Saturday Afternoon at the Not-So-Silent Movies

 

Enjoy an old, old fashioned Saturday afternoon at the movies at Windsor Historical Society on January 30 starting at 2:00 p.m. Grab your popcorn and get ready to laugh with Buster Keaton in “The High Sign”, Charlie Chaplin in “The Immigrant” and another short movie to be announced.  Bringing their considerable talents to the Society for the afternoon are pianist/composer Donald Sosin and actress/singer Joanna Seaton, Connecticut residents who perform at major film festivals across the nation and in Europe. 

 

Back in the days before movies came with sound, (roughly the first three decades of the twentieth century) movie-goers depended on music, and actors with expressive faces and body language to understand the plotlines on the silver screen before them.  Cliff-hangers featured foreboding base-notes and drum-rolls, and comedic passages sparkled with lively scoring.  In larger cities, small orchestras provided musical accompaniment to films, and actors and actresses like Joanna Seaton might even provide bloodcurdling screams at appropriate points.  Even the smallest towns with a movie theater employed a pianist.  He or she (like Donald Sosin)  had to be a special kind of pianist,  nimble of finger and brain, who could draw from a classical repertoire or quickly improvise an accompaniment to enhance what was happening on screen. In the early twentieth century, the movies provided a living for many musicians; the advent of the talkies, combined with the Great Depression was particularly devastating to musicians, putting many of them out of work.

 

Early films were produced on flammable and unstable nitrate film; it has been estimated that 75 percent of American silent films have been lost.  The program on Saturday afternoon is great entertainment but it also represents a rare survival of a nearly-lost art and medium that photographic historians are trying hard to preserve. These films are great for all ages so bring your family, bring your friends to Windsor Historical Society.  We’ll provide the popcorn and drinks!  Cost for the program is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and $4 for WHS members.

  

Windsor Historical Society’s winter-spring programming is supported by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council.

 

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