The Death Rays Of Ardilla: Re-score of Onibaba, Sensoria Film Festival, Sheffield

Since the S1 Art Space has hit the Sheffield arts and music scene, they have gone from strength to strength. They have been only too happy to accommodate Sensoria Film Festival, a fusion of live music, film and audio visual performances. You may have been lucky enough to catch the pre-party at S1, the weekend before or seen bands and DJs perform at new venue, Dirty Little Secret who are as mysteriously located as their name suggests.

Back at S1, the downstairs art space beside the Corporation proved to be the perfect place to put on tonight’s Japanese thriller, Onibaba, albeit, as freezing as sitting in your very own garage. Thankfully, coffee shop, Tamper were on hand to warm us up with their selection of New Zealand brews. For those content with being cold, the coffee crew were joined by a team of bar staff, serving ice cold beers and other refreshments.

Now for the film facts. Onibaba was first released in black and white in 1964. It is about a woman and her daughter-in-law, trying to make a life for themselves by killing and stealing from random soldiers in the grass-swamps of fourteenth century Japan during the Civil War. This is apparent from the opening scene as men unwittingly fall into a well concealed death pit. What should have been apparent to me, is that it is a subtitled film, which is why I decided to unwittingly forget my glasses. Nonetheless, the intense acting and bleak atmosphere speak volumes.

As the film opens on a landscape covered in reeds, blowing in the wind, I realise there are some interesting art installations to the side of the seating area. One is a screen with blades of grass behind it. There is a torch reflecting the image onto the screen, much like sitting in a tent. With my attention back on the film in front, The Death Rays Of Ardilla are to the left of the cinema screen, bathed in red light. They are noticeable but not distracting. Guitarist, Tom Tietzsch-Tyler softly strokes strings while brother and drummer, Nick Tietzsch-Tyler plays carefully placed beats. Mike Ward is guest band member tonight, adding authentic sounding, Japanese wind instruments and other percussions to set the mood right. As the action builds, so does the music until, one of the central female characters is running at full throttle with the sound of raging guitars and crashing symbols, spurring her on.

As the scenes calm to dialogue between the two central female characters and the male soldier, returned from combat, the music gently fades to the background but The Death Ray’s red presence serves as a constant reminder of the intense lust and horror that lurks just beneath the surface. A passionate affair develops whilst disturbing incidents take place in the marshes. As the story unravels and the film rages on, the band’s explosive music makes for a horrifying climax. Tonight’s show proves that live music and cinema make a harmonious pair.