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The silent treatment

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    The silent treatment

    Take something to hide behind. Probably the creepiest creature in cinematic history.


      The silent treatment

      Haha, hadn't realised my mate's silent film nights were held at the same venue you were all already talking about (not being able to attend anyway, I hadn't bothered clicking MsD's link).


        The silent treatment

        MsD wrote: The pianist who played for Metropolis is doing Nosferatu at the same venue in July!

        I would really recommend this to Londoners.
        I went to this on Thursday and owe MsD a thank you for the original tip off.

        The piano score was excellent and modern sounding in a Mertens/Nyman sort of way, which worked really well with the film, accentuating the artiness. The microscope sequences felt very Greenaway-ish.

        The film was shown in two halves, with an interval. There was some giggling in the first half: partly, I think, as people got accustomed to the silent era performances and partly because captions like 'Your wife has a lovely neck' are quite funny at this remove. Would they have seemed so at the time?

        In the second half this tailed off and the audience seemed to be genuinely caught up in the film. The score supported the sense of inexorable momentum. I hadn't seen the Murnau original before, but a lot was recognisable from stills, the Herzog remake and Shadow Of The Vampire. Despite the reference overload, the drama still held its own. The elongated shadow on the stairs is almost blink-and-miss within the whole.

        All in all, an excellent evening and I'll keep an eye out for the same pianist/composer's Nosferatu.


          The silent treatment

          Glad you enjoyed it.

          Yes, on the Wednesday there was laughter in the first half, and not the second. I nearly shed a tear, it was very moving.

          Do you mean the same pianist's Metropolis?

          My only beef with Wiltons is that the chairs are too close together.


            The silent treatment

            Ah, yes - Metropolis.

            It wouldn't be a great endorsement not to have noticed which film was playing.

            I had an end of row seat next to one of the spiral pillars. Not sure if I could have managed the whole film there but luckily there were empty seats on the row in front to escape into.


              The silent treatment

              Dmytro Morykit is back at Wilton's Music Hall with Metropolis in August. It's a long way ahead but his last few times there have been deservedly well sold. After seeing Nosferatu last year, I'm really looking forward to it.


                I'm going to see Fritz Lang's Dr Mabuse The Gambler at the BFI on Sunday. It's four and a half hours long, to be shown with an interval. Wish me luck.


                  As some of you may remember, I teach film studies. Over the years the hostility of students to silent films has become clearer and clearer. There are even some who (try to) refuse to engage with anything in black and white...

                  Having tried to pair Caligari with Edward Scissorhands and still failed, we were obliged to give up on screening anything silent in the Intro module. Instead I force feed them Lumieres, Melies, Eisenstein, early Renoir and other treats as illustrative clips in the lectures.

                  Durham Uni screened October with live piano accompaniment at the Tyneside Cinema recently, which was great.


                    How does the hostility manifest itself?


                      I suppose I'm lucky - in the 'silent music with score' sense - in that I have been a fan of a band called In The Nursery since the early 80s. They always had an 'orchestral' sound and a cinematic tendency, so it was inevitable that they would start doing real soundtracks eventually. Although their first one - 'An Ambush Of Ghosts' - was contemporary, they've since established themselves as scorers of silent films's just that everyone else who has tried it seems to have done so with more publicity! Thus, ITN remain relatively unknown.

                      To date, they have created scores for...

                      'The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari' *
                      'Man With A Movie Camera' *
                      'Hindle Wakes' *
                      'The Passion Of Joan Of Arc' *
                      'A Page Of Madness' *
                      'The Fall Of The House Of Usher'
                      '12 Angry Men' **

                      ...and they were also responsible for the musical accompaniment for the 'Electric Edwardians' * (Mitchell & Kenyon) documentary.

                      * - I've been lucky enough to see these performed live, in various locations. The most remarkable experience was probably '...Joan Of Arc' in Sheffield Cathedral. Not comfortable, but intense.

                      ** - Not silent, I know. They performed this in a courtroom in Sheffield Crown Court.


                        City Lights moves me greatly.


                          Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
                          How does the hostility manifest itself?
                          I was immediately intrigued by this too, FIGS. Do they refuse to look at the screen, heckle, turn their backs? Storm out? Refuse even to turn up if they know something silent is coming? I'm genuinely fascinated, and rather appalled.


                            Over here it would generally be through students' course evaluations. I imagine there's something similar in the UK, but maybe other methods too.


                              'All of the above' really. Attendance at screenings plummets; 'disruptive behaviour' increases (staff don't attend the screenings, but the serious students complained that it became difficult to concentrate); handfuls show up at the classes on the silent film and feedback would have very few negatives on the whole, but always the silent film would be mentioned as a negative. Meat and drink to a 'student experience' supremo looking to move up the ladder.

                              I'd have been happy to tough it out but after £9k fees a culture developed from our bosses of 'customer service' responses to feedback (posters saying 'You said:.../We Did:...') and my response every year of 'It's a great module, we will do it again next year' became a bone of contention, so 'the students are resistant to silent film; I am reluctantly removing it' went into the module report two years ago.


                                To be honest, even the good students nowadays are fanboys and girls rather than having a general, broad cinephilia. The scfi-fi tv module is oversubscribed, my European Cinema doesn't run any more. Mind, if I'd had the chance to do Star Trek on my degree, I'd have jumped at it.


                                  That's very depressing. As it happens AdeC jr is taking a film studies elective as part of his degree. It's 100 level, fully subscribed, and I think he expected a fairly comfortable time. It's turned out to be the most challenging course he's taken. His grounding in film is pretty good. He's used to silents as his digital arts diploma led him through Méliès, Winsor McCay, early Fleischer et al. He also has no problem with b&w as I had him watching Citizen Kane, Psycho etc. with me when he was thirteen. What he didn't expect was how rigorously academic the course is. He was required to prepare an annotated bibliography in advance of his term paper which represented 20% of the total mark, never having done one before, or seen any examples, he got an F as, I suspect, did others in the class. It was a bit of a rude awakening.


                                    Dmytro Morykit, the pianist mentioned upthread, is bringing his live accompaniment to Metropolis to the Royal Albert Hall in October. It's quite a jump up from Wilton's Music Hall and the local arts venues that he usually plays at. I hope it's a roaring success, having thoroughly enjoyed both his Metropolis and Nosferatu shows when I saw them.


                                      Birth of a Nation (appalling subject matter but brilliant cinema)
                                      Also the Mack Sennett/Laurel and Hardy/Keaton shorts (Chaplin was to sentimental for me)


                                        As soon as I clocked this thread via its recent posts I sat my six year old son in front of Safety Last and I'm pleased to say he was completely gripped. The General next, I think.


                                          The last scene of City Lights is the most beautiful and moving experience I have had with cinema. It couldn't work with sound; it's really a work of art using mime, using the face and full body in just a sublimely expressive way that communicates deeply.

                                          Maybe if we think of the end of The Searchers as a silent piece, that's the closest I can think of to a similar visual experience where the characters tell a story just through looks, actions and gestures.

                                          Fritz Lang's 'M' has long stretches with no dialogue which are just great. IIRC the haunting scene where the child is abducted has little or no dialogue, just a balloon floating away. The scene where the child dies in Frankenstein has a similar chilling effect with no requirement of dialogue, whereas in the modern era you'd have the obligatory scene of the mother looking around and noticing she's gone.

                                          Laurel and Hardy talkies still have long stretches of no dialogue, as does the mirror scene in Duck Soup.
                                          Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 23-05-2018, 23:46.


                                            I show my middle school students the best bits of Safety Last, the Buster Keaton short Cops and a decent chunk of Modern Times. A Trip To The Moon and The Great Train Robbery are classics and groundbreaking, but they bore the little dears to tears. They love Keaton and Chaplin.