Webster University in Saint Louis has been doing impressive film series for years now. I’m slightly embarrassed that this is the first that I’ve attended. I found it suitably ironic that the screenings take place in a converted church, as only devout movie buffs were in attendance for the two plus hour silent film on a Saturday night.
Given that I intend to focus on the film’s Criterion Collection release at a later date, I won’t say much about it now. However, this screening of the film was accompanied by celebrated silent film pianist Donald Sosin. I haven’t watched a lot of silent films and I learned a lot about the resurgence of accompaniment over the past thirty years from Mr. Sosin. If there was an original score or non-original accompaniment notes for Pandora’s Box, they are lost to time. He noted that at the peak of the silent film era, there were 30,000 musicians employed in silent movie houses in the United States alone. His score was really wonderful, incorporating original and non-original music, including improvised passages for that evening’s performance. The Pandora’s Box accompaniment was a marathon of musical performance with no intermissions or breaks.
Mr. Sosin was a wonderful part of the evening and a lucky first live silent film experience for me. If you are interested in finding out more about the silent community and Mr. Sosin, he has a website; http://www.silent-film-music.com/. Speaking of the Criterion Collection, Sosin composed and performs original scores on all three films in their new Eclipse set, Silent Ozu: Three Family Comedies.
To find out more about the continuing Webster University Film Series, visit their website; http://www.webster.edu/filmseries.html/. This coming weekend will conclude the current series. In the spirit of the holiday, they are showing F.W. Mernau’s Nosferatu (1922) with live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra, Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht starring Klaus Kinski (1979) and the fictionalized making-of Nosferatu black comedy, Shadow of the Vampire (2000), starring John Malkovich and Willem Defoe.