For NZIFF’s 19th collaboration with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, we return to one of the wonders of the movie world in as beautiful a presentation as that world has ever seen. This stunning new 4K restoration of The General, preserved by the Library of Congress, restored by Modern Videofilm and supervised by the Cohen Collection, provides the perfect excuse to screen this film for (only) the third time in NZIFF’s history. Peter Scholes conducts Carl Davis’ classic score.
Many critics consider The General to be the last great comedy of the silent era. It consistently ranks as one of the greatest comedies of all time in international polls. The title refers to Keaton’s engine, ‘The General’, which figures prominently in one of the most harrowing and hilarious chase scenes ever filmed. Keaton portrays the engineer Johnnie Gray, who is rejected by the Confederate Army and then suffers the further humiliation of his girlfriend thinking him a coward. When a small band of Union soldiers penetrate far beyond Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, Johnnie Gray sets off in hot pursuit.
Conductor Peter Scholes has a long association with film scoring. He was composer and conductor for the New Zealand feature film Desperate Remedies by Peter Wells and Stuart Main, and also conducted the soundtrack to Heavenly Creatures. He was founder (1999) and is currently musical director of the Auckland Chamber orchestra, which he conducted in our first ever orchestral Live Cinema, Erich von Stroheim’s The Wedding March at the St James Theatre in 1999. He has conducted all the professional New Zealand Orchestras as well as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Orion Orchestra and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
Music for silent films has been an enduring strand of the prolific Carl Davis’ activities. His 1980 score for Abel Gance’s Napoléon triggered an extraordinary revival of interest in silent film, and his oeuvre of more than 50 scores for this medium, including Flesh and the Devil, Ben-Hur, The Thief of Baghdad, Greed, Intolerance and The General, has brought him international acclaim.
Tickets for this Live Cinema event will be on presale from Thursday 7 June. The full NZIFF programme for Auckland will be available online from Monday 25 June 7pm, and on the streets from Tuesday 26 June with tickets on sale from 5 July.