Live Music Cinema: Sonic Silents (1916)

5pm Sunday 17 March 2019, Pavilion

Year: 1916
Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Director: Frank Borzage
Genre: Western, Drama, Silent, Live Music
Cert: PG

‘SONIC SILENTS’ – Two short, silent, westerns from the very early days of Hollywood, accompanied by live American country music on fiddle, banjo, guitar, dobro and percussion.

In an absorbing and poignant glimpse of a bygone time, two 100-year-old short films are brought to life through live performance of an original score. A trio of exemplary old-time country and bluegrass musicians performs provides their exciting live accompaniment based on original composition and arrangements of traditional material. The films evoke a world of hobos, travelling men, cowboys, and adventurous women, and the moral and practical dilemmas to which their precarious lives lead them.

Frank Borzage, though little known, is one of the most distinctive of the early Hollywood directors, and one of the first to win an Oscar for Best Director. He began his career as an actor, and his films, which he began directing in 1915, draw the audience into a lushly romantic world, by turns lively, humourous, and melancholy.

Borzage’s directorial debut, The Pitch o Chance, and The Pilgrim are presented with musical accompaniment, along with short sets of music and story which set the scene for the films. The show, which lasts about 120 minutes, (including a short interval) and is wonderfully immersive as well as revealing of some of the creative forces that shaped the film-making industry.

The new live score is composed Kate Lissauer, who also leads the trio of master musicians accompanying these extraordinary films on a variety of stringed instruments and percussion.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Providing a musical accompaniment to the three films, luminary of American old-time country music Kate Lissauer, champion fiddler and band-leader of Buffalo Gals bluegrass band, is joined by multi-talented Leon Hunt, widely regarded as the best 5-string banjo player in the country today and Jason Titley, not only one of the UK’s finest Bluegrass guitarists but renowned for his improvisational and percussive skills. Together they provide a live performance of Kate’s score forthe films, combining original composition and arrangements of traditional material.

Sonic Silents has appeared at Bath Film Festival, and for Arts Alive and Live & Local Rural Touring Schemes.

Tickets: £10

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Shiraz: A Romance of India (1928)

5pm, Saturday 17 March 2018, Opera House

Year: 1928

Running Time: 1h 45 mins
Director: Franz Osten
Starring: Himansu Rai, Enakshi Rama Rau, Charu Roy
Language: Silent
Cert: U

Based on the romance between 17th-century Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and his queen, this epic silent film is the ravishing, romantic tale behind the creation of one of the world’s most iconic structures: the Taj Mahal.

Shot entirely on location in India, it features lavish costumes and gorgeous settings.

Produced by and starring Indian film legend Himansu Rai, the film is performed by an all-Indian cast, featuring Rai as humble potter Shiraz, who follows his childhood sweetheart Selima when she’s sold by slave traders to the future emperor.

We’re pleased to present this beautiful new restoration by the BFI National Archive which features a specially commissioned score by the Grammy Award-winning composer Anoushka Shankar.

Tickets £5

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The Phantom of the Opera

4pm, Saturday 4 February, Opera House

Year: 1925
Running Time: 80 mins
Director: Rupert Julian
Starring: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry
Cert: PG
The Phantom of the Opera 

Beneath the sewers of the Paris Opera House dwells a masked figure. He is the Phantom, a hideously disfigured composer whose dream is to turn chorus singer Christine into a diva. Lon Chaney, the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, dominates this classic adaptation of the 1910 novel. His ghastly make-up and outrageous performance made this one of the great classics of American silent film.

Film critic Roger Ebert said in 2004 that “it has always been a question whether The Phantom of the Opera is a great film, or only a great spectacle.” Either way, to see this film in 1925 was a truly shocking experience. Fast-moving and exciting, the film is a dramatic tale of obsession, kidnap, murder and revenge, beautifully tinted throughout and featuring an impressive sequence of early Technicolor as the Phantom appears at a Masked Ball.

This is the original film version of Phantom which inspired numerous remakes. It was a critical and commercial success upon release, as these press quotes from the time contest: an “ultra fantastic melodrama” (New York Times); “produced on a stupendous scale” (Moving Picture World); “probably the greatest inducement to nightmare that has yet been screened” (Variety)

Minima have specialised in live accompaniment to screenings of silent films since 2006. Their electrifying new score for The Phantom of the Opera captures the horror of the story, but also finds pathos, romance and humour. Drums, bass, guitar and cello strike up a thrilling relationship with the film, following the Phantom down into his subterranean nightmare world.

“Minima are one of the leading bands accompanying silent film in Europe.” (Robert Rider, Head of Cinema, the Barbican Centre)

“Minima’s spine-tingling music clung to each twist of the movie… spellbinding accompaniment.” (The Guardian)

“A superbly sinister live score by the soundtrack group Minima.” (Financial Times)

 

  • Buy one adult ticket and get a free child ticket (under 16 yrs).

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Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

3pm, Sunday 5 February, Baronial Hall

Year: 1927  Running Time: 94 mins
Director: FW Murnau
Starring: Janet Gaynor, George O’Brien, Margaret Livingston
Cert: U

Awards 1st Academy Awards (1927/8)

  • Best Actress – Janet Gaynor
  • Cinematography – Charles Rosher and Karl Struss
  • Unique and Artistic Picture

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

sunrise_poster“This song of the man and his wife is of no-place and everyplace: you might hear it anywhere at anytime. For wherever the sun rises and sets…in the city’s turmoil or under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same, sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet.”

So begins F.W. Murnau’s astonishing film.

This is a moving simple story of a husband’s betrayal of his wife with a seductive city girl. Labelled simply ‘The Man’ (George O Brien) and ‘The Wife’ (Janet Gaynor) the protagonists embark on an adventure of temptation, reconciliation, reconsecration and redemption, told with a lyrical simplicity of timelessness and universality.

Made with an unlimited budget, the amazing cinematography captures both idyllic rural settings and the bustling modern city with pioneering camera work. Sunrise is silent film at its most poetic. it uses an amazing array of cinematic touches, with a plot that keeps the audience transfixed.

Wurlitza will provide live accompaniment, adding music that will be both familiar and unfamiliar, from Bach and Villa Lobas to Talking Heads, Echo and the Bunnymen, Madness and the Vapors, as well as some of their own. This is a truly unique and memorable experience, and great for all ages.

Take a look at the Facebook event.

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Sunrise trailer

Modern Times (1936)

Date: Sunday 24 January
Venue: Baronial Hall
Time: 3:30pm

Tickets: £5

Modern Times

Year: 1936  Running Time: 87
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
Cert: U
Genre: Comedy

Over 100 years since his most famous character The Little Tramp appeared on screen and 112 years since Charlie Chaplin appeared on stage at the Winter Gardens,  we are screening his classic comedy Modern Times.

Featuring several of the most celebrated sequences in comic cinema and a musical score written by Chaplin himself, this is a cutting satire of the Great Depression and the dehumanising effects of industrial development.

Paulette Goddard stars as The Gamin who joins the Little Tramp in escaping from the big city. Feel like escaping modern life?  This film is as engaging today as 80 years ago.

Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

Date: Saturday 23 January
Venue: Opera House
Time: 5pm

Tickets: £5

Man with a Movie Camera

Year: 1929  Running Time: 68
Director: Dziga Vertov
Cert: U
Genre: Documentary

The best-known work of experimental documentary pioneer Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera is one the most influential films in cinema history. A poetic vision of urban life in 1920s Russia, Vertov’s extraordinary montage presents a bustling city at work and at play – a high-octane metropolis invigorated by an increasingly industrialised economy. Narrative-free and stripped of many of the conventions of silent cinema, the film exhibits a technical confidence that belies the fact that it was the director’s first feature. With its stunning range of camera angles and imaginative use of cinematic tricks (including dissolves, split screen, slow motion and freeze-frames), Vertov’s ‘mechanical eye’ takes centre-stage, his images ingeniously edited together to present an exhilarating ode to Bolshevik Russia.

We are pleased to present this screening with a live accompaniment on the world-famous Opera House Mighty Wurlitzer organ.