The only film festival in Scotland to celebrate silent film and live music was back yet again for another eventful weekend of frolics, and I was fortunate enough to make it to the last day of activity, which included a triple bill of Laurel & Hardy classics, a perfume workshop and a screening of a 1928 Moulin Rouge, accompanied by a full live band.
After the trek it took to get to Bo’ness it was a relief to see the Hippodrome cinema at it’s peak for the villages annual treat offering of silent film. First up was a triple bill of Laurel and Hardy films, introduced by one of the Dodge Brothers, and professor at the University of Southampton, Dr Mike Hammond. Accompanied by pianist, Jane Gardner, performing live, it was a real treat to spend a Sunday lunchtime watching With Love and Hisses, Wrong Again and You’re Darn Tootin. The younger audience certainly thought so, which I gathered from all the hissing and giggling I could hear amongst the audience. They were classic Laurel & Hardy in that they appear detached from everyday society, particularly in You’re Darn Tootin and the comedy was slapstick gold and not only had the kids in fits of giggles.
Another indulging item on Sunday’s programme was the fine opportunity to blend your own perfume at the Perfume Workshop up at the town hall. With the help of staff from The Perfume Studio, HippFest had organised this event, enabling an understanding of the work of perfumery. Sold out and oversubscribed, the event was clearly a popular one, and it appeared that those involved in the workshop thoroughly enjoyed the process.
And then it was time for the finale of the evening, a screening of Moulin Rouge, starring Eve Gray, Jean Bradin and Olga Tschechowa with live musical performance from Jonny Best, Gunter Buchwald and Frank Bockius. A wonderful 1928 production, directed by Ewald Andre Dupont, the film was classic in the silent films of the era, in that the acting was overdramatic, with some sinister hints. Eve Gray’s performance as Margaret was stunning, the production values were lavish, with much to ooh and ah over (it is set in the Moulin Rouge after all) and I am sure I speak for everyone when I say that we are all charmed by the acting from Olga Tschechowa. And then there was the live score, which was subtly dramatic and yet almost invisible at points. The trio succinctly accentuated the visuals with a wonderful score, heightening the drama and adding flavour to the performances. A stunning treat.
All in all, what could appeal to the senses better on a blustery Sunday than a trip to the cinema to see a rich programme of silent film with live score, with indulgent activity such as blending perfumes thrown in. If you’ve not yet made it to the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo’ness I urge you all to do so.
Photos courtesy of Kat Gollock Photography.
For more on the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival click here.