Slapstick Gala Event
Paul Merton's Silent Comedy Classics
Friday 18th January 2008
Paul Merton hosted this special event at Colston Hall in Bristol. Chris Serle started the evening off, then Paul Merton introduced the films, starting with Buster Keaton's 'One Week', followed by the Laurel and Hardy classic 'Leave Em Laughing'. Both of these films had a three piece musical accompaniment by Neil Brand, Gunter Buchwald and Frank Bockius.
Paul then took to the stage, along with the 15-piece Emerald Ensemble, to sing "Eternally" and then "Smile", two Charlie Chaplin songs, arranged by Neil Brand. Paul sang beautifully. He has such an amazing voice it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on edge. The only disappointment was that the microphone didn't work, so it was very quiet until a second microphone slid across the stage!
The second part of the evening consisted of Paul Merton chatting with Christoper Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin's son. They then introduced 'The Gold Rush', a Charlie Chaplin film from 1925. This featured the world premiere of Timothy Brock's reorchestration of Charlie Chaplin's original score for the film, commissioned by Paul Merton. The film was hugely enjoyable and, other than Paul's singing, the highlight of the evening. It was incredibly well received by the audience and watching a film of such magnitude with a huge crowd of like-minded people was a great experience.
Silent Comedy and the Great War
with Paul McGann and Matthew Sweet
Sunday 20th January 2008
This event took place on the Sunday morning of the festival and was very enjoyable. Paul and Matthew Sweet introduced clips from films including 'The Better Ole' (1926) and a complete screening of Chaplin's mini-masterpiece 'Shoulder Arms' (1918). The films were enjoyable but the conversation was even more so. Both Paul and Matthew are highly knowledgeable about the subject of Silent Film and their enthusiasm shone through. They talked at length about Charlie's brother, Syd, and the relationship between the brothers. (Syd played The Kaiser, as well as Charlie's comrade, in this film.) as well as discussing the impact these films and others had at the time and the way in which they were used to boost morale.
This event was very informal and relaxed and a lot of the audience were very knowledgeable about the subject and asked various questions. For me, it was a further introduction to a hitherto unknown genre, but one into which I find myself increasingly drawn.
I shall be attending next year's event without a doubt!