While the rest of us spent the summer wincing at the news and Instagramming our hot dog legs, Neil Brand has been in a better place. In a Hollywood vision of Sherwood Forest, to be specific, cooking up a new score for Allan Dwan’s 1922 blockbuster Robin Hood, starring the wonderful Douglas Fairbanks. The score will be performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Brock, at a special screening of the movie in the Barbican Hall on 14 October.
It’s a stellar year for silent film screenings in London, big and small, but there is one particular show I have been looking forward to for months …
Allan Dwan’s captivating, super-sized adaptation of Robin Hood, starring the athletic, charming Douglas Fairbanks, is one of my all-time favourite family-friendly silents. It has wit, and spectacle and action and a true star to recommend it. And who doesn’t love Robin Hood?
But there is another reason to anticipate this screening. Robin Hood screens at the Barbican in October, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra playing a brand new score, by the one and only Neil Brand, a veritable swashbuckler among film composers. The Barbican promises us that Brand’s score transforms and further enlivens the classic silent, adding “a new richness and relatability to the film’s building tension and dark humour”. I think this is going to be very special.
Robin Hood set a very good example when he robbed from the rich to give to the poor. You could win a pair of tickets to experience the movie, and the new score, for yourself (and a friend).
I can tell you right now – the 2012 summer blockbusters will have nothing to match Robin Hood (1922). The towering sets, the impossible stunts, the mischievous humour, the prancing Merrie Men and at the heart of it all, handsome lunatic Douglas Fairbanks springing from one perilous situation to the next. In tights. It’s ridiculous, sure, but it’s ridiculously good fun too. Not for nothing did Kevin Brownlow call it “unique in every respect … as legendary as the story which inspired it.”
This July, Robin Hood will be shown in the grand surroundings of Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall, with an equally grand accompaniment – the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing a new score composed by John Scott. If you want to introduce your children to silent cinema, I can think of few better ways to do it. This quote from Scott bodes well for a feisty soundtrack and a thrilling night.
The film calls for an action-packed score. There is romance, intrigue, terror, spectacle, suspense, and as the story progresses it demands more and more, culminating in the spectacle of a royal wedding.