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Gilbertville's Old Stone Church hosts 'silent' film festival
Updated Apr 24, 1:39 PM; Posted Apr 24, 1:38 PM
Buster Keaton's 1921 film, "The Boat," is be one of three silent films being screened at the Old Stone Church in Gilbertville on April 27 with music from the church's historic organ.(IMDb IMAGE)
By Staasi Heropoulos
HARDWICK - Peter Krasinski will be playing for two audiences when he brings the Old Stone Church's pipe organ to life during a silent film festival on Friday.
With a wink to those sitting in the pews and a nod to church founders who sat there nearly a century-and-a-half ago, Krasinski will play along to three silent films.
Friends of the Stone Church is presenting three masterpieces from the silent era of movies - "The Boat," "The Red Balloon," and "Grandma's Boy." With no recorded dialogue, the only sound will be coming from the historic Johnson & Son tracker organ that Krasinski will be playing. Some of the music comes from an original score, while the rest is from his imagination, inspired in part by the church itself.
"I really enjoy getting to know a space really well, walking around without anybody else in it and feeling the vibe. I think about who was here all those years ago, who would have listened to this organ over 100 years ago. I wonder what they would want to hear if they were here now," says Krasinski. "I'm almost playing for them as well as the people who are there."
With blockbuster Hollywood productions featuring awards for acting, special effects, and sound, it is unimaginable to some that movie classics used to be silent. The Old Stone Church's film festival reprises a time when the only sound came from a recorded music track or live musical performance.
Krasinski's performance is improvised as he watches along with audience and conveys what he feels.
"I'm actually enjoying the community event with the audience and therefore, their moods and feelings become part of my playing. It becomes an organic experience for everybody. But the movie is always in charge," says Krasinski.
Krasinski enjoys living in the modern age when movie epics can be seen on a 4-inch smart phone. An encore performance, though, of the silent movie era speaks volumes about the enduring attraction of "silent pictures."
"What's great about a public performance is that sense of community that simply can not be replicated even in your living room with a big screen television," he says. "When you get a whole bunch of strangers in a room to share a story together, that's timeless. It's an amazing moment when you have a human being next to you sharing a story."
The film festival showcases family movies. The total run time for all three movies is just over two hours, with a brief intermission between the second and third films.
Announcements of upcoming theatrical silent film exhibitions.