Death plays the bone flute

Here is the an image from the dream sequence in the 1927 dystopian film Metropolis. For some reason I could not fathom, the hero sees the figure of Death approaching him playing on a flute made of a human femur.

The top two pictures here are the final version printed on white and on brown recycled packaging paper. I am trying to build textures: glue and salt have been applied to the lino after the final cut, allowed to harden and then shaved flat leaving an irregular, partly resistant, surface to take up the ink.

The gallery shows the series, starting with the charcoal, graphite and white ink sketch, the first cut, including an image printed on tracing paper, second cut and the final version after manipulation with glue and salt.

16 responses to “Death plays the bone flute

  1. I saw a similar flute on the TV, the femur slightly modified with drilling and a stitched leather end. It was Tibetan, according to the presenter. In your image perhaps it was another way for death to taunt the living.

    • Interestingly in Wraggs-Sykes book Kindred, about our Neanderthal cousins, she makes much of their funerary rites, with included carrying bits of human bone as keepsakes (perhaps) as well as possible ritual cannibalism.

  2. I was in the middle of editing a scientific paper and took a ‘break’ to browse. Three hours later and I’ve watched Metropolis on YouTube (with English subtitles) and half the day is gone. But it was time well spent, and thank you a million times over. The best rabbit hole of the week 🙂

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