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Douglas Fairbanks’ 1922 silent film, “Robin Hood”, has always been regarded as a movie classic because of the sheer scale, drama and magnificence of the production. Well, Neil Brand’s vibrant new musical score to accompany the film certainly matches all of that - and more!
Its recent premiere at the Barbican in London was an absolute delight, when the 90-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Timothy Brock, carried an enthusiastic audience with them as they complimented the action played out on the screen behind them. From rousing fanfares and clashes in combat, to more subtle emotional encounters, the score faithfully reflected the changing moods of the film, breathing a fresh vitality into the 94 year old movie!
The premiere was described in the programme notes by Pamela Hutchinson as “the chance to watch a blockbuster film with a full orchestra makes this no ordinary trip to the pictures, but a gala event.” .... and it certainly didn’t disappoint!
The talents and enthusiasm of the composer, conductor and orchestra all combined perfectly with the film to make the Barbican resonate with the boundless energy from their performance and the genuine audience appreciation of this “larger-than-life” event. A wide age range were present at the premiere and glancing around I could see that they were all captivated by the on-screen drama and Neil Brand’s cohesive score, willingly letting it carry them on a journey that embraced both the childhood adventure of the traditional tales of Robin Hood and the darker references to the greed, envy and romantic sides of human nature.
The composer said that he had wanted to score a Fairbanks film for many years, so I hope that this will not be the only time that it gets performed with a full orchestra and that many more music, movie and Robin Hood fans will have an opportunity to share the magical, live audio visual experience of blending the classic silent film with Neil Brand’s exciting new score.
Bob White, World Wide Robin Hood Society. (17th October. 2016)