ICONOGRAPHY AND GESAMTKUNSTWERK IN PARSIFAL’S TWO CINEMATIC SETTINGS

Marco Alunno

Abstract


The concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (as expressed and realized in both, Wagner’s theoretical writings and music-dramas) has informed the aesthetics of cinema and filmic language since the early beginning of the last century. However, over the past one hundred years, Wagner’s theories have undergone significant mutations that in some cases contradicted the original model. Filmmakers have altered that model according to their own ideological aims, cultural background and individual taste. With respect to Parsifal, one of the components of the "total work of art" that has been consistently reinterpreted is the opera’s imagery in terms of either scenographical reconstruction or visual representation. The iconographical analysis of two cinematographic versions of Parsifal (Edison, 1904 and Syberberg, 1982) illustrate how the visual aspect of the Gesamtkunstwerk has changed and, in doing so, the concept of the "total work of art" has undermined itself.

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Keywords


Wagner; Parsifal; Edison; Syberberg; film; opera; iconography; Gesamtkunstwerk

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