Midweek Matinee

Jay Stowitts with Rex IngramJay Stowitts as the Satyr in The Magician with Great Silent Film Director Rex Ingram, Cannes, 1926

We hope to have news soon about a Dublin screening for Rex Ingram’s The Magician, with its Nenagh-premiered live soundtrack by Eoin Mac Ionmhain. Eoin’s work is stunning, of course, but is not the only composer or performer specializing in silent film. If you’re looking for the thrill of accompanied silents, we’ll bring you occasional news of other acts to look out for.

 The Cabinet of CaligariThe Cabinet of Caligari

Minima are making a big splash on the UK circuit, beloved of everyone from the Guardian to the plaid-sideburned trend-hounds of the Daily Telegraph. As well as old favourites like Nosferatu and Caligari, they bring an eerie touch to some of the silent era’s weirder efforts.

The Seashell & the ClergymanThe Seashell & the Clergyman

One of the more exciting oddities on Minima’s list is The Seashell and the Clergyman. Written by Antonin Artaud, and heavily influenced by Freud and Surrealism, it preceded the eyeball-splitting ant-fest Un Chien Andalou by a whole year.

Un Chien Andalou Un Chien Andalou

The British Board of Film Classification gave The Seashell and the Clergyman one of the greatest reviews ever. The film was “apparently meaningless,” they said, “but if there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable.”

 The ClergymanThe Seashell & the Clergyman

Case closed? Judge for yourself with a slightly blurry copy here on Youtube! Don’t forget to click learn more about today’s topic and also to view of the productions that are mentioned! Till next week then!

Posted by Kevin McGee




Silent movie news – is there even such a thing? Surprisingly the answer is yes.
New silent films are still being made, particularly by young and experimental film-makers. Every modern phone comes with a perfectly decent camera, but good sound equipment is still the preserve of the specialist. Some film-makers choose to learn their craft by starting with silent narrative, and attitude fostered by educators at filmbase.ie and elsewhere.


Old silent films are still being presented, often with live accompaniment by the likes of our friends 3EPKANO and Eoin Mac Ionmhain. Modern soundtracks for silents are all about impact. Rinky-dink piano is out. Drums, guitar, glockenspiel and home-made instruments are in. When you see someone get off a bus with a tuba in one hand and a large saw in the other, you know there’s a film on.

Poster of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Most surprisingly of all, old silent films are still being discovered. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is now all but complete, after generations of film-goers made do with half a movie. Who knows what other classics are lurking in the attics and barns of Yukon, Copenhagen and Cloughjordan?

 Rex Directing Rudolph
Rex Ingram Directing Rudolph Valentino on the set of Four Horsemen of the Appocalpse

Well, you’ll know. Every Wednesday the Nenagh Silent Film Festival blog will feature news and opinion from the world of silent film. Expect new shorts, old classics and everything in between. We’ll begin next week with a look at our local idol Rex Ingram. Till then, send any requests, suggestions, anecdotes or advice to the usual address.

— Kevin McGee, Programme Director