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With: Goesti Poetoe Aloes, Njoman Njong, Goesti Bagus Mara, Njoman Saplak
Written by: Marquis Henry de la Falaise de la Coudray, Gaston Glass
Directed by: Marquis Henry de la Falaise de la Coudray
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Silent with intertitles
Running Time: 56
Date: 04/14/1935

Legong: Dance of the Virgins (1935)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Tribal Pursuit

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of the great pleasures of being a film buff in San Francisco is the Club Foot Orchestra, who have composed and performed inventive, intuitive live scores for such classic silent films as: Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922), Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. (1924), Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1926), and G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box (1928). Now they're back at the Castro May 7-9 with a new film, and the pleasure is literally doubled as they perform with Gamelan Sekar Jaya, a group dedicated to the study and performance of Balinese music.

The movie accompanied by this work is Legong: Dance of the Virgins,. a newly restored 1933 Paramount production that was the last silent film to be released in 1935. It was filmed on Bali, using Balinese natives, in a two-strip color process that utilized combinations of red and green (later, the three primary colors were used so as to get a wider spectrum). The story is a simple tragedy of unrequited love as a girl falls for a musician and he falls for her sister. The movie includes dancing, some cockfighting, and lots of topless native women. The quaint paintings on the intertitles alone are worth the price of admission. The movie is similar to F.W. Murnau and Robert Flaherty's Tabu (1931) -- filmed in Tahiti -- but less noble and more exciting. However that difference could very well be the influence of the two groups whose musical score for this movie is never short of exhilarating.

DVD Details: Five years later Legong: Dance of the Virgins makes its debut on an exciting DVD from Milestone Film & Video. It happily includes the Club Foot Orchestra/Gamelan Sekar Jaya score as well as the original score on separate audio tracks; unfortunately, the audio option is locked and viewers can't switch during the film. Even more extraordinary, the disc includes two more feature films: Henry de la Falaise's 50-minute Kliou the Killer (1957), which was shot in Vietnam and was until recently thought lost. The digital presentation here is mastered from a 16mm print with shaky sound, but it's far better than nothing. The second film is Nikola Drakulic's Gods of Bali (1952), which runs 56 minutes. Other extras include a video interview with the composers and printed press kits and essays, available via DVD-Rom and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Milestone is selling this amazing DVD directly at (800) 603-1104.

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