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!
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Hello lovelies. From me, and from Conrad, here’s hoping you have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year, with many silent nights to come in 2019! Thanks for all your support, comments and messages this year – as well as your votes in the end-of-year poll. I am currently tallying the results and hope to share them with you very soon.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
It has been a very special year for this site, and I have been overwhelmed by your support and good cheer in 2017. So, here’s raising a bottle of gin to the festive season, and my very best wishes to you for 2018.
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.
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.
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 Armyfound 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.
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.