Scary Silents: “The Sealed Room”
It’s time for another scintillating installment of Scary Silents, kiddos! As I mentioned in my last post, today I’m going to be discussing the eleven-minute D.W. Griffith film The Sealed Room from 1909, which as you might imagine bears a slight resemblance to the Poe story “The Cask of Amontillado,” as well as the works of Honoré de Balzac. It also stars Mary Pickford in a very small, early role as a lady in waiting! If you’d like to watch along, YouTube can hook you up:
A title card informs us that the King (no, not Elvis) has constructed a dove cote for his main squeeze. I don’t see any doves, so I’m gonna assume that “dove cote” is a euphemism for “secret sex dungeon.” Significantly, the room only has one entrance. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN.
Then we see the king and his band of merry fops and sycophants, and the king gestures around the room, pointing at stuff with his cane while his posse look on, suitably attentive and impressed. When he leaves the room, there are a bunch more hangers-on out in the hall, bowing and scraping and blowing vuvuzelas at the monarch’s dandified approach. Then he calls out for his lady love, who sweeps into the room, takes his hand, and bows before him, as do her ladies-in-waiting. It’s good to be the king, I guess. Maybe the ladies can even polish his shoe buckles while they’re down there.
King’s all COME SEE WHAT I BUILT FOR YOU, MY DARLING and she’s all, AWWW, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE, and whooshes into the sex dungeon. I mean dove cote. Everyone is in the room, and it must be really awkward just to have this huge phalanx of people galumphing along behind you at all times, especially when you’re trying to show off your rubber-encased love nest to your paramour, but hey, royalty has its privileges, and I guess they get used to it. There are still workmen in the room sealing off the windows, presumably so no one can peek in and see the king’s pasty, naked buttocks straining mightily between the creamy thighs of his beloved whenever the “dove cote” is in use. They coo and smooch at each other, and you’ll notice that standing at the entrance of the room, looking right at the camera, is a mustachioed troubadour playing a ukelele and kinda rolling his eyes at the king’s PDA. You can probably guess where all this is going.
The next title card reads, “After the festivities,” and I wasn’t aware that just showing your crew the results of your weekend construction projects counted as festive, but okay. There are two guys in the sex dungeon, and then another dude comes in with a king-announcing vuvuzela, and then the king duly makes a grand entrance through the curtains, and drags his bae in behind him. He kinda waves his arms around to show everyone that the room is done, and he is like TOTALLY proud of this room, you guys, and then he tells everyone to amscray, all ME AND THE MISSUS ARE GONNA INAUGURATE THIS ROOM, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, BOW CHICKA WOW, so everyone slumps dejectedly out of the room, knowing that the king is about to climb beneath the voluminous skirts of his hot consort while they will be spending the evening alone with their scabies. The troubadour takes his sweet time leaving the room, and in a moment it becomes clear why; as soon as the king’s back is turned, the troubadour and the lady make moo eyes at each other and pass an unspoken signal between them. Oh shit, son, gonna be some infidelity up in this piece!
The king turns back around and the troubadour makes his escape without the sovereign seeming to suspect anything. He’s STILL showing that damn room off to his girl, doing a Vanna White on the curtains, all THIS IS REAL VELVET, HO, YOU BETTA RECOGNIZE, and she’s like, YEAH YEAH, PUT A SOCK IN IT AND GET LOST SO I CAN CHEAT ON YOU. They smooch for an uncomfortably long time, and then there’s an abrupt title card that says, “The king becomes suspicious.” So now you know.
Now they’re all out in the hall, and the king is macking on his girl AGAIN, and I swear she’s gonna have some chafed-ass lips after all this is said and done. The troubadour is giving them the side-eye again, and then the king tries to get his lady to come with him someplace, but she stays put, all UMMMM, I HAVE SOME SKETCHY GIRL STUFF DO DO, HONEY BUNCH, I’LL CATCH UP LATER, and he’s all, OKAY, BUT NO WHORING WHILE I’M GONE, and he loves on her some more while the troubadour furiously strums his ukelele alongside them (heh).
The king and his kinglings leave, but the ladies in waiting are still there—y’know, waiting—so the faithless hussy tells them to leave, and man, no sooner have they wandered out of the frame than the ho and the troubadour do that thing where they’re staring intensely at each other and kinda moving slowly towards each other like they’re afraid the other person is gonna disappear, and then finally THEY JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE and fall into each other’s arms like troubadour’s dick is a magnet and princess has an iron cooch.
In the midst of their kissy-face, they stop, clearly hearing something, and jump apart. And then here comes the king back into the room, looking all UH HUH, YOU THINK JUST BECAUSE I’M NOT IN THE FRAME THAT I CAN’T SEE WHAT YOU TWO ARE UP TO and princess and troubadour are all, LA LA LA, NOTHING TO SEE HERE. The troubadour even starts strumming his ukelele (heh) like he’s been innocently playing a song this whole time instead of rubbing his boner up against the monarch’s chatelaine. King isn’t really buying it, surveying the situation with his severely arched brow ridge, but princess is able to sweet-talk her way out of it. King rubs her head like she’s a good puppy, and he even makes a gesture at the troubadour, all YEAH, STRUM THAT SHIT HARDER, BRO, and everyone laughs really uncomfortably.
And then king stares daggers at the troubadour, so I guess princess didn’t talk him out of shit, and then he’s gesturing around to everyone again, seeming to tell them all to come back with him to wherever they went off to before (maybe the bear baiting was starting in the courtyard?), but then a guy runs in and bows before the king and tells him something that seems pretty urgent (the bear escaped and started eating the gathered peasants?), and everyone’s raising their arms in panic and running out of the room. The king tries to drag princess out with him, but she’s all NOPE, GOTTA PEE, I’LL MEET YOU THERE and he’s all YEAH, YEAH, OKAY, I’M GOING, SOMETHING SOMETHING CUCKOLD and princess is all FUCK YEAH, GO OUT THERE AND CATCH THAT BEAR, MY HUNK OF KINGLY MAN-MEAT, I TOTALLY SWEAR I’M NOT GONNA BE RIDING THIS MOUSTACHE THE SECOND YOU LEAVE and as soon as the room is empty, she’s all over the troubadour like white on rice, you guys, flinging her clothes asunder, tearing his pantaloons savagely off him in her eagerness to get her mouth on that pulsing, glistening…oh wait, sorry, none of that happens, she just hugs him and drapes a garland of flowers around his neck. They didn’t know how to sex yet in 1909.
Princess indulges in some light BDSM as she uses the flower garland to drag the troubadour toward the “dove cote” that the king had built to hump her in, because princess is a shameless slattern. Once they’re in the room, princess is all CHECK IT OUT, NO WINDOWS SO NO ONE WILL SEE ALL THE FILTHY THINGS I AM ABOUT TO INFLICT ON YOUR BODY and then they fall upon each other like rabid wolverines, filling every heaving orifice with their…oh, sorry, that’s actually not what happens, really the princess just sits in a chair and the troubadour puts his head in her lap and plays his ukelele (heh) while she pulls off flower petals and drops them on him one by one as they laugh and laugh. Quaint.
Predictably, while the lovers are canoodling, the king returns from his random errand (bear mischief managed, I guess) and notices that neither princess nor troubadour are standing in the spots in the hallway where he left them. He looks around like he’s afraid he just misplaced them like they were his Hot Wheels cars, then he sees the troubadour’s ukelele left on the hall table, which is weird because the troubadour also has a ukelele in the dove cote/sex dungeon, so I guess he keeps a ukelele in every single room of the castle, just in case he needs to do some troubadouring at a moment’s notice. If you’d like, you may read this paragraph again, but every time you read “ukelele,” think “peen.” You’re welcome.
The king makes some side-eye toward the sex dungeon, and points at it and curls his hand in rage, even though he is alone in the hall. I’LL GET YOU, MY PRETTY, AND YOUR LITTLE BIG-UKELELE’D MUSICIAN, TOO, he seems to say. He sashays over in his fetching stockings and high heels and peeks through the curtains, only to witness the taut, quivering nipples of his lady love as the troubadour thrusts violently into her…oh, my mistake, he actually just sees the princess sitting there stroking the troubadour’s hair. Scandalous.
Apparently the king once had his hair stroked by Hitler and has never gotten over it, because the sight throws him into a full-on psychosis, clawing at the air with his hands, pushing furniture out of the way, and raising his cane like he’s gonna burst through the curtains like Kool-Aid man and beat the snot out of the cheating little creeps. BUT NO. He stops himself, because he has a much BETTER idea. Mwahahahahahaha!
Princess and troubadour are STILL dropping flower petals on each other and giggling, and like, you’d think they’d have at least got to first base by now, though I guess I respect their commitment to really lengthy, completely non-sexual foreplay. Meanwhile, the king brings in some dudes wearing pregnancy smocks and gestures for them to be SUPER QUIET while they, y’know, TOTALLY WALL UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE SEX DUNGEON. The sex dungeon whose sole entrance was only covered with a curtain, which is presumably not a fancy quilted soundproof curtain, but whatever.
The funniest thing about this is that the ENTIRE time the king’s henchmen are VERY SILENTLY building a wall a couple of yards away, the princess and the troubadour are just sitting there with the flower petals and the ukelele (ohhhh, I get it). They’re no nakeder than they were before, and the troubadour is probably getting blue balls, because he’s wearing an expression like HEY, BABY, WHATCHA DOING UP THERE, GONNA SHOW ME SOME TITTIES OR…? OH, NO, MORE FLOWER PETALS. K. She at least kisses him on the actual mouth, which is coincidentally the same moment that the king pokes his head through the top of the curtain for an illicit peek. So, so hot. Afterwards, princess leans back in her chair like she’s totally spent. Dropping flower petals will really take it out of a girl.
The king’s pregnant-man work crew have meanwhile finished bricking in the whores, so the king sends them away so he can have a private moment to gloat and taunt the wall and the still-clueless pair behind it. Inside, the princess lifts up an hourglass, showing that their allotted time is up, and I have a couple questions. Does the troubadour have to pay her now? Exactly how long were these two in that room playing with petals? Because king built a whole fucking wall outside without them noticing. And now they’re walled in and they didn’t even get laid, even though they had ample time for some P in V action if they had just got stuck in rather than being all courtly love about it. But I guess their relationship works for them, because they get up to leave the room, and troubadour doesn’t look at all like his throbbing stiffy is preventing him from walking straight.
They reach through the curtains and are all like FUNNY, WE DON’T REMEMBER WALKING THROUGH SOLID STONE TO COME IN HERE, and realization dawns pretty quickly what has happened. That’s right, princess, you’ve been BATHORY’D!
Outside in the hall, the king is beating on the wall with his cane and laughing like a lunatic, all HOW YOU LIKE MY STONES MOTHERFUCKERS, and princess and her side piece are all OHHHHHH SHIT. Troubadour flips the fuck out and starts beating on the walls and tearing at the curtains while the princess stands there all wigged out and useless. King knocks on the wall outside and smiles wickedly, taunting them a second time. Inside, the troubadour is pointing accusingly at the princess, because of course all this is her fault because she is an evil temptress who hypnotized him with her magic pussy and made him do things he wouldn’t do otherwise BECAUSE HE IS A BLAMELESS MAN, GODDAMMIT. She’s all TAKES TWO TO TANGO, BRAH, and really, is this how they should be spending their last few moments on earth? With this petty bickering over blame? Just accept your fates and squeeze in one last hump before you die. YOLO.
In a hilarious turn of events, the troubadour realizes he is running out of air less than two minutes after the room was sealed off, even though there should be at least enough air in there for a couple of days. Maybe he had his lungs removed and replaced with patented Electrolux Super Suction Lungs (TM). At any rate, the philandering shitheels gasp and tear at their clothing (finally!) and chew some scenery as they slowly and histrionically expire upon the floor.
Troubadour makes a valiant effort to fan the princess with his ukelele (saucy!), as though he’s trying to conjure more air out of…um…thin air, but it’s all to no avail. Their extracurricular snuggling comes to an ignominious end. The king cackles at the wall, all ROT IN HELL, SKANK AND UKELELE-STRUMMER, and now I’m left wondering who’s gonna have to tear down that wall so they can hose out the sex dungeon so the king can presumably bang some of the ladies in waiting in there later, but unfortunately the movie ends and leaves me hanging. I feel like I’ve just been showered with flower petals, if you catch my meaning.
Anyway, I’m gonna go take care of things, so you guys just talk amongst yourselves for a while. And until next time, keep it creepy, my friends. Goddess out.