Life before the “talkies” (and mega-budget sequels, 3-D technology and Jennifer Lawrence) is revisited in all its splendor in the Toledo Museum of Art’s new series, The Sound of Silents.
The free program features classics of the silent film era with live musical accompaniment in the Peristyle Theater. TMA’s historic Skinner organ will be used to play the score for many of the screenings.
“The thing about silent films is they are intensely visual,” said Scott Boberg, manager of programs and audience engagement. “This series represents an opportunity to revisit some of the highly sophisticated imagery from early Hollywood in the extraordinary space that is the Peristyle. And the wonderful thing is that it is free and open to the public.”
The first of the season’s screenings, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., is the 1929 Russian documentary “The Man with a Movie Camera.” The experimental portrayal of urban life in Soviet Russia was lauded as the “best documentary of all time” in 2014 by Sight and Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute.
Then on March 19 at 7 p.m., the 1925 historic epic “Ben-Hur” is screened. Ramón Novarro plays the title character, a Jewish prince who faces a powerful nemesis, a Roman named Messala, in a chariot race showdown. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1997 because of its historical, cultural and aesthetic significance.
Finally, on May 28 at 7 p.m., Buster Keaton’s classic action-adventure comedy “The General” is shown. Keaton, a major star of the era, directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in the movie, which told the story of a Southern train engineer trying to rescue his fiancée after she is kidnapped by Union soldiers during the U.S. Civil War. It was considered a flop at the time of its release in 1926, but was rediscovered by critics decades later. In 2007, “The General” was ranked number 18 by the American Film Institute on its list of the 100 best American movies of all time.
Thursday evening programming at the Museum is sponsored in part by Huntington Private Client Group. General admission to the Museum is free, and parking is $5 for nonmembers and free for members. For more information on future screenings, visit toledomuseum.org/calendar.