Silent movies and jazz music were the focus of Wednesday’s performance in the Fine Arts Center by the Gypsy jazz band called the Hot Club of San Francisco.
It was a performance dubbed “Cinema Vivant,” and is based largely on the Gypsy jazz music of Django Reinhardt and his music in the 1930’s. Gypsy jazz has “swinging, jazzy feel but many of the songs are waltzes,” according to the band’s brochure.
Like Django, the band uses only string instruments and features a lead guitar, two rhythm guitars, a violin and a folding bass.
They played a few songs on stage before the movies started. The three movies, all silent films, included “There It Is” by Charley Bowers, “The Cameraman’s Revenge” and “The Mascot” by Ladislaw Starewicz.
They all came out between 1912 and 1928, featuring live action and stop motion animation.
Students seemed to enjoy the movies, though adults were laughing quite a bit more.
“They were a lot different than the movies today,” said Castleton freshman Michael Otis.
The combination of the jazz music and the old school movies kept people entertained throughout, although students, as is typical with Soundings events, weren’t overly enthused.
“It wasn’t bad. Films made it better,” said Castleton freshman Russ Koss.
The movies, despite being from a time long passed, still had plots and problems we face today.
“There It Is” was a comedy that revolves around a Scotland Yard officer sent to investigate a house that is supposedly haunted. The officer has to catch a man who looks like the old dancing guy from the six flags commercials, only with a mustache.
“The Cameraman’s Revenge” was about married beetles. A beetle at a nightclub cheats on his wife and a grasshopper who is angry and out for revenge, follows the beetle to a hotel and records what happens through a peephole. It also had a somewhat surprising ending.
“The Mascot” is a movie reminiscent of a Disney movie. It featured toys coming to life, like “Toy Story,” though the toy in this movie was a dog. The dog decides to take a stroll around France one night. It then transforms into a dark picture, featuring devilish looking figures that would remind you of “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” before ending on a happy note.
Students seemed to be entertained though some still were seen texting away.
“It was better than a lot of the other Soundings.” Said Castleton freshman Stephen Luna.