Kinothek Asta Nielsen has commissioned internationally renowned composer-pianist Maud Nelissen to compose music for one of the most spectacular British films of the 1920s. It will be performed by an ensemble of five musicians.
GB 1927, D Maurice Elvey, SC Victor Saville based on a play by Stanley Houghton, C Jack E. Cox, William Shenton, E Gareth Gundrey, P Maurice Elvey, Victor Saville, Cast Estelle Brody, John Stuart, Norman McKinnel, Irene Rooke, Marie Ault, Humberstone Wright, Arthur Chesney, Gladys Jennings, Alf Goddard, Cyril McLaglen, Peggy Carlisle, Print b/w, 35mm, 116 min, silent , engl. INT +german SUB, BFI National Archive
Young Fanny Hawthorn works in a cotton mill in Hindle, Lancashire, England. During the yearly company outing, she enjoys an affair with the son of the factory owner. From her family’s point of view, the only thing that can restore her honour is a wedding. But Fanny won’t give up her freedom just because of her “little fancy”. Sexual self-determination is – in the spirit of Emma Goldman – part of the pride of the working woman.
With this story of emancipation, a sensation at the time, the film simultaneously presents a look at the first global capitalist economy, the cotton industry. It shows a spinning mill in Lancashire, where the work is directly connected to that of slaves on the cotton plantations in the American south. We don’t see them here (see Daughters of the Dust and Beloved in the festival programme), but the film is nevertheless a twofold documentation, of the women’s movement in the early 20th century and the situation of workers in the English cotton industry. Director Maurice Elvey’s declared purpose was to combine the story with documentary aspects, as Lucie Bea Dutton writes: „ [...] Hindle Wakes combined a play that Elvey regarded highly with his desire to show 'real locations' onscreen to create 'dramatized documentary'. This combination resulted in one of Elvey’s most celebrated films, both at the time of its original release and 90 years on. Having spent the last 14 years researching Elvey and his career, I believe he would have been delighted, proud, and somewhat astonished to learn that composer Maud Nelissen took the trouble to visit Blackpool and to see what remains of the cotton mills of North West England when creating the new score for this marvellous film.“ (Lucie Bea Dutton, Festival Publication Views of History, 2019)
Maud Nelissen is one of the most important international silent film pianists and composers. She performs in Europe, the USA and Asia, and regularly appears at the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna and Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone. She has worked for many years with Kinothek Asta Nielsen, often in cooperation with ZDF/arte, and she is the founder of the silent film orchestra “The Sprockets”.
For her new composition for Hindle Wakes, Nelissen’s task was to remain true to the film and to tie Elvey’s lively direction to a certain melancholy. The result is „a modern lyrical score with proud, honest elements referring to the folk music of the Lancashire area“ (Nelissen).
Accompanied on the piano by Maud Nelissen
Maud Nelissen, componist and pianist, leads the ensemble on the piano and is accompanied by:
Francesco Ferrarini, Cello
Daphne Balvers, Saxophone
Lucio Degani, Violins
Rombout Stoffers, Percussions and Accordeon