Broken Blossoms

This has already got a mention in the comments to the post on the upcoming Lillian Gish Film Festival, but it’s well worth highlighting. It’s an extract from D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms (1919) with a radical score from Brian Traylor, which featured at the festival. The use of electronica, noise, and the absence of anything melodic might prove to be a bit of a challenge over a period of time, but I find something quite hypnotic about it in this extract form at least. Others may beg to differ?

There are two other clips posted by Traylor on YouTube:

Swirling noises represent the assorted miserable options in life available to Lillian Gish.

Look out here for the electronic growls representing Donald Crisp’s speech.

5 responses

  1. Well, well, well… nice to get the exposure. Looks like my youtube clips are blossoming across the internet. These are very crude clips I did a few months ago. The live event includes live folly and expanded cinema/sound situations that avant-garde filmmakers and musicians will be more in tune with than silent film fanatics.

  2. I’m not averse to the avant-garde myself, even alongside silent films, if it achieves the underlying objective of accompanying rather than merely using the film as an excuse. But what is live folly? It sounds like fun.

  3. Live folly would be for example if a dish dropped and a drummer hit a crash cymbal in sync with the movie. This was quite common before recorded sounds were married to a film. I guess the concern towards silent film being used as an “excuse” for an alternative score addresses the issue of using these films as a vessel to promote ones music. I see silent film as a very important step in cinematic language. The acting and editing in this film I consider fine art. I can only hope to honor the tradition of exploration of sound for film. A lot of things were being tried for the first time when these early classics were being made. I hope to continue this creative spirit by again exploring new territories. I am a huge fan of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and friends with many of its organizers. I have the up most respect for traditional compositions, especially on The Mighty Wurlitzer. I’d love to play one.

    Here is a picture of this beauty:

  4. I have seen some unfortunate “excuses” where the silent film has been used as a mere background to a musical performance, which insults both the film and the audience. However, I am not of the school that wants only ‘authentic’ piano accompaniment or grand orchestra. Silent cinema was home to all kinds of noises, as you indicate, and if the medium is to have a life beyond mere nostalgia it must be challenged by the sounds we make today. It is a mark of its status as an art form. I like what you’ve done – carry on exploring!

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