August 23, 2006

Idea: The “O Fortuna” Short Film Festival

In 1981, the movie Excalibur used an exciting piece of music from Carl Orff’s 1937 cantata Carmina Burana called “O Fortuna”. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, you’ve heard the music, because it has since become a cliché wherever exciting music is needed. Movies including The Doors and Natural Born Killers used it. HBO Boxing Specials used it. Those Capital One commercials with the vikings used it. I think I even heard it used on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond once. The dramatic piece of music has become so pervasive that it almost parodies itself at this point.

So I thought it would be fun to have an on-line O Fortuna Short Film Festival, and invite people to set that song to whatever visuals they wanted, and for whatever effect they wanted — comedy, drama, action, etc — with a few simple rules: 1) The film may be about absolutely anything. 2) You don’t have to use the entire song, if you want to edit it to a shorter version, but keep in mind rule 3 which is: 3) Your movie may only be 20 seconds longer than the song. For example, if you use 3 minutes of O Fortuna, your movie may be up to 3 minutes and 20 seconds long (not including credits). This way, most of your movie is set to the music, but if you need a little bit of set up or something, you can do it.

I began planning a short film of my own for this blog entry, to introduce the idea of an O Fortuna Short Film Festival, but when I began searching on-line for a public domain recording of the music to use in my film, I realized that O Fortuna is not yet in the public domain and won’t be for some time. And apparently, the rights owners are sticklers about who they’ll license the music to. It seems Capital One and Ray Romano are worthwhile, but marching bands aren’t. I’m sure that’s what Orff had in mind when his will stipulated creation of a foundation to “preserve the artistic estate of Carl Orff and to maintain the legacy of his spirit.”

So we’ll have to wait. The copyright of works created in 1937 should expire in 2032. So check back then and we’ll get that film festival going.

[Note: This isn’t a call to arms to violate anyone’s copyright. Please respect the rights owners. But if you can get them to grant you a license for an on-line short film, let us know.]


For my money, the best use of O Fortuna is in the opening sequence of the Jackass movie.

So then what you need to do is hold a contest to see who can compose and produce the most “O Fortuna”-like piece of music (without actually ripping it off,) and THEN have a contest to make a short film using that piece. The entrants to the first part of the contest would have to agree to have their music used free of charge in the 2nd half of the contest.

No probble.

Film soundtrack usage of Carmina Burana didn’t begin with Excalibur: Pier Paolo Pasolini used it in Salo: 120 Days of Sodom (1975). I don’t recall if O Fortuna specifically was used - iMDb isn’t clear on the subject - but I think so. Definitely he used “Veris leta facies”… I do have a copy of the movie, and I could check, but you know, Salo is a movie you really have to be in the mood for… no, “mentally prepared for” would be nearer the mark…

My roommates used “O Fortuna” as their wedding song. I was laughing the whole time the bride was walking down the aisle as it played. I think she had to struggle not to laugh as well. Bitch knew what she was doing.

And “Salo: 120 Days of Sodom” is *perfect* for a fun, festive movie night! Shoot, I can’t even watch “Hostel,” so I don’t think I’ll be putting *that* one in my Netflicks queue anytime soon.

Hey there,

I got a little film with the music of O Fortuna, too bad they are sticklers. They probably would like to see the finish product and then judge on licensing. I might pursue my film further with the use of the music, and I’ll let you know what stories and adventures I get into.