Tag Archives: imperial war museum

LFF review: They Shall Not Grow Old honours veterans but not the archive

Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’ celebrates the immortality of the WWI soldiers who died in service. “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:/ Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.” The word contemn isn’t used very often – it means “to treat with contempt”. The poem, popularly recited at Remembrance Services, argues that the sacrifice of the fallen will be honoured by the following generations, but also means that they are suspended in the aspic of their youth. While we grow feeble, they retain their strength and vitality.

In a similar spirit, Peter Jackson’s new film, produced in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum and 14-18 Now, seeks to erase the lapsed years between today and the Great War. The soldiers in his film are ostensibly unwearied – living, breathing, talking men in full colour, rather than the silent, black-and-white figures of archive footage. It’s telling that Jackson has taken Binyon’s line and contorted it. The film is called They Shall Not Grow Old – a more digestible, less archaic version of the original, with modern grammar, and arguably less mystery and grandeur. It also seems to have a more literal meaning, pointing to their demise, not their immortal memory. Continue reading LFF review: They Shall Not Grow Old honours veterans but not the archive

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Could you make a prize-winning war movie?

Damn This War! (Alfred Machin, 1914)
Damn The War! (Alfred Machin, 1914)

Film festivals, especially those that come with competitions attached, are a great way for beginner film-makers to get started on a career behind the camera. If there were a silent film blogging festival I would be on it like a car bonnet.

One particular event that may be of interest to Silent Londoners is the Imperial War Museum Short Film Festival. Why? First because the prizes are pretty impressive, and second because there is a special award for the best use of Imperial War Museum archive footage. There is a third reason, perhaps, which is that this year I am going to be one of the judges.

The IWM has a strong track record of promoting and restoring silent film material, from glossy productions like the DVD release of The Battle of the Somme (1916) to presenting packages of archive film at festivals such as The British Silent Film Festival. No doubt you are familiar with their work.

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

The deadline for entry to the festival is 30 September, so there is just about enough time to enter. Films must not be longer than 30 minutes each and the fee is precisely zero pence, so why not?

The science bit:

  • The festival will take place at IWM London in 2016 and will showcase imaginative and challenging films inspired by IWM’s collections and the course, cause and consequences of armed conflict.
  • The two categories for submission are Documentary and Creative Response and prizes will be awarded for the Best Documentary, Best Creative Response, Best Use of IWM Archive Material, Best Student Film and the Winner of the Audience Vote. Films should be 30 minutes or less and it’s free to enter.
  • Prizes include a Student Internship with October Films and £5,000 worth of archive and restoration work with Prime Focus.
  • The deadline is 30 September 2015. Details for entering can be found here.

Silent films at the London film festival 2012

The Manxman (1928)
The Manxman (1928)

There are plenty of changes afoot at the BFI London film festival, with a new artistic director, more venues being used around the capital and a rejigged set of thematic categories across the programme. The Treasures strand has been beefed up, and that can only mean good news for silent film enthusiasts. So, without further preamble, here’s what you can look forward to this year:

The Manxman

This is the big one, the archive gala presentation. Hitchcock’s tragic coastal romance is one of his most beautiful films, and an accomplished, fascinating silent. Anny Ondra, Carl Brisson and Malcolm Keen take their places at the corners of an Isle of Man love triangle, and Hitchcock milks their doom-laden situation for every drop of suspense. This will of course be a presentation of the BFI’s new restoration of the film, and as he did last year with The First Born, Stephen Horne will be writing and performing a brand new score.

19 October, 8.30pm, Empire Leicester Square

Blancanieves (2012)

Rather dishearteningly described as ‘Tim Burton meets The Artist’, Pablo Berger’s modern silent plays three times during the festival, in the Cult strand. It’s a Gothic adaptation of Snow White, set in the world of bullfighting in 1920s Spain and it looks very intriguing. You can read more here and we’ll have a better idea what to expect when the reviews come in from its screenings at the San Sebastian and Toronto festivals later this month.

12 October, 6.30pm, Ritzy

15 October, 9pm, Renoir

18 October, 2pm, ICA

Continue reading Silent films at the London film festival 2012