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Monday, 03 October 2011 15:10

The Alloy Orchestra Brings Silent Films to Life
Written by Diane Carson
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  • Director: Karl-Heinz Martin + others
  • Dates: October 7 and 8, 2011

In the early years of the 20th century, so-called silent films didn't play in silence. They screened with everything from a lone piano player to full, glorious orchestral accompaniment. Recreating that marvelous environment through imaginative interpretations, the Alloy Orchestra has brought "silent" movies to life since 1990, and it has played to packed houses around the world, including St. Louis.

The three person Alloy Orchestra returns for two special programs at Webster University on Friday, October 7th and Saturday, October 8th. The first program consists of a potpourri of ten selections from 1906 through 1927, from the US, Switzerland, Russia, England and France. Billed as "Wild & Weird Short Films," they'll be presented with musical flourishes and creative approaches.

The Saturday program introduces the rediscovered German expressionist film From Morn to Midnight directed by Karl-Heinz Martin. In 1920s Germany, expressionism had a major impact on all the arts, film included. Rather than recording reality, expressionist films project the warped, post-WWI psychological state through distorted perspectives, costumes and makeup. Most film fans know the landmark The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but until the recent restoration of From Morn to Midnight, the film that opened shortly after Caligari remained a mystery. Now the Alloy Orchestra ingeniously interprets the cardboard cutout sets, exaggerated costumes and gestures of characters identified only by their relationship to the protagonist, a bank cashier. The morality tale of the temptation of money and its emotional effects perfectly suits this 1920s German expressionist style.

The Alloy Orchestra plays for the Wild & Weird Short Film Program at 9:00 p.m., Friday, October 7th only and for From Morn to Midnight at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 8th only. Both screenings take place at Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium. For more information, you may call 314-968-7487 or go to the web at: series.

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