BRATTLEBORO — When you think “silent film,” you may imagine the classic black and white capers of Chaplin or Keaton, high jinks, pratfalls and century old sensibilities. But Charles Lane's "Sidewalk Stories" is an entirely different experience. Shot in Manhattan in 1989, this silent film considers similar themes to some of Chaplin's more thoughtful films (notably The Kid), but brings it into a contemporary lens as it sheds light on the plight of an unhoused man in New York and the abandoned toddler he finds himself taking care of on the unforgiving streets or urban America. The film explores not only the bleak and difficult circumstances that the unhoused face, but also captures the humanity, intelligence and inventiveness of those same people.
Dan DeWalt, who has written and performed several scores for other silent movies was immediately drawn to this film because of its unflinching look at what so many of us choose to not see. Working in partnership with Brattleboro's Epsilon Spires, he will be presenting and performing a brand new score to this film Saturday night at the venue at 190 Main St. DeWalt composed the music to try to capture those multifaceted aspects of a homeless existence, using rhythms and harmonies to create tension, express joy or sorrow. The fact that the film was filmed in 1989 allows for some musical references to the era as well as some humor embedded in those references.
Using both a piano and the Epsilon Spires pipe organ, DeWalt's music will utilize a wide and varied pallet of sound to capture the gamut of expression and pathos in the film. Reflecting on the composing experience, DeWalt says: “It is an awesome privilege to be able to create the music that will support this film. Music is loaded with emotion and power. The sounds that accompany a scene can greatly affect the overall impression that the scene delivers. In this work, I am trying to create an emotional response that fits both the time and setting of the film, as well as the underlying realities that shape and determine so much about how people are able to get by when they has not been graced with good fortune and economic success.”
The doors at Epsilon Spires will open at 7 p.m. The film starts at 7:30 p.m. and runs for 100 minutes. Admission is $15. If the fee is an obstacle, please contact DeWalt (firstname.lastname@example.org) to see about discounted entry.