Tag Archives: Christmas

Season’s Greetings, Silent Londoners

Hello readers, near and far!

Are we allowed to celebrate Christmas yet? I believe so. And I certainly didn’t want to delay sending my warmest greetings to you, wherever you are – and my thoughts go out especially to those of you who can’t be with the ones you love this winter.

Everything feels very uncertain right now, but I am taking a little comfort from the fact that despite adverse circumstances we have had almost a full calendar of screenings and events this year – and judging by the votes rolling into the Silent London Poll, many of you have been there, in-person or online, enjoying the best of silent cinema and live music.

Continue reading Season’s Greetings, Silent Londoners

Season’s Greetings, Silent Londoners

Hello dear readers!

It may not feel very festive where you are right now, but I want to wish you all the very best for the holidays coming up. This time last year, I was full of enthusiasm for the new decade and I am still sure good things are in the post, but just like our Christmas cards and parcels, it may take a little while for them to get here. The silent film community has inspired me so much this year – showing resilience, ingenuity and good humour.

I hope then, that Mary Pickford can spread a little cheer to the fine readers of Silent London. May the next few weeks bring you good health, good films, and plentiful merriment!

  • Don’t just mull your wine, mull your answers to the Silent London Poll – every vote counts, believe me!
  • Silent London will always be free to all readers. If you enjoy checking in with the site, including reports from silent film festivals, features and reviews, please consider shouting me a coffee on my Ko-Fi page.

Silent Santa: classics for your Christmas list

With one week to go before the big day, the Silent London elves bring you a selection of festive gift recommendations. These are great ideas to buy for the sexy silent cinephiles in your life – or to spend your gift vouchers on in the sales.

I have mostly linked to UK Amazon for ease, but you should be able to find these elsewhere online, direct from the supplier or (hopefully) in a shop near you.

London Symphony (2017)

A silent symphony

London Symphony, Alex Barrett’s gorgeous, moving tribute to the capital city is out to buy on multiregion Blu-ray now from the good folks at Flicker Alley. Also included on the disc is a 1933 archive film London Medley, as well as an interview with Barrett and his short form Hungerford Bridge. It’s a brilliant, beautiful modern city symphony, with a cameo from yours truly, and possibly a couple of other faces you will recognise. Readers in the UK may want to wait until the UK DVD release in February from New Wave.

Helen of Four Gates (1920)

The perfect introduction

New to silent cinema? Or just want to read an intelligent, refreshing perspective on late teens and 1920s cinema? Lawrence Napper’s Silent Cinema: Before the pictures got small is a valuable, and highly readable guide to pre-sound film. I loved it. Regular readers of this site will especially enjoy the hurrah for British silent cinema: “thrillingly cosmopolitan”.

Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks

Film on the front line

The history buff in your life will be fascinated by the Imperial War Museum release of The Battle of the Ancre and Advance of the Tanks (1917) on Blu-ray and DVD. Geoffrey Malins’ followup to The Battle of the Somme (1916) is more tightly constructed and cinematically shot with a greater focus on the soldiers than strategy. It is presented here in a crisp, fresh restoration with a beautiful score by Laura Rossi, and a reconstruction of the recommended medley score from 1917, compiled by Stephen Horne.

Continue reading Silent Santa: classics for your Christmas list

Merry Christmas and a happy 2013 from Silent London!

Here at Silent London we would like to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. We hope your stockings are full of cinematic treats – and that your family indulge you when you want to press play on your Die Nibelungen DVD after lunch. We’d also like to take a moment to consider 2012, a truly landmark year for silent cinema.

Berenice Béjo in The Artist (2011)
Berenice Béjo in The Artist (2011)

The Artist, its retro charm, and its unstoppable award-gathering, dominated the first half of the year. Martin Scorsese’s adorable Hugo did almost as much to popularise the silent era – while Miguel Gomes brought a hint of Murnau to the arthouses with his Tabu. Pablo Berger’s sumptuous Blancanieves stunned the critics at festival after festival, too and with any luck will get a UK release next year. The fact that it has been nominated as Spain’s official entry for the foreign-language Oscar should surely help.

On the west coast of the States, Napoléon fever struck in spring, with popular screenings of Abel Gance’s epic, the first in that country for many years. Will we see the triptychs back in London in 2013? Maybe.

The Manxman (1929)
The Manxman (1929)

Meanwhile we were spoiled for choice for screenings in the UK – from a chucklesome Slapstick Festival in Bristol in January, the return of the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema in Bo’ness in March, the 15th British Silent Film Festival in Cambridge in April, and a summer of silent Hitchcocks in London, culminating with the gala screening of The Manxman.

Perhaps that’s why this year’s end-of-year poll has been the biggest yet – we’ll be announcing the winner on Friday.

It’s been a year of growth for this site all round: we introduced a new regular columnist when Ayse Behçet began guiding us around Chaplin’s London in March. She’s now got her own site, so don’t forget to bookmark Charlie’s London. We’ve have more reviews than ever before, by a bigger team of writers, and we started podcasting too. Also 2012 marked my first (hopefully of many) trip to the Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone – and my foolhardy attempt to blog it all, day by day.

The Silent London Calendar continues to be the raison d’etre of the site, though, so check regularly for new events. Early in 2012 we’ve got It at the Phoenix Cinema, introduced by Kevin Brownlow, and The Life Story of David Lloyd George, introduced by Ian Christie, to look forward to. A little bird tells me there will be news about the 2013 British Silent Film Festival to share soon, as well. And did I forget to mention the theatrical release of Anthony Asquith’s Underground?

Have a fabulous festive season everyone – and enjoy the silents.

Share your cinema this Christmas

Hello. As it’s Christmas time, many of us are thinking about giving gifts, and helping people less fortunate than ourselves. I am no exception to that – and I have recently found out about a charity that does fantastic work, which film lovers might like to support. Open Cinema is “a nationwide network of film clubs programmed by and for homeless and socially excluded people”. The idea is that socially excluded groups, whether rough sleepers, recovering drug addicts, former soldiers or migrant workers, can come to an Open Cinema to watch a film, meet film-makers and have a go at making a movie themselves. You can take a look at the variety of films they show here.

This is quite simply a brilliant idea. If you’ve ever experienced the joy of sharing a much-loved film with a friend, you’ll know why. But they put it much better than I could:

People suffering from homelessness and deprivation urgently need the benefits of culture, as well as information and food. Entertainment and culture are another kind of nourishment, and have been shown by research to measurably contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of socially marginalised people.

Our work is supported by research carried out by Broadway, one of London’s leading homelessness charities, together with Westminster Primary Care Trust. It revealed that taking part in social and cultural activities provided significant benefits to mental health. These included the alleviation of isolation, the reduction of anxiety and depression, and the promotion of relaxation and healthy sleep patterns. A study conducted by the Salvation Army found that 51% of their clients spent most of their time alone, lacking support networks and beneficial relationships.

If you want to help Open Cinema, who have branches in Newcastle and Bradford as well as several in London, you can donate, volunteer or become a friend for £10 or £20. That’s the cost of a DVD – and guess what, with the £20 option you do receive a free DVD of short films made by people participating in Open Cinema events.

All the details are on the website here. And you can follow Open Cinema on Twitter here.

Merry Christmas!

Silent Christmas: Cage Against the Machine

John Cage, composer of 4'33"
John Cage, composer of 4'33"

It’s a fairly safe bet that the discerning readers of this blog won’t be buying Matt Cardle’s single this Christmas.* But what should we be slipping into the fleecy stockings of our loved ones instead?
Well, in a moment of rare cross-medium helpfulness, Silent London advises you to forgo Surfin’ Bird, When We Collide and anything that has ever been recorded by Cliff Richard, in favour of 4′ 33″ by Cage Against the Machine. Not just because it’s the most genuinely subversive record to have a chance of entering the UK charts in ages, but because of the video. Yes, there’s a video, and it’s a thing of beauty.

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