The Valkyries

The stirring “Ride of the Valykyries” opens Act III of Wagner’s opera Die Walküre. Eight of the nine Valkyries, the warrior daughters of Wotan, ride their horses onto the battlefield to gather up the dead heroes and take them to Valhalla, the home of the gods. They await their sister Brünnhilde, who arrives with Sieglinde on her horse.

Read a synopsis of the rest of the plot here:

https://www.metopera.org/user-information/synopses-archive/die-walkure

The earliest-known use of the music in a film.

Some later examples.

An excerpt that begins as diegetic but becomes something else:

Wagner goes back to Vietnam:

Both diegetic and self-referential: “The Ride of the Valkyries” as a meta-narrative:

Ironic Wagner: In Fellini’s 1963 film 8 1/2, Marcello Mastroianni is a film director suffering from creative block. He visits a spa for treatment, where he is recognized by the other patients.

And then there’s this:

Illustration of Brünnhilde (Act III) in Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, Heinrich Lefler. Austrian (1863 – 1919)

Something Good

On December 12 of this year, the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry added a 30-second film from 1898 to its collection. The film, known as “Something Good — Negro Kiss” is the first screen kiss between African-Americans in film history, and it is remarkably free from the racist stereotypes with which African-Americans had been portrayed in the theater to this point. Read more here.

The performers have been identified as Saint Suttle and Gertie Brown, two vaudeville dancers who were well-known to Chicago audiences. 

The first screen kiss in film had been documented two years earlier, between white vaudeville performers May Irwin and John Rice. Irwin, as you may recall, was a Broadway “coon shouter,” a white woman who sang songs (in a stentorian voice) from the perspective a black male. Her biggest hit was “The Bully Song” (shown here with footage of that famous kiss — Content/trigger warning: racist language and imagery).

May Irwin was a famous voice of “blackvoice” minstrelsy. How can we see “Something Good” in relation to the genre that she represented?