Berklee Silent Film Orchestra: The Last Laugh

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Monday / May 4, 2015 / 7:00 p.m.
Coolidge Corner Theatre
290 Harvard Street
United States
Image from The Last Laugh, Sounds of Silents Film Series
A still shot of a scene from the 1924 F. W. Murnau silent film <i>The Last Laugh</i>

The Coolidge Corner Theatre is proud to welcome back Sheldon Mirowitz, a professor in Berklee's Film Scoring Department, and the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) for a special presentation of its original new score, commissioned for a screening of the F. W. Murnau classic The Last Laugh.

The Last Laugh is a dramatic character study featuring Emil Jannings as the proud doorman of a posh Berlin hotel. Comporting himself like a general in resplendent costume, the main character sees his job and his prestige slip away upon the hiring of a new manager. The Last Laugh was a bold experiment for its time: a film using unique visual techniques to tell a story with no subtitles save for the semi-satirical explanation of the climax.

The BSFO is dedicated to composing original scores for silent feature classics and performing them live to picture. Under the leadership of Mirowitz (Outside ProvidenceMissing in America), the BSFO has scored and performed for eight iconic silent features (SunriseIt, Battleship Potemkin, Piccadilly, Faust, Our HospitalitySafety Last!, and Phantom of the Opera). All of these scores were commissioned by the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts as part of the theater’s Sounds of Silents program, which champions silent film music performance.

The recipient of a special commendation from the Boston Society of Film Critics, the BSFO has also performed in the new Nantucket Dreamland Theater and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The unique collaboration between the Coolidge and Berklee expands on the Sounds of Silents initiative, providing funds to commission the compositions and an opportunity to engage students in the process.