Pierrot Lunaire. 2014. Germany. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. 51 min.
With Susanne Sachsse, Maria Ivanenko, Boris Lisowski, Krishna Kumar Krishnan. Invited by the conductor Premil Petrovic to stage Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, a musical theater work from 1912 based on the poems of Albert Giraud, LaBruce transposed a strange and tragic episode of true crime onto the composition. Complementing the original atonal score is a narrative about a trans man who is outed by his girlfriend’s father and forbidden from seeing the young woman again. Crestfallen, the protagonist decides to prove the fact of his manhood by castrating a taxi driver and then revealing his newly transplanted member to the two of them. This story, which for LaBruce “serves as a kind of allegory for all gender radicals and outcasts driven to extremes by the disapproval and hostility of the dominant order,” is rendered in a visual style that nods to the era of Schoenberg’s melodrama. LaBruce cheekily appropriates the formal vocabulary of silent cinema with black-and-white photography, irises, and intertitles like “A cock, a cock, my kingdom for a cock!”