Here are fourteen short films – some favorites, others unfamiliar – produced between 1902 and 1965. They were photographed silent, but they’re not silent anymore. All boast new music composed and performed by The Alloy Orchestra, a three-man ensemble critic Roger Ebert called "the best in the world at accompanying silent films." Alloy Orchestra shuns the nostalgic approach, successfully using found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics to reinvigorate films for new audiences with its unique sound, hear here in a spectacular variety of styles.
Films in this new collection are sourced from high quality prints, digitally mastered from around the world, offering wonder, laughter, absurdity, and charm. They represent many genres and styles, including "trick films," hand drawn as well as stop-motion animation, classic comedy, and avant-garde and surrealist surprises.
Following D.W. Griffith's Those Awful Hats for 1909, the program proceeds in chronological order with many of the shorts separated by vintage hand-painted slides created for use in movie theaters a century ago. The selections are A Trip to the Moon (by Georges Méliès, with his original narration), Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (Edwin S. Porter), The Red Spectre (Segundo de Chomon), The Acrobatic Fly (Percy Smith), The Thieving Hand and Princess Nicotine (Vitagraph Studios), Artheme Swallows His Clarinet (Eclipse Films), The Cameraman's Revenge (Ladislas Starewicz), The Pet (Winsor McCay), The Play House (Buster Keaton, in a beautiful copy with all original titles), Filmstudie (Hans Richter), The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra (Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich and Gregg Toland), and Clay, or the Origin of Species (Eliot Noyes, Jr.).
If you don’t know anything about the first 70 years of cinema, or even if you are an expert, share the enthusiasm and enjoy the revelations of this entertaining collection. Engaging films never grow old, and with Alloy’s music, the films on this DVD certainly haven’t aged at all!
As an added bonus, the DVD features a short film by David Davidson documenting The Alloy Orchestra in a recording session for one of the films in the collection.