Films are essentially optical illusions. Artistic innovators discovered that images strung together in rapid succession resulted in the mind syncing them all together – a moving picture. The magic of a new technology. The idea that sound could be embedded into the fabric of the finished film product was years down the road. Many musicians made their living enhancing the visual worlds inhabited by the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, Rudolph Valentino and Buster Keaton. That was all before the “talkies” took over. Like most new technology, the talkies had their critics. And they said it wouldn’t last! Today, we can scarcely imagine a film without the booming sounds of explosions, car horns, crying starlets, or sweeping musical scores that bring a tear to the eye. And every theater’s sound systems are built for maximum auditory effect. In this world that is so full of noise (some good, some not so good) imagine a simpler time – one where the stars of the film world were never heard. The silent film era.
The Library of Congress has announced the sad statistic that 70% of American silent feature films are believed to be completely lost. This means the films that are still in existence are all the more valuable. At The Cary, we’re always looking for a new way to bring you the magic of film. That’s why we approached our friends at Six String Presents with the idea to revive the magic of the silents. What better way to do it than to invite a North Carolina homegrown band – Free Planet Radio – to write a new score to the classic Buster Keaton film, The General? This film was inspired by the great locomotive chase of 1862, a true story of an event that occurred during the American Civil War. The film stars Buster Keaton and tells the story of a Southern railway engineer who has “only two loves in his life” – his locomotive and the beautiful Annabelle Lee. Although only moderately successful on its initial release in 1926; it now is ranked as one of the greatest American films ever made.
We want to experience these films as they were intended – with scores that were largely improvised. How can you go wrong with a band called Free Planet Radio? Since 2001, Free Planet Radio has been bringing its exciting and innovative world-jazz-classical music blend to both concert stages and classrooms. Based in Asheville NC, this musical partnership began with a clear mission statement as “the shared vision of three multi-instrumentalists exploring the infinite and seamless relationships between musical cultures through the universal language of sound.”
Join us for an evening that celebrates the silent film on May 19th – as it was meant to be seen. A new live score, to enhance some classic moving pictures.
As a bonus, Free Planet Radio will perform a set of their own music after the film screening.