That’s a beautiful cello, don’t you think? A little worn at the edges perhaps, but to the composer who plays it, a poor fellow who lives in a garret in 17th century Spain, this instrument is his most prized possession, probably the foundation of his livelihood as a musician.
Such a shame then that is will be brutally destroyed before our eyes in just a few minutes…
In the above shot the cello can be seen in the background while the composer is thrown to the floor by soldiers of the Inquisition. The composer is receiving a few well placed kicks to the gut. But the cello will be the next and even more woeful target of the arresting officer’s wrath.
Before we move on to the actual destruction, let me allay your concerns and point out that the cello which is about to endure such a vicious end is not an actual cello, but a prop made out of light, cardboard-like wood. Mariana Soares Da Silva, the production designer of “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” built it.
“The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre” is my second short film musical adaptation of a classic Edgar Allan Poe story. And just like in “The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” cellos play an important part, not only by prominently figuring in the musical score, but also by influencing the actual story-telling, which includes them being seen on screen (albeit in very different ways for both films). This cello cameo is not the end for cello imagery in P&P.
I’ve already posted about shooting the garret scene where the soldiers arrest the protagonist of “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”, and the bloody accident that occurred that day on set. Well, it wasn’t just my forehead that got split, the prop cello was slated for even worse treatment, albeit in its case that bit of carnage was planned.
We didn’t want to destroy an actual instrument, so Mariana beautifully built us a stunt cello. We only had the one. Mathew Gnagy, the actor playing the officer wielding the cello, would only have one take shot by two cameras to do the dastardly deed.
He performed his task magnificently.
(That Mathew plays the cello himself in real life, and can be seen playing rather than destroying one in a crucial scene in my first musicabre only makes the whole moment more merrily momentous for me.)