if I could get any of the vibrations. He unscrewed the cap, and I lightly touched the sensitive diaphragm. What was my amazement to discover that I could feel, not only the vibration, but also the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me. I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roil of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments! When the human voices leaped up thrilling from the surge of harmony, I recognized them instantly as voices more ecstatic, upcurving swift and flame-like, until my heart almost stood still. The women’s voices seemed an embodiment of all the angelic voices rushing in a harmonious flood of beautiful and inspiring sound. The great chorus throbbed against my fingers with poignant pause and flow. Then all the instruments and voices together burst forth – an ocean of heavenly vibration – and died away like winds when the atom is spent, ending in a delicate shower of sweet notes.
Of course this was not “hearing,” but I do know that the tones and harmonies conveyed to me moods of great beauty and majesty. I also sense, or thought I did, the tender sounds of nature that sing into my hand-swaying reeds and winds and the murmur of streams. I have never been so enraptured before by a multitude of tone-vibrations.
As I listened, with darkness and melody, shadow and sound filling all the room, I could not help remembering that the great composer who poured forth such a flood of sweetness into the world was deaf like myself. I marveled at the power of his quenchless spirit by which out of his pain he wrought such joy for others – and there I sat, feeling with my hand the magnificent symphony which broke like a sea upon the silent shores of his soul and mine.”
Anjelica Huston and Michael Jackson in a promotional photo for Captain EO (1986)
I just got around to seeing this movie, despite the fact that it did not get a wide-release.
Find it and watch it.
Believe me when I say, this film is in the same league of sci-fi/speculative film classics as Bladerunner and Children of Men.
Should have a HUGE fandom.
It deals with issues like class, caste-systems, oppression, and the nature of humanity in a way mainstream films like The Hunger Games never could.
Let me tell you a story about the film-maker Joon-Ho Bong. Some years back, I had the privilege of attending a screening of one his films and the man happened to be there. At that time, he’d already gotten some notice for making The Host, another awesome film that allegorizes heavy issues in humanity.
So, he does the q&a at the end and someone asks him why he’s never produced a Hollywood movie.
…And he says, paraphrasing; that Hollywood would never let him make the kind of movies he’d like. He’d have to hire an all-white cast and the actors would have to fit a certain aesthetic. They couldn’t be non-white, older than twenty-five, or non-thin…especially actresses.
He said, it’s not worth selling out, when he can make the kinds of movies he wants in South Korea.
…And then he makes this.
I’d love to spoil it for you, but suffice it say it was, as all good speculative sci-fi is, very effecting for me.
Again, I beg you PLEASE SEE THIS MOVIE.
And if you need more convincing??
Your faves are in it: Octavia Spencer aka the above flawless actress in the poster, Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, John Hurt, Ed Harris and the father/daughter pair from The Host, Kang-So Hung and Ah-Sung Ko (which had me thinking AU!).
Now, I shall commence spamming my tumblr with Snowpiercer reblogs…
Apologies ahead of time.
EDIT: ONE MORE THING!! A critic asked who his current favorite actor is and his answer was Viola Davis…
This was YEARS before The Help.
Release in the US is limited and starts in theaters June 27, 2014. Radius-TWC is the company distributing the film.
This movie was fucking gnarly. When i saw the cast list, i was like.. what the fuck? I couldn’t believe how unknown and off the radar this film was when it had such an outstanding roster of actors. I’ve been recommending it left and right to people. It’s one of my favorites.
Kirsten, the ultimate California girl.
Photograph by Juergen Teller; styled by Felicia Garcia-Rivera; written by Sofia Coppola; W magazine May 2014.
erm… i saw the new Crimson Peak set photos …i just wanted to doodle a little before dinner and…. i went a little crazy…@o@ it was fun to do something compositional, minimal and playing with logos a little :]]