The Alloy Orchestra Plays Wild and Weird: Short Film Favorites with New Music
DIRECTED BY: D.W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, , Segundo de Chomón, F. Percy Smith, , Ernest Servaès, Ladislas Starevich, Winsor McKay, , Eddie Cline, Hans Richter
FEATURING: Jack Brawn, Paul Panzer, Ernest Servaès,
PLOT: A compilation of twelve strange, fantastic, and experimental films from the dawn of cinema (spanning the years 1902 to 1926) with new scores for each composed by the Boston-based silent film ensemble “the Alloy Orchestra.”
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: This presentation won’t make the List solely on formal grounds, because it’s a compilation. You could make a case for several of the individual shorts, however, on the basis of their historical significance, especially “A Trip to the Moon,” “Dream of the Rarebit Fiend,” “Play House,” or “Filmstudie.”
COMMENTS: Hidden off in a corner of the Movie and Music Network‘s catalog, far away from the exploitation films in a quiet place only the cool kids know about, is an obscure little collection of classic cinema. For the most part the Alloy Orchestra’s selections in this compilation aren’t especially rare, at least to silent cinephiles, but wild and weird they certainly are. From trippy nickelodeon snippets to epic hallucinations, these films hail from a thrilling era when cinema was fresh and every new movie was an adventure in invention.
The Orchestra’s musical accompaniment is excellent and appropriate to the material. It’s mostly classical-ish, with a little bit of tasteful electronic ornamentation, and very rarely does it get avant-garde or dissonant enough to threaten the casual listener’s delicate ears. At times it’s electronic-Baroque, often it’s vibraphone and percussion heavy, with a welcome cameos by musical saws and theremins in some dream sequences. Unfortunately, the digitization used here captured some analog rumbling and distortion when the volume got too high, but in general the music is a pleasant accompaniment to the main attraction.
A brief rundown of each slice of weirdness:
- “Those Awful Hats” (1909) – A brief, presumably then-topical joke by D.W. Griffith about ladies wearing elaborate hats in the Continue reading CAPSULE: WILD AND WEIRD (ALLOY ORCHESTRA SILENT FILM COMPILATION)