Saturday, June 01, 2013

jun 15+16 | ben hur with live piano score

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ 
1925 silent film with live piano score by Sara Davis Buechner

Pacific Cinematheque Special Event
June 15 @ 7:30
June 16 @ 4:00

On Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16, The Cinematheque is very pleased to present the renowned pianist Sara Davis Buechner, who will provide live musical accompaniment to director Fred Niblo’s 1925 blockbuster Ben-Hur, one of the silent era’s most spectacular and celebrated epics.

MGM’s 1925 version of Ben-Hur (remade by William Wyler in 1959 with Charlton Heston) was the most expensive film of the silent era, and still astonishes with its amazing set pieces and action sequences and truly colossal scale. Matinee idols Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman have the leads. Novarro is Judah Ben-Hur, the Jewish prince-turned-slave who crosses paths with Christ while on a quest for revenge. Bushman is Messala, the old childhood friend, now a Roman official, who betrays Ben-Hur and his family. The film’s thrilling sea-battle and chariot-race sequences are justifiably legendary; the lavishness on display throughout is breathtaking. “It was a remake even then [there was a 1907 film version], but MGM put $5 million into it, and so much Amazing, Gargantuan, Stupendous, and Mighty Biblical Pageantry that vast numbers of viewers were swept off their feet. There’s a galley manned by a thousand slaves, the sea battle between Romans and ancient pirates, the Valley of the Lepers, and the chariot race staged in a mammoth stadium” (Pauline Kael).
B&W with Colour sequences, silent. 142 mins.

Dr. Sara Buechner, an Associate Professor of Piano at the University of British Columbia, is an accomplished classical concert musician whose performances and recordings have won acclaim and awards around the world. She has appeared as a soloist with many internationally prominent orchestras, won prizes at some of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions, and has an active repertoire of more than 100 piano concertos. Dr. Buechner has been the subject of profiles in the New York Times,Maclean’s, Paris Match, and other major media. She has a great passion for film music and is one of the very few concert pianists today performing originals scores to silent movies. Dr. Buechner will also provide an introduction to the performance/screening and conduct a short Q&A afterwards.

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