Archive of films A Messenger from the Shadows (Notes on Film 06 A/Monologue 01) / A Messenger from the Shadows (Notes on Film 06 A/Monologue 01)
2013, 60 min
Actor Lon Chaney is an iconic figure of the silent horror. He played Quasimodo and the eponymous lead in The Phantom of the Opera, and he also appeared in ten films directed by Tod Browning. This imaginative hour-long compilation of excerpts from his surviving works offers a new take on early films and comes with an unsettling soundtrack from Bernhard Lang.
Thanks to his myriad film roles, Lon Chaney is known as "the man of a thousand faces,” and you could say that the early horror era never beheld a figure more intriguing. Yet because of his numerous transformations, his face never became as iconic as that of, say, Boris Karloff. Accompanied by a soundtrack from Bernhard Lang, this "reimagination of shots” taken from Chaney’s forty-six surviving films offers a beguiling excursion into the history of film. The director reveals surprising associations, while highlighting the enduring magic of works which are now more or less forgotten. Over it all hangs a mood of dejection emanating from the fact that Chaney appears as a lonesome film warrior. While Messenger could certainly be seen as a tribute to an iconic figure of silent film, it is first and foremost a fascinating exploration of the medium, giving rise to a new sense of drama we wouldn’t have expected to find in a Chaney movie: film allows us to communicate across the years and decades, while betraying itself as a fascinating fount of unreliable memory.
About the director
Norbert Pfaffenbichler (b. 1967, Steyr, Austria) is a Viennese artist, filmmaker and curator. In 1994-2001 he took a media master class at the Academy of Applied Arts. He works with film and video and produces installations, sculptures, photographs, collages and drawings. In his series Notes on Film he examines the motion picture world and recasts film history with respect to our fascination for power, iconic faces and aesthetic violence. He has presented his works at all kinds of shows worldwide, including the Sónar festival in Barcelona, the film festivals in Rotterdam and Toronto, and the Diagonale in Graz.
About the film
Color, HD CAM
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