This coming weekend (as our Bristol Calender tells us) sees a special screening of a collection of BFI prints of silent films based on the work of William Shakespeare. Sadly, for some reason unknown to us, the festival which is co-running the event with Watershed never replied to our emails and calls asking for extra information about the event and their own thoughts on the event and why they are running it.
However, we thought we would run with something anyway. Bristol Silents were lucky enough to speak to award-winning composer Laura Rossi who knows the films more than most, mainly because she has played to the films so many times.
‘Silent Shakespeare is a beautiful collection of 7 short silent Shakespeare films from the BFI made as early as 1899. This was my first professional job as a film composer and remains one of my favourite projects I have worked on. I decided to take a looking glass approach when scoring the films as they are very magical and beautiful, and I really wanted to enhance this, and draw the viewer into the enchanting world of films. I scored them for a small ensemble as the films are so intimate a larger ensemble would have been too overpowering (and there was only a small budget!) So, I decided to score them for various combinations of piano, string quartet, acoustic guitar, percussion and recorder.
I have had the privilege of performing these scores live (with piano and string quartet) with the films at cinema’s across the UK, at Belfast and Sao Paulo film festivals and on the walls of The Globe, London.
It is a very magical experience watching these films, the whole of a Splay condensed into ten or twenty minutes, each of which really captures the essence of the play and charms the viewer into the world of the films. It is amazing to experience the audiences reaction to them in cinemas filled with wonder, laughter and enthusiasm for these treasures of the BFI. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!’
Our thanks to Laura for writing such a great account of her special relationship with these films.
It seems that the event held this coming Sunday will include all seven films and will include Laura’s music. Although it sounds like that the event will have Laura’s score played from a recording. Although, if this isn’t the case, I’m guessing it will be a real surprise for everyone who comes along, especially for Laura if she is playing live!
You can find more information about this event, and how to book tickets at the Watershed Website.
Our thanks once again to Laura Rossi and hope to see some of you there!