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Silent film fans rejoice

July 22, 2010
Silent film fans have quite the treat next Thursday as Tupelo filmmaker Rex Curry Harsin brings his series of Chaplin-esque short films to Oxford, set to music from silent film composer Donald Sosin.
“Haphazard Happenings with Purdie & Friends” is a series of short films following the hijinks of “Purdie,” played by Harsin.
“It is in the style of the great filmmakers of the silent era, including: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy,” Harsin said. “These films are set in modern day, yet carry a certain feel and nostalgia for the 1920’s.”
While attending film school at the Los Angeles Film School, Harsin created the character Purdie after seeing “Benny and Joon” and appreciating Johnny Depp’s performance of a Buster Keaton-like character.
“I stumbled across this, and in it discovered his love for Buster Keaton,” Harsin said. “So, while perusing the library in L.A., I picked out a Keaton film to give a chance. From there on, I became absolutely obsessed, devouring all his and Chaplin’s films. And, of course, in L.A. the film opportunities are much greater than here. I began going to the Silent Film Theater on Fairfax and they happened to have a Buster Keaton festival at UCLA I attended.”
At the festival, Harsin discovered the power of live music with film and determined to make his own show, created numerous short films of Purdie with the intention of screening them as part of a music and film package.
“You have the impact of a live performance, coupled with the story telling possibilities of film,” Harsin said. “It’s a perfect combo. The impact upon the mind is different as well. Audiences watch and interpret silent films in a different way than they do a talkie. But a silent film, in a theater, without the live score, is somewhat plain. It takes the combination to make it special.”
Harsin said that he feels silent film has been neglected but is a classic method to tell a story.
“The world classifies and labels things constantly, and silent films were shelved as old and a thing of the past, whilst the talkies moved in. The problem with that is that silent film is not the “old” type of filmmaking. It is an art all it’s own,” Harsin said.
Harsin will screen two of the short films, “Girl Trouble,” and “Backstage” as well as a feature “Purdie and Pepper,” with the live music to accompany the films.
The show will be held at the Powerhouse on Thursday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children and can be purchased at the door.
—melanie@oxfordeagle.com

Oxford Film Freak
Silent film fans have quite the treat next Thursday as Tupelo filmmaker Rex Curry Harsin brings his series of Chaplin-esque short films to Oxford, set to music from silent film composer Donald Sosin. “Haphazard Happenings with Purdie & Friends” is a series of short films following the hijinks of “Purdie,” played by Harsin.“It is in the style of the great filmmakers of the silent era, including: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy,” Harsin said. “These films are set in modern day, yet carry a certain feel and nostalgia for the 1920’s.”While attending film school at the Los Angeles Film School, Harsin created the character Purdie after seeing “Benny and Joon” and appreciating Johnny Depp’s performance of a Buster Keaton-like character. “I stumbled across this, and in it discovered his love for Buster Keaton,” Harsin said. “So, while perusing the library in L.A., I picked out a Keaton film to give a chance. From there on, I became absolutely obsessed, devouring all his and Chaplin’s films. And, of course, in L.A. the film opportunities are much greater than here. I began going to the Silent Film Theater on Fairfax and they happened to have a Buster Keaton festival at UCLA I attended.”At the festival, Harsin discovered the power of live music with film and determined to make his own show, created numerous short films of Purdie with the intention of screening them as part of a music and film package. “You have the impact of a live performance, coupled with the story telling possibilities of film,” Harsin said. “It’s a perfect combo. The impact upon the mind is different as well. Audiences watch and interpret silent films in a different way than they do a talkie. But a silent film, in a theater, without the live score, is somewhat plain. It takes the combination to make it special.” Harsin said that he feels silent film has been neglected but is a classic method to tell a story. “The world classifies and labels things constantly, and silent films were shelved as old and a thing of the past, whilst the talkies moved in. The problem with that is that silent film is not the “old” type of filmmaking. It is an art all it’s own,” Harsin said.Harsin will screen two of the short films, “Girl Trouble,” and “Backstage” as well as a feature “Purdie and Pepper,” with the live music to accompany the films. The show will be held at the Powerhouse on Thursday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children and can be purchased at the door. —melanie@oxfordeagle.com

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