By Matt Zoller Seitz | Press Play January 23, 2012 at 9:53AM
We started Press Play's first-ever contest on a lark, spinning off from complaints by Vertigo star Kim Novak that she felt violated by hearing portions of Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo score in the modern silent picture The Artist. We thought a mash-up contest involving that same bit of music might be a fun way to jump-start discussion of how music can enhance or subvert a scene. We never anticipated such an enthusiastic response: 98 entries!
And now it's time to announce the results.
1. The image track must consist of one (1) clip from any pre-existing work.
2. Clips must be scored, in whole or in part, with Bernard Herrmann's "Scene D'Amour" from Vertigo.
3. The clip cannot be cut or otherwise altered to finesse the timing.
THE JUDGING CRITERIA
1. Thoughtful synchronization.
2. A marriage of music and picture that illuminates or comments upon existing aspects of the scene or pushes it in a new direction.
3. The element of surprise.
THE JUDGING PROCESS
The 98 entries were winnowed down to five (5) finalists, based on email debate amongst Press Play editors and writers, and comments on social media and video upload sites. Mash-ups submitted by Press Play contributors were excluded from consideration as finalists.
The finalists were then sent on to a panel of outside judges, listed below. The judges were asked to rank the finalists in order of preference from first to fifth; first place was worth five points, fifth was worth one. The finalist with the highest point total was declared the winner. Contest judges and Press Play contributors were also encouraged to give special citations to works that that did not make the final cut but that tickled their fancy.
JIM BEAVER. Actor in films and TV series, including Supernatural, In Country, Geronimo: An American Legend, The Silence of Bees, Deadwood, Justified, Breaking Bad, Big Love and Criminal Minds. Writer of episodes of Vietnam War Story and Tour of Duty. Author of 14 plays, including Verdigris, The Ox-Bow Incident and Semper Fi. Films in Review contributor. Former film archivist for the Variety Arts Center in Los Angeles.
DAVID LEVIEN. Co-director (with regular collaborator Brian Koppleman) of Solitary Man. Cowriter of Ocean's Thirteen, Rounders and Knockaround Guys. Producer of Interview with the Assassin, Knockaround Guys, The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones. Author of the novels City of the Sun, Where the Dead Lay and Thirteen Million Dollar Pop.
MARGARET NAGLE. Screenwriter of Warm Springs, the Emmy-winning HBO film about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and its forthcoming sequel The Defining Moment. Winner of two Emmy Awards and two Writer's Guild of America awards. Creator of the Lifetime series Side Order of Life. Writer of the Boardwalk Empire episodes, "Anastasia" and "Broadway Limited."
GREG PAK. Award-winning writer-director-producer of Robot Stories. Writer of the comics Vision Machine, Planet Hulk and Incredible Hercules and cowriter of Magneto Testament. His latest comic project is Dead Man's Run, from Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla and Aspen Comics. His acclaimed miniseries Red Skull Incarnate comes out this week in trade paperback. For more, visit www.gregpak.com and twitter.com/gregpak.
JODY WORTH. Writer and producer for Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and Deadwood. Nominated along with the Deadwood staff for an Emmy and a Writers Guild of America awards for season two of the series. Writer of the Deadwood episodes "Reconnoitering the Rim," "Bullock Returns to the Camp," "A Lie Agreed Upon, Part II" and "E.B. Was Left Out."
STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, by Jake Isgar ($50 Amazon gift certificate)
"Somehow the Vertigo score made Shatner and his sweet toupee a bit lyrical." -- David Levien
"The last 90 seconds are just about perfect. The last ten seconds knock it out of the ballpark. I also particularly love the way the fast surging theme at 4:09 perfectly coincides with Scotty fiercely blowing into his bagpipes." -- Greg Pak
"Douglas Sirk goes sci-fi." -- Jody Worth
F I N A L I S T S (alphabetical by title)
AKIRA, by Greg Stevens
"Akira actually moved me at the end... the syncing of the music was pretty damn perfect. It's a piece of film I'm unfamiliar with, and that might have added to my enjoyment. But on a purely technical level of matching the music to the image, [for me] it was the easy winner." -- Margaret Nagle
ALIEN, by William D'Annucci
"I forgot I was watching a mash-up and instead was completely drawn into a gorgeous piece of complete cinema. It's a clever clip to use because the scene has no dialogue -- there are no silently moving lips that remind us we're watching a hybrid creation. And every single beat and surge of the music matches beautifully with the imagery. But what pushes it into the sublime is that I found myself seeing and feeling emotions I've never felt before while watching this scene. I've probably seen this movie 20 times. But this is the first time I've felt the alien's pain. And watching Ripley's face, I felt her feeling the alien's pain as well. What a gorgeous, weird, unexpected experience." -- Greg Pak
"Hermann's score could have been written for this scene. The matching of musical emotion with the visual is rather astonishing in light of the [contest's] no-cuts rule and the completely unrelated nature of the two films, Vertigo and Alien. If serendipitous, then it's amazing. If the mash-up artist chose Alien because he knew this scene would fit so well with Herrmann's music, then behold, a genius in our midst." -- Jim Beaver
MY VIDEO FOR BRIONA, by Joseph Carson
"When we first announced the 'Vertigoed' contest, we didn't even consider that online viral videos might be great fodder for a mash-up. Kudos to Joseph Carson for thinking out of the box and finding a subject even creepier than Scotty Ferguson to set to Bernard Herrmann's obsessive strains. Extra points for being the only video not to use the crescendoing sections of 'Scene d'Amour,' opting instead for the more tranquil opening section. Used here, its subtle sinister undertones bubble to the surface. Love ya, baby girl!" -- Press Play editor-in-chief Kevin B. Lee
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, by Brittany Carter
"Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs is an unholy mash-up all its own, equal parts thriller, horror movie, psychoanalytic odyssey and perverse love story. So is Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. I never considered that there might be a deep connection between the two movies -- both of which pivot on an invasive attempt to recapture the past -- until I saw Brittany Carter's entry." -- Press Play founder Matt Zoller Seitz
Citation for Synchronized Head-Cracking
NIGHT MOVES, by John Levy
Citation for Balletic Totalitarianism
THE GREAT DICTATOR, by Jonathan Amerikaner
Citation for Homoerotic Grandeur
TOP GUN, by De Maltese Valk
Citation for Chaos-as-Poetry
GUMMO, by David Jenkins
Citations for Comic Madness
Citations for Snake-Swallowing-Its-Own-Tail Postmodernism
We officially end our "Vertigoed" contest with one more mash-up, a Chuck Jones tribute by Press Play editor Kevin B. Lee. Th-th-th-that's all, folks!
WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? VERTIGOED: