Dir: D W Griffiths (USA) 150m
Set in late-eighteenth-century Paris, this epic melodrama tells the story of two orphaned sisters – Henrietta (Lillian Gish) and Louise (Dorothy Gish) – caught up in the early days of the French Revolution. It provides damsel-in-distress thrills, romance and astonishing technical accomplishments while delivering a worthy message about different social classes working together without hatred or violence – indicative of contemporary fears of a revolution breaking out in the USA comparable to that of Russia. Adapted from an 1874 French stage play, the film was a commercial failure at the time, but has subsequently been reassessed and valued for its impressive spectacle.
With live piano accompaniment by Meg Morley.
Since performing her first improvised score for silent film in 2016, Meg Morley has regularly performed at various international film festivals (Il Cinema Ritrovato, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Netherlands Silent Film Festival, Flatpack Festival) and received numerous solo piano commissions, including from Kino Lorber (Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers project – on Netflix, and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Ring) and from the British Film Institute (for the Marvelous Mabel Normand project) which involved scoring for and recording and touring with her jazz trio.
This screening is part of Bristol Ideas’ #BristolFilm2021 Paris Season, in collaboration with South West Silents. It is presented as part of Opening Up the Magic Box, a heritage element of Film 2021 which marks the centenary of the death of Bristol-born film pioneer William Friese-Greene and the 125th anniversary of the first public cinema screening in Bristol, which took place at the Tivoli on 8 June 1896, as well as celebrating Bristol – a UNESCO City of Film since 2017.