Alloy Orchestra returns to the Oriental Theatre
As the Milwaukee Film Festival continues on into its second week, the Alloy Orchestra accompanied Alfred Hitchcock's silent version of "Blackmail."
The full ground floor and balcony audiences were patiently anticipating the screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s silent version of Blackmail at the Oriental Theatre on Monday night. The National Film and Television Archive of the British Film Institute owns the reel, which made its one-night-only appearance in Milwaukee for the event. The film originally began production as a silent version and was released in 1929 at the same time as its finished sound version, which has often been cited as Britain’s first “all-talkie” film.
The exclusive screening at the Milwaukee Film Festival was accompanied by the prestigious three-piece Alloy Orchestra. The group has been performing together for almost 22 years, providing musical accompaniment for silent-era films. They’ve written original scores for 28 feature-length films, performed more than a thousand times in a dozen countries and gained recognition from a slew of established critics. They’re innovators in their field, and have given new life to films that would have otherwise been set on the back burner without their masterful musical enhancement.
The difference between the Alloy Orchestra’s Monday appearance and their last performance in 2010 for Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis (also at the Oriental) was like night and day. It showcased their talent as musicians as well as their knowledge of classic film by portraying their versatility to construct instrumental storylines for different genres, from sci-fi to thriller. They used limited instruments (some of which they refer to as ‘junk’) in varying speeds and volumes to compliment the film’s scenes: the waify lady killer’s psychological torture, Hitchcock’s dark comedic edge, and law enforcement’s dopey “whodunit” suspense were portrayed beautifully.
There were still tickets available for purchase at the door, which were selling quickly. Those who missed the film dropped the ball on seeing a one-of-a-kind performance. The Alloy Orchestra only tours periodically, but is well worth the wait.