Silent Film “Down to the Sea in Ships” with a LIVE Piano Score by Dr. Jennifer Maxwell
Pianist Dr. Jennifer Maxwell, of New Bedford has created a film score for the 1922 classic silent film “Down to the Sea in Ships,” that filmed in that other whaling town of New Bedford and was directed by Elmer Clifton. Using some archival material and some original music, Maxwell has written a theme for each of the film’s characters (e.g. hero’s theme, villain’s theme, etc.) and each type of action (e.g. love theme, whaling theme, etc.), timed them to occur exactly for the durations of the scenes, and composed them in keys and such that would segue appropriately from one to the next. She also utilized several vintage tunes that would have been recognizable in the day, weaving them in with the original music — all with the purpose of underscoring the narrative and providing cohesion in a medium in which there is no dialogue. With its theme of whaling and its inclusion of the only legally filmed whale hunt in cinematic history, the film offers a glimpse into Nantucket’s own history. It also is notable for featuring the debut of the inimitable flapper girl movie star Clara Bow (and she is indeed delightful!).
Experience the film just as audiences would have in the silent film era . . . with live piano! As the film is silent therefore through-scored, the piano plays throughout in a recital-type manner. This is a very family-friendly event: (the film is quite benign, allowing even younger audience members to enjoy a movie AND a piano concert!)