The film was accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by the composer of the live score, John Scott.
One of my friends had asked me if I had seen the film before, and I said that I vaguely remembered seeing it, and the only lasting impression I remembered was that it was very ‘fast’ – speeded up, like the end of the Benny Hill show.
This certainly wasn’t like that, and so I was confused as to what I had seen, until I read the blurb in the programme.
Composer John Scott (he seemed a lovely man, and after the performance, he asked Douglas Fairbanks’ granddaughter who was in the audience, whether she thought he would have approved!) originally turned down the idea of creating a new score for the film when approached in 2006 by the City of Nottingham.
One of the reasons he gave was “I found the film unbearable, all the characters moved in a stilted way, far too fast and the whole effect was quaint and unreal.” So perhaps my memory of the film hadn’t been wrong after all. they then slowed the film down to ‘real time’ action and John Scott realised that the film was now a very different subject, and that he would be able to compose the new score.
The film was actually far more lavish than I had been expecting – it apparently cost a rumoured $1million…in 1922…and at the time was the most expensive film made.
The sets were absolutely amazing for the time, including a full-scale castle built especially for the film. The jousting scenes at the start included a huge number of extras, animals and grand costumes and sets.
The film was often suprisingly dark, often laugh-out-loud funny (sometimes even intentionally!) and literally had Robin and his merry men skipping around the forest in their tights. Yes, literally. Grown men skipping.
The athleticism of Douglas Fairbanks was also a wonder to behold. Whenever they rushed off to their horses, he literally leaped over rocks, bushes, etc and jumped straight into the saddle, while the rest of the men put on a brave show of trying to heave themselves up via their stirrups while he got a head start on them.
And the score – it was faultless. Sometimes I glanced down from the screen and was almost shocked to see a full orchestra there playing, as I had momentarily forgotten that it was live, so seamless were the action and the music.
It was a fabulous evening in gorgeous surroundings, and a film that I am glad I now have a better memory of, with a faultless live score – I loved every second!
I wonder what will be my next silent film with live score experience…
I will levae you with a non-slowed down clip…pretty gruesome, aye?
I am so behind on my blog – I have been suffering from VERY bad insomnia and other various run-downness lately that I just haven’t had my head together to formulate my posts!
Anyway – just under two weeks ago (ahem), I went along with a friend to see a youth orchestra playing at Cadogan Hall (where I recently saw Maz Jobrani).
The Orpheus Foundation offers a platform for young musicians to be part of a real performing orchestra, and play both free rehearsal and paid / fundraising concerts. The performance that we went along to was one of the more fun ones as they were playing themes from TV and music – kind of the ‘entry level orchestral experience’
The first half were classical pieces that happened to have been used in film:
- Camille Saint-Saens – Danse Macabre (Jonathan Creek) – I’ve awlays loved this one
- Giacomo Puccini – O mio babbino caro (A Room With A View)
- Sergei Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto #20 (Brief Encounter)
I loved Danse Macabre as ever, but unfortunately although i’m sure the other two peices were played very well, it just reiterated my previous feelings that piano concertos just aren’t really my ‘thing’. I love the piano – especially jazz etc – but personally pianos don’t tend to work for me as a focus in an orchestra as they detract so much from the gorgeous sound of the collective instruments.
Anyway, the second half was all scores composed for film – a real John Williams extravaganza. In fact, they actually began by playing the 20th Century Fox theme tune, which was amusing.
- Jurassic Park
- Schindler’s List
- Harry Potter
- Star Wars
- Indiana Jones
This half was the crowd-pleaser. We all knew and loved the tunes, and Indiana Jones in particular is hornily fantastic! (As in I love the horns, not anything else!).
I have never seen Schindler’s List, nor heard the theme. A violin soloist (Leonard Schreiber) came on to play it and it was SO haunting, and he was so amazing that I felt completely moved. Although some of the faces that he pulled during his performance did in fact make me feel that I’d just done the dity with him!
All in all, it was a fantastic night, and I would definitely like to see the orchestra perform again. especially as we started giving some of them nicknames. Not very imaginative nicknames admittedly – Spikey Heels, Giggles, Grumpy…
Until I came out of the station, I hadn’t actually twigged that last night was the first time I had ever been to Sloane Square. It’s an odd place.
Cadogan Hall however, was absolutely lovely – much bigger than I thought it was going to be.
I had got the tickets to see Maz Jobrani for free, and wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew that he was an Iranian American, had been part of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and that he had been in Curb Your Enthusiasm and The West Wing. But that was all. But it was free!
However, before he came on stage, we were, erm ‘treated’ to ‘Kiss & Tell’. A musical due who were a little Noel Coward-esque – a bloke on the piano and a posh bird singing about posh bird things (like the credit crunch meaning that she’d had to downgrade stuff). To be honest, it seemed rather a bizarre pairing with an Iranian comic. It fit the venue, but not the audience who were mainly Middle Eastern by the looks (het, you can include my look in there too!). they were very hit and miss. A couple of good songs and a couple that really weren’t as funny as you wanted them to be.
So, it was quite a relief when the thumping dance music came on, and Maz Jobrani danced on in a typical Middle Eastern way – which immediately had the audience laughing.
I have to say, we laughed heartily for the next hour or so. Maz has his own particular style of observational comedy, mainly based around the differences between the different Middle Eastern and Arab cultures and their relationships with the rest of the world. He tackles quite sensitive world issues (eg the current Arab uprising) but in a rather endearing way in which noone seemed to take any offence at all (for example, after identifying a single Palestinian woman and a single Jewish man, he joked that perhaps they should start the peace process themselves, and quipped that the guy shouldn’t try and pinch the girl’s chair).
He got the whole audience involved – asking where various people were from, and every time he mentioned a different country a cheer would go up from somewhere within the audience. It was extremely lively – until the moment where he asked “So, are there actually any white English people here?” which was obviously the wrong question because English people don’t naturally whoop and identify themselves. My mate wouldn’t anyway. And my Tunisian half was particularly making itself felt last night – in fact I was quite missing my (blood) dad.
I loved it – I’ll certainly look out for him in the future. And I will be telling my dad to check him out aswell!