An unusually “spooky” U.S. tour, initiated by the Israeli Consulate in Boston, recently brought the veteran Israeli musician Ellyott to five major American cities around Halloween, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of a silent vampire film.
Ellyott, a DJ, frontwoman of the band Pollyanna Frank and an LGBTQ+ leader, performed a new, daring score she wrote for the classic German film “Nosferatu,” which was hailed as the “holy grail” of silent films. Played live in conjunction with the film, the newly composed music invokes techno, art rock and classical music, using hand-controlled electronica and a re-wired guitar that blurs the lines between a screening and a live show.
Produced and directed by F.W. Murnau, Nosferatu debuted in Germany in 1922. Depicting life in a city burdened with a plague, and the tale of one woman’s bravery, Nosferatu could not be more relevant a century later, and it is still haunting audiences.
According to Ellyott, the film’s very existence is a miracle. When the heirs of Bram Stocker, author of Dracula, sued over the unauthorized and official adaptation of Stoker’s novel, a court ruling ordered all copies of the film to be destroyed. One print of the film had already been distributed around the world, and this print was duplicated over the years and kept alive by a cult following.
The tour was a collaboration between the Israeli and German Consulates General and Embassies in Boston, New York, Miami, Houston and Washington D.C., and several Goethe Institutes in the respective cities.
Ambassador Meron Reuben, Consul General of Israel to New England, greeted Ellyott before her sold-out show at Boston’s Goethe-Institut: “I am delighted to open this unique event – a screening of a 20th-century classic German film, accompanied by an experimental 21st-century music by an Israeli artist with a London past, at a majestic Back Bay building from the 19th century.”
Ellyott began in the late 80s as leader of the Tel Aviv band Pollyanna Frank, notorious for its satirical lyrics and genre-defying music. A strong, clear voice for equality and justice, she was the first musician to come out as gay in Israel in 1989. Her collaborations over the years have included Marianne Faithfull, Dana International and Ori Gersht. She began composing for film and TV in 2005, most recently for the documentary series “The Elected,” which explores women’s political representation in Israel.