The Wedding March
"Commissioning a live score from Gary Lucas to accompany Erich von Stroheim's 'The Wedding March' was something of a bet, as it marked a move from his beloved fantastic cinema into melodrama territory. But it being Stroheim, the melodrama had to be weird. Gary's guitar-playing is bold and precise—a perfect match for the director's temperament, and his inspirations beautifully echo the mood of this sardonic film streaked with irreconcilable sentiments. Viennese but with an attitude!"
—Frederic Bonnaud, Directeur general de la Cinematheque francaise
On March 1st 2019, GARY LUCAS performed the world premiere of his new live solo score for Erich Von Stroheim's sardonic silent 1928 masterpiece "The Wedding March" at La Cinematheque francaise in Paris.
Commissioned by the the Cinematheque, this was the second time Gary performed one of his live scores in the Henri Langlois Theatre, which was packed for his performance.
The film, written and directed by Hollywood maverick Von Stroheim and set in 1914 Vienna, concerns the romantic exploits of Prince Nikki, the scion of a once-noble family in decline. A dashing commander of a cavalry regiment and a heart-breaking rake, his tragic love affair with the virtuous Mitzi, played by a luminous Fay Wray, is delineated in delirious fashion.
The film pushes the boundaries stylistically and emotionally in typically over-the-top Von Stroheim fashion with many lavish baroque set-pieces (including a color sequence of the cavalry on parade, an immense and expensive recreation of Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral, and the construction of an entire apple orchard with actual apple blossoms tied to and then released from the trees to produce a cascading effect), and several black humorist touches (including a wild party in a house of ill repute patronized by both Prince Nikki and his father, and several references to a near-incestuous love affair between Nikki and his scheming mother).
Also starring Zasu Pitts, the film originally came in at just over 4 hours before being severely edited and split into two films, and was a failure at the box office upon release. But the film has grown in stature over the years with both critics and audiences' alike and is now regarded as one of Von Stroheim's best. Gary's score incorporates Viennese waltzes, Wagnerian leitmotivs, driving rhythms and forceful expressionist touches to breathe new life into this sardonic, hard-nosed classic from the Golden Age of Silent Film, which Von Stroheim dedicated to "True Lovers Everywhere".
photo by Nicolas Le Thierry d'Ennequin at la Cinematheque Francaise premiere 3/1/2019