Unmasking

Caught without his mask!

We are living in a time when masks are part of the collective consciousness, where we are told masks can protect us against the unseen forces and can provide a barrier between us and the outer world. For me, the concept of masks brings me back to terrifying childhood memories when I watched Lon Chaney in the “unmasking scene” from the 1925 version of Phantom of the Opera.

What lies underneath the mask is a truth so terrible, those who gaze upon it are paralyzed with terror.

I found a weird synchronicity between the unmaking scene from the 1925 silent version of the Phantom of the Opera and a section of Isao Tomita’s electronic cover of Pictures at an Exhibition recorded in 1975. I originally wanted to ad a musical soundtrack to the Phantom clip video to “poke fun” at our society’s mask-wearing craze, but as I paired up the first half of the movie clip with Tomita’s album, I discovered something truly haunting. Synchronicities are around us at all times, like correspondences in the magical realms. Sometimes even a Hollywood movie from the 1920’s will synch up (even if for a moment) with an avant-guard reimagining of classical piano music piece recorded 50 years later on the other side of the planet.

The second half of the clip pairs up with another section and another rendition from Modest Mussorgsky’s piano work – this time scored for orchestra by Maurice Ravel. The synch isn’t as strong, but it captures the pathos of the 2nd half of the unmasking scene very well.

We are more connected in time and space than we can even imagine.

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