Silent film festival at Morecambe’s Winter Gardens features Charlie Chaplin and 1925 dinosaur adventure movie

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Silents by the Sea brings the magic of classic silent film with live music to Morecambe for the weekend June 8 and 9.

Presented by Northern Silents, the inaugural festival features fascinating talks and captivating live-scored silent cinema, all in the spectacular surroundings of the historic Morecambe Winter Gardens theatre.

Silents by the Sea opens on Saturday June 8 with a show celebrating the genius of Charlie Chaplin.

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The evening starts with two of Chaplin’s short comedies accompanied on the piano by celebrated musician and broadcaster Neil Brand.

Charlie Chaplin features in The Kid silent film at the film festival at Morecambe's Winter Gardens. Picture © Roy Export S.A.S.Charlie Chaplin features in The Kid silent film at the film festival at Morecambe's Winter Gardens. Picture © Roy Export S.A.S.
Charlie Chaplin features in The Kid silent film at the film festival at Morecambe's Winter Gardens. Picture © Roy Export S.A.S.

After the interval, the sixteen-piece Northern Silents Sinfonia makes its debut with Lancashire-born conductor Helen Harrison, performing Chaplin’s own score to his 1921 heartwarming comedy, The Kid.

On Sunday June 9, the big screen will be taken over by the colourful fantasies of Georges Méliès.

The show brings together a selection of Méliès’ creations including his most famous, A Trip to the Moon, along with films by his Spanish counterpart, Segundo de Chomon, and others.

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The films will be accompanied by musicians from Morecambe, Lancaster and across the North, including Off the Rails Creative Jazz Orchestra and a new vocal ensemble being formed for the festival, The People’s Cinematic Voices.

The festival finale is the very first dinosaur adventure film, The Lost World from 1925.The festival finale is the very first dinosaur adventure film, The Lost World from 1925.
The festival finale is the very first dinosaur adventure film, The Lost World from 1925.

The festival finale is the very first dinosaur adventure film, The Lost World. With stop-motion animation by Willis O’Brien, this 1925 classic brings Conan Doyle’s fantastical story to the big screen. Acclaimed improvising quartet Frame Ensemble will breathe fresh life into the giants of this epic film with a mesmerising live musical score.

Festival goers can also enjoy two free talks over the weekend.

On Saturday, expert in the neuroscience of comedy Professor Sophie Scott joins Neil Brand to explore the brain and slapstick.

Then on Sunday, festival musicians reveal the secrets to making improvised music on the spot.

A Trip to the Moon - Georges Melies.A Trip to the Moon - Georges Melies.
A Trip to the Moon - Georges Melies.

Jonny Best, artistic director of Northern Silents, said: “Silents by the Sea is set to be an incredible weekend of live music and big-screen cinema entertainment in the stunning surroundings of Morecambe’s magnificent Winter Gardens theatre.

Over the festival weekend, a community of musicians from Morecambe, Lancaster, and beyond, will create live film music for beautiful films from the early years of cinema. And we’d love people to get involved. We’re recruiting a small team of volunteers to help run the festival, and you can be part of the music by joining The People’s Cinematic Voices, our innovative new improvising vocal ensemble.

"We’re thrilled to be working once again with the Winter Gardens’ wonderful team of volunteers, under the leadership of Professor Vanessa Toulmin - without them, none of this would be possible. Our collaboration with Morecambe’s More Music also continues, and we are grateful to the team there for their continued support.

"We can’t wait to welcome everyone to the first ever Silents by the Sea!”

Musicians at Northern Silents event, Morecambe Winter Gardens (c) Timm Cleasby.Musicians at Northern Silents event, Morecambe Winter Gardens (c) Timm Cleasby.
Musicians at Northern Silents event, Morecambe Winter Gardens (c) Timm Cleasby.

Silents by the Sea is supported with funding from the National Lottery by Arts Council England and Film Hub North on behalf of BFI’s Film Audience Network. The festival is also funded by Lancashire County Council and Morecambe Town Council.