Rouben Mamoulian

F.: John Capstaff. Scgf.: Norman Edwards. Crgf.: Martha Graham. Int.: Robert Ross (Krishna), Evelyn Sabin (Radha), Thelma Biracree, Constance Finkel, Betty MacDonald, Susanne Vacanti (danzatrici). Prod.: Eastman Kodak Company. 35mm. D.: 7’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The 29-year old Rouben Mamoulian’s first turn behind the camera was pretty much a local production. As head of the School of Drama in Rochester where the choreographer Martha Graham also worked, this short film was both a test of a new two-colour process by Eastman and a showcase for Graham’s modern dance, which had been presented on the New York stage in April of the same year. Shot in May 1926, The Flute of Krishna features a flautist in a white turban who joins three scantily dressed maidens in a dance of seduction. A fourth woman appears and dances with a branch   of blossom in her hand, so that what preceded it comes across as a titillating warm-up for this number. The maidens disappear, the dancer with the branch faints and for a moment it seems Krishna has conquered her. In Mamoulian’s world of sensuality, the transition from lust to love and the embracing of fragility will become a common theme. Though the colours look either garish green or pale yellow, colour as an emblem of desire and dream (impeccably tested by Mamoulian in an otherwise forgettable musical called Summer Holiday) enters his cinema even if it’s another nine years before he uses it again in Becky Sharp (shown at Il Cinema Ritrovato 2019).

Ehsan Khoshbakht

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