Miriam Hansen RIP

News has come through of the death of Professor Miriam Hansen (1949-2011) of the University of Chicago. Hansen was one of the outstanding scholars investigating the silent film period, whose book Babel & Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (1991) bids fair to be the most influential and most cited work in the field. Hansen’s subject was spectatorship and the public sphere: she investigated early film in pursuit of that mysterious point at which film becomes aware of its viewers. Her book introduces the challenge involved by reference to the Corbett-Fitzimmons boxing film of 1897 and Rudolph Valentino in The Son of the Sheik three decades later. Both had strong appeal for women audiences, but while the latter consciously anticipated the gaze of a female spectator, the former only encouraged such viewers by accident. At what point did the change come?

When, how, and to what effect does the cinema conceive of the spectator as a textual term, as the hypothetical point of address of filmic discourse? And once such strategies have been codified, what happens to the viewer as a member of a plural, social audience?

These questions go to the heart of what makes early cinema such a fascinating subject, because in attempting to answer them we see how central cinema was to a change in consciousness – specificially change in the balance between what scholars like to refer to as the private and the public sphere.

Illustration by Wladyslaw T. Benda that accompanies an article by Mary Heaton Vorse, ‘Some Moving Picture Audiences’, Outlook, 24 June 1911

Miriam Hansen was a great deal more than a one-book woman. Her first book was on Ezra Pound, and she wrote variously on German, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese cinema, on popular culture, film theory, and social theorists such as Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno and Jürgen Habermas. However it was Babel and Babylon that established her huge reputation, and it has to be the academic dream, to write the one book that changes the way people think.

It’s not a book for the general film enthusiast; indeed there has been many a general enthusiast who has been quite alarmed by it. But read it closely and you’ll find a book of great humanity underneath the dense argument. Hansen’s great achievement was to take the subject of spectatorship, and to show that behind that abstract notion of an idealised viewer, seemingly at the mercy of the ideological predilections of the cinema, there were far more complex forces at work. She showed how important it was to have an understanding of the social history of the early cinema period, allowing for a richer, more various understanding characterised by gender, class, ethnicity and locality. It was her great knowledge of early American cinema in all its forms that made her work so persuasive, and so lasting. She has died too young, and the loss felt will be great. But her ideas have helped ensure that early cinema remains a vital subject for intellectual discovery for many years to come.

The Bioscope on Vimeo

Posting on the modern silent Momentos a few days ago made me think that it was high time there was a Vimeo channel on the Bioscope. There is already a Bioscope YouTube channel, where every YouTube video which features on this blog is gathered together in one handy section, accessible via link on the right-hand column (under Other Bioscope Sites). But though we have been posting videos from Vimeo for some while, there hasn’t been a channel to bring them all together.

Well now there is, and if you look under Other Bioscope Sites you will now see The Bioscope on Vimeo. The link will take you to every Vimeo we’ve featured so far: modern silents, documentaries, pastiches, mashups etc; and as each new Vimeo is added here it will go on the channel. Vimeo, if you don’t know, is YouTube with class. It is the favourite site of up-and-coming filmmakers (film school graduates and the like), who use the site to test of ideas, and as a showcase for work which normally would only get seen on the festival circuit. Comments and likes tend to strees technical and aesthetic achievement, and generally the quality is very high. Moreover, there is a significant body of work within the silent film genre, in its broadest sense.

To celebrate our new channel, I’ve posted some videos to demonstrate the range that exists. At the top of the post we have Michael Fisher’s To a Flame, a visually striking example of an historical subject treated in a modern silent style.

A different approach to silents is taken by Chandler McWilliams for Silent, which the filmmaker describes thus:

Silent is a two minute video created by combining frames from five classic silent films: Metropolis, Faust, Nosferatu, Holy Mountain, and The Dragon Painter and put to the music of Charles Ives’ Hallowe’en. The frames are chosen by custom software that compares data from each of the film’s soundtracks with the data from Ives’ music.

The result is very different to the average mashup of a silent film to a music track, creating something compellingly abstract. (Those sensitive to such things should note that the video features insistent flashing imagery).

Another take on silent films is this six-minute comedy by You Look Nice Today, in which a trio of foley artists discuss the challenges of contributing sounds to silent films. It takes a while to go anywhere and then doesn’t really get there in any case, but if celery jokes are your sort of thing, you’re in luck.

And, finally, a short film. A very short film.

Bioscope Newsreel no. 11

The Ballet Russes at the Fêtes de Narcisses, Montreux in 1928, from British Pathé

Can we make the Bioscope Newsreel a weekly occurrence, say every Friday? We’ll have a go.

Ballet Russes on film
Jane Pritchard, co-curator of the Victorian & Albert Museum’s recent exhibition ‘Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929’ writes of the amazing discovery of the first known film of the Ballet Russes lurking in the British Pathé archive. Read more.

50 years of film studies
The Guardian film blog celebrates fifty years of film studies as an academic discipline. The pioneer lecturer was Thorold Dickinson (himself a filmaker of renown); the location was University College London; the pupils included Gavin Millar, Charles Barr, Raymond Durgnat and Lutz Becker. Read more.

Modern elephant taxidermy
Rich Remsberg unearths an extraordinary 1927 film from the American Museum of Natural History that shows you how to stuff an elephant. The taxidermist in question is the multi-talented Carl Akeley, also famed as a motion picture cameraman and inventor – the Akeley camera, with its gyroscopic head, was much used by wildlife filmmakers and newsreels. Read more.

Music for silents
An interesting interview with Ken Winokur of renowned silent film accompanists the Alloy Orchestra raises the issue of venues which insist on showing silent films silently, because André Bazin pronounced that any music accompaniment was mere nostalgia. Go to the Cinémathèque Française to watch your silents to the accompaniment of coughs and the occasional rumbling stomach, and I think most will vote for ‘nostalgia’. Read more.

Farewell to the Silent Movie Blog
For the past couple of years Christopher Snowden’s Silent Movie Blog has provided witty, well-researched and strikingly illustrated accounts of American silent film history. Sadly it is being closed down, and it is not clear whether the archive will remain online (all posts before July 2010 have been removed already). Read more.

And finally
The Bioscope is four years old today. Here’s the link to post number one – a single pithy sentence.

‘Til next time!

Momentos

When we champion the modern silents here at the Bioscope, we see them fall into two broad categories. Category one is pastiches of the traditional silent film stle (or what is generally imagined to be silent film style). They are shot in black-and-white, with exaggerated mannersisms, playing with the idea of modern themes dressed up in a silent style.

Then there are modern silents which are a mode of filmmaking that doesn’t look back to the 1920s at all, but rather seeks to strip away dialogue because image is all. It is a form that is starting to flourish with the proliferation of video sites and the chances for filmmakers to make their statements with short films that have the potential to reach thousands more than will ever see them on the festival circuit alone. There is also the strong influence of pop videos underlying such films, where the dumbshow complements the song with telling images that speak volumes by themselves.

All of which is preamble to the above film, Momentos, the latest production on Vimeo from Portguese filmmaker Nuno Rocha. It is sentimental but most expertly done, with a subtle plot twist, and comes equipped with an in-joke since the video we see the lead character laughing at is Rocha’s earlier production, the mesmerising 3 x 3, previously highlighted here on the Bioscope. It is well worth seven minutes of your time, I promise you.

The age of colours

Kinemacolor projector (left) and Kinemacolor camera, on display at the Capturing Colour exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. The projector is from the Sarosh Collection at the National Media Museum; the camera is from Hove Museum

This is the age of colours, it is colour everywhere.

So wrote Charles T. Kock, in a 1909 essay surveying the history and philosophy of colour printing in Penrose’s Pictorial Annual. Kock was marvelling at number of forms of colour reproduction – in printing, clothing manufacture, building, household goods, photography and cinematography. The interesting inference to be made is that it would have been within the experience of his readers to remember a time when the world was not filled with colours; a monochrome Victorian age from which the Edwardian era had gratefully escaped.

Of course there had always been colour, but it was the reproducibility of man-made colour that was brightening Kock’s world. The roots of this can be traced back to the 1850s. It was in 1856 that William Henry Perkin, at the tender age of eighteen synthesized an artifical dye, mauveine, which could be applied to clothes to give an intense purplish hue (mauve). Previously clothes had been coloured used natural dyes, which often lacked stability. Now lasting colours through aniline dyes could be created, and the process industrialised. The year before, in 1855, physicist James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated the principle of three-colour photography, showing how bringing together three separate versions of the same image photographed through red, green and blue filters, could, when aligned together, create a colour record (Maxwell was expounding the theory; he did not present a practical demonstration until 1861).

American chromolithograph showing a roadside inn c.1872, from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, via Wikimedia Commons

The creation of man-made colours acrosss different media and forms continued throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century. Other aniline dyes were created. Colour printing was given a huge boost by the commercial development of chromolithography (lithorgraphy was first invented in 1796 but didn’t properly include colour until 1839), bringing colour reproductions of paintings into millions of homes. Louis Ducos du Hauron, Charles Cros, E. Sanger-Shepherd and Frederic Ives experimented with forms of colour photography, culminating in the hauntingly beautiful Autochrome process in 1907, invented by the Lumière brothers (founding fathers of cinematography, of course).

Colour came to cinematography as well, in the form of artificial colours applied by hand or in mechanised fashion by use of stencils, until the invention of the first natural colour motion picture colour system, Kinemacolor, patented in 1906 and first commercialised in 1908. Kinemacolor, as with the man-made colours to be found enlivening clothes, illustrations, advertisements, popular prints, posters, magic lantern slides, wallpaper designs, photographs and so much more, had a particular dual appeal at this period when colour was a saleable attraction in itself. I note this in my thesis, which I will take the liberty of quoting here:

There are, however, two kinds of colour reproductions to be considered here. There is the colour picture in the purely naturalistic sense, which offers an approximately faithful record of nature (or, as was more accurately the case with chromolithographs, a faithful record of a work of art that reproduced nature), and there is the colour picture where colour itself, to whatever form or degree, is the attraction in itself. These two forms were not mutually exclusive.The attraction, the desirable commodity, was colour. It was seen as something additional to that which had gone before, an enhancement which could denote beauty, superiority, social status or commercial value, according to usage. Colour was truer, better, brighter; colour drew attention to itself. This twin appeal of colour as natural and colour as the subject in itself was central to the exploitation of Kinemacolor. Tom Gunning sets out colour’s ‘contradictory role’ in cinema by stating that on one hand ‘there is the claim, made most explicitly by Bazin’s essay “The Myth of Total Cinema”, that color plays an essential part in the fulfilling of the ideal of cinema’s first inventors, “the reconstruction of a perfect illusion of the outside world in sound, color and relief”’, while on the other, ‘color can also appear in cinema with little reference to reality, as a purely sensuous presence, an element which can even indicate a divergence from reality’. The evidence of chromolithography, Kinemacolor, and other media from this period, however, indicates a more complex situation, a desire for reality and super-reality at the same time, which was to a significant extent created by the very limitations of the technical processes that enabled such colours to be reproduced.

Colour that draws attention to itself while at the same time trying to denote reality (and so by implication striving not to be noticeable at all) is the subject of Capturing Colour: Film, Invention and Wonder, an exhibition at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibition positions itself within the history of capturing colour across different forms, but concentrates on film’s part in this history, with a particular emphasis on early film. Brighton is the right location for such an exhibition, because it was here that George Albert Smith discovered that by employing red and green filters only (leaving out blue) he could achieve a satisfactorily realistic colour motion picture effect, which would be named Kinemacolor (patented in 1906, but a letter on display makes it clear that Smith had made his breakthrough in 1904). As well as Smith, the inventor William Norman Lascelles Davidson, Benjamin Jumeaux, Otto Pfenninger and William Friese-Greene were all working on colour photography and cinematography at the same time, each of the Brighton and Hove residents.

Kromskop viewer (left) and projecting Kromskop, on display at the Capturing Colour exhibition

The exhibition takes us from innovations in colour reproduction in the nineteenth century, to the arrival of film and the extensive use of applied colour (hand[ainted, stencil, tinted), the work of Brighton photographers and filmmakers, the three-colour principle established by Maxwell and its exposition by Frederic Ives with his Kromskop camera (which produced fine colour images but which did not solve the problem of how to fix these in a form you could hang on the wall), the first motion picture colour system of 1899 (which failed to work) of Frederick Marshall Lee and Edward Turner, the successes of Kinemacolor and its rival Biocolour (invented by Friese-Greene), later colour processes such as Technicolor, Dufaycolor, Kodachrome and Eastmancolour, colour television, and finally digital colour today – with a fascnating comparison of different digital images of Brighton beach, showing how various and relative our ostensibly ‘perfect’ means of reproducing colour remain. Colour, ultimately, is all in the mind.

I warmly recommend the exhibition, which not only tells of a time when colour could not been taken for granted, but reminds us never to take colour for granted. It includes such treats as stereoscopes, a Kinemacolor camera and projector, a Lee-and-Turner three-colour projector, an Ives Kromskop and projecting Kromskop, a Technicolor camera, and impressive use of film clips throughout which serve as a model of how to integrate moving images with more traditional museum objects. There are also things for children to do in every room.

The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has produced an online version of the exhibition, which duplicates each of the sections with some lovely colour images (no film clips though, alas).

The Tom Gunning essay referred to above, ‘Colorful Metaphors: the Attraction of Color in Early Silent Cinema‘, is an excellent (and freely-available) guide to the meanings of colour in early cinema, placing films within the wider context of contemporary colour reproduction (particularly book illustrations).

The history of mauve is told by Simon Garfield in Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour That Changed the World – a first-rate read.

The great book on chromolithography is Peter C. Marzio’s The democratic art: Pictures for a 19th-century America: chromolithography, 1840-1900. It’s well worth hunting down a copy.

You can find links to all of the Bioscope’s posts on colour film in the Colourful Stories series (from Maxwell to Chronochrome) here.

The Capturing Colour exhibition, which has free admission, remains open until 20 March 2011.

Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema

http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/silentcinemafest

Scotland’s first silent film festival takes place 18-20 March 2011 in Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema (or so it says in their brochure), at the Hippodrome cinema in Bo’ness. The enterprising weekend of silents and silent-related events is clearly directed at a general audience, and brings together classics with Scottish Screen Archive programmes, workshops and live events. There are chances to dress up as flappers or Chaplin, and a great idea of bringing along jamjars (used as currency by children keen to get into early film shows) to the screening of The Kid. At the heart of it all is pianist, raconteur and all round good egg Neil Brand, once again carrying the torch for silent films.

Here’s the main programme, with text taken from the online brochure:

Opening Night Gala: It
Celebrate Festival opening night with a glass of bubbly and an icon of the Roaring Twenties. Clara Bow stars in this sparkling comedy as Betty, a poor shop-girl, who sets her cap at her handsome new boss whilst seeing off moral reformers, inept suitors and upperclass snobs with a wicked smile and a devastating wink. She has ‘it’ by the bucket-load, and knows exactly how to use ‘it’ … Fast, jazzy and funny ‘It’ magnificently demonstrates Bow’s star-appeal (receiving over 45,000 fan letters a week at the time), and why her performance as a guileless flapper came to define an entire decade. Look out for a young Gary Cooper as the dashing cub reporter. We are privileged to present this rare UK screening of a print loaned by the British Film Institute’s National Archive… the perfect start to a very special festival.
Dir. Clarence G. Badger, Josef von Sternberg / US / 1927 / b&w / 1h 12m
With: Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin
Live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand
Friday 18 March, 18:30 • screening starts 19:30
Tickets: £8 (£6 conc.) including ‘champagne reception’
Dress: Twenties glamour, flapper

Tam O’Shanter
A unique and immersive workshop for schools and home educators presented by musician Susan Appelbe and Falkirk Council Heritage Learning team. Susan performs her vibrant music to a new, silent animation of Robert Burns’ poem (created by Grangemouth Girls Youth Group with artist Emma Bowen). Susan’s live performance is followed by an improvised music session in which the whole audience becomes the orchestra, composing its own soundtrack for the animation, recorded for pupils to take back to school. All pupils will be supplied with instruments for the duration of the workshop, and are also welcome to bring any acoustic instruments of their own. No prior musical skills required.
Friday 18 March, 10:00 / 2hrs
Tickets: pupils £2.10, accompanying teachers/adults free
Pre-booking essential
Schools workshop – Recommended P6 / People in the Past / Expressive Arts / Literacy

An Escape From Reality
If walls could talk, the Hippodrome could certainly tell a tale or two. Come for a cuppa and hear the stories of Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema or share your own cinema-going memories with your host, local author and scriptwriter Janet Paisley. Following a screening of ‘An Escape from Reality’, a documentary made by Bo’ness Academy students celebrating the Hippodrome through the memories of its patrons, Janet will be joined by local historians and the floor will be open for what promises to be an entertaining afternoon.

This event is sponsored by the Bo’ness Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI). The aim of the THI is to repair and restore historic buildings like the beautifully restored Hippodrome, encouraging town centre regeneration through the distribution of Heritage Lottery Funding.
Fri 18 Mar 14:00 / 1h 30m approx.
Tickets: £5.25 (incl. refreshments)

The Kid + shorts (2-for-1 Jeely Jar Special)
In the Hippodrome’s heyday youngsters could get their cinema ticket in exchange for a jeely (or jam) jar, so we’ve named our regular Saturday morning screenings of well-loved family films in honour of this tradition. Once a season we revive the custom at a Jeely Jar Special, when you can bring a clean jeely jar with matching lid and get two tickets for the price of one. We’ve chosen Chaplin’s first feature film in which the loveable Tramp teams up with an abandoned child showcasing Chaplin’s seemingly effortless combination of pathos and pantomimic comedy. Screening with animated shorts featuring Felix the Cat – celebrated US
predecessor of Mickey Mouse – and his mischievous British equivalent, Bonzo the Dog. Come dressed as the Tramp to be in with a chance to win our Charlie Chaplin fancy dress competition!
Dir. Charles Chaplin / US / 1921 / b&w / pre-recorded orchestral score
‘Felix Wins and Loses’ / dir. Pat Sulllivan / US / 1925 / b&w
‘Bonzo Broadcasted’ / dir. W.A. Ward / UK / 1925 / b&w
Live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand (animation shorts only)
Saturday 19 March, 11:00 • Tickets: £2.10 / 1h 30m approx

Scottish Screen Archive & Cinema Theatres Association Event
Early Cinema in Scotland
Come and find out about the origins of early film and cinema at this enlightening and entertaining illustrated talk including stills and film screenings presented by cinema historian, Gordon Barr and Ruth Washbrook, a curator at the Scottish Screen Archive. Take a journey back in time through celluloid history to discover how and when Scotland’s first purpose-built cinemas were constructed, how cinema architecture and styles changed over time and experience some of the films early audiences would have enjoyed.
Saturday 19 March, 14:00 / 1h 30m approx
Tickets: £5.25 (£4 conc.)

Another Fine Mess with Laurel and Hardy
Laurel and Hardy never age, and these films prove they were at the peak of their careers before sound even arrived – action-packed, terrifying and masterly, these are the boys’ greatest silent films. Liberty, in which the pair are escaped convicts trying to reclaim their trousers. Big Business, where the duo’s business transaction with a customer (played by local Larbert lad James Finlayson), winds up with their trademark outbreak of destruction. Finally You’re Darn Tootin’ which finds Laurel and Hardy dismissed from a band and attempting to make ends meet as street musicians … where, of course, rumpus ensues. Prepare to laugh harder then you ever have before. Oh, and be prepared to ‘play along’!
Dir. Various / US / 1928-29 / b&w
Live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand (assisted by the audience!)
Saturday 19th March, 16:30 / 1h 30m • Tickets: £5.25 (£4 conc.)

Neil Brand – The Silent Pianist Speaks
The Hippodrome is proud to welcome Neil Brand to present his critically acclaimed live show. Using clips from some of the greatest moments in silent cinema to illustrate his 25-year career, Neil hosts a unique and memorable event celebrating the great silent filmmakers and the magic of the accompanists who breathed life and sound into their work. From the earliest, earthiest comedies and thrillers, through a silent cine-verité classic shot by a young Billy Wilder, to the glories of Hollywood glamour and the sublime Laurel and Hardy, Neil provides improv accompaniment and entertaining commentary including notes from his own live cinema disasters. The audience gets a chance to score a scene and the evening culminates in Neil accompanying a clip “sight unseen” whilst simultaneously describing his reactions to it. The result is a hilarious, sharp and ultimately moving show about cinema and music which pays tribute to the musicians of the silent era through the observations of one the world’s finest exponents.
Saturday 19 March, 19:30 / 1h 20m • Tickets: £8 (£6 conc.)

Slapstick with Plutôt la Vie
From Buster Keaton to Mr Bean, follow a comic tradition and learn some slapstick secrets. The early heroes of comedy relied on visual gags for their biggest laughs and this ancient form of comedy came into its own during the silent era, but can still be seen in modern cinema and theatre. The performance of slapstick comedy requires exquisite timing and skilful execution so join Tim Licata of acclaimed Scottish theatre company Plutôt la Vie (literally meaning “above all, is life”) as he teaches you some of the slapstick secrets of the silent stars.
Venue: Bo’ness Town Hall, Stewart Avenue, Bo’ness EH51 9NJ
Wear comfortable clothes/shoes
Sunday 20 March, 10:00 / 2h 30m • Tickets: £8
Age: 12+ pre booking essential
Note: Plutôt la Vie’s will be performing their fast and funny
family show: ‘By the Seat of Your Pants’at FTH on
Sunday 13 March • 14:00 • http://www.falkirk.gov.uk/cultural

The Scottish Screen Archive Presents…
Scottish Comedy Capers
Enjoy a wonderful treat of silent comedy films from the Scottish Screen Archive with a specially curated programme of short films ranging from early comedy favourites to amateur comedy dramas and films made by Cine Societies and Film Clubs. This diverse collection of films will leave you laughing with uncouth Highlanders, pantomime horses, crazed lawnmowers, cantankerous witches, naughty children and husbands causing mischief on a weekend away from their wives. There is something for everyone in this fun-packed programme of Scottish archive film delights.
Live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand
Sunday 20 March, 11:00 / 1h 30m approx
Tickets: £5.25 (£4 conc.)

World Première
New Found Sound
Take four young composers, three talented schools orchestras, a silent film from the Scottish Screen Archive – and you get New Found Sound. A culmination of hard work and creativity, New Found Sound offers a unique opportunity to experience the world première of a silent film soundtrack commissioned by the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema. The music has been composed by pupils from the Falkirk Council area and will be performed by young musicians in the regional school orchestras: the Falkirk Schools Orchestra, the Falkirk Schools Wind Band, and the Falkirk Baroque Ensemble. Involving secondary school pupils currently studying music and receiving instrumental instruction, New Found Sound showcases the outstanding talent and commitment of young people in the region.
Sunday 20 March, 14:00 / 1h approx
Tickets : £4 (£3 conc.)

Sherlock Jr. + Never Weaken
No self-respecting silent film festival could ignore two of the era’s biggest stars, so here’s a double bill that offers twice the genius for more than double the value. Buster Keaton stars as a humble movie projectionist living out his dream as “the world’s greatest detective”: ‘Sherlock Jr’. The film not only brought Keaton to his artistic maturity, it influenced the structure of Monty Python, according to Terry Gilliam. The last twenty minutes is an anarchic firestorm of stunts and physical gags, while the surreal central sequence, in which Buster walks into an onscreen drama which changes around him, is still as breathtaking as it was 85 years ago. Plus, Harold Lloyd, the lovelorn hero of ‘Never Weaken’ and real-life vertigosufferer, goes all-out to show that there is nothing funnier than a man in glasses whose life hangs by a thread thirty storeys up!
‘Sherlock Jr.’: Dir. Buster Keaton / US / 1924 / b&w / 45m
With: Buster Keaton, Kathryn McGuire, Ward Crane
‘Never Weaken’: Dir. Fred C Newmeyer / US / 1921 / b&w / 29m
With: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Roy Brooks
Live piano accompaniment by Neil Brand
Sunday 20 March, 16:30 / 1h 20m approx • Tickets: £5.25 (£4 conc.)

Closing Night Gala: Nosferatu
This screening of F. W. Murnau’s silent classic horror film with live music accompaniment is the dramatic finale of the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema. Max Schreck is the terrifying Count Orlok, a vampire who thirsts after the body and soul of a young clerk and his beautiful wife. David Allison’s beguiling score reveals a distinctly Celtic twist with its Scottish voice depicting the nineteenth century author Emily Gerard leading us through the narrative. Originally from Airdrie, Gerard is believed to have been a major influence on Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and Murnau’s celluloid portrayal through her writings on Transylvanian folklore. Fans of the modern slew of on-screen vampires will recognise the sensuality, immortality and suspense in ‘Nosferatu’, the genesis of bloodsucking horror on the big screen. “A stunning presentation.” Edinburgh Evening News
Dir. F. W. Murnau / US / 1922 / b&w / 1h 24m
With: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder
Live musical accompaniment by David Allison of The Island Tapes
Sunday 20 March, 19:30
Tickets: £8 (£6 conc.)

Well, there’s bucket-loads of enthusiasm, and I hope they are rewarded with good audiences. The festival is now open for bookings, and there are full details of how to get there and how to have the best of times once you have done so on the festival site.