While initially a financial and critical disaster, Marcel L’Herbier’s science-fiction melodrama remains one of the most extravagant cinematic experiences of the 1920s and a singular invention from a miscellany of leading visual and musical stylists of the time. Starring opera diva Georgette Leblanc (who helped finance the film) as Claire Lescott, a famous singer courted by an eclectic assortment of men, including a bawdy American, a Russian mystic, a Hindu maharaja, and a young scientist (Jaque Catelain, L’Herbier’s close friend and protégé). In many ways, the spectacle of L’Inhumaine eclipses the narrative itself, instead hypnotizing audiences with one visual feast to the next. Feverish Cubist Art Deco sets abound, with costumes by the legendary fashion designer Paul Poiret and spellbinding dances performed by the Swedish Ballet. L’Herbier hired Darius Milhaud to score a mostly percussive composition that has been tragically lost. Meticulously restored by Lobster Films, with the participation from the L’Herbier estate and the National Center for Cinematography and the Moving Image, this phantasmagoric film from the French avant-garde will have its East Coast premiere with live, original accompaniment by the audacious Alloy Orchestra, making this a cinematic experience unlike any other!
Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble—Terry Donahue, Ken Winokur, and Roger C. Miller—who write and perform live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources and have performed at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers around the world (including the Telluride Film Festival, the Louvre, and the National Gallery of Art). Utilizing their famous “rack of junk” and electronic synthesizers, an unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the Orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable.
Special thanks to Marie-Ange L’Herbier and Mireille Beaulieu; Cultural Services of the French Embassy; Hermès, Paris; Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (CNC); Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (SACEM); ARTE; Nadia Couvert, Alice Dusong, Vanessa Helou, Maxime Laiguillon, David Shepard, Jeffery Masino, Joshua Morrison, Kimberly Bastin, Nate Sutton, Starr Scesniak, Sam Mujica, and Taz Morgan.