martedì 29 settembre 2015

City Lights

I have lovely friends.
Friends who know about my passion for cinema and they think about me when there are nice events related to it.
One of them invited me, last Sunday, to a very special projection at the Cité de la Musique here in Paris.
Yes, you read it right: apparently the place has nothing to do with cinema, but not always!
The other day, Timothy Brock, an American conductor and composer specialised in music for silent movies, was performing with the Orchestre Nationale de l’île de France the ciné-concert City Lights (1931) by Charlie Chaplin.
Musical Director of the Chaplin Estate since 1999, Brock has restored all the partitions composed by the film-maker. Because, in case you didn’t know, Chaplin not only has written, directed, produced, edited, interpreted almost all his movies, but he also composed the music for many of them… a real genius!

Conductor and composer Timothy Brock
City Lights is set during the Great Depression in Los Angeles: the sweet tramp Charlot is wondering around town when he bumped into a lovely (and blind) girl selling flowers at a street corner. Thanks to his erratic friendship with a very wealthy man, Charlot will be able to help her finding the money for the operation to have her sight back. Out of jail where he was put for a robbery he didn’t commit, he bumped again into the girl a long time afterwards: she can see, now, and she has a very beautiful flowers shop. And, most important of all, she didn’t forget the hands of the man who saved her… 

This was the first time I was seeing a silent movie with a full orchestra playing live on the images, but I sincerely hope it won’t be the last one.
It was absolutely amazing to watch the film and have the music at the same time, in the same room, and fully understand his fundamental contribution to the screening.
Emotion was coming out from the images in a more special way: it was the magic of cinema à l’état pur!
And I have to confess I forgot about how lovely this film was: so simple, so funny (the long sequence of the boxing race played like a ballet was so hilarious!) and so delightfully romantic.
You could feel how the audience was moved and totally absorbed by the experience: and many of the children present were enjoying the film in a way that was a real joy to witness.

At the end of the screening, the audience warmly clapped the orchestra and the conductor, while on screen appeared a picture of the great Charlie Chaplin:
I liked the experience so much that next Monday I’ll go to see Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920) by Robert Wiene: I’m sure it will be unmissable. 
Who wants to be scared in a completely new way?
I would like to thank Mario Giovanni Ingrassia for giving me the opportunity to discover such a wonderful thing, and my friend Gabriella for having shared the experience with me. Thank you, guys!

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