FW Murnau's City Girl
FW Murnau's silent film City Girl was shot on location near Athena (OR) in 1928. Murnau originally conceived the film as "a symphony of wheat", a "silent picture" (pantomime) to be accompanied by fully synchronized orchestral soundtrack using Fox Studio's cutting-edge Movietone technology. But before its release, the studio decided to reshoot the film as a "talkie", much against Murnau's wishes and he left the production. The film was long considered lost, but a "silent" version was discovered in the 1970's. A showing of this version at the Oregon 150 Film Festival provided opportunity for Paul to create a new score that would be performed live and that would honor Murnau's original vision.
The story of a farmboy falling in love with a waitress he meets in the city and bringing her back to the family farm, turns into a compelling drama for modern audiences when his new wife is confronted with sexual advances from the farmhands and physical abuse from her father-in-law. In many ways the film is an interesting inverse of Murnau's masterpiece Sunrise.
The film with Paul’s score has been received enthusiastically by audiences at the Astoria Music Festival, Vancouver Symphony’s Chamber Series at the Kiggins, Oregon East Symphony, in addition to its premier at the Oregon 150 Film Festival.
“The audience went wild afterward: foot-stomping, whistling, cheering, clapping and a hearty chorus of huzzahs greeted the composer after the lights came back on. All in all the entire project was a fascinating and worthwhile experience. Murnau's film was incredibly powerful, the actors (especially Mary Duncan as Kate) were intense, so Paul had his work cut out for him. To his credit, he embraced the melodrama of the film rather than using his composition to critique it: in no way did the 'soundtrack' betray self-aggrandizement on the part of the composer, but rather it showed a deference to Murnau's artistic vision.”
--- NW Reverb review of the premier.