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Silent Movie a Treat


THUNDER BAY ----  September 29, 2010   --------  Lakehead University’s Batia Stolar introduces the silent movie classic “The Garden Of Eden” The Screening of Lewis Milestone’s 1928 film was accompanied at the piano by Andrei Strelieaev and by 12 members of the Kanteletar Choir directed by Dean Jobin-Bevans.

Having enjoyed the film immensely, I thought it was a good outing for a man who has grown hard of hearing. Never once did I have to strain to hear what was being said, and it makes me wonder how much of our daily conversation is  truly needed. In 1928 the new media was black and white film, and a skilled director such as Lewis Milestone had to invent the resources to get the message across to the audience without the benefit of spoken dialog. When the need to communicate gets really serious he creates the opportunity to use subtitles or show text of one kind or another, but largely it is the skill of the actors, directors and the onstage musicians who accompanied these movies the success that they were.

This screening was hosted by Lakehead Universities Advanced Institute for Globalization + Culture. It is the second time that Andrei Streliaev has travelled to Thunder Bay to accompany a silent film. There was a time when silent films was a major employer of professional musicians. Musicians of the day accompanied these films shifting to one genre of music to another as the flow of the movie dictates. Their music was a combination of pieces that they had learned and shear improvisation, and this skill set has been all but lost amongst musicians save for a few like Andrei.

Andrei’s work at the piano was augmented by the sounds of members of the Kanteletar choir. As I started listening It was as though I were attending a concert. I listened to the music of the piano and the excellent singing ensemble. But as the movie rolled on I became drawn into the plot and the music highlighted and brought emotion to the film. As mentioned earlier there are so many ways to communicate I think some people waste too much energy vocalizing.

As the movie drew to a satisfying close I found an answer to something that has confounded me for years. Why do people applaud at the end of a movie? In my younger years U was a movie buff and I could never understand why people applauded a blank wall! Well the answer is in 1928 there were real live performers on stage and if they were anything like Streliaev, they deserved your applause.
This is the third season for AIG+C (that stands for the Institute for Advanced Globalization + Culture) and they have a full slate of events. Their next event is Thursday September 30th at Lakehead Universities ATCA 1001 lecture theatre. Dr Sonia Cancian will present “Their Letters were also about Love”. It begins at 7:00 pm and admission is free.

Bert Rowson
Art Editor
Lake Superior News


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