Not all silent movies are silly bits of fluff. Menilmontant begins with the axe murder of its two leads parents, sending the two sisters to Paris and rough neighborhood of the title. They try to survive just by selling artificial flowers, but there’s no way that they’ll make it.
Director Dimitri Kirsanoff didn’t include any dialogue cards in this film, simply using the imagery and the music to tell us the passing of time as the sisters gradually live a more bleam life, including the man that comes between them.
The film closes with another murder — both are rough even today in our world of special effects — as the one sister must give up the child that the man has left her with to her estranged family member, now rich from the very same man that has done so much damage to their bond.
Menilmontant is a striking film and one I would have never seen without Fantastic Fest.
The version that played Fantastic Fest has the score interpreted by House of Waters, which features “Jimi Hendrix of Hammered Dulcimer” Max ZT, Moto Fukushim and Ignacio Rivas Bixio.
Fantastic Fest @ Home is featuring a series of silent films reimagined with the music of five artists from GroundUp music. Beyond this film, there’s also Aelita: Queen of Mars with a score by Snarky Puppy’s Chris Bullock, Sirintip rescoring The Lost World, PRD Mais taking on Waxworks, Bob Lanzetti covering Nosferantu and House of Waters playing music for Menilmontant, Le Voyage dans la Lune and Ballet Mecanique.