Friday, May 31, 2013

Film Concert The Kid (Charles Chaplin / Frank Strobel / RSO)

Chaplinin poika / Chaplins pojke. US © 1921 Charles Chaplin Productions. Initial distributor: First National. P+D+SC: Charles Chaplin. DP: Roland H. Totheroh. AD: Charles D. Hall. C: Charles Chaplin (A Tramp), Edna Purviance (The Woman), Jackie Coogan (The Child), Carl Miller (an artist). 1500 m /21 fps/ 60 min.
    Filmphilharmonic Edition. Film by courtesy of Roy Export Company S.A.S. Music by courtesy of Bourne Music Co. M (1971): Charles Chaplin. M associate (1971): Eric James. Orchestrator (1971): Eric Rogers. Arranged for live performance by: Carl Davis.
    Conducted by Frank Strobel, played by Radion Sinfoniaorkesteri / The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra at a strength of 50 players.
    Projected at 35 mm with e-subtitles in Finnish by Saara Vironmäki. Musiikkitalo, Helsinki, 31 May 2013.

There are those who consider The Kid Chaplin's best film, and certainly Sergei Eisenstein saw it as the key Chaplin film in his essay Charlie the Kid.

Made soon after WWI The Kid had a huge resonance in a world full of orphan kids. The opening is devastating in its insight about how much depends on pure chance in the beginning of a person's life. Yet we know those early years to be decisive.

There is great passion in this film whose electric charge is completely different from Chaplin's previous films based on atavistic destruction (the Keystone slapstic dimension) or on our sympathy for the tramp as a victim. Here instead the tramp becomes the saviour who finds his dignity in rescuing the helpless baby. There is actually a moment where the "Keystonian" destructive alternative is considered for a second: the thought crosses the tramp's mind that he could drop the baby into the sewer. Having overcome and transcended the destructive, egoistic impulse, he defends the baby like a lion.

I had never paid attention to the music before. There are affinities with The Countess from Hong Kong and Tchaikovsky (like in the grand waltz incorporated in The Gold Rush). The magnificent music evokes great feelings and great thoughts. At its most devastating the music is in the great climax when the authorities come to take the kid away from Charlie. The score rises to tragic intensity.

It was a grand evening in the sold-out Helsinki Music Center. The orchestra played with passion, and the audience received the music with enthusiasm. For the visual quality of a film the Helsinki Music Center is not ideal.

We had a beer with Frank Strobel and Tuula Sarotie at St. Urho's Pub after the concert. The Helsinki summer started abruptly this week, and the outdoors bar tables were crowded in the warm summer evening. Frank told that his friends in cool Berlin are envious of him, and we were worrying about friends and colleagues in flood-threatened parts of Europe such as Vienna and Prague.

Frank Strobel: Wir verwenden bei Aufführungen mit Film den Begriff „Filmkonzert“ ähnlich dem französischen „ciné concert“, im englischen „film concert“.

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