Bo’ness showcases magic of silent era

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Cutting-edge silent films will be shown at Bo’ness Hippodrome from this weekend including the earliest surviving animated feature ever made.

The team behind the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival will launch their second season of silent films, A Taste of Silents, which is billed as an introduction to silent film, over the next few months

And the event also features atmospheric live music from world class accompaniment in what is Scotland’s oldest cinema.

The season opens with two screenings of Pandora’s Box on Saturday (June 23) at 2.30pm, accompanied by a recorded orchestral score by German composer Peer Raben.

Sunday’s screening at 7.30pm will feature a new live score by HippFest favourites Jane Gardner on piano and Roddy Long on violin.

The film, made in decadent Weimar-era Germany, charts the rise and fall of a spirited but innocent showgirl who wreaks havoc on the lives of her many admirers.

Next up is Lotte Reiniger’s beautiful 1926 silhouette animation The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), which will appeal to adults but was primarily aimed at a younger audience.

Screening on August 25, this is the earliest surviving animated feature film ever made, took three years to complete and all the card used to make the shadow characters who move through magical worlds of demons, witches, princesses and flying castles, was cut entirely by hand.

It too is screened with live accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist Chris Davies who uses a huge assortment of instruments including: classical guitar, oud, darbuka, gong rack, bass drum, djembe, tin whistle, bowed psaltery, xylophones, thumb piano, zither, crystal singing bowl, bamboo flute, soprano saxophone, rattles, shakers and bells, voice, sequencing and computer programming to create his unmissable musical score.

Film fans will have another wait for what comes next as the third film in the season will not be screened until September 15.

This is Hitchcock classic The Lodger from 1927 screening on September 15 with live music from award winning musician Stephen Horne.

The season concludes with what is often referred to as one of the silent era’s greatest films Buster Keaton’s comedy classic, The General .

This will screen on Saturday, September 29 with live accompaniment from silent cinema’s musical maestro and HippFest regular Neil Brand.

Alison Strauss, Arts Development Officer (Film and Media) and HippFest Director for Falkirk Community Trust, said: “This short season at the Hippodrome is when we make a noise about all that is great about silent cinema – captivating screen sirens, chilling suspense, jaw-dropping stunts, terrific stories, beautiful animation, high drama, side-splitting comedy, and - not forgetting - sweeping music that will carry you in to the heart of the action.

“In fact, it’s all the things we love about a trip to the movies today but with the added pleasure of live music from the best accompanists and composers in the world.

“ We hope that people who have never tried a silent film before will come along and give it a shot.

“And that’s why I’ve picked the finest, most accessible and entertaining films from this rich period of cinema history to give a flavour of what silent films have to offer.”