Silent they never were...

Jekyll and Hyde

By Richard Paradise - August 2, 2007

"Silent" movies never really were: music was always a crucial ingredient. It was a practical solution; the piano or organ covered up the noise the film projector made. But music was used from the start to enhance the story being told on the screen. Larger theatres engaged orchestras and in the grand movie palaces, gigantic pipe organs even created "voices" for the film characters.

On Tuesday, August 7, you can relive the experience of movie-going in the days of yore when the Martha's Vineyard Film Society presents the silent classic "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" at the Tabernacle in Trinity Park, Oak Bluffs. Devil Music Ensemble, a three-man group from Boston, will accompany the film with the group's original score.

Devil Music Ensemble features Brendon Wood on guitars, lap steel, and synthesizer; Jonah Rapino on electric violin, vibraphone, and synthesizer; and Tim Nylander on drums, percussion and synthesizer. The film stars legendary John Barrymore (yes, that's Drew's grandfather), who plays a repressed London doctor who, pondering the two natures of mankind, unleashes a monster: a man without a conscience.

It's a story of the dark side of human nature and how it seduces people, particularly young people. The technical aspects of this 1920 film are all above par. This film makes clear why John Barrymore is considered by many to be the greatest actor of all time. The production quality is excellent, and does not suffer from focus or lighting problems sometimes seen in the earliest movies. In fact, in many respects, "Jekyll and Hyde" looks and feels like a late-20th-century film.

"Jekyll and Hyde" 8 pm, August 7, Tabernacle, Campground, Oak Bluffs. MV Film Society. Tickets go on sale at 7:30 pm; $8; $5 for members and children under 12 For more information, call 774-392-2972.

Richard Paradise heads the MV Film Society.