As I was doing some Halloween costume research earlier in the month I stumbled across Salome, a silent film from 1923 based on the play by Oscar Wilde. I remember watching it once during college and was struck by its sets and costumes, all inspired by Aubrey Beardsley's drawings for Wilde's play.
The film itself was considered sensational and obscene for its time, although by today's standards the movie is extremely tame.. the execution scene is left to the imagination as is the severed head of John the Baptist, and the famous dance of the seven veils features Nazimova in an unflattering tube dress and a piece of chiffon spinning round and round. Beardsley's drawings, rife with nudity and gore, are much more controversial.. and they were released in 1896. Nevertheless, the film doesn't necessarily suffer due to these omissions. It's just an interesting comparison between the world of film and art and what's considered acceptable or objectionable in each.
The film, at times resembling a Georges Melies short with its tinted illustrations and over-the-top costumes, runs at just over 70 minutes long. While the exaggerated acting can get a little old, it's worth watching for the Beardsley-inspired sets and costumes alone.. the headpieces worn by Salome are incredible, and her dip-dyed chiffon wrap after the dance and metallic turban worn in the final scenes are my favorite costume pieces. Plus, it's a great spooky movie for cold Halloween nights (although the creepiest silent film in my book is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). Watch it online here, and more photos here.
And tonight! Costumes are ready and we are going out. Neil and I have plans to hit up a local East Nashville bar for drinks with friends then on to the Belcourt Theatre's Rocky Horror Picture Show.. the 70th time we've seen the movie but the first time we've seen it with a live cast, so we're pretty excited. It's a tradition of ours to watch Rocky Horror on Halloween and this year won't be an exception. Happy Halloween!