Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema at NZIFF drinks from the headwaters of classic cinema with a pair of Charlie Chaplin masterpieces. The moving, funny and affectingly personal The Kid is preceded by one of his most anarchic shorts, The Immigrant, in which the penniless Tramp wreaks brilliantly choreographed chaos in a restaurant.
Marc Taddei conducts Chaplin’s own gloriously symphonic score for The Kid, as arranged by Carl Davis, and a feisty new score for The Immigrant by Timothy Brock.
The Kid is perhaps Chaplin’s most potent marriage of comedy and high emotion. The story relates how an unmarried mother abandons a baby, who is found and unwillingly adopted by the Tramp. By the time the boy is five or six years old, the two have formed a loving – and financially sustaining – partnership. The kid goes round breaking windows, and his friend follows, earning an honest living by replacing them. The villains of the piece: social workers determined to take the boy into public care.
This was Charlie Chaplin’s first feature-length film (‘Six Reels of Joy’, as the film’s promotional material described it), and he spent more than a year perfecting it. His stroke of genius is giving his already world-famous Little Tramp a smaller, spirited foil and dependant – the newsboy-capped kid played by Jackie Coogan. Chaplin never again shared the screen so generously or so affectingly with a co-star.
Chaplin’s portrayal of street life is clearly steeped in Victorian London and his own childhood in the East End slums. His jaundiced view of child welfare services surely reflects his own experiences, being taken from his mother at seven years old and placed in a home for destitute children. The blend of agile physical comedy and unabashed sentiment in the film remains moving today, never more so than when experienced with the gloriously symphonic score Chaplin composed for the film in 1971.
Preceded by The Immigrant.
See below for details.
Marc Taddei conducts the scores for both films. A popular guest conductor throughout Australasia, Marc is currently Music Director of Orchestra Wellington. His several Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema engagements have included an exhilarating The Wind in 2006, a superbly romantic Nosferatu in 2011 and happy encounters with Buster Keaton in 2010 and 2013.
Timothy Brock is a leading interpreter and composer of orchestral music for silent cinema and has been a regular visitor to NZIFF, most recently conducting his restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s score for The Gold Rush in 2009. His original scores have become a regular feature of our Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema programme.
Music for silent films has been an enduring strand of the prolific Carl Davis’ activities. His 1980 score for Abel Gance’s Napoleon triggered an extraordinary revival of interest in silent film, and Davis’ oeuvre of more than 50 scores for this medium, including Flesh and the Devil, Ben-Hur, The Thief of Baghdad, Greed, Intolerance, Safety Last and The General, has brought him international acclaim.