Musician ends the silence
Arts: Silent movie Safety Last! to be featured with musical composition
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013 09:23 am
Flapper dresses and zoot suits will be all the rage at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre for a roaring ’20s themed party on Oct. 19.
Foothills residents can take a step back in time to celebrate the 1920s through classic film with the unique opportunity enjoy original live scores by Ontario composer/pianist Robert Bruce.
Bruce is returning to Okotoks to perform original compositions to a silent film, this time Harold Lloyd’s comedy “Safety Last!”
“The earliest films were all silent films,” said Town of Okotoks Cultural and Historical Team Leader Allan Boss. “If you are watching a silent film all by itself it’s not going to be as powerful as it would be with music. (Bruce) does original compositions to silent films in the same way they are done originally.”
When the Town began organizing the silent film program, Boss said it was decided to add a party to the evening.
“He’s doing a ’20s film so let’s do a ’20s party,” he said. “We are seeing films that were made in the ’20s we might as well be in the ’20s.”
Town of Okotoks visitor services coordinator Andrea Spiers said the basement of the RPAC will be decked out in ’20s themed paraphernalia.
“It’s just a fun night to come dressed up,” she said. “A lot of people haven’t seen 20s films. They are quite comical. To have his original music play with it, it just adds to it. It’s fantastic.”
Bruce has been performing to silent movies for 10 years and is taking the stage to perform alongside the 1923 film, a newly restored version with a sharper image than the original.
Many people get a kick out of these types of films, said Bruce.
“A lot of people who have never been to a silent film program are often times surprised at the whole experience,” he said. “The way the music tends to be part of the narrative is a very different experience and people are often surprised. It’s a different kind of experience than just watching a new movie in the theatre.”
Although the popularity of silent films accompanied by live music is growing, Bruce said it hasn’t always been that way.
“When sound film became stabilized in the late ’20s that just zapped the entire industry for live musicians that would play with silent films,” he said. “Into the ’40s and onward there was very little trace of it. It became a dead art in a sense.”
Bruce said nostalgia grew for these films in the 1970s and silent films started to get dusted off and placed onto film reels again with the accompaniment of live musicians.
“It never completely disappeared and it was very hard to find for a long time,” he said. “The last 10 to 15 years there has been quite a lot of it coming back.”
Through his own film studies, Bruce said he always had a fascination of silent films – particularly comedic versions.
When he was asked 10 years ago to perform to a silent film at a little theatre in Hamilton, he decided to give it a whirl. He’s been addicted to the genre it every since.
“It was surprising how successful my particular music was in this setting for certain films,” he said. “I had watched a lot of films and studied old comedies. That probably influenced my music to a certain degree.”
Tickets to attend the roaring ’20s party can be purchased at www.okotoksculture.ca or by calling the Okotoks Art Gallery. Tickets cost $15 in advance or $20 at the door.