Oscar Wilde would surely have had something witty to say about silent films, which were still on the horizon when he died in 1900.
Their exaggerations and lack of audible dialogue were the exact opposite of the way the characters in most of his plays are defined by choice words and spare mobility.
But the films wouldn’t lack music, even if it was provided by a ‘vamp till ready’ house pianist who would stir the melodrama.
Welsh composer Charlie Barber’s incredible new score for the 1923 film version of Wilde’s Salomé continually hammers home the decadence and violence of its theme while banishing early cinema’s latter-day tendency to raise a titter - almost.
His Sound Affairs company achieves it with just four percussionists (Nick Baron, James Hulme, Alun Hathaway and Dave Danford) and an array of instruments ranging from drum kit and tambourines to Tibetan singing bowls and cymbals, thus invoking the eroticism that clothes the dastardly goings-on.
The rhythmic ideas are Arabic and there is also psalmic vocal music sung in Hebrew and Latin by Rhiannon Llewellyn, Gareth Treseder, Kelvin Thomas and Sianed Jones.
The film itself, directed by Charles Bryant and starring the colourful Russian Alla Nazimova in the title role, is a hugely stylised but faithful version of the original, with studio production values that today would be considered primitive.
Barber and designer Chris Wicks set two musicians on tower scaffolding either side of the screen, where Ian Peniston’s lighting adds a sense of the lurid. The music is often relentless, its interludes of calm steamy and prescient.