NEWS from BRISTOL SILENTS
THE SOCIETY WHICH CELBERATES SILENT FILM
Scissor Sisters musician
plays new live score for
trail-blazing dinosaur film
Diary dates: Sunday 25 September – Friday 21 October (times vary)
John Garden, the long-time musical director and keyboardist with Scissors Sisters, plays his own newly-composed score live at screenings of the silent special effects masterpiece, THE LOST WORLD (1924)
Visiting Exeter, London, Manchester & Southampton
John Garden, the long-standing musical director and keyboardist with the rock stadium- filling Scissors Sisters, starts a different scale of tour this month – playing the new score he has composed for a classic silent dinosaur film at six UK venues, including the dinosaur-rich Natural History Museum, London.
The film Garden will accompany is THE LOST WORLD (Harry Hoyt, US, 101 min) which caused a world-wide sensation when it was released in 1925, thanks to the pioneering special effects developed for the dinosaur sequences by Willis O’Brien, who later placed King Kong on top of the Empire State Building.
Garden was invited to compose the new electronic score after he was introduced to the Bristol Silents silent film society by his father, the broadcaster, writer and comedian, Graeme Garden, a regular guest at the group’s annual Slapstick festival.
John says: “I was given a bunch of silent comedies and dramas from which to choose but THE LOST WORLD was the clear winner. It still tells a gripping and exciting story and you have to marvel at how the rampaging dinosaurs were created when stop-motion animation was still developing and CGI was many decades away. It took me back my childhood, making stop-animations with my dad using a Super-8 camera and Lego models. And it’s great for music – lots of mood changes, tension, chases and chomping!”
His score, played on keyboards and synthesisers, got its premiere in Bristol in June and was such a success that a tour of South West cinemas followed. Now Bristol Silents is taking John, his instruments and the film to six other venues:
Sunday 25 September: The Barbican, LONDON
Thursday 13 October: Phoenix Cinema, EXETER
Friday 14 October: Turner Sims, SOUTHAMPTON
Sunday 16 October: Cornerhouse, MANCHESTER
Friday 21 October: The Natural History Museum, LONDON
Tour organiser Chris Daniels says: “The film is based on a book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is about the discovery of a hidden land where dinosaurs still roam. The lead actors are two silent screen icons, Bessie Love, a protégé of D.W. Griffiths, and Wallace Beery, who later won an Oscar for THE CHAMP. But the real stars are Willis O’Brien’s incredible stop-motion dinosaurs. They amazed cinema-goers worldwide and were such a hit that they created a demand for dinosaur films which continues even now.”
The collaboration with John Garden is the latest in a series of new scores for silent classics to be commissioned by Bristol Silents whose members and supporters includes Aardman Animation founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton; I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T A CLUE panellists, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden; comedian Shappi Khorsandi, the actor Paul McGann and film historian David Robinson .
As well as managing The LOST WORLD tour, the society is also making plans for the next edition of its SLAPSTICK festival of silent and visual comedy, taking place in Bristol from 26-29 January 2012. The programme includes a gala at Colston Hall on Friday 27 January, hosted by Griff Rhys-Jones and featuring a new score for Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL, written by Guenter Buchwald.
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NOTES TO EDITORS: JOHN GARDEN
John Garden has been a professional musician, musical director and composer for over 15 years, including seven as a musical director and keyboard player with Scissor Sisters, touring internationally and performing for audiences of up to 90,000. His many other credits include gigs and recording work with Alison Moyet and Ke$ha.
His score for THE LOST WORLD is the first he has written for film. For a sample, visit:http://vimeo.com/26824125/. This year also saw the enthusiastically-received premiere in San Francisco of his first musical, co-written with Scissor Sisters’ front-man Jake Shears and based on the TALES OF THE CITY books by Armistead Maupin.
THE LOST WORLD: TRIVIA
THE LOST WORLD is believed to be the first full-length Hollywood feature film to rely on model animation co-stars, and the first to use stop motion animation for its primary special effects. It is also thought to have become the first ever ‘in-flight’ movie when it was shown on a plane travelling from London to Paris soon after it came out in 1925.
While the film was still in production and under wraps, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle showed a test reel of a dinosaur attack to an audience in the US which included the escapologist and magician Harry Houdini. Sir Arthur refused to reveal, however, how he had obtained the footage, prompting speculation that the creatures really existed. The next day, the New York Times, reported: “If fakes, they are masterpieces”.
Lead actor Wallace Beery was an elephant trainer with the Ringling Brothers Circus before he turned to variety and acting after being mauled by a leopard.
The film’s special effects creator Willis O’Brien later worked on KING KONG, THE SON OF KONG, IT’S A MAD, MAD WORLD and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, where he mentored a young Ray Harryhausen. In 1950, O’Brien received an Academy Award for his contribution to visual effects.
4pm, Sunday 25September, Barbican Cinema, London, £10.50-£7.50. To book : http://www.barbican.org.uk
7pm, Thursday 13October, Phoenix Cinema, Exeter; £7.00/£5.00. Box Office 01392 667080
8pm, Friday 14October, Turner Sims Building, University of Southampton; £10.00/£9.00/ students £6.00. Box Office 023 8059 5151
4pm, Sunday 16 October, Cornerhouse, Manchester; £7.50/£5.50 Box Office 0161 200 1500