On Saturday, I went to a matinee showing of the black and white silent film, Lilac Time, released in 1928, starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper. This was a one-time showing at Chicago's Music Box Theater, complete with a live organ accompanist and the star's granddaughter in the audience. The film is set in the French countryside during World War I and begins as a slapstick comedy, but soon turns to romance, then action, then tragedy.
Colleen Moore, lighting up the screen, plays a young French woman whose quiet country life is changed when the war begins and the British army sets up an airbase on her farm. She befriends the group of pilots and falls in love with one, all the while praying for their safe return flights every day.
Lilac Time completely swept me away, so much that I shed tears over a dying German soldier. Thinking of the film in hindsight, I barely remember that there were no spoken words or sound effects. What stands out to me are the story and the characters. Although the technological development allowing for the creation of movies with sound was an overall improvement, there is unique beauty in films created within the strict limits of no sound, no color.
The Music Box shows silent films with organ accompanist occasionally and I plan to be there every time. Also, this week they are screening my favorite movie of all time, Les Enfants Du Paradis. I need to clear out four hours from my schedule and grab some popcorn.
I will end this with the beautiful song that was recorded and released with the film, Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time by John McCormick (Jeannine is the name of Colleen Moore's character).