The silent silver screen

The silent silver screen

Whether you’re curled up on the sofa or hugging your popcorn in a darkened cinema, the modern movie experience is familiar: big screen, big sound, big drama.

In the earliest days of cinema, of course, there was no sound. The silent film era began in the late nineteenth century, when inventors had mastered the technique of projecting images – but were yet to be able to synchronise them with sound.

The filming of Metropolis

‘Silent’ films were rarely silent, however. With no dialogue or soundtrack, cinemas and ‘dream palaces’ found other ways to give the audience emotional cues. Small-town cinemas usually had a pianist to accompany the film; some larger city venues would have entire orchestras.

Silent films spanned many genres, from DW Griffith’s historical Civil War epic The Birth of a Nation (1915) to Fritz Lang’s pioneering sci-fi Metropolis (1927); swashbuckling adventure in The Mark of Zorro (1920) to the romantic comedy It (1927) which made Clara Bow a star.

Our screening of the original feature-length 1922 classic Nosferatu, with improvised organ accompaniment from award-winning organist Alexander Mason, will be perfect for a dark Halloween night. The performance will be introduced by David Powell (PhD Film Studies student), who’ll tell you more about the era of silent film.

Book now at or call 0121 414 4414.

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