Thanks to the blog Movies from the Silent Era (https://backtothepastweb.wordpress.com/) I have become a fan of black and white movies of the silent era with the only sound coming from a live orchestra as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Ben Turpin, and others run, stomp, and swashbuckler across the screen. On occasion I mute the movie then tune into a classical music station, disappointment has yet to show up. A few weeks ago I congratulated myself on a year’s work well done and bought a movie ticket for Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl (P.O.T.C., T.C.O.T.B.P.) to be shown downtown Portland at the Arlene a Concert Hall, I looked forward to the special event.
I arrive one half hour before show time to settle in, the hall is only half filled yet the murmur that rises leads one to believe there are more in attendance. Mothers and fathers with their offspring, groups of friends, couples, and then there is me and I pass the time reading through the program discovering, “Ah there is to be a choir, all right.” Descending from the ceiling center stage the screen and below the 60 piece members of the Oregon Symphony begin filing in and taking their seats on stage in front of and behind the screen. As they get comfortable violins are warmed, cellos tuned, brass mouthpiece moistened, and kettle drums drummed. The Pacific Youth Choir take up positions above and behind the orchestra. I have viewed P.O.T.C., T.C.O.T.B.P. many times but never with a live sound track, this will be fun, fantastic, and fulfilling. Applause thunder then fade away as the conductor steps up to the podium and proceeds with a speech reminiscent of an airline steward just before take-off: cell phones off, no cameras as Disney says, “No-no,” and sit back, relax, The Pirates of the Caribbean.
Lights dim, my seat is third row back stage right aisle seat a bad angle to watch a movie but I am not here so much to watch Jack Sparrow and gang drink, slap, steal, and fight their way across the Caribbean, I’ve watched the movie with built-in sound track many a time, no I was here to watch and listen as the orchestra performs their movie-music magic. Strings, shiny brass, percussionists, woodwinds, and the gesturing arms of the conductor begin with opening scenes then the choir opens up and the eyes are lured to the screen.
“Clearly you’ve never been to Singapore.”
“Gentlemen! You shall always remember this as the day that you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!”
“There more like guidelines.”
“I feel nothin’. Not the wind in my face, nor the spray of the sea, nor the warmth of a woman’s flesh. You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner. You‘re in one!”
“Damn to the depths whatever mud filth thought of Parley!
“That would be the French.”
Cymbals crash, drums march, strings bow, brass bungles and then the show and movie come to end but not before the entire audience, including myself, stay around for the entire roll of movie credits which for me is a first but like all the others in attendance wanted to get their money’s worth. More thundering applause as the band and leader, as Snagglepuss would say, exit stage right and we, the audience exit stage out the front door.