opening night of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival on Thursday, there were already 2 lines outside the Castro Theatre. In his introductory speech, Board President Robert Byrne told us it was not OK to skip any of the festival's great programs. A representative from NBCUniversal, one of the sponsors, announced that the company was committed to restoring 15 of its silent films in the next 4 years. Mike Mashon of the Library of Congress introduced the opening night film, All Quiet on Western Front. He explained that though it was produced as a sound film, a silent version was also made for the European market. The hyped-up audience applauded any mention of "nitrate" & "35mm" in his remarks.
The film was accompanied by the 6-member Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra on piano, violin, cello, clarinet, cornet & trombone. For each scene, they vamped on one of a handful of themes, ranging from jaunty to martial to lyrical. The score was tuneful & had a 19th century feel. The movie ran well over 2 hours, plus an intermission, & the band's playing was impressively consistent throughout. Additional musicians supplied sound effects for the battle scenes. We heard a whistle & bass drum for explosions, as well as the sound of marching, gun shots & machine gun fire.
§ All Quiet On The Western Front
Lewis Milestone, USA, 1930 • 134 mins.
Live musical accompaniment by Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
San Francisco Silent Film Festival 2015
Thursday May 28, 7:00 pm