Silent films are making a comeback – the Academy awarded Best Picture to “The Artist” this year.
On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Cosford Cinema will play Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush,” a hallmark silent film. Sophomore Ryan Reeson composed an original score to accompany Thursday’s showing. Silent film shorts created by students will be played before the show.
The 1925 comedy follows Chaplin’s character, the Tramp, as he makes his way to the Yukon during the gold rush. Along the way he lands himself in a cabin with a prospector and a fugitive, and he falls in love with a woman who he mistakenly believes is in love with him.
“‘The Gold Rush’ is one of Chaplin’s most iconic films, where he strikes the perfect balance between comedy and pathos, which were his signatures,” said Trae DeLellis, director of the Cosford Cinema, in a press release. “‘The Artist’ and ‘Hugo’ have brought attention back to silent film, but essentially its resurgence has to do with its universality and the timeless films produced by Chaplin and others.”
The hour-and-a-half-long film is Reeson’s longest scoring project to date, and his first silent film. He was challenged when writing the music, because it carries so much weight in the movie.
“I’ve never done anything like it at all,” he said. “Silent films are probably harder to score because they’re so exposed.”
When working on music for films, Reeson said he composes music to compliment the piece, rather than overpower it.
“You try to stay out of the way as much as you can,” he said. “You really help the audience along on the journey.”
The score for “The Gold Rush” will be performed by a live orchestra of eight students inside the theater. The group will only have time to rehearse once and so it will be sight reading for most of the film.
Silent shorts submitted by students will be screened before the Chaplin film. For some students, silent films are more powerful than traditional films with scripts.
“I think there’s so much you can say without words and I think it’s always stronger that way,” said senior George Kaplan, who submitted his film “Reset.” The film focuses on isolation in new environments.
“It’s about the moments where people are not saying anything,” he said.