Silent Film Fest Features The Bijou Orchestra and Blue Dahlia Live With Film Masterworks

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music,   From Issue 641   By: Robert E Martin

19th July, 2007     0

Two of the greatest German silent films will be featured in a mini-film festival titled' Twisted Pictures' and devoted to German Expressionism on Saturday, August 11, 2007 in Bay City Michigan.

The beautifully restored Mayan State Theatre will host F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu accompanied by world music ensemble bLuE daHLia performing their original score at 2PM.

Following this performance, Fritz Lang's Metropolis will be accompanied by its original score performed by The Bijou Orchestra at 7PM.

Sponsored by Dow Corning and the Michigan Touring Arts Program funded through Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, Twisted Pictures is a joint project of The Bijou Orchestra, The Bay Arts Council and The State Theatre.

Each film will be preceded by introductory remarks given by the performers. Following the performances, there will be opportunity for audience discussion with the artists.

"The interesting angle is that you take these dark youthful expressionist gestures from 90 years ago and put them up against performers from the present, creating a synthesis of 'then and now'," reflects Bijou Orchestra Maestro Leo Najar.

"It's a complex synthesis, though," adds Najar. "For Metropolis you have the old film, plus the original score; the orchestra in effect brings film and movie into the here and now. The other film, Nosferatu, features a wildly contemporary score, which means that in a sense the band takes the audience from the here and now and takes them back to the era of the film."

Nosferatu was filmed in 1921 and released in 1922. It was based on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, but since the producers failed to obtain production rights from the author's widow, they changed the names of characters and altered several details of the book. This did not prevent the Stoker family from suing for damages, and the fledgling Prana Film Company declared bankruptcy in order to avoid paying fines and royalties. The actor Max Schreck created a memorable Orlok (Dracula in the novel) whose distorted features and furtive movements became expressionist icons of Evil.

The world music ensemble bLuE daHLia of Kalamazoo will accompany Nosferatu. Using a broad range of instrumentation and style, bLuE daHLia has developed a repertoire of over 10 silent film scores for live performance.
Varying in emotional tenor from slapstick romantic comedies to drama and horror, these intricately orchestrated works are forging connections with great films across generations and cultures for audiences everywhere.

bLuE daHLia's music stirs color and memory into a textural river, and combines fragments of meaning that slip into visual media, subtly informing perception. Viewers often say, "I forgot you were playing!" — a testament to the success of the integral and transparent art of enhancing a visual experience with sound.

Fritz Lang's Metropolis is considered by many to be the first great science fiction film. Its immense sets and futuristic designs were a rich mixture of art deco and expressionist detail. The most expensive silent film ever made, it cost over $200 million dollars when it was completed in 1927 and nearly 38,000 extras were employed for its crowd scenes.

Metropolis explores Marxist themes and ultimately resolves the conflict between two societies: an educated, wealthy one that lives above ground and the world of the laborers that live below ground and operate the immense machinery of the factories. Star crossed love between a boy of the world above and a girl of the world below becomes the conduit for resolution.

Unlike most silent films that relied upon musicians to improvise musical accompaniments, Metropolis had a full length score written for it.

The Bijou Orchestra will perform this score in its original salon orchestration. The Bijou is a unique 13-piece theatre orchestra that presents original orchestrations from the late 19th and early 20th century eras. They are the only ensemble of their kind in the country with a regular concert series. The members of The Bijou include performers from most of the major performing arts organizations in the state of Michigan.

Following the conclusion of Metropolis in the evening, there will be a German Kabarett evening at the Stein Haus, a German restaurant located near the State Theatre. Performers will present German songs popular in the 1920s. Food and beverages will be available.

Reserved seating festival tickets for Twisted Pictures are $48 for the day and include reserved seating at the State and a ticket to the Kabarett. Unreserved seating tickets are $38 for the day. Individual films are $23 reserved and $18 unreserved. Students with ID are $10. Kabarett tickets are $5.

Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at (989) 892-4200 or in person at the Bay Musical Arts Box Office: 917 Washington Avenue, Bay City, Michigan, 48708. Box-office hours are 1-5PM Tuesday through Thursday.  Tickets are also available at the door.


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