CONGO

CONGO

Postby STEWART on 20 Sep 2006 03:45

True story...
This is how we shot the final scene in THE RHYTHMATIST.

CONGO
July 14, 1984

JP, the mad Belgian explorer is shouting at me through the clattering drums and chanting natives. The jungle is alive with music.
“Go with the Shaman!”
He’s pointing to a dark hut across the clearing. I scramble through the dancing frenzy of the massed Pygmies and duck into the tribal Holy of Holies. The Shaman is there, suiting up for the big party.

Outside the hut, two or three hundred Pygmies are cutting it up on the dance floor, singing their swaying melodies and banging their elephant skin drums. There are more Pygmies gathered than have ever been seen before – even by Pygmies. The scene is lit by bonfires and by big klieg lights that we have borrowed from the French logging crew whose camp has been our base down here in the deep jungle of northern Congo.

It’s dark in the hut but light is streaming through the leafy walls. The Shaman is rustling his relics as I stumble in. I’m crouching under the low roof and mumbling some supportive incantations of my own. Just to put him at ease, you understand.
“Jesus Loves You, This I Know” I venture.
He peers at me without much expression and then returns to his preparations. I’m about as relevant to his business as a man from Mars. He dons a grass cape that covers his head and drapes down to cover his feet. Brushing past me, he steps out into the clearing.

As one, the voices rise to a higher pitched fever as the Shaman twirls among them. The strands of his head dress splay around him as he spins. Behind him your correspondent is grooving along for the ride, trying to fit in and dancing up a little improvised frenzy of my own. The throng is so dense that most of my gyrations are confined to waving my arms above their heads.

JP and the crew are there with the cameras but I can see over the bobbing heads of the natives that he has lost our Love Interest. The scene we are trying to shoot calls for her to be discovered at last, by The Rhythmatist, in the deep jungle. She is found amongst the lost Mboroo tribe and has been entranced by their strange music. Our heroine is played by JP’s fiancé, Trish.

But the shot is not going as planned. These are real Fourth World natives and they really are entranced by their strange music. Trish, daubed with paint and festooned with feathers, has been adopted by the women of the tribe. They have surrounded her and are wailing at her, imbibing of her outlandish blonde pallor. She too is wailing.
“JayPeeeee! They won’t let me through!” she beseeches, struggling to get to the men’s circle where she can be discovered by the intrepid Rhythmatist. Pygmy social rules are very strict about this, as it happens. Women only dance with the women.

JP is in more of a frenzy than anyone. He’s a director who wants his shot. He clears a path through the womenfolk and drags Trish over to the men’s side – where I’m still thrashing away.

Actually by now I’ve got kind of a groove going with my new brothers in music. The rhythm is tricky but the pulse is clear and I have pretty much got the hang of it. The melody is otherworldly and rhythmically harder to fathom. Somehow their voices fuse in choral waves and spirals, swirling up to peaks and swooping down to deep earth tones. I’m just chanting Beach Boy songs and swooping along with them.
“Ooooweeeoooweeeoooooo!”

The story we are trying to tell in this odd movie we are making, is kind of improvised. And JP is improvising now, inflamed no doubt by the general hubbub.
“OK now fuck her!” he shouts to me.
“Whuh?”
I was mid swoop, but now I have paused, trying to hear him through the din.
“Keep dancing! And then fuck her!”
“JayPeeee!” wails Trish.
“Pluck her?” I’m hoping he said.

JP is on a mission and he won’t quit until he has me dry humping his babe in front of the astonished Pygmies. The music abates momentarily, while the natives process this new information about the White Giants; but then they get the drift and are back into full swing as I perform my thespian duty on the director’s girlfriend.

TO BE CONTINUED…
STEWART
 
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Postby Divemistress of the Dark on 20 Sep 2006 04:05

Yay! Blog entries right here in the forum!

We were just talking about a potential re-release of this flick in another thread...
On Google - site:stewartcopeland.net "your keyword here" - thanks DM!!
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Postby Mrs. Gradenko on 20 Sep 2006 04:54

I still haven't seen the movie. I don't have a VHS player, and can't see paying $79.49 even if it was DVD.

He tells them so well, I had a picture in my head all the way to the end, where, oh my gawd, lol!
“...and er, did anyone try just pushing this little red button?”
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Postby jedsoon on 20 Sep 2006 05:57

YES!!!!!!!!!!

what a treat to come home and find this waiting! this definitely demonstrates that a movie about the behind the scenes of the original film could be HIGHLY. ENTER. TAINING! I await with baited breath for the next installment.

wow! i really hope you do a huge rhythmatist box set of some sort. in my heart of hearts i would love to see the original movie on dvd, even if you DO think its cheesy, as well as the mtv making-of special. for good measure, a document of the '94 tour would ease the pain of my personal tragedy in missing out on it by a scant two weeks o these years ago. finally, top it off with YOUR new rhythmatist project, about which i am most zealous of all.

what incredible insight this first installment is into the adventure you and your crew must have had making the movie. if you want to distance yourself from the original project, you could still re-release it and do an optional commentary track, explaining what you feel are its weaknesses. food for thought...

and don't forget a remastered and expanded version of the album! re-stake your claim as one of the very first western pop luminaries to explore traditional african music and wed it to technology! i promise to buy a copy of both the album and movie(s) every year they're in print!

i don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't watched the original movie, so i won't comment on where this tale may be going... especially since i have no idea myself! i'm just going to shut up, sit back and enjoy the ride!

i'm changing my signature!!
-chris
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Postby conroy on 20 Sep 2006 09:44

Thanks so much, Stewart!!!! This is even better than a DVD version of the Rhythmatist with a commentary track!!!
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Postby sockii on 20 Sep 2006 11:53

Love it. Can't wait for the next installment...
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To my friends KK:

Postby Louise Lane on 20 Sep 2006 13:21

Yeah, I remember the scene, also the music.

Trish = tall cool blonde.

Nice tale about your past reality.

You deserve a kiss in the nose :!:
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Postby Divemistress of the Dark on 20 Sep 2006 14:31

We're all such big music geeks. I love this place.

Jedsoon, I'm amazed you retained consciousness long enough to type out something coherent, since the Rhythmatist re-release has been right at the top of your Christmas list since forever. ;)

I haven't seen it either, matter of factly, though I live right smack on top of a record store (yes, they stock vinyl) with a huge VHS collection. I think I'm gonna go have a look-see.
On Google - site:stewartcopeland.net "your keyword here" - thanks DM!!
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Postby Al on 20 Sep 2006 14:56

Waiting for the next one.
Al
 

Postby zilboy on 20 Sep 2006 16:38

Hi-lar-i-ous! :lol:

I nearly choked on my sandwich! That was such a weird, psychedlic scene. To hear the story behind it is almost more than we deserve
- almost.

Let's have the next chapter soon, huh?
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Postby copelandos_damour on 20 Sep 2006 16:48

Ok, Stewart, what's the deal with this movie anyway?
It confuses the hell out of me every time I watch it.
However, that's what I like about it. I like strange movies.
What you need to do, if you want, is to release this on dvd and put a commentary on it that explains why there's a chase scene involving an angry mob with a stick and donkey riding?
And what about that scene with you in a cage, drumming, with a bunch of hungry lions trying to get in?
Lara
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Postby Divemistress of the Dark on 20 Sep 2006 17:32

Are there dancing girls?? Bears on unicycles??

I gotta see this film!!
On Google - site:stewartcopeland.net "your keyword here" - thanks DM!!
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Postby sockii on 20 Sep 2006 20:45

>I gotta see this film!!

In my experience, it's best watched with friends and the company of some very strong drinks. Last time I did so we had a blast! :P
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Postby copelandos_damour on 20 Sep 2006 21:04

[quote="sockii"]
In my experience, it's best watched with friends and the company of some very strong drinks. Last time I did so we had a blast! :P[/quote]

Maybe I should do something like that, it would probably help me understand it better!
Lara
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Postby Popcorn Blizzard on 20 Sep 2006 21:19

What Stewart describes sounds like something out of 'Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse.'

" There were too many of us, we had access to too much equipment, too much money, and little by little we went insane." --Francis Ford Coppola
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