SSO breaths musical life into silent film

Reported by Lasia Kretzel

Silence is golden but the Roxy theatre will be anything but quiet this Saturday as the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra’s silent movie event returns with The Mark of Zorro.

Fred Niblo’s famous 1920 masked hero film will be brought to life by a live orchestral accompaniment while, according to SSO marketing director Mike McCoy, the luxurious atmosphere of the Roxy theatre is sure to transport attendees back in time to the film’s debut.

Silence is Golden is a special event really letting people really step back in time to a different era,” McCoy said.

“It only takes a few minutes and you start to really let yourself go and people do come out and say, ‘Gosh I really did think I was back in the 1920s.'”

This year’s film marks the fourth anniversary of the silent movie event. McCoy said the decision to use silent films came from their unique blend of emotion and music.

“Silent films really capture a different time because the actors really had to project their emotions in a way that would overcome the fact that you couldn’t hear what they were saying,” he explained.

Music was therefore a way to help the audience connect with the mood and how the actors were feeling.

“It really is the key to let you know how you’re supposed to be feeling and if you strip it out sometimes it leave an experience where you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be feeling or what the actor is thinking,” McCoy said.

For the third year in a row, American composer Richardo Amigo, better known as Rick Friend, has created a mix of classical and original pieces to bring the film’s emotions to life.  His previous projects with SSO included Buster Keaton’s The General in 2011 and last season’s The Thief of Bagdad.

Friend said composing music for a silent film is a “non-mental process.”

“It’s an emotional, spiritual experience, just like anyone playing a musical instrument or doing anything artist. It’s just that experience of tapping into the source of what art is and being a channel and it feels greatn” he said. From there it is as simple as matching music to the timing of the film.

Friend and McCoy said they think modern silent films like the Oscar winning The Artist have helped reignite people’s love for the classic art form, if only temporarily.

“It (the Artist) made people more aware that you can have a complete emotional experience at a silent movie,” McCoy said.

Tickets for Saturday are $25 for the 1 p.m. show or $30 for the 7 p.m. show.

 “I know the audience will enjoy it,” Friend said.

“When we have the experience of myself and the orchestra and the audience experiencing the movie at the same time, it’s a real kick.”

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