Category Archives: Poll

Silent London Poll of 2016 – the winners!

Picture the scene: a vast, gilded theatre in the West End, where the beautiful people of the silent film world are taking their seats, taking care that their rented diamonds, and their profiles, are displayed to their best advantage. The orchestra strikes up a tune, the lights are dimmed, and the audience is tipsy but expectant as I, your dear hostess, take to the stage in a floor-length pink satin gown, with a young Charles Farrell on my arm. After a few witty remarks, I turn my attention to a stack of golden envelopes on the lectern. Ladies and gentlemen, child stars and Rin Tin Tin, it’s time to announce the winners of the Silent London Poll of 2016, as voted for by the readers of this humble blog. Sorry you didn’t get an invite to the ceremony, or the bacchanalian after-party, but perhaps this roundup will do instead…

Best silent film DVD/Blu-ray release of 2016

If I were betting woman, I might have profited from this result. The winner of our first category is the BFI’s sumptuous release of Napoléon (1927), Abel Gance’s epic biopic. Honourable mention goes to the Kino/BFI Pioneers of African-American Cinema set, which many of you placed in the top spot.

Napoléon (1927)
Napoléon (1927)

Best silent film theatrical release of 2016

Quelle surprise! Napoléon romped home in this category too. A worthy winner, and I blow a kiss to those of you who gave up the best part of a day to experience this astonishing film – and to the friends and partners you coerced into joining you.

The Red Turtle (2016)
The Red Turtle (2016)

Best modern silent of 2016

Slim pickings for this category, but we have a winner, just about, in the form of The Red Turtle, Studio Ghibli’s desert island tale, which impressed a few of you on the festival circuit this year. It really is a very fine film, and the good news is that it will be released “proper” in UK cinemas in May 2017. You can read our London Film Festival review here.

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The Silent London Poll of 2016: time to vote!

December is here, so it’s time to look back at the year. 2016 may not have been the happiest of times for many of us, but at least some of the movies were good. We’d love it if you would take a few minutes to share your silent cinema highlights of the year with the readers of Silent London.

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Kean ou Désordre et génie (1924)

Don’t know where to begin? How about … a change of direction at Pordenone, a new orchestral score from Neil Brand, the cinema of the Great War on show at BFI Southbank, and around the world, with some sharp new music, the ascent of Napoléon, The Informer in London, a celebration of black talent in silent cinema, great repertory programming, festivals all over the world, the decline of dialogue, and the rise of silence, and everything else I missed that was rocking your silent world.

The Red Turtle (2016)
The Red Turtle (2016)

This year, in addition to the usual questions about live shows and DVDs, I am also asking you to nominate your silent film book of the year. What’s the standout on your shelf? And as is now traditional, I want to know your silent hero of the year also.

Follow this link to fill in the survey – or scroll down and get started straight away.

Continue reading The Silent London Poll of 2016: time to vote!

Silent London Poll of 2015: shout about your year in silents

Festive greetings, Silent Londoners! It’s the time of year when choirs sing, reindeer run, and magazines and newspapers start launching their best-of-the-year lists. But I don’t care what they think – I want to know how 2015 was for you, silent cinema wise.

Synthetic Sin (1929)
Synthetic Sin (1929)

For me, it’s been a very interesting year, with a couple of very special modern silent-type films in the cinema, the return of the British Silent Film Festival to its full strength and some great screenings in the capital and beyond. I’ve enjoyed some intriguing silent rediscoveries this year, and returned to a few classics too, notably the centenarian landmark The Birth of a Nation.

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Poll: Which British silent film-maker is worth £20?

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The Bank of England doesn’t usually let the public have a say in its decisions, but there is a first time for everything. Having decided to boot Adam Smith’s profile off the £20 banknote, the Bank asked the public to help them choose a replacement – although the institution itself has the final say. Those of us who spend rather than print the money were invited to nominate a visual artist for the bank to select from. An astonishing 29,701 bids came in, resulting in a longlist of 592 British visual artists that someone out there deems worthy of having their face on folding money. The Bank will draw up a shortlist from these names for the Governor to examine, and they will announce the chosen face in early 2016, with the new £20 note finally coming into circulation in 2020.

This is the selection criteria for the new face of the score note:

Through its depiction of historic characters on its banknotes the Bank seeks to celebrate individuals that have shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society.  We do this by representing a person or small groups of individuals whose accomplishments or contributions have been recognised widely at the time, or judged subsequently to have been of lasting benefit to the United Kingdom and, in some cases, beyond.

In choosing the character or characters to appear on a specific note, the Bank takes account of its past decisions.  This is because the Bank intends to celebrate achievement and contribution across a wide range of skills and fields and aims, through time, to depict characters with varied personal characteristics, such that our choices cumulatively reflect the diverse nature of British society.

Did you vote? I suspect some of you might have done, because the longlist is a fascinating read: so many esteemed, and not so highly esteemed, artists appear, including film-makers from Carol Reed to Stanley Kubrick. And there are definitely a few cinematic stars who fulfil that note about “a wide range of skills and fields”, as well as “characters with varied personal characteristics”, although not perhaps reflecting the “diverse nature of British society”. More specifically, I was heartened to see some key figures from the silent era there: from the expected nods to Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin, to more leftfield choices such as Maurice Elvey and Louis Le Prince.

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The Silent London Poll of 2014: your winners

Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (1920)
Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (1920)

It’s the Silent London Poll of 2014 results – part two. Merry Christmas!

Yesterday I revealed what the poll results said about you – today we learn what the poll had to say about the films and performances that impressed you the most this year. You’re a discerning bunch, I already knew that, so I threw away the short lists and gave you free choice in all categories. The result is a picture that is tricky to summarise but fascinating all the same.

Disagree with these choices? May I direct you towards the comments section below?

Best DVD/Blu-ray release of 2014

So many to pick from – but there was a clear winner. Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari landed on DVD and Blu-ray (from Masters of Cinema) in its sparkling new restoration, on a beautifully presented disc. This was the release that many of us had awaited for this landmark movie. We reviewed the disc in the summer.

Runners-up: The BFI’s release of The Epic of Everest, wartime blockbuster Wings (Master of Cinema) and the tantalising, US-only Warner Archive release of Why Be Good? starring Colleen Moore.

Best theatrical re-release of 2014

Another runaway success for Caligari and his cabinet here. Congratulations to all concerned!

Runners-up: Two strong showings in the list: the BFI’s restoration and rescore of The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands and the re-release of The General. What a great year in the cinema.

Best orchestral film screening of 2014

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands (1927)

Obviously, there’s a huge amount of variation in the responses when it comes to live shows. But clearly, you are seeing some fantastic live screenings around the world, and that is to be celebrated in itself!

We do have a winner though: the London Film Festival screening of The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands received the most nominations. This was truly a fantastic night, with the Royal Marines belting out Simon Dobson’s fantastic score. Great atmosphere too, with so many representatives of the Navy in attendance. I have never seen to many shiny brass buttons in one room.

Runner-up: The LFF came second too, with a clutch of nods for its spellbinding screening of The Goddess with the English Chamber Orchestra. Another very happy memory for me, that one.

Continue reading The Silent London Poll of 2014: your winners

The Silent London Poll of 2014: meet the readers

Louise Brooks
A wholly gratuitous, but festive, picture of Louise Brooks

Last month, I asked you beautiful people to fill in the Silent London survey – it was a little longer and more involved than usual, but with more free choice options, so thanks all for your time, care and patience.

The results are now in, and I now know a little more about you, your silent movie watching habits and what most impressed and entertained you this year. First I want you to meet the readers. Hello you, this is you:

Where you are

Most of you are in London understandably, around 39%. But the rest of you are more likely to be found in the rest of the world (36%) than the UK (25%) Global reach!

What you watch, how and where

Most of you, 40%, watch silents once or twice a month. Hats off to the seven percent of you who watch ’em more often than once or twice a week! The rest of you more or less evenly were divided between occasional viewers and the impressive group of you sitting down to a silent film once or twice a week.

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The Silent London Poll of 2014 – time to vote

Vote now – Marion is standing by to collate your responses.
Vote now – Marion is standing by to collate your responses.

Hello dear readers. Unfortunately we took a break in 2013, but this year we want to resume normal service and bring back the Silent London Poll. It’s an expanded survey this year – you can vote for your favourite screening in several categories, your favourite venue and festival, and even your silent hero of 2014.

It won’t take you long to fill in, and we’ll be publishing the results on the site at the end of the year, so please have a little think about your highlights of the year, and share your favourites with everyone else!

The poll closes on 18 December 2014. Thanks for taking part!

The Silent London Poll 2012 – we have a winner

Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)

It’s enough to rekindle your faith in democracy. This year’s Silent London Poll was our biggest ever – with more than 1,500 votes cast and, I suspect, some hard lobbying on behalf of your favourite shows.

I can now reveal that this year’s winner was … the performance of Nosferatu scored by Minima with Paul Ayres’ Queldryk Choral Ensemble at Spitalfields Market as part of the East End Film Festival. A great film, an atmospheric venue and what sounds like a killer soundtrack from one of our favourite bands. Were you there? Or did you take part? If so – congratulations, and I hope we see some more similarly ambitious outdoor screenings in 2013.

The Nosferatu event gathered a massive 42% of the vote (and there were votes cast for some of Minima’s other performances this year) but an honourable second place goes to the stunning screening of Faust at the Royal Festival Hall with its romantic orchestral score by Aphrodite Raickopoulou.

Tied in third place were two screenings from the BFI’s Hitchcock season: The Manxman with music from Stephen Horne, and The Pleasure Garden with a score by Daniel Patrick Cohen.

Thanks for your votes  and for sharing the poll – it all adds evidence to the impression that it has been a great year for silent film in the country. Happy new year!

The Silent London Poll 2012 – cast your vote

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It’s cold, it’s dark, I’m increasingly tempted by a glass of port before bed: it must be December. And that means it’s time to gather your votes in the annual Silent London Poll. As before, we’re trying to find your favourite silent film and live music show. The only rule is that you must have seen it this year, in the UK.

To get the ballots rolling, I have consulted with some avid silent cinema fans and together we have drawn up a very long shortlist. All you need to do is to vote for the show you enjoyed the most this year, or suggest an alternative. Then tell all your friends to vote too.

The winner will be announced here on this very site, before the year is out.

Moroder’s Metropolis – the people have spoken

Metropolis, circa 1984
Metropolis, circa 1984

Ach, it’s no fun being a silent cinema purist sometimes. And while I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself that way very often, I was pretty sure I was in the fun-hating minority when the UK DVD release of Moroder’s Metropolis was first announced. Just to make sure, I ran a poll here on Silent London to find out what you guys think.

If you need to refresh your memory, Giorgio Moroder’s version came out in 1984 and looks very different to the latest restoration. Working with the most complete version of the film he could find at the time, Moroder added a rock soundtrack, washed some different scenes with bright tints and made the whole thing run faster by removing the intertitles and using the text for subtitles. It’s a strange beast, and perhaps needless to say, a cult favourite.

You ruddy love it. Well, some of you do. Quite a few of you like it, and while there’s a solid 20% with me, arms crossed and tutting in the outraged camp, you have convinced me to give Moroder’s Metropolis another go. What’s the worst that can happen? I first saw it many moons ago, on a worn-out VHS borrowed from the college library. Since then, I’ve seen the beautiful new restoration of the original film, and my appreciation for Metropolis has only grown. I hope I have lightened up a little, and I have even learned to play a Pat Benatar song on Guitar Hero.

So I’ll definitely be taking a look at the DVD when it is released on 23 July this year. Apparently it’s arriving in a smart “steelbook” edition, and interestingly, you’ll be able to stream it on demand from www.metropolismovie.co.uk too.

In 1984, Oscar-winning composer Giorgio Moroder (Top GunMidnight ExpressFlashdance) reintroduced Fritz Lang’s 1927 science fiction epic METROPOLIS to a new generation of moviegoers. He colourised scenes, added new subtitles, plus a throbbing rock soundtrack to Lang’s iconic imagery. Featuring songs from some of the biggest stars of the early MTV era: Freddie Mercury, Pat Benatar, Adam Ant, Bonnie Tyler, Loverboy, Jon Anderson and others, it became a dramatic vehicle for Moroder’s visionary music and a beautiful retro-futurist timepiece. Through faithfully maintaining Lang’s intriguing and timeless storyline, today, it is this version of METROPOLIS that first comes to mind for millions around the world.

 Yeah, that last sentence does still grate a little… watch this space.

Moroder’s Metropolis – masterpiece or monstrosity?

Giorgio Moroder
Giorgio Moroder, at the controls of his own 'heart machine'

Last year, we reported that Kino Lorber was releasing Giorgio Moroder’s musical re-edit of Fritz lang’s Metropolis on Blu-Ray in America – followed by a limited theatrical release. Now, Eureka Entertainment has announced a UK DVD/DVD steelbook release for the movie on 23 July 2012.

If you need to refresh your memory, Giorgio Moroder’s version came out in 1984 and looks very different to the latest restoration. Working with the most complete version of the film he could find at the time, Moroder added a rock soundtrack, washed some different scenes with bright tints and made the whole thing run faster by removing the intertitles and using the text for subtitles. It’s a strange beast, and perhaps needless to say, a cult favourite.

So – after all the recent excitement over the “complete” Metropolis, are you horrified by the thought of watching Moroder’s hard-rocking version? Or do you have fond memories of this “retro-futurist” experiment? Perhaps it was the the first silent movie you saw and it holds happy memories of your first steps into early cinema? Maybe you’re just a big Freddie Mercury fan. Let us know what you think by completing our poll, or commenting below

The Silent London 2011 poll: we have a winner

Lillian Gish in The Wind (1928)
Lillian Gish in The Wind (1928)

Thanks to all who nominated their favourite silent film and live music shows of the year – and to those who voted in the final poll. We had five worthy nominees on the short list, but I can reveal that the winner is … Lola Perrin’s score for the Victor Sjostrom’s The Wind, first performed this year at the BFI Southbank as part of the Birds Eye View Sound and Silents programme. Congratulations, Lola!

If you missed it (and I did, sadly), you can see Lola Perrin perform her live piano score to The Wind again at the Duke of York’s Picturehouse in Brighton in March. Visit Lola Perrin’s website to find out more.

The Silent London 2011 poll: vote now

Greta Garbo plays piano
Greta Garbo plays piano

Thank you for all your nominations for this year’s poll. I’ve counted them all up and the five shows with the most nominations are …

Please vote for your favourite – the poll closes in one week.

The Silent London 2011 Poll: nominations please

Greta Garbo plays piano
Greta Garbo plays piano

It’s not over yet, but 2011 has been a stonking year for silent film with live music in the UK. We’ve had orchestras, skiffle bands, sitars, string quartets and even piano accompaniment, alongside some wonderful films. As is now traditional (almost) I want  to celebrate this by asking you for your highlights of the year.

What were the standout silent film and live music shows for you in 2011? The Passion of Joan of Arc with Adrian Utley and Will Gregory’s rock score, or Voices of Light? The BBC Symphony Orchestra playing Neil Brand’s wonderful score for Underground? Stephen Horne’s London Film Festival Archive Gala performance of The First Born? Perhaps you preferred the Dodge Brother’s skiffle soundtrack for Beggars of Life or The Ghost That Never Returns. Maybe you were lucky enough to catch a live performance of Simon Fisher Turner’s experimental music for The Great White Silence, or one of many shows from last year’s winners, Minima. And let’s not forget John Garden’s tour of The Lost World or the Elysian Quartet’s reconstructed score for The Old and the New. There are, of course, far too many to mention here – you may have heard an organ score in a cathedral or museum that you liked, or a piano accompaniment in the BFI that was particularly memorable.

What I’d like to do is to collect your nominations for your favourite show in the UK this year and then I’ll be running a poll on the website in a fortnight’s time. It’s kind of like The X Factor, but not much. So, please, nominate your favourite shows in the comments below, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. I can’t wait to find out what you’ve chosen!

 

Nominations close at noon on Sunday 18 December and the poll should go live on Monday morning.

The Silent London 2010 poll – the results

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)

The Silent London End of Year Poll was never going to rival the ones you read in Sight & Sound and the broadsheets, I suppose. But I was heartened that so many of you did respond to my call for the best silent film show of 2010 – and fascinated by your choices, too. The big surprise was that no one mentioned Metropolis. There were a few votes for freshly restored Chaplin films, one for Natalie Clein’s sensitive cello score for The Temptress at Kings Place in May, a tantalising description of Stephen Horne’s soundtrack to La Princess Mandane as “genius” from Pam Cook on Twitter, a shout-out for the witty The Golden Butterfly (both shown as part of the Fashion in Film festival) and a “riotous” village-hall screening of Seven Chances (1925). Luke McKernan picked two films, both of which he described as “wildly obscure”: an anthropological documentary called Rituals and Festivals of the Borôro that screened at Pordenone and another vote for Stephen Horne, with his reconstruction of the score for The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks (1917). Not seen those? Never mind – I’m sure you’ll sympathise with McKernan’s conclusion that the first film: “reminded me of why film is the most compelling medium, and silent film especially so”. But finally, with a whopping two votes (one on Twitter and another by email), the winner is the East End Film Festival’s screening of Hitchcock’s The Lodger, soundtracked by Minima. Congratulations – I was there as well and I thought it was a marvellous evening.

Continue reading The Silent London 2010 poll – the results

The Silent London End of Year Poll

Silent film screening

There are a heck of a lot of end-of-year lists floating around at the moment. But most of them are dominated by talkies. To rectify this, allow me to present The Silent London End of Year Poll. I’m looking for the best silent film show of the year – anywhere in the world. And I’d like your help.

If you love going to watch silent films with live music then there have been ample opportunities to indulge your passion this year. The scene is thriving in London, not that we wouldn’t like to see more screenings. And my Twitter spies tell me that from New York to Paris to California to Sussex people are enjoying silent cinema shows of all kinds. So what has been your personal highlight of 2010? The show that introduced you to silent film or reinvigorated your appreciation of it? A new film or musician that blew you away – or a classic done just right?

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