Sunday, October 02, 2011

Striking a New Note schoolchildren's cinema concert: Oh, Teacher!

Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, English intertitles, e-subtitles in Italian, 2 Oct 2011.

Scuola primaria “Carlo Collodi” Pordenone
Alunni IV e V elementare / Students of the 4th and 5th classes
Direzione/Conductor: Prof. Romano Todesco
Flauti/Flutes: Sofia Zorzetto, Sofia Argentieri, Flavia Perlika, Margherita Ceppi, Giulia Bortolin, Elena Busato, Anduela Dervishaj, Rachele Favaro, Anna Mutuale, Asia Reviezzo, Francesca Riccio Cobucci, Chiara Rosada, Linda Santarossa, Francesca Violi, Riccardo Zerbini.
Piastre (xilofoni e metallofoni) / Percussion (xylophones and metallophones): Leonardo D’Onofrio, Giorgia Basile, Francesco Panebianco, Giulia Rosada.
Rumoristi (effetti speciali)/ Sound effects: Angelo Stafie, Mattia De Filippo, Alham Zaid, Angelo Wang, Stefano Catalano, Erald Arapi, Giacomo Lo Giudice, Patrick Shilaku, Renato Tesi.

Maria Luisa Sogaro (GCM Catalogue): "This year’s novelty in the “Striking a New Note” project (now in its fifth edition) is the participation of the pupils of the Carlo Collodi primary school of Pordenone, conducted by our very dear Romano Todesco."

"After 30 years of teaching, as a matter of fact, I am convinced that to combat the widespread pollution of the mind it is necessary to offer meaningful cultural experiences from infancy. The power of the images of early cinema, offered as part of a special activity, brought to life with sound, I believe can afford a truly extraordinary new game. Moreover, the group from our school is almost entirely new; only four children took part in the last edition. However they all have very clear ideas, and have chosen to make music for Buster Keaton’s The Electric House."

"In fact, first Riccardo Costantini and then Silvia and myself tried to orient our new young musicians in different directions, suggesting some two-reel comedies by other artists, but when it came to the vote… Nothing doing! Once again, Buster has won. For the “soundtrack”, as a departure from our other works, in which we have principally drawn on a repertory familiar to the children, we have selected two Italian successes of the Twenties, taken from my personal collection of sheet music of the period."

"We have worked on the formal structure of the film rather than on its characters: for the introduction (the award of diplomas), we go back to Gaudeamus igitur; in the presentation of the house, a foxtrot of 1921 by Ripp; and for the vendetta with the engineer, we have the Tango della pampa (1929), from the prize-winning partnership of Cherubini-Bixio."

"The newcomers, the very young musicians of the Carlo Collodi primary school (pupils of classes IV and V), will take their first steps in providing music for the silents by giving voice to a little masterpiece of animation, Oh Teacher (1927) by Walt Disney. The protagonist is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a well-known figure of the 1920s, and a precursor to the much more famous Mickey Mouse. And to finish … a choral surprise for the 30 years of the Giornate." MARIA LUISA SOGARO

Oh Teacher! (Disney/Universal, US 1927) Series: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit D: Walt Disney; anim: Ubbe Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Rollin “Ham” Hamilton, Friz Freleng, Ben Clopton, Norm Blackburn, Les Clark; DP: Mike Marcus; reissued with added soundtrack: 1932; DVD, 6'; from: Cinemazero, Pordenone. English intertitles.

Russell Merritt & J.B. Kaufman: "In this film, the third of Walt Disney’s Oswald the Rabbit cartoons, Oswald has become streamlined, more appealing, and younger than in his earlier appearances: here he’s a schoolboy, roughly the same age as our young musicians for this program. Traces of Oswald’s original design can still be seen in the opening scenes of Oh Teacher (in one closeup he retains his whiskers), but before long his compact, rounded, appealing design is well established. In design, as well as personality, he’s a clear forerunner of Mickey Mouse."

"And even in this formative state, Oswald does project a definite personality. Riding his bicycle to school, he lets the bicycle steer itself while he plucks petals off a flower: she loves me, she loves me not. When the flower indicates that the girl does love him, he indulges in a little dance of joy. Oswald’s encounter with the playground bully is not a slapstick gagfest but an extended, shamefaced subterfuge. Of course the brick in his hand is not a missile intended for the bully – perish the thought! – he’s simply lifting it for the exercise. And when, purely by accident, he does get the best of his opponent, he’s clever enough to take advantage of the situation with some quick thinking. Oh Teacher offers other delightful gags as well, including the little boy whose mother hangs him up on a “mail hook,” to be snatched off as the school bus passes. And in view of Walt’s kinship with the great silent-film comedians, it’s worth noting the scene in which Oswald rescues his girlfriend from drowning, only to be discredited by a rival who claims the heroic act for himself – much as Buster Keaton would be discredited, the following year, in The Cameraman. When the Oswald cartoons debuted in theaters in the fall of 1927, audiences and critics welcomed them warmly. Reviewing this film, Moving Picture World commented that “It contains some of the best gags we have seen in cartoons.” – RUSSELL MERRITT & J.B. KAUFMAN

AA: A delightful live cinema event with very young schoolchildren playing the music to a Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon.

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