Friday, July 16, 2010

Jason goes to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival--Opening Night

I've gotta shorten that, how about Silentfest?

Anyway, the most intense (if not the biggest) festival in the Bay Area kicked off. They've added a day, for a grand total of 4. But last year I was more exhausted after three days than after most multi-week festivals. So I just hope I survive this year.

Oh yeah, and the big local news is my gang at the Niles Film Museum were given a vendor table this year. Between films, come up to the mezzanine and buy stuff. Or just chat with me, I'll be working there sometimes.

Anyway, the big opening night gala was John Ford's 1924 film, IRON HORSE. A tale of the transcontinental railroad, with Indians, dirty dealing, double-crossing, engineering, and long lost lovers. And, of course, John Ford's brilliant composition (incidentally, it was shot on the Pyramid reservation near Wadsworth, NV--a view I recognized from the many times I passed it on my way to Burning Man. Starting in Springfield, IL years before the transcontinental railway was more than a dream, a young man named Abraham Lincoln watches two young children--Davey Brandon and Miriam Marsh play together. Davey's father is a surveyor determined to build a transcontinental railroad, so he takes his son out west plotting a route. Trouble is, he's attacked by Indians and young Davey watches his father get killed (by a surprisingly white Indian...) Years later, Davey's a mountain man, Lincoln is President signing into law the building of the transcontinental railroad, Miriam's father is a contractor building it, and she's engaged to the engineer laying out the route. Re-enter Davey into the picture, add a dirty deal to restrict the route of the train (although Davey remembers his father showing him the best route) and high adventure ensues. Along with Ford's excellent composition, you have his attention to detail making it a near documentary in some parts.

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the excellent Dennis James rocking the Mighty Wurlitzer to kick things off right!

Running Time: 131 minutes
My Total Minutes: 189,118
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