Le Giornate
del Cinema Muto

17th Pordenone
Silent Film Festival
Cinema Verdi, 10 - 17 October 1998

director: David Robinson

The Iron Horse (1924)

A Fox masterpiece will provide the gala closing show of the Giornate (Saturday, October 17, 9:00 p.m., Verdi Theatre), when John Lanchbery conducts the Camerata Labacensis in the performance of his own new score to accompany John Ford's The Iron Horse. John Lanchbery, who made his first Pordenone appearance last year, conducting his restoration of the original 1915 score of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, is one of the world's most distinguished musical directors for ballet and it is especially fascinating to see how applicable to silent cinema his extensive experience in the medium of dance proves to be. The performance is a Channel Four/Photoplay production.

"For the Channel Four Silents presentation we had access to 20th-Century Fox's safety preservation negative, which was the European release version (so the film is dedicated to George Stephenson rather than Abraham Lincoln!). John E. Allen of Cinema Arts in New Jersey produced a colour print. although we did not trace any original tinting records, it was clear that some scenes were shot day for night, so the conventional plan of amber and blue was used. Following his success with The Birth of a Nation, John Lanchbery was commissioned to write the music. Unlike Birth, this was an entirely new score, although it drew upon songs of the period, as Ford himself was to do in his sound westerns. The Live Cinema premiere was held to great acclaim at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London in November 1994 - a fitting venue, for this was were John Lanchbery and David Gill had worked as conductor and dancer so many years before."
(Kevin Brownlow & Patrick Stanbury, Photoplay Productions, August 1998)