Question: What do Richard Burton, the peace movement and the Academy Awards have in common…? Answer: the trio of rare anti-war films being shown at the Hippodrome next week as part of the venue’s ‘Hell Unlimited’ event.
The event showcases an exclusive performance of music composed for the influential yet seldom shown, silent, anti-war film ‘Hell Unlimited’ (1936), which was co-directed and produced by Glasgow-born artist Helen Biggar with renowned pioneering filmmaker Norman McLaren (born Stirling). The pair conceived their ideas for the film as civil war broke out in Spain.
The music for ‘Hell Unlimited’ was commissioned by Glasgow Film and has been supported by the PRS for Music Foundation through Women Make Music. Composer and sound installation maker Kim Moore, whose band Zoey van Goey has released two albums worldwide, collaborated with film composer Gareth Griffiths (winner of BAFTA New Talent Award for Original Music, 2012) to create this new score that responds both to the film's dramatic content and to the memory of Helen Biggar's life and artistic legacy.
Kim and Gareth’s score, based around sampled sounds, synths, live guitar and viola will, they hope, make the avant-garde film easier for people to understand.
“Being involved in this project has made me think a lot more about my stance on war. 1936 was a difficult time – a lot of people from Scotland went to join the International Brigade and fight in the Spanish Civil War, so it’s difficult to know where you would stand today.”
“On the one hand you have people like Helen and Norman, who were pacifists. On the other people going off to fight against fascism. We’ve never been faced with anything like that in our generation, we don’t know what that’s like to feel the after-effects of this huge war and then see this other war inevitably coming. It’s absolutely terrifying.”
Taking up the theme of the damaging effects of war, the evening’s film line-up also includes more archive rarities: ‘March to Aldermaston’ (1959), a celebrated campaigning documentary about CND’s 1958 landmark march to the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, narrated in sonorous tones by Richard Burton, and Norman McLaren’s Academy Award-winning and ground-breaking animation: ‘Neighbours’ (1952), made when he was well established and working in his adoptive Canada.
Our Film programmer, Alison Strauss, said:
“The Hippodrome has a growing reputation for screening silent film with live music thanks to the successful Festival of Silent Cinema and we are extremely honoured to have been invited by Glasgow Film to host this exciting new commission in our venue.”
“The two other films during the evening make interesting companion pieces for the headlining scored film” she continued.
“Showing Biggar and McLaren’s ground-breaking work presented an opportunity to seek out and access a couple of rarely screened titles from the world’s film archives. The National Film Board of Canada gave us a special thumbs up for screening ‘Neighbours’ which probably hasn’t been seen on the big screen in this country for over fifty years.”
‘Hell Unlimited’ with live music accompaniment, ‘March to Aldermaston’ and ‘Neighbours’ screen at the Hippodrome Bo’ness on Thursday 3rd October at 19:30. Tickets (£6/£4.55) are available in person from the box office or tel: 01324 506850.
Tuesday, 24th September 2013