Silent days at the Barbican

Extract from Yogoto Yo Yume (1933), with Nitin Sawhney score

The Barbican has become London’s home for the silent film, and on 1 March it hosts a screening of revered Japanese director Mikio Naruse’s 1933 Yogoto Yo Yume (Nightly Dreams) with the London Symphony Orchestra playing a new score by boundary-crossing Asian-British composer Nitin Sawhney. Sawhney has already made his mark with his score for the Anglo-Indian production A Throw of Dice (Franz Osten 1929), now available on DVD from the BFI. He is certainly going for the less-obvious when it comes to picking silents to supply scores to, and bringing a new audience with him as well. More details from the Barbican site.

Her Sister from Paris (1925), from

Meanwhile the Barbican’s regular Silent Film & Live Music series held on Sunday afternoons continues as healthily as ever, and there are some real gems and rarities among the offerings between January and March. Here’s the line-up:

The Ghost Train (El tren fantasma) (PG) + live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand
16:00 / An action laden adventure from Mexico’s silent film era
24 Jan 10 / 16:00 / Cinema 1

Adolfo Mariel, a railroad engineer, is sent by his company to the town of Orizaba to investigate a series of robberies on the railway’s ‘El Ferrocarril Mexicano’ line. As he alights, he is welcomed by various officials but is smitten by the stationmaster’s daughter – only to find that another man, Paco Mendoza, has also taken a romantic interest.

As Adolfo tries to solve the railway crimes, the story unfolds as an exciting adventure laden with action sequences and remarkable camera movements – much ahead of its time for many silent films of the era. Together with breath-taking stunts, chases, and fights on the railway line as the train approaches. El tren fantasma is one of just a handful of silent Mexican films that still survive, and to cap it all, the actors performed their own stunts.

Mexico 1927 Dir. Gabriel García Moreno 71 min

Orphans of the Storm (U)
15:00 / A Celebration of Twenty Years of Photoplay Productions beginning with DW Griffith’s epic melodrama
7 Feb 10 / 15:00 / Cinema 1

Accompanied by the symphonic splendour of John Lanchbery’s epic score.

Photoplay Productions is the leading ambassador for silent film presentation in the UK, perhaps the world. We are delighted to mark its twentieth anniversary with three performances, starting with DW Griffith’s epic melodrama. Lillian and Dorothy Gish star as the eponymous orphans thrust into the maelstrom of the French Revolution.

US 1921 Dir. DW Griffith 154 min.

The Kreutzer Sonata (Kreutzerova sonáta) (PG)
16:00 / A rare adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s story, with live accompaniment by acclaimed Czech percussionist Pavel Fajt
28 Feb 10 / 16:00 / Cinema 1

This rare Czech adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s story tells the tale of a man driven to rage and revenge when he hears his pianist wife and her lover playing Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata.

Czechoslovakia 1927 Dir. Gustav Machatý 95 min.

Presented in association with the Czech Centre, London

Her Sister From Paris (PG)
16:00 / Sidney Franklin’s scintillating comedy with specially commissioned live musical accompaniment from Jane Gardner
7 Mar 10 / 16:00 / Cinema 1

As part of the Birds Eye View film festival’s ‘Blonde Crazy’ strand, we are delighted to present Sidney Franklin’s scintillating comedy starring Constance Talmadge and Ronald Colman.

Dowdy Helen turns to her glamorous twin sister Lola for help in re-igniting romance in her marriage. They trick her husband into believing Helen is Lola – he falls for it, and Helen seduces her own husband. But how far can the dupe go?!

US 1925 Dir. Sidney Franklin 70 min.

South (U)
16:00 / A tribute to Australian director Frank Hurley with live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand
21 Mar 10 / 16:00 / Cinema 1

As part of the London Australian Film Festival we present a celebration of the work of Frank Hurley – Australian filmmaker, photographer, adventurer and writer.

Hurley’s stunningly beautiful and dramatic images of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914-16 expedition to Antarctica, and the destruction of the ship Endurance, are amongst the most breathtaking ever captured on silent film, and confirm South as one of the most remarkable exploration films ever made.

UK 1919 Dir. Frank Hurley 88 min.

More details for all screenings, including ticket prices and how to book, from the Barbican site.