steampunk media rites of spring

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Steampunk Media: The Rites of Spring

Joffery Ballet’s performacne of the Rites of Spring in 1987

As I was driving home, I happened upon an interview about the release of Grand Theft Auto 4, in which the interviewer asked the game designer about the controversy surrounding the series. He, interestingly enough, mentioned another media event that was released during what might be considered the “Late Steampunk” (or “Edwardian”) era, namely Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” (subtitled: “Pictures from Pagan Russia”).

The New York Met Opera performance in 2003

Now, I’m not one to be critical of stage plays, but from accounts of the era, it was considered “Bizarre”, “Disjointed”, and “Obscene”, due to its “strange gyrations” by its dancers and “physically shocking choreography“. So controversial, it garnered catcalls and boos from its audience, eventually leading to fistfights and a riot that required the Paris police to intervene and subdue the attendees!

Interestingly enough, portions of this performance was used in Disney’s “Fantasia”, a unique evolution from turn of the century controversy to family fare. (I perish the thought of how GTA4 will be re-interpreted years from now)!

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