Hippodrome Silent Film Festival creators announce their second season of movies with live music

Buster Keaton in ‘The General’
Buster Keaton in ‘The General’ screening at the Hippodrome on Saturday 29 September with live music from Neil Brand

The team behind the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (HippFest), Scotland’s only silent film festival, launch their second season of silent films – A Taste of Silents this week with the BFI’s latest 5 star restoration Pandora's Box (1929) starring screen goddess Louise Brooks on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 June. 

A Taste of Silents aims to introduce new audiences to the rich, immersive and captivating world of silent film, with live music, presented in Scotland’s oldest cinema, the Hippodrome in Bo’ness, where HippFest takes place each year.

The season opens with two screenings of Pandora’s Box on Saturday 23 June at 2.30pm accompanied by a recorded orchestral score by German composer Peer Raben, and on Sunday 24 June at 7.30pm with a new live score by HippFest favourites Jane Gardner (piano) and Roddy Long (violin). 

Pandora’s Box is one of the greatest films of the silent era, renowned for its sensational storyline, sparkling Weimar-period setting and the legendary lead performance from its iconic star: Louise Brooks. The film is directed by GW Pabst and follows the rise and fall of Lulu (Brooks), a spirited but innocent showgirl whose sheer sexual magnetism wreaks havoc on the lives of men and women alike. 

Next up is Lotte Reiniger’s beautiful 1926 silhouette animation The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). This is the earliest surviving animated feature film ever made, took three years to complete and all the card used to make the shadow characters who move through magical worlds of demons, witches, princesses and flying castles, was cut entirely by hand. It is a film which will enthral children and film fans of all ages and is screened with live accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist Chris Davies who uses a huge assortment of instruments including: classical guitar, oud, darbuka, gong rack, bass drum, djembe, tin whistle, bowed psaltery, xylophones, thumb piano, zither, crystal singing bowl, bamboo flute, soprano saxophone, rattles, shakers and bells, voice, sequencing and computer programming to create his unmissable musical score.

The third film in the season is The Lodger (1927) screening on 15 September with live music from award winning musician Stephen Horne. This Hitchcock classic is an atmospheric thriller about a serial killer known as the Avenger who murders blonde women and takes a room to rent in the house of Mr and Mrs Bunting, whose daughter is a blonde model dating the detective assigned to the case. Featuring the celebrated director’s trade-mark flourish, this chilling film will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, just as you would expect from the original Master of Suspense.

The season concludes with Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) screening on Saturday 29 September with live accompaniment from silent cinema’s musical maestro and HippFest regular Neil Brand. ‘The General’ is a silent comedy classic set during the American Civil War where Keaton (Johnny Gray), pursued by Union soldiers, commandeers his trusty locomotive: The General to outrun his pursuers and win the girl. Brilliant, timeless and bursting with comic action and boundless wit – this is often referred to as one of the silent era’s greatest films.

Alison Strauss, Arts Development Officer (Film and Media) and HippFest Director for Falkirk Community Trust, said: 
“This short season at the Hippodrome is when we make a noise about all that is great about silent cinema – captivating screen sirens, chilling suspense, jaw-dropping stunts, terrific stories, beautiful animation, high drama, side-splitting comedy, and - not forgetting - sweeping music that will carry you in to the heart of the action. In fact, all the things we love about a trip to the movies today but with the added pleasure of live music from the best accompanists and composers in the world. We hope that people who have never tried a silent film before will come along and give it a shot and that’s why I’ve picked the finest, most accessible and entertaining films from this rich period of cinema history to give a flavour of what silent films have to offer.”

HippFest 2019 runs from Wednesday 20 – Sunday 24 March.


TASTE OF SILENTS SEASON 2018

 L/R Louise Brooks in Pandora’s Box, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Ivor Novello in The Lodger, Buster Keaton in The General

Pandora’s Box (1929)
Germany | Dir. G.W. Pabst | With Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer | 2h 16m 
(German inter-titles with English translation)
Saturday 23 June 2.30pm with recorded orchestral score by German composer Peer Raben, 
Sunday 24 June at 7:30pm with a live score by HippFest favourites Jane Gardner (piano) and Roddy Long (violin).

The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
UK | Dir. Lotte Reiniger & Carl Koch (uncredited) | 1h 21min plus Q&A
With multi-instrumentalist Chris Davies
Saturday 25 August, 3.30pm
Plus drop-in pre-screening workshop at Bo’ness Library 

The Lodger (1927) 
UK | Dir. Alfred Hitchcock | With June Tripp, Ivor Novello, Marie Ault | 1h 18m
With Stephen Horne (piano)
Saturday 15 September

The General (1926) 
France | Dir. Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton | With Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavendar | 1h 7m
with Neil Brand (piano)
Saturday 29 September

Published on Wednesday, 20th June 2018

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