So nearly a hit for the Drifters – then again, perhaps they weren’t fitting in their movie-going around a trip to the central library and a singing lesson (certainly the lyrics make no mention).
Anyway, a little before noon last Saturday, I settled down in my seat at the Arts Picturehouse to see “The Artist”: a black and white, silent movie. Actually, it wasn’t entirely silent – there was sound at the very end and during a brief dream sequence (the credits also mentioned a number of people responsible for colour – now, that’s the sort of job I’m looking for!). To avoid the audience becoming distracted by pins dropping (and other extraneous sounds), an orchestral score filled most of the rest of the film (and not one of John Cage’s more famous works which many might have considered appropriate). Oddly, when the traditional sound did come back it took me quite a while to notice: which shows how quickly one (or at least this one) becomes habituated to the lack of foley. Presumably, back in the heyday of the silent movies, the musical accompaniment would have been provided by live musicians. Could this explain why modern movies (and, for that matter, television programmes) are awash with music? Can it be traced back to the early days of silent film and a chap (or chapess) banging away on a piano? (I assume most cinemas didn’t run to a full orchestra). Early audiences were conditioned to music joined to the moving image – and now we’re all stuck with it.
Before the film started, we were able to enjoy the usual reel of general adverts and trailers for forthcoming movies. One of these seemed to have Leonardo di Caprio playing a vacuum cleaner, Henry (I think), whilst “acting” with a capital “A” (the scenery was definitely going to be getting a good chewing) and looking decidedly middle-aged. It does seem curiously popular to ask the young and/or beautiful to play the old and/or ugly, and they are often given great credit for doing so. I can’t think of any occasion where the reverse has been tried – which seems rather unfair on those of us of some antiquity and declining visual loveliness.
One of the companies behind this dust-busting treat was called “Imagine Entertainment”, which struck me is rather a poor choice of name – or perhaps refreshingly honest? I don’t know about you, but I can imagine entertainment pretty much anywhere: on the bus or in the shower etc. When I arrive at the cinema and pay for a ticket, I am rather hoping that I will see (and, in most cases, hear) entertainment being delivered.