Silent Films & Live Music

Barbican Cinema, Barbican Centre
Silent Films & Live Music
21 January - 17 June 2018

Silent London Awards: Best Silent Film Venue 2017 – Silver

The Barbican’s celebrated and respected series of screenings of silent films featuring live musical accompaniment continues in 2018. From January to June, the regular programme includes works highlighting the various popular strands of the silent movies era, from the circus and gothic genres, to historical dramas, and tales of romance and obsession. The screenings are accompanied live by acoustic and electronic ensembles, as well as by solo and duos.

Returning to the Barbican as part of the series are some of the UK’s most established accompanists of silent films such as Stephen Horne, Wendy Hiscocks, and Neil Brand. Also performing live at the Barbican screenings for the first time are musicians from a broad range of backgrounds such as acclaimed Galway-based multi-instrumentalist Morgan Cooke.

Variety (PG) with live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne and Martin Pyne
Sun 21 Jan 4pm, Cinema 1
Germany 1925 Dir Ewald Andre Dupont 94 min

A key work of German silent cinema and an international smash on its release, E A Dupont’s movie is an audacious melodrama, partly filmed in the legendary Berlin Wintergarten Theatre. Starring two of the era’s biggest stars, Emil Jannings and Lya De Putti, the film immerses us in a world of acrobats, clowns, jugglers, dancing girls and barkers of the period. The screening features a live musical accompaniment by acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Stephen Horne and vibraphonist/percussionist Martin Pyne, who perform Horne's original score for this classic of both the silent and circus genre.

Part of the London International Mime Festival

Little Old New York (#) with live musical accompaniment by Morgan Cooke
Sun 18 Mar 3.30pm, Cinema 1

US 1932 Dir Sidney Olcott 110 min

Directed by the incredibly prolific Sidney Olcott - Toronto-born of Irish descent - this historical drama is based on a play by Rida Johnson Young. The plot follows a young Irish girl (controversial silent film star Marion Davis) as she arrives in early 19th century New York disguised as a boy to claim a fortune left for her late brother. The screening of this restored copy is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Morgan Cooke (harp, harmonica, and piano).

Presented in partnership with the Irish Film Institute

The Call of the Sea (15*) with live musical accompaniment TBC
Thu 29 March 7.30pm, Cinema 1

Poland 1927 Dir Henryk Szaro 126 min

The Barbican and the Polish Cultural Institute in London presents the Closing Gala event of the 2018 Kinoteka Polish Film Festival, featuring a screening of the digitally restored 1927 film The Call of the Sea, directed by Henryk Szaro and based on a novel by Stefan Kiedrzyński. Immensely popular in Poland in the 1920s due to its complex scenery and cinematography, this epic love story with a turbulent plot combines maritime cinema and romance, featuring many stars of the silent film era as well as officers and gunmen of the Polish navy and air force.

Part of the 16th Kinoteka Polish Film Festival (7 - 29 March 2018)

The Suffragette (PG*)
Germany 1913 Dir Urban Gad 60 min
+ Highlights from Make More Noise shorts (PG)
with live accompaniment by Wendy Hiscocks and an introduction by Naomi Paxton
Sun 22 Apr 4pm, Cinema 1

This double bill presents one of the first films to bring the British Suffragette movement to the screen, paired with highlights from Make More Noise!, (BFI National Archive) a collection exploring the representation of pioneering women in the first decades of the 20th century - both featuring live music by Australian-born composer and pianist Wendy Hiscocks.

In The Suffragette, silent film diva, Asta Nielsen, one of the most popular leading female actors of the silent era and one of the first international movie stars, plays a militant British Suffragette, who gets involved in a plot to murder a government official. Including depiction of suffrage protests and imprisonment, the film has gained popularity and wide appeal, while limited in its overall support of the cause.

Part of Nevertheless She Persisted: Suffrage, Cinema and Beyond

Underground (PG) with live accompaniment by Neil Brand
Sun 13 May 4pm, Cinema 1

UK 1928 Dir Anthony Asquith 84 min

As part of the Barbican’s Culture Mile programming, Underground forms the opening event of the Centre’s film season complementing the Museum of London’s ‘London Nights’ photography exhibition. Anthony Asquith’s 1928 silent gem is a portrait of 1920s working-class London with its pubs, shops, lodging houses and, of course, the Underground itself. An extraordinary tale of jealousy, murder and a fatally flawed love triangle, which culminates in a thrilling chase on the London tube lines. The screening will feature music performed by pianist and composer Neil Brand, one of the finest exponents of improvised silent film accompaniment.

Part of London Nights

The Phantom of the Opera (U) with live electronic music accompaniment by composers and musicians of the Guildhall’s Electronic Music Studio
Sun 17 Jun 3pm, Cinema 1

US 1925 Dir Rupert Julian 89 min

In one of his signature roles, Lon Chaney, one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema, portrays the disfigured creature haunting the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera. He becomes obsessed with a beautiful understudy, played by Mary Philbin. Based on the immensely popular gothic romance by Gaston Theroux, later successfully adapted into various stage plays and films, Rupert Julian’s movie provides the perfect vehicle for Chaney’s legendary make-up skills.

Providing musical accompaniment to the screening are the musicians from Guildhall School’s Electronic Music Studio.


Notes to Editors

For further information contact:
Sarah Harvey Publicity: 020 7732 7790
Sarah Harvey:
Eleonora Claps:

Ticket prices: Box Office: 0845 120 7527

Please note that tickets for the events included in the Silent Films & Live Music series will go on sale on Wednesday 17 January.

* Local Classification