Indiana Daily Student

Silent-era classic screened with live accompaniment

IU Cinema founding director Jon Vickers introduces the Alloy Orchestra on Oct. 17 in IU Cinema. The ensemble provided accompaniment for the silent film "Speedy."
IU Cinema founding director Jon Vickers introduces the Alloy Orchestra on Oct. 17 in IU Cinema. The ensemble provided accompaniment for the silent film "Speedy."

The Alloy Orchestra, once described by Roger Ebert as the “best in the world at accompanying silent films,” according to the official website, brought its musical talents at 7 p.m. Oct. 17 to the IU Cinema to accompany the silent film “Speedy.”

“It is part of IU Cinema’s mission to present film across genres, eras, and cultures, highlighting the very best the art form has to offer,” IU Cinema director Jon Vickers said in an email. “Presenting silent films with live musical accompaniment creates engaging and memorable experiences for our audiences. The live music and new film restorations bring these films back to life, the way they were experienced almost a century ago.”

“Speedy” tackles themes of modernization during the Roaring '20s. This dramatic comedy revolves around a race between New York’s public transit and the last horse-drawn trolley in the city. Ted Wilde, the director of “Speedy,” was nominated for Best Director for a Comedy Picture at the first Academy Awards for his work on this film. The Alloy Orchestra first debuted its accompaniment for this film at the 2001 Telluride Film Festival.

“Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble that writes new music and performs live accompaniment to classic silent films,” Vickers said. “For nearly 30 years, Alloy has performed globally at prestigious festivals and venues, including the Telluride Film Festival, helping revive great masterpieces of the silent era.”

This screening was the first of three events involving the Alloy Orchestra that are planned for the IU Cinema. At 4 p.m. Oct. 18, the cinema will be having an on-stage interview with the three musicians who make up the Alloy Orchestra. Later that night at 7 p.m., the Alloy Orchestra will be debuting its brand-new accompaniment for the film “La Galerie des Monstres.”

The Alloy Orchestra utilizes what it refers to as its “rack of junk,” an “outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects,” in collaboration with state-of-the-art electronics to create almost any sound imaginable.

“Few cinematic experiences rival watching in a theater a beautifully restored print of a silent film with live musical accompaniment, particularly when the venue is the IU Cinema and the accompaniment is provided by the Alloy Orchestra, who have an uncanny ability to bring century-old movies to life in unpredictable and smart ways,” Greg Waller, editor of film history and provost professor of cinema and media studies in The Media School, said.

Additional information regarding these showings and more is available on the IU Cinema website. Tickets are available for these showings online, at the IU Auditorium box office or in the IU Cinema lobby an hour before each showing.

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