Closer: The New Babylon At Village Underground

New Babylon

Whether you’re a fan of Drive’s synth-heavy score, or Hans Zimmer’s imposing brass theme for Inception, you’re probably keyed in to how musical accompaniment can help shape the feel of a film. Of course, prior to these contemporary examples, a film’s score would be played live alongside the movie itself. Next week, Village Underground will be paying tribute to just that with a screening of Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg’s 1929 Russian silent film The New Babylon, along with a live performance of Shostakovich’s score by City of London Sinfonia conducted by Hugh Brunt. The concert itself promises to be a relaxed affair, with audience members able to get up close to the music and with a cash bar operating throughout.

Now returning for its third year, City of London’s Sinfonia’s CLoSer series of concerts explores music influenced by the political events leading up to the Cold War. The New Babylon is set in the 1871 Paris Commune, the socialistic government that ruled Paris for a few brief months before being violently suppressed. Kozintsev and Trauberg’s story tells of two lovers separated by the Commune barricades, struggling in the tumultuous atmosphere of revolution that swamped Paris at the time.

Shostakovich’s film score was written before jazz was deemed a ‘degenerate’ music by the state and, indeed, before the denunciation of Shostakovich himself, after he fell from official favour in 1936 following a vicious attack on one of his operas. Although Shostakovich was to later return to writing film scores, a form of expression deemed acceptable by Stalin and therefore ‘safe’, his collaboration on The New Babylon marked his first foray into the field and is therefore of significant interest to both film buffs and opera fans.

Village Underground will screen The New Babylon on Wednesday 23 October at 7.30pm. Tickets can be purchased from Spitalfields Music’s website.

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