Saenger Theater hosts not-so-silent movie night

Saenger Theater hosts not-so-silent movie event Sunday
Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 10:33 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The historic Saenger Theater hosted a not-so-silent movie night Sunday, coinciding with FestivalSouth.

Guests were transported back more than 100 years to watch two films by Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle from the 1920s.

Back then, movies were just a motion picture and organists and musicians had to come up with their own score, or what might be known nowadays as a soundtrack.

“What’s amazing about that is it’s completely improvised,” said Mike Lopinto, FestivalSouth artistic director. “So, the person playing has seen the movie, usually, and then is trying to make things fit the movie live on the spot at the moment.”

Although the score is completely up to the organist, it’s all about repetition and knowing both films.

“What I did was watch the film over and over again and make up the best music that I could think of to accompany it, which is something similar to how an accompanist would do in the twenties,” said organist Douglas Rust. “As movies show several times a day, that accompanist would play, and after several days, they had accompanied the movie several times.

“They would have it and having watched it and accompanied it many times, they would narrow down what they did. "

FestivalSouth is continuing with events until June 24.

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