Who do you watch silent movies with? Your friends? Your partner? Toute seule on the front row taking notes? The answer is that we all watch silent films in the company of the musician, who is not just accompanying the movie, but guiding the audience through it as well. Whether composing a score or improvising on the fly, silent cinema musicians are arguably closer to and more involved with the film then anyone else in the auditorium. Which is why it’s always fascinating to hear what they have to say about the movies.
Neil Brand does more to share his wisdom than most, with regular appearances on TV and radio discussing film history and film scores – as well as his work with the British Silent Film Festival too. But for the real skinny on silent cinema as he sees it, you need to catch him on stage, with a projector and a piano, holding forth. The good news is that Brand’s The Silent Pianist Speaks show is back in London on Saturday, at our beloved Cinema Museum.
From the earliest, earthiest comedies and thrillers, through a silent cine-verité classic scripted by a young Billy Wilder, to the glories of Hollywood glamour and the sublime Laurel and Hardy, Neil provides improvised accompaniment and laconic commentary on everything from deep focus to his own live cinema disasters. He investigates how music works with film by inviting the audience to score a love scene, and the show culminates with 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 greatest improvising accompanists.
You don’t want to miss this, do you?
The Silent Pianist Speaks is at the Cinema Museum on Saturday 19 May 2012 at 7.30pm. To read more about this particular event, and to buy tickets at the bargainous price of £8.50 or less for concessions, click through to the Cinema Museum website here. Read more about The Silent Pianist Speaks here. If you don’t live in the capital, you;ll be pleased to know that the Silent Pianist Also Speaks Elsewhere. Visit Neil Brand’s website for details of shows around the country (there’s one coming up in Ipswich on 27 May).