The fifth film (third in production) is a sumptuously moribund romance. Shot in Budapest, its over-the-top components include a spectacularly sepulchral Ursula Andress (legendary Bond girl from Dr. No), a flock of trained Jacobean pigeons, gamboling water nymphs, and the Budapest Opera Orchestra. With a score by Johnathan Bepler (longtime Barney collaborator) and a libretto by the artist, the film is a sustained operatic monologue sung by Hungarian soprano Adrienne Csengery and acted by Andress.
The love story is a paradigm for other rituals of courtship and mating in the Cremaster series wherein an Oedipal mother/lover exacts a mortal toll (played out in the following two films, 2 and 3). While the film offers beautiful deaths for two of its heroes (both fragmented versions of Harry Houdini), the third triumphs in an avian, Disneyesque epiphany in which a Cremaster protagonist's manhood is at last confirmed. A final, exquisite cycle of poetic justice leads from the Byzantine glitter of the Gellert Baths to the proscenium of the State Opera House onto the Bridge of Chain to the bottom of the Danube and at last to a sea studded with pearls. 1997, U.S., color, 35mm, sound, 55 minutes. More information on Cremaster 5.
REPEAT SCREENING: SATURDAY, MAY 31, 8 PM