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Prince Charles Cinema

Silent films at the Prince Charles Cinema, January-March 2012

Silent films at the Prince Charles Cinema
Silent films at the Prince Charles Cinema

There’s nothing like a night out at a West End cinema. The bright lights, the excitement, the hustle and bustle of the Theatreland crowds … So don’t ruin your fun by watching a talkie. Check out the silent film programme at the Prince Charles Cinema, where they’re packing in the punters for a diverse range of silent movies, month ofter month. There’s always live music and a lively atmosphere – and the films aren’t bad either.

The Cameraman, Thursday 26 January 2012, 8.50pm

Hilarious, but rarely screen Buster Keaton comedy. After becoming infatuated with a pretty office worker for MGM Newsreels, Buster trades in his tintype operation for a movie camera and sets out to impress the girl (and MGM) with his work. Piano accompaniment by Costas Fotopoulos.

Tickets for each show are £10 or £7.50 for members. Book online here.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wednesday 22 February 2012, 8.50pm

Don’t miss this chance to see Lon “Man of a Thousand Faces” Chaney on the big screen. In 15th-century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen. Piano accompaniment by John Sweeney.

Tickets are £10 or £7.50 for members. Book online here.

Nosferatu, Thursday 29 March 2012, 8.50pm

One of the silent era’s most influential masterpieces, Nosferatu‘s eerie, gothic feel – and a chilling performance from Max Shreck as the vampire – set the template for the horror films that followed. Hutter, a real estate agent, pays a visit to the mysterious Count Orlok, who seeks to relocate from his lair in the Carpathian Mountains and buy a residence in town. The Count becomes infatuated with Hutter’s young wife, and embarks on a journey to find her, while the town becomes infected with a strange plague.

Rock band Minima are a favourite on the silent film circuit, playing atmospheric, sophisticated guitar music to a wide repertoire of silent classics – and Nosferatu is one of their most acclaimed scores. Don’t miss this.

Tickets are £12 or £8 for members. Book online here.

Nosferatu with Minima and organ, Halloween 2011

Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)

Murnau’s acclaimed Dracula adaptation, Nosferatu (1922) is still one of the most chilling horror movies ever made – and probably the most influential. So if you’re looking for a cool halloween night out, you can’t beat watching Max Schreck’s shadow creeping up those stairs with Minima’s heavy rock soundtrack. Luckily, then, there will be a few chances for you to catch the Nosferatu-Minima show this witching season. They’re playing two gigs in London, at Stoke Newington International Airport on 29 October 2011 and at the Prince Charles Cinema on 24 November. Check out the venues’ website for times and ticket prices, and if you live outside London, have a look at Minima’s website for performances of Nosferatu in Devon, Hertfordshire and Somerset.

And if you prefer a more traditional silent film accompaniment, Nosferatu is also playing at the Brentford Musical Museum, with a live organ score by Donald Mackenzie on 19 November 2011. Tickets cost £10. For more information and to book, visit the museum website.

The Phantom of the Opera for Halloween 2011

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Call it a spooky coincidence, but there are three screenings of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) coming up in the London area this month. Could it be that Halloween is approaching?

From the novel by Gaston Leroux, Lon Chaney creates one of his most grotesque performances as the crazed man without a face, who lives in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, and falls in love with the voice of a young opera singer. Infatuated, he kidnaps her, dragging her to the depths below where she will sing only for him.

The Phantom of the Opera is a spectacularly grand horror film – from its Paris Opera House setting, to lead actor Lon Chaney’s gruesome makeup, and the early use of Technicolor in the Bal masqué sequence. You really can’t beat seeing this on the big screen – and with live musical accompaniment, of course. And this month, you have two chances to do.

On 19 October 2011, you can watch The Phantom of the Opera in a very unusual location: the medieval Croydon Minster in Surrey. The screening will be accompanied by David Griggs, who will improvise a score on the church organ. Tickets cost £10 and are available by emailing enquiries@croydonminster.org or calling 020 8688 8104. For more details, visit the Croydon Minster website.

The Phantom of the Opera is haunting the West End too. On 27 October 2011, the Prince Charles Cinema will be screening the film with piano accompaniment by Costas Fotopoulos. The PCC’s silent screenings always have a great atmosphere, so this should be a suitably spine-tingling way to kick off the the Halloween weekend. Tickets cost £11 or £7 for concessions and are available from the PCC website.

And the Phantom can also be found at London’s newest cinema. The box-fresh Hackney Picturehouse hosts a screening of the film, with a live soundtrack by Wirral band the Laze.

 This Halloween they bring Picturehouse their bespoke score for the classic silent horror Phantom of the Opera (1925).  Influenced by a history of horror soundtracks, from Bernard Hermann & Angelo Badalamenti to Goblin & John Carpenter, The Laze implement elements of Progressive Rock, Classical, Jazz, Doom and Electronica in their auteur musical accompaniment.

The band are also performing their score at cinemas in Liverpool, Newcastle and Aberystwyth. Find out more on their Facebook page and click here to book tickets for the Hackney show.

The Son of the Sheik at the Prince Charles Cinema, 29 September 2011

The Son of the Sheik at the Prince Charles Cinema
The Son of the Sheik at the Prince Charles Cinema

There are film stars and then there is Rudolph Valentino. Nicknamed the “Latin Lover”, few screen actors have ever inspired so much devotion – and lust – in their audience. When he died, aged just 31, there was a national outcry from his distraught female fans. Now here’s your chance to see what all the fuss is about.

The Son of the Sheik (1926) is an unashamed star vehicle for Valentino, more or less a remake of his earlier film The Sheik, but with more comedy and action scenes. Ostensibly a sequel, The Son of the Sheik stars Valentino as Ahmed, the adult son of the first film’s hero. As before, Ahmed falls for a beautiful dancing girl, Yasmin (Vilma Bánky), but is convinced by a love rival that she has been unfaithful to him. What happens next is rather difficult to explain, and certainly controversial. If you don’t mind a few spoilers, and want to read all about it, I recommend this very thorough and lively review on the Silent Volume blog.

The Son of the Sheik screens at the Prince Charles Cinema in the West End on 29 September at 8.50pm. Live piano accompaniment will be provided by John Sweeney. Click here for tickets.

Win tickets for The Seashell and the Clergyman and silent shorts at the Prince Charles Cinema

Symphonie Diagonale (1924)
Symphonie Diagonale (1924)

If your tastes run to the outer fringes of silent cinema – to the surreal, the avant-garde and the experimental – no doubt you already have your eyes on the Prince Charles Cinema’s next silent film screening. The west end cinema has collaborated with the band Minima to put on a night of short films, The Seashell and the Clergyman, Symphonie Diagonale and H2O, on Thursday 30 June. Full details here. Here’s a little taster of what you can expect:

The really, really good news is that I have a pair of tickets for this show to give away to one of the readers of this blog. Just take a look at this simple question:

  • Who directed The Seashell and the Clergyman?

Email your answer to silentlondontickets@gmail.com by Tuesday 28 June. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!

The Navigator and The General at the Prince Charles Cinema, July and August 2011

The Navigator at the Prince Charles Cinema
The Navigator at the Prince Charles Cinema

The Navigator

Buster Keaton’s popularity is booming, and rightly so. The stone-faced comic is seen as cooler, more elegant and less sentimental than Chaplin – but just as funny. And that’s why the Prince Charles Cinema in the West End has got two Keaton classics lined up for summer, to continue its silent season. Something really magical happens when you watch silent comedy with live music, and most importantly, a big crowd. You’ll laugh until your sides ache, just see if you don’t.

The Navigator, playing in July, sees Keaton play a toff stranded on a massive boat drifting across the ocean. He’s not alone though, his sweetheart (Kathryn McGuire) has stowed along as well. The visual gags are as inventive as ever – watch out for the underwater diving sequence, in particular. And the scene in which the lovers attempt to make breakfast. And the chase around the empty boat. And…

The Navigator screens on 28 July at 8.30pm, with piano accompaniment by John Sweeney. Tickets cost £11 or £7 for members and they’re available here. Check out the Facebook page here.

The General (1926)
The General (1926)

The General

Keaton’s The General is one of those notorious cinematic beasts – a film that was panned on its initial release and now sits securely in the top ranks of those Greatest Films of All Time lists. Set in the American Civil War, The General is crammed with stunts that are equal parts hilarious and precarious, as Keaton races across the US in pursuit of his beloved locomotive, his girlfriend and some dastardly Union spies. But you don’t have to take my word for it: here’s New York Times critic AO Scott, and some choice clips from the film.

The General screens on 25 August at 8.30pm, with piano accompaniment by Costas Fotopoulos. Tickets cost £11 or £7 for members and they’re available here. Check out the Facebook page here.

Silent films at the Prince Charles Cinema: The Seashell and the Clergyman with Minima, 30 June 2011

Prince Charles Cinema Silent Season
Prince Charles Cinema Silent Season

Yes, you can watch silent films outside the arthouse circuit – in a West End cinema, with a packet of popcorn and a cold beer. That’s just how cool London is. And I much as I love a good retrospective, it’s a top night out. Which is why I’m excited to announce this very exciting film screening on The Prince Charles Cinema‘s silent slate.

In June, the hugely popular and accomplished rock band Minima will accompany a selection of experimental shorts at the Prince Charles Cinema – this won’t be your common-or-garden night at the flicks. Topping the bill is The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928), a pioneering surreal film directed by Germaine Dulac and written by Antonin Artaud. The writer apparently loathed the film and called the director a “cow”, when he saw it. The British censors were none-too-impressed either, saying famously: “The film is so cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.”  You want to see it now, don’t you?

We can also expect to see Viking Eggeling’s 1924 avant-garde geometric film Symphonie Diagonale and Ralph Steiner’s H20, an experimental “tone poem” on the theme of water, from 1929. It’s great that this cinema is showing something a little out of the ordinary on its big screen – there’s far more to silent cinema than the Hollywood hits, and this is a fantastic way to celebrate that.

The Seashell and the Clergyman screens at 8.30m on 30 June 2011. Tickets cost £11 or £7 for members and they’re available here. Check out the Facebook page here. You can buy Minima’s Seashell soundtrack CD on their website, and no doubt it will be available on the night too.

Win tickets to watch Pandora’s Box at the Prince Charles Cinema

Pandora's Box (1929)
Pandora's Box (1929)

Time for some exclamation mark abuse, I feel. Louise Brooks! In Pandora’s Box! On the big screen! For free!

It’s true. The Prince Charles Cinema has generously donated a pair of tickets to see Pandora’s Box on 26 May to one lucky reader of this blog. All you have to do is answer a simple silent film question and drop me an email. This is the question:

  • Louise Brooks made one more film with director GW Pabst after Pandora’s Box. What was it called?

Know the answer? Then email both your answer and your full name to silentlondontickets@gmail.com by 11 May 2011. When the closing date rolls around I will pick one correct answer at random and the fortunate emailer will receive two free tickets to the Pandora’s Box screening on 26 May. Simple as that. Good luck!

Pandora’s Box at the Prince Charles Cinema, 26 May 2011

Pandora's Box (1929)
Pandora's Box (1929)

If you haven’t seen Pandora’s Box (1929) before, I’m actually a little jealous of you. This film and its notorious leading lady are so irrepressibly gorgeous that your first viewing really should be a big-screen experience – and this is the perfect opportunity.

By the end of the 1920s Louise Brooks had had her fill of Hollywood, and Hollywood had pretty much had its fill of her. Lucky, then, that she caught the eye of German director GW Pabst and moved to swinging Weimar Berlin to take the lead role in Pandora’s Box. Brooks plays Lulu, a hedonistic dancer who pursues her own pleasure at the expense of bourgeois morality, or pretty much anyone’s morality, come to mention it. The role has come to define Brooks and rightly so. Who hasn’t, when watching Brooks shake her iconic bob, thought: “That girl could get away with murder”? Pandora’s Box puts that theory to the test like no other movie, and Brooks’s sensual performance radiates here – even as events take a series of sinister turns and the film transforms from a backstage comedy, to a thriller, to something approaching horror.

Keep an eye out for your chance to win a pair of free tickets to Pandora’s Box next week, here on Silent London

Pandora’s Box screens at the Prince Charles Cinema on Thursday 26 May at 8.30pm. Live piano accompaniment will be provided by the marvellous John Sweeney. Tickets cost £10 or £6 for members and they’re available here.

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Prince Charles Cinema, 28 April 2011

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

The Prince Charles Cinema is offering a night not to be missed: the expressionist madness of The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, accompanied in spine-tingling style by a group who excel at accompanying silent horror films. Who better than Minima to soundtrack this combination of mad monks, mind-bending set design and people that get bumped off in the night?

If you’re wondering what the titular Dr Caligari keeps in his cabinet, I’m afraid it’s not a china dinner service, but a psychic sleepwalker, Cesare, played by Conrad Veidt. Cesare’s psychic predictions are fairly reliable. If he says you’re about to die, he’s right – because he’ll see to it himself…

But it’s the look of the film, as much as the plot, that will give you nightmares. Cesare’s eye makeup is grotesque, and the angular, distorted scenery was as influential as it is unforgettable. If you enjoy Caligari’s expressionist style, you’ll want to look out for Nosferatu at the Ritzy the following day.

The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, accompanied by Minima, screens at the Prince Charles Cinema on 28 April 2011 at 8.45pm. Tickets cost £10 or £6 for members and they’re available here.

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