Last Friday (February 26th) Millman Street Resource Centre Members again experienced a “Silent Cinema” workshop, courtesy of CLOD Ensemble. The workshop consisted of showing short clips of films, initially with their original soundtracks, then with songs or even soundtracks to other films played over them. There were also old songs played over archive footage, designed to instil a sense of atmosphere.
The CLOD Ensemble personnel were Amber, the General Manager, Rose (Producer) and Isabella, CLOD’s Project Leader and Artist. Their workshops are part of an overall project called “Extravagant Acts For Mature People”.
First, Isa played the end scene of Jaws, in which Chief Brodie (Roy Scheider) has a showdown with the titular shark. She played the clip first with its original soundtrack, then with Little Green Bag (from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack) over the footage and asked members what they thought.
“Is it scary, like before?” Isa wondered. “No,” said Ivy. “I was dancing to it,” beamed Margaret (Leahy). “So a different music makes it a different mood?” Isa asked, to general agreement.
Next up was a Tom And Jerry cartoon (Jerry and the Lion, 1950). Isa played classical music over the clip and asked: “Is it still funny, do you think?” George said, “No, it looks like he’s in trouble.” Isa then played the clip with the opening sounds from the Get Carter soundtrack. “It was like an earthquake,” Fred said. Other members agreed that the Get Carter soundtrack worked over the clip. Then Isa played the original soundtrack, with its familiar cartoon sounds, to laughter from members, who agreed that they liked the original best. “It helped build up the excitement,” Ivy said.
Next was Eating Machine, a Charlie Chaplin film from 1927. Isa again played the clip with the Get Carter soundtrack – to distracted chatter from members. Then she played it with the original, industrial score as Chaplin grapples with a machine. This sired laughter from members. “The original one was the best,” Ivy said, to general agreement. Isa then played the clip in silence and asked if it was still funny. Again, members agreed and more laughter ensued, especially from Margaret. Then followed a discussion about Chaplin’s films.
Isa moved on to song, playing Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag, the well-known First World war marching song. She handed round lyric sheets and members sang along, mainly to the chorus. Mulegetta joined in the singing, as did Olive, who tapped her foot and clapped along. Isa asked if the song went well with the accompanying footage of soldiers marching, and was a little puzzled by the lyrics. “It’s a cheerful song, but for the war; it’s happy-jolly.” She learnt from members that the song was “to cheer up soldiers and civilians” during WW1. “The Germans did the same thing (with their own songs),” Fred noted.
To end with, Isa played Charmaine, a romantic song from 1927. “The year I was born,” Helena said. Most members knew the song in its various versions from their childhoods and sang along. “We sang it all the time,” recalled Bettina. Ivy remembered singing it “down the air raid shelter during the war”, with her parents. Mulegetta, with his characteristic dryness, agreed that the song was “quite nice.”
It was played over various vintage photos of young women. “Her eyes seem as if she’s seeing something nice,” Ivy noted, “She can’t wait for him (her beau) to come.”
“She’s expecting someone to see her,” Mulegetta observed. Members agreed with Isa that it was “a happy atmosphere”.
George mentioned a look of “anxiety” on one of the faces in the photos, a notion soon taken up by Ivy, to Isa’s initial bewilderment. “Nice anxiety, in a good way” Ivy was at pains to explain. Then Isa got it: “Ah, the love anxiety!”
Isa also played versions of Charmaine by Frank Sinatra and the Bachelors; the latter – more uptempo – seemed more popular with members than old blue eyes’ version, and members agreed it was “more uplifting”.
As for the workshop itself, Ivy and Helena “enjoyed it more this week,” as did George. Anne (Semper) said: “Everything was good! We sing songs!” and she, like others, was already looking forward to the next workshop.
Holborn Community Association would like to thank CLOD Ensemble for their latest workshop, which they performed free of charge for Millman Street Resource Members.
Contact Clod Ensemble: http://www.clodensemble.com
Report by Notes Smudger