The team at South West Silents has been lucky enough to know the silent film pianist Neil Brand for a number of years, as his expert talents are regularly put to use at the British Silent Film Festival, the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, as well as the Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna each year. From epic melodramas to unpredictable actualities, Neil has applied his craft deftly to any number titles that these festivals can throw at him. Indeed perhaps the finest performance we have witnessed in many years was to see Neil perform all seven and a half hours (!) of the 1925 silent version of Les Miserables at this years festival in Pordenone. His notes elevated a superlative film to new heights.
Neil then is a musician who is not to be missed, and luckily silent film fans in Bristol should sharpen their ears to the news that Neil will be bringing his one-man show, on the brilliance of Buster Keaton, to the Watershed on the 15th of December. A few of us were lucky enough to see the show earlier this year, and we cannot recommend this enough! First, some words from Neil himself on the great stone-faced comedian Buster Keaton!
I have been playing piano to Buster Keaton movies for well over thirty years. The first feature I ever played was Steamboat Bill Jnr and I must have played that film alone more than twenty times since, along with all his surviving shorts and features.
And yet… last year, when I was invited by the BFI to give a talk about him, I realised with a shock that I didn’t actually know who he was. I had seen him in a hundred tight situations, love trysts and jaw-dropping gags, yet he only seemed to exist in the moments I watched him, and his past and future were unknown quantities. So who IS Buster? OK, this may sound weird and deep but come and see the show to find out what I mean.
Oh, and find out about his past, his writing team, his undercranking, his magic ingredients and, above all, his funniest moments. And enjoy the beautiful new restoration of Steamboat Bill Junior, now with a depth of focus and a gleaming clarity which makes it look as if it was shot yesterday. Come and REALLY meet Buster!
A really illuminating show, do well to book early so you do not miss this great performance. Details on the show and how to book can be found over on the Watershed’s page Here!