Friday, March 4, 2016

A Movie Evening

 Ben Hur 1925-1

Hello there!  It's been a while since we got together.  I just keep thinking up fascinating blog post topics, mentally composing clever little essays in my head, but being waaaaaay too lazy to actually take pen to paper – er, fingers to keyboard.  What is my problem?  I can’t fathom the answer to that one, I’m afraid. 

My most recent mental blog post had to do with the fabulous evening I had with Becca and my friend Laura at the Silent Movies at the Paramount.  In the weeks previous, Rebecca and I had been talking about going to see Ben Hur – a movie I had never seen, and actually knew little about, other than that it is one of the silent movie “greats.”.  My acquaintance with Ben Hur stretched back many years, but was very hazy.  I had started reading the book, which was in the little library at the back of my eighth grade class room.  It was phenomenally boring.  I don’t think I even made it to page five. Next meet up, reading the adverts to the Charlton Heston movie of the same.  Even at a very tender age, Charlton Heston nauseated me, and I was not interested in seeing him strut about.  I also had no interest in chariot races.  All I really knew about that movie was that it had Charlton Heston, a chariot race, and the men wore costumes that looked like leather versions of what Esther Williams wore in her movies.  
Fast forward to more recent years.  I had read much about the 1925 Ben Hur, and now it was scheduled to play at the Paramount Silent Movie series.  This time, I was excited.  Really excited.  I thought the plot might still be boring, but hey…. The movie was super famous, in fact, a cinema landmark.  And the music was not organ this time, but the Seattle Rock Orchestra.  In the recent past, the silent movie music (silent movie, not silent music) has occasionally been something other than the mighty Wurlitzer, and I have been skeptical every time.  Organ music is the perfect movie accompaniment, right? For Peter Pan, there was going to be a harpist!  Harp for a movie? Ew!!! Well, I was wrong.  The harp music was exactly right!  Then Metropolis!  This was to be accompanied by Degenerate Art Ensemble, a group that I had found truly and unpleasantly weird in my very minimal acquaintance with it.  Once again, I was mistaken.  The music could not have been more ideal for the movie.  It was Just The Right Thing!  So, finally I had an open - well, ajar at least- mind about “non-organ-movie-music”, and was eager to see how it would all play out. 

A week or two previously, my friend Laura and I had a date for a walk on the beach at Alkai.  The weather was a little misty moisty, but we are true Seattleites, and were undaunted. As we walked along through the now pelting rain, both thoroughly drenched, our conversation somehow drifted to Ben Hur and the Seattle Rock Orchestra.  We both were really excited about seeing the movie and hearing the music.  Then, when we sought shelter in a West Seattle restaurant, we noticed that the person at the table next to us had a silent movie on her laptop.  She was playing the same scene over and over.  We also noticed that she had a huge music score and earphones.  We noticed too, that the movie she was watching appeared to be biblical!  Long beards and flowing robes.  Could it be? Was it Ben Hur?  We were bold, and asked her about it. She was in fact Kim Roy, the conductor of the Orchestra!  What a coincidence.  We were amazed, and told her we had just, minutes before, been talking about the movie and the music and we were eagerly looking forward to it.  She was super nice. 

Fast forward to the movie evening.  I had been sort of wanting to sit in the balcony, which I had never done at the Paramount, but didn’t I mention it, as I am usually just told where we are sitting and that is that.  However, Becca mentioned that maybe we should try the balcony, and Laura said she thought so too.  Yay!  I have my acrophobia issues, and felt a bit as though I might suddenly be swept down into the abyss below, but once I, valiantly fighting nausea, found my way to my seat, it was fine.  It is a different world up there.  A different perspective on the film below, and even a different audience. 

The film was wonderful!!!! I found that I actually do like chariot races.  Becca said later that her favorite part was the parade of naked ladies accompanying some Roman nabob in his triumphal parade.  Sigh!  I must have been looking at some other thing on the densely populated screen, as I missed them altogether.  How could I have been bored by such an exciting story?  I’m going to give General Wallace another go. 

Here is a link to the preview of the movie.  The naked ladies are there front and center.  How could I have missed them!  

P.S. Thanks to Rebecca and Laura for the photos.