Silent riffing: Musicians lay down live guitar score for silent ‘Snow White’ - Brooklyn Paper

Silent riffing: Musicians lay down live guitar score for silent ‘Snow White’

Black and white: This 2012 Spanish adaptation of Snow White, “Blancanieves,” will get a live soundtrack from Black Lodge this weekend at Nitehawk Cinema.
Cohen Media Group

They make the sound of silents.

A collective of Brooklyn musicians will add a live, heavy metal-influenced soundtrack to a silent film version of “Snow White” at a pair of performances this weekend at Nitehawk Cinema. The screening is part of the theater’s Live Sound Cinema series, which invites bands to re-score visually stunning films, from vintage silent favorites like “Metropolis” to contemporary cult classics like “Mad Max.”

This weekend’s selection is “Blancanieves,” a silent, black-and-white re-imagining of Snow White set in 1920 Seville, with the heroine as a bullfighter. The film’s shadowy tone is a perfect match for the music of Black Lodge, said the group’s organizer.

“It’s a really dark but beautiful film,” said Geoff Gersh, the composer and guitarist at the helm of the collective. “I think it’s a great twist on the Snow White story. Just visually, it was beautiful.”

Gersh’s first love is heavy metal, but his influences are wide-ranging, drawing inspiration from jazz and blues legends along with metal heavyweights like Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The upcoming screenings of “Blancanieves” will feature a more mellow, ambient score, he said.

The artistic challenge of giving the film a new life is one that Gersh couldn’t resist, even though he says that the Spanish feature was near flawless in its silent state.

“When I do this stuff, it’s not that I think I can do a better job,” said Gersh. “It’s almost like doing a cover song. I have a different take on it, and it’s amazing to have that outlet at Nitehawk to take these movies and try something different with them.”

The program director at Nitehawk says the goal of the series is to pioneer new artistic experiences for moviegoers.

“This is not a novelty thing — it’s really about elevating the film,” said John Woods. “It’s about taking something people might know, or not know, and making a different experience out of it.”

This is not Gersh’s first time creating music to complement evocative images — he has scored original films and collaborated with dancers and painters. Throwing his riffs into the mix with the Nitehawk series was an obvious step, he said.

“I love creating music for anything visual — be it dance, film, or other images,” he said. “Rescoring films just seems like a natural fit for me.”

“Blancanieves” with Black Lodge at Nitehawk Cinema [136 Metropolitan Avenue between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, www.nitehawkcinema.com, 718-384-3980]. June 27–28 at 11:45 am. $16.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Black metal: Composer Geoff Gersh (left) and his music collective Black Lodge will craft a live soundtrack for silent film “Blancanieves” this weekend at Nitehawk Cinema, as part of a film series organized by the theater’s program director John Woods (right).
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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