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SPECIAL FILM EVENT: Silent Film with Live Musical Accompaniment

Composer and performer Jeff Rapsis “Organizes” the Russian Revolution
Saturday, September 29, 2:00pm
Members $12, Nonmembers $18. Register by calling 978.598.5000 x121 or pay at the door.

Intense drama about a former high-ranking military officer in Tsarist Russia now reduced to playing an extra in 1920s Hollywood. A towering performance in the lead role helped Emil Jannings win ‘Best Actor’ at the first-ever Academy Awards. On the surface, The Last Command is an example of the “Russian Revolution” sub-genre of movies being produced at the time by Hollywood, which made use of the then-recent upheaval in Russia as a background for romantic drama. But The Last Command, released near the end of the silent era, stands as a masterful example of visual storytelling at its most powerful, with director von Sternberg using shadows and other lighting techniques made possible by recent advances in film stock. The film transcends the usual clichés of romantic drama to explore the nature of power as well as the unreality of the nascent movie business itself. The result is a timeless meditation on life, love, and loss.

Jeff Rapsis is a composer and performer who specializes in creating live musical accompaniment for silent films. Based in New Hampshire, he regularly accompanies screenings at venues throughout New England and beyond. Recent appearances include the Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, Mass.; the Revue Cinema in Toronto, Ontario; the Cleveland Cinematheque; the Kansas Silent Film Festival; the Niles Essenay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, Calif.; and the Kennington Bioscope Theatre in London, England. His ‘Kilimanjaro Suite’ for large orchestra was premiered in 2017 by the New Hampshire Philharmonic. Learn more about Jeff’s work here.

Jeff will offer commentary on the era and the film, and will lead a post-film Q&A.

Directed by Josef von Sternberg; starring Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent, William Powell. (1928, 1hr 28min)