Screaming through the century: The female voice as cathartic/transformative force, from Berg's Lulu to Tykwer's Run Lola Run
Alban Berg's opera Lulu, dating from the early part of the twentieth century, and Tom Tykwer's film from the end of the century, Lola rennt, (known to English-speaking audiences as Run Lola Run), have one striking feature in common: both culminate in an ear-splitting scream. At first glance, these two works appear poles apart in time, genre and cultural context, although both are Teutonic in origin. Berg's "high-art" opera, based on the serial techniques of the Schoenberg school of composition, derives from Frank Wedekind's fin-de-siècle Lulu plays, Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box. By contrast, Tykwer's film is an end-of-millennium "art-house" film that, on its release, quickly became a cult movie in Germany and beyond; fast-paced, visually and technically innovative, and backed by a driving techno soundtrack, its resonances with many aspects of video games and hypermedia position it as a text that heralds the twenty-first century. This article will explore how the screams (marking points of transformation at the denouement of each of these early and late twentieth-century works) are very different.
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