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Wild and Weird - The Alloy Orchestra Plays 14 Fascinating and Innovative Films 1902 - 1965

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Here are fourteen exciting short films some favorites, others unfamiliar produced between 1902 and 1965. They were photographed silent, but they re not silent anymore. All boast new music composed and performed by the Alloy Orchestra, a three-man ensemble that critic Roger Ebert has called the best in the world at accompanying silent films. Alloy Orchestra shuns the nostalgic approach, successfully using found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics to reinvigorate films for new audiences with its unique sound, heard here in a spectacular variety of styles. Following the success of the 2008 3-disc DVD publication SAVED FROM THE FLAMES, the digitally mastered materials in this new collection are sourced from high quality prints from around the world, offering wonder, laughter, absurdity, charm, and whimsy. They represent many genres and styles, including trick films, hand drawn as well as stop-motion animation, classic comedy, and avant-garde and surrealist surprises. Following D. W. Griffith s curtain raiser Those Awful Hats from 1909, the program proceeds in chronological order with many of the shorts separated by vintage hand-painted slides created for use in movie theaters a century ago. The selections are A Trip to the Moon (by Georges Melies, with his original English narration), Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (Edwin S. Porter), The Red Spectre (Segundo de Chomon) The Acrobatic Fly (Percy Smith), The Thieving Hand and Princess Nicotine (Vitagraph Studios), Artheme Swallows His Clarinet (Eclipse Films), The Cameraman s Revenge (Ladislas Starewicz), The Pet (Winsor McCay), The Play House (Buster Keaton, in a beautiful copy with all original titles), Filmstudie (Hans Richter), The Life and Death of 9413, a Hollywood Extra (Robert Florey, Slavko Vorkapich and Gregg Toland), and Clay, or the Origin of Species (Eliot Noyes, Jr.). If you don t know anything about the first 70 years of cinema, or even if you are an expert, share the enthusiasm and enjoy the revelations of this entertaining collection. Engaging films never grow old, and with Alloy s music, the films on this DVD certainly haven t aged at all! As an added bonus, the DVD features a short film by David Davidson documenting The Alloy Orchestra in a recording session for one of the films in this collection, as well as a printed DVD booklet of individual film annotations.

Special Features

Special features include 'Alloy Plays Filmstudie,' a short film by David Davidson documenting The Alloy Orchestra in a recording session for one of the films in this collections, and also a booklet of notes on the 14 individual films.

Product Details

  • Actors: Buster Keaton, Georges Melies
  • Directors: Buster Keaton, Georges Melies, Ferdinand Zecca, Segundo de Chomon, Winsor McCay
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Dolby, NTSC, Silent, Surround Sound
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Flicker Alley
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2011
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004YZ3MCA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,209 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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I hesitated to purchase this set because, as a silent film enthusiast, I already have most of the films (11 of 14) in other collections. However I happen to be a fan of the Alloy Orchestra and that combined with a pristine, original title card version of Buster Keaton's THE PLAYHOUSE (which looks gorgeous) and THE RED SPECTRE which I have only seen excerpts from, settled the matter. Adding to the fun are the hand painted slides that were used between films in the early days of cinema. Some of these slides showed up in Kino's THE MOVIES BEGIN set. None of the films are less than fascinating although some are better than others. I am constantly amazed at how creative the pre-feature filmmakers were, employing camera tricks and editing skills that are still in use today and for sheer creative imagination, some of these shorts like Winsor McCay's THE PET, have nevered been equaled.

Once again Flicker Alley has done a fantastic job with this presentation although a couple of the shorts are a little the worse for wear which is to be expected considering how old they are. Many use the same source prints as in previous collections although THE PET looks a little different from the one I already have. As for the musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra, I think it is superb. If you know them only through their knockabout scores for Fatty Arbuckle or SLAPSTICK MASTERS, then this disc will introduce you to a greater and more subtle variety of sounds as suits the material that they are providing the soundtrack for. If you've never seen many of these shorts before, they are truly eye opening and are an ideal introduction to the world of silent film especially for younger viewers. As always with Flicker Alley, there is a wealth of background material on the films in the collection including a surprising revelation on how they got the fly to perform in THE ACROBATIC FLY.
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...but I'd only buy it if there were other musical choices. Waiting for the video company mavens to fall out of love with these guys.
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