Silvestre Revueltas: Composing for Film or Filming for Music?

April 15, 2014
1:49 pm to 1:49 pm
LEAH M. SMITH HALL
3800 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland

The story of Redes (The Wave) is a peculiar one. It was conceived by Eisenstein admirer Paul Strand, and completed in Mexico against all odds at the end of 1934, just before the socialist government of Lázaro Cárdenas came to power.

Much to Strand’s surprise and concern, the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas had finished an ambitious movie score while the latter was still shooting the last scenes of the film. The manuscript of that score has survived, but the film in its first version, has not.

A year later, with Strand and his team long gone, the Mexicans who had assisted them took up the project again with the idea of doing justice to an artistic and political project that merited rescue. Revueltas wrote an entirely new score and clearly had many of the film’s sequences cut to his music, angering Strand.

The result, however, is a beautiful synchrony between image and sound. In a way, as the resulting film shows, Revueltas resorted to the aesthetics of silent film, which he knew first hand from years of playing in theatres during his youth in the United States.