We spend a lot of time looking at screens: phones, computers, televisions. They buzz, they beep, they play music, they provide endless information. Go back in time with Norman Studios, who brings back what was originally on the screen—silent films.
This Sunday, February 25, at Hotel Indigo in Tapestry Park, join Norman Studios as they screen Oscar Micheaux's 1925 film Body and Soul. The silent will be accompanied by live music from Jacksonville University's Tony Steve and the Silver Synchro Sounds.
Co-chair and communications committee director Devan Stuart explains that music is a large part of the experience. "You can see a silent film three different times to three different scores and it’s like seeing a different movie each time. Plus, you’re watching a film that’s a hundred years old and listening to music that’s being played right now, which is a cool bridge between the century," she says.
Body and Soul was a special choice because there is known correspondence between director Oscar Micheaux and Richard Norman, who bought the Jacksonville studio in the 1920s. "Both filmmakers worked to give minorities a bigger, stronger place in film, particularly in mainstream film," Stuart says. "Mr. Norman's films tended to be much more family-friendly—he wanted to do fun, adventure films. They weren’t message films like Micheaux's were. Michaeux used film as an agent for social change. Some of his films were very controversial."
Body and Soul is one of those pictures. Originally a nine reel, the movie was cut down to five after being deemed too "immoral" by the Motion Picture Commission of the State of New York. This was because the plot follows a criminal posing as a reverend, drinking, stealing and falling in love with an already taken women.
Tickets are $5, with proceeds supporting efforts of the Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing public knowledge of Northeast Florida's early film industry and the preservation and restoration of Jacksonville’s only remaining silent film studio.