The music of light


Kevin Brownlow and Abel Gance

Over 23-24 May, as part of the Bristol Ideas Festival, Bristol Silents is organising a special weekend event, ‘The Music of Light’: Abel Gance and Kevin Brownlow. Here are the programme details:

‘The Music of Light’: Abel Gance and Kevin Brownlow

In partnership with Bristol Silents

Special weekend ticket price for all events: £24.00 / £18.00 concs and Bristol Silents members

Bristol Festival of Ideas pays tribute to one of the greatest filmmakers and one of the best film historians. Film historian, Kevin Brownlow, and French pioneer filmmaker, Abel Gance, shared a passion for cinema when they met at the National Film Theatre in 1951. Brownlow was just a 13-year old school boy but the two forged a friendship and creative alliance that lasted until Gance’s death in 1981. Gance regarded film as ‘the Music of Light’. He is best remembered for his masterpiece epic from the silent era, Napoleon (1927). Brownlow painstakingly restored the film over two decades, and the response to its exhibition in the 1970s and 1980s initiated a complete re-evaluation of Gance’s role in cinema history.

Inspired by Gance, Brownlow spent ten years making his first feature It Happened Here with school friend Andrew Mollo. Kevin went on to become one of the foremost experts in silent cinema as a prolific writer, documentary filmmaker and film historian. His written works include the seminal The Parade’s Gone By (1968) and David Lean: a Biography (1991). In this brief season we celebrate the work of two passionate visionary filmmakers, exploring their relationship and inspirations and, most importantly, their films. Musical accompaniment is provided on the piano by Neil Brand, widely considered to be one of the finest exponents of silent film, and on violin by Guenter Buchwald.

Abel Gance: Music of Light
With Kevin Brownlow, Andrew Kelly, Paul McGann
and David Robinson
23 May 2009 11.00-12.30
Price: £6.00 / £4.50 concs and Bristol Silents members
Featuring extracts from his rarest work through to Napoleon, Kevin Brownlow, film historians David Robinson and Andrew Kelly, and actor Paul McGann explore Gance’s formidable, often underrated contribution to cinema.

It Happened Here (PG)
Dirs. Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo 1964
23 May 2009, 13.30-15.05
Price: £6.00 / £4.50 concs and Bristol Silents members
The story of what might have happened had Britain been occupied during World War II.

Winstanley (PG)
Dir. Kevin Brownlow 1975
95m with introduction from Kevin Brownlow
23 May 2009, 15.20-17.00
Price: £6.00 / £4.50 concs and Bristol Silents members
The forgotten story of Winstanley and the Diggers, a Christian Communist settlement, set just after the Civil War and filmed close to the actual locations.

La Roue (PG)
Dir. Abel Gance 1922
270m with introduction from Kevin Brownlow
24 May 2009, 13.00-18.00
(with interval)
Price: £10.00 / £8.00 concs and Bristol Silents members
Filmmaker Jean Cocteau said ‘There is cinema before and after La Roue as there is painting before and after Picasso’. Long considered a cinematic masterpiece, La Roue has been unavailable for 87 years. An epic of the railways, shot among the marshalling yards (the Black Symphony) and the mountains (the White Symphony), La Roue is a powerful drama of life among the railroad workers, rich in psychological characterisation and symbolic imagery.

Details, as always, from the Bristol Silents website or from the Ideas Festival.

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