April 7, 2008

The Valerie Project Coming to Cornell Cinema This Week

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The musical score is a vital aspect of any film — it can enunciate themes, build tension, evoke powerful emotional reactions from the audience and even alter the meaning of the images on the screen.
The Valerie Project is the effort of several musicians, including members of the Philadelphia-based psych-folk band, Espers, to explore the powerful effects of music on film in greater detail. The subject of their experiment? Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, a 1970 surrealist fantasy from Czech director Jaromil Jeres.
The film follows it’s titular protagonist as she hazily drifts through a bizarre sequence of events involving lustful priests, Nosferatu-esque vampires, witchcraft and a wide variety of strange sexual encounters. That all of this plays out over the course of 13-year-old Valerie’s first period just adds to what was already an ocean of subtext that could make even Freud stop in his tracks.
And what kind of music is befitting a film as tripped-out as this? The Valerie Project have fashioned a unique musical experience to accompany the film that can not fairly be described as fitting into any one genre. The score relies heavily on orchestral elements, but also mixes in more modern instruments for a conglomeration of sounds; ominous violins and cellos mix with a screaming electric guitar and light, airy chimes to striking effect — maybe a little bit like what Explosions in the Sky would sound like on acid? Both the film and the music are visionary works in their own right; I have to imagine that paired together the result can be nothing less than spectacular.
The Valerie Project will be in Ithaca this Thursday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m., to do a live performance of the soundtrack, played alongside the film that served as its inspiration, in Willard Straight Hall.