Today@Sam Article

Austin-Based Band Revives Silent Film Experience

Nov. 4, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

An old art form is new again. One of the most adventurous bands from Austin, Texas — The Invincible Czars —will bring their original music score to town as they perform live to the 1920 silent film classic “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”

Hosted by Sam Houston State University Department of Mass Communication, the event is open to the public and takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, (Nov. 7), at the historic Old Town Theatre in Huntsville. Admission is free.

czars 4Invincible Czars musician and composer, Josh Robins, along with other Austin performers, have been on a mission for over a decade to expose new audiences to silent films as they were originally experienced — with dramatic, live music.

“These films are a part of history,” Robins said. “This is what seeing a movie was like in the earliest days of film. Part of the charm of old movies is seeing the limitations they had to work around like the makeup, effects, lighting, wardrobe, sets and even the medium of film at the time — no color and no sound.”

Through modern classical and rock music performed by guitar, bass, violin, woodwinds and various percussion, audiences hear the emotional ups and downs as the drama unfolds on the screen. While the film is from the 1920s, the Czars bring a new twist by mixing musical elements to create a truly one of a kind performance.

Caligari_Czars_Theater_DP_1080x1600“It’s a movie and a concert all in one and most people have never experienced it,” Robins said. “There are other groups around the country that do this and many attempt to sound authentic to the time the movies were released - sometimes even playing the original scores if they still exist. We try to strike a balance between honoring the tone and time of the movie and entertaining modern day audiences.”

According to Mass Communication professor Grant Wiedenfeld, "Caligari" is as a staple in film history studies and is considered the first example in cinema of German Expressionism, a visual style in which not only the characters but the world itself is out of joint.

“Moviegoers will see what historians consider the original horror movie, brought to life by an Austin band rocking-out below the screen,” Wiedenfeld said. “This psychological thriller takes you from a hypnotist at the fairground to an old German insane asylum, with magnificent sets painted by Expressionist artists. It takes you back to the future imagined in the early days of cinema.”

The event is made possible with support from SHSU Department of Mass Communication and the Texas Commission on the Arts.


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