25 February 2007 Arnolfini
At the time when Japanese cinema seemed to be dominated by theatrical acting convention and the bravura acting often associated with the silent screen, Kinugasa and his film crew produced a film which bears comparison with the very best of 1920s European avant garde.
Its exploration of dreams and madness was a thematic trait it shared with the contempory avant-garde almost anywhere. Kinugasa utilises an incredible battery of experimental formal devices in order to present the world through the eyes of his disturbed characters to make the spectator experience the world through their eyes.
This screening was accompanied by a live performance from Left Hand Right Hand with a new specially composed score.
12 May 2007 Watershed
Based on stories from 1001 Arabian Nights, this 1926 silent silhouette animation is the oldest known surviving feature-length animation. When a wicked sorcerer tricks Achmed into riding a magical flying horse, the heroic Prince subdues the beast and together they fly off to many adventures. Following the screening, there will be a chance to create a cast of shadow puppets and devise and perform a shadow play.
20 May 2007 Arnolfini
Dir. Franz Osten & Himansu Rai India/Germany 1925 1hr 37mins
Live music from Birdman of Alkijazz: With Special Guest Ray Russell
This season’s improvisational jazz battle sees the Birdman of Alkijazz (musician Tony Orrell) get spiritual with one of the finest jazz guitarists Britain has ever produced, Ray Russell, who has worked with musicians such as Bryan Ferry, Van Morrison and the John Barry Seven, as well as composed the award-winning theme for A Touch of Frost.
The fearsome duo will be performing a live accompaniment to early silent masterpiece Light of Asia which tells the compelling life story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama,- the man who became the Buddha – from his privileged life to his spiritual riches and enlightenment. With an opulence and cast of thousands only possible through the involvement of the then still powerful Maharajah of Jaipur, this is a landmark film, which reveals the romantic appeal of Indian mysticism to many Europeans in the 1920s.
This was a Festival of Ideas event.
29 June 2007 South Hill Park
Scene and Heard: Discover the art of live music with silent film
A new season of events exploring the art of live music with silent film, comes to South Hill Park this spring.
Bristol Silents member Jamie Harber has put together an excellent season of silent films and events during April to June 2007.
Film Fantasia is the final event in the programme. Pianist John Lenehan returns to South Hill Park with his Film Fantasia on Friday 29th June. John’s fascination with the relationship between film and music has led him to work with silent films in concert for more than twenty years. He has also worked with many of today’s foremost film composers including John Williams, Michael Nyman, Elmer Bernstein and Howard Shore.
The programme for Film Fantasia collects together a wide variety of piano music all with film accompaniments, ranging from cartoons (including one of the very first) to
abstract representations (similar to Walt Disney’s Fantasia) to straightforward storytelling as in the charming films based on Carmen and The Magic flute.
30 June 2007
Location: St Francis Church, Nailsea
This is a rare chance to see this early film version of the life and resurrection of Christ that we will be screening at the St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Nailsea.
Starring H B Warner as Christ The King Of Kings (1927) is justly considered a silent classic, a blockbuster featuring a cast of thousands and spectacular visual effects.
With its original early Technicolor scenes now restored this is a unique opportunity to see the film in a beautiful setting and accompanied live by the internationally renowned silent film pianist Stephen Horne.
Introduced by TV and radio presenter Chris Serle.
15 September 2007 Colston Hall
Dir: G. W. Pabst Ger 1928 2hrs 12mins
Watershed and Bristol Silents, in collaboration with our friends at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, present the world premiere performance of a brand new, specially commissioned score for the film classic Pandora’s Box as part of Watershed’s 25th Anniversary celebrations. Renowned composer Paul Lewis has created the new score which will be performed by 25 members of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Paul himself.
Pandora¹s Box starring the legendary Louise Brooks is one of the greatest films from the silent era and this very special, restored print has been made available courtesy of the British Film Institute.
13 October 2007 Victoria Rooms
A new music score by composer Jean Hasse
to accompany screenings of the magnificent 1926 silent film, FAUST (Dir. F.W. Murnau, 106 minutes).
Performers: The 20-piece South West Ensemble (COMA South West and Bristol-based players), John Traill, conductor.
The film: Masters of Cinema Series/Eureka, original German domestic version. Director: F.W. Murnau, Script: Hans Kyser, Cinematography: Carl Hoffmann.
Starring: Gösta Ekman (Faust), Emil Jannings (Mephisto), Camilla Horn (Gretchen) and Yvette Guilbert (Marthe).
The Faust script is based on the German legend and the dramas of Christopher Marlowe and Goethe. Murnau interprets the story with fantastical scenery and effects, and remarkable contrasts in lighting, wind, fire and smoke. The superb international cast is riveting.
The new score: The commission comes from Bristol Silents and COMA South West. Jean Hasse has composed an extensive score that mirrors the film’s emotions and key events in the story line, reflecting the film’s rich, emotional depth. The performances will also include several sections of improvisation, in the tradition of live music with silent film.
The composer: Jean Hasse is a Bristol-based American composer, performer, music editor and publisher. A teacher of Composition at the University of Bristol, her pieces have been heard in major concert halls and at festivals around the world.
She also composes for films, videos and websites. In 2001-02 the media latched on to her short original ring tone melodies for mobile phones and a three-minute piece for ten phones. Somewhat parallel to this are her 60 short Pocket Pieces for piano solo, so the 106-minute FAUST score takes her composing to a nearly-opposite extreme.
The conductor: John Traill, principal conductor of the City of Southampton Orchestra and the Ensemble Isis, is Director and Lecturer in Music at St Anne’s and St Catherine’s Colleges, Oxford University. Hailed as ‘one of the most promising conductors of his generation’, John has performed with many leading orchestras in the UK, Europe and America, including the London Mozart Players and Orchestra of Opera North. He has won major prizes at the Vakhtang Jordania International Conducting Competitions, the 8th Leeds Conductors’ Competition, and holds a DPhil (Oxon.).
COMA South West: An active branch of Contemporary Music-Making for Amateurs, COMA South West are an enthusiastic and experienced group who rehearse and perform regularly. In the past two years they have accompanied a number of silent films as improvising performers, bringing the films to life with great
20 October 2007 Colston Hall, Bristol
This is a unique gala fundraising event to raise funds for Bristol Silents annual comedy festival SLAPSTICK.
Paul Merton will be accompanied by Bonzo Dog front man and Rutle Neil Innes, silent cinema maestro and pianist Neil Brand. Other Celebrity chums will be confirmed along with London Comedy Store regulars guaranteeing a hilarious evening of improvisational comedy and music.
Utilising the same format that made Whose Line Is It Anyway? such a success, Paul Merton & Co. take suggestions from the audience to create hilarious comedic scenarios.
A night of fabulous never to be repeated comedy to raise funds for Bristol’s Slapstick silent comedy festival. Don’t Miss it!
28 October 2007 Watershed
Bristol Silents presents Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi classic Metropolis in a restored BFI print.
Even after eighty years this classic film is still visually stunning and is considered by many to be the original template for modern science fiction. Metropolis follows the beautiful Maria as she fights to bring harmony to her city in which society is sharply divided into the elite, living in luxury and the underclass toiling away in a vast subterranean workshop.
Perhaps even more relevant today than on it’s release this films timeless imagery and rich storytelling still leaves the viewer with the feeling of having seen a true masterpiece of cinema.
Presented here with a live accompaniment on keyboards from the now legendary film accompanist and friend of Bristol SilentsMr Neil Brand.
25 November St George’s Bristol
Starring Betty Bronson and Anna May Wong this screen version is justly considered a silent classic, set off perfectly by the ethereal music of the harp.
Before he became widely known for Goldfrapp, Will Gregory teamed up with Tony Orrell (aka Birdman of Alkijazz) to form the experimental duo Gas Giants. Together, they were frequently commissioned to create and perform live soundtracks to silent films. “One of these”, Will says, “was He Who Gets Slapped – a 90 minute vehicle for Lon Chaney. It soon became clear that this was something we had always hoped to find, namely an overlooked masterpiece.”
He Who gets Slapped was the first feature made by MGM; a Hollywood take on a Russian play made by the legendary Swedish actor/director Victor Sjöström and starring one of silent cinema’s greatest stars, Lon Chaney (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera) who regarded this role – of “He”, the clown who receives 200 slaps a day – as his best.
Will Gregory says:
“I think this ranks as one of the great cinematic performances in the history of film. Chaney himself regarded it as his greatest role and whenever he is on screen he exudes such presence and charisma that it is easy to understand why he was the most celebrated screen actor of his day.”
Andrew Connolly, General Manager, BBC Concert Orchestra says:
“When our Principal Guest Conductor Charles Hazlewood suggested bringing together Goldfrapp member & composer Will Gregory, the BBC Concert Orchestra, jazz musicians and a 1924 silent movie – I instantly agreed. Hearing Will’s freshly minted score performed by the full orchestra and soloists in synch with the 83 year old film will be an extraordinary audio-visual event – and not to be missed.”
He Who Gets Slapped will be screened to the live accompaniment of an original score by Will Gregory on 1 December at the Colston Hall in Bristol and on 3 December at the QEH on London’s South Bank.