Ever seen a classic opera performed by sprites?
An Austrian kid, who grew up in Vienna, with all its cultural and historical heritage, who’s heavily into 8-bit classic arcade games, decides to make a short film. What do you get? Possibly something like 'Salome in Low Land', a delightful concoction that joins the classic world of opera with the contemporary world of retro 8-bit video games. Imagine the surprise when we first saw this in a shorts programme at the 2006 Rotterdam Film Festival. Salome was a biblical princess with a bit of a mean streak. With her magical dance of the seven veils she had men eating out of her palm. Even great men, like King Herod, succumbed to her charms.
“It is a story about a man-eating woman, a femme fatale”, Christian explains, “Salome's innocent, passionate, self conscious and dangerous at the same time.” Tragedy strikes and blood flows red when the King unwillingly grants Salome one dark and deadly wish. It’s a classic tale of lust, power and revenge (opera buffs love that stuff). “My focus lies not just on the story itself, which comes from Oscar Wilde and the bible, but on aesthetics” says Christian, “I did it all on my private computer, spending more nights than days arranging pixel by pixel, influenced by a lot of computer games.” Zagler’s animated short combines both Wilde’s play and Strauss’ opera, and adds some tongue-in-cheek humour to the mix with the larger-than-life performance of the glamorous opera diva-sprite who plays Salome. See how high and low art merge in Low Land and remember what they say about the fat lady singing.