Music From the Movies

Though we mostly tend to talk about movies as “moving images”, there’s a whole ‘nother dimension (outside of the silent era, of course) that has a huge impact on how we understand, read and engage with cinema.

And I’m not just talking about dialogue and diegesis either. When it comes to mainstream cinema it’s the music that’s most likely to set me off on an embarrassing blub-a-thon – all too often in spite of how stupid I might think the story/characters/narrative emoti-cue is.

Look no further than any Steven Spielberg movie, ever, for first class musical manipulation.

Or pretty much anything with Tom Hanks in it.

But it’s not all unwanted tears; movie music can also offer up joyous, upbeat earworms – anything Ennio Morricone for me, Hans Zimmer or Alexandre Desplat, perhaps, for others.

Moving, mighty and a most beautiful art all o’ its own, movie music can be magic.

Which is why we’re recommending this upcoming twilight event at The Bristol Zoo: Music From The Movies.

Including music from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Mission Impossible, Titanic and loads more big screen favourites, the Bristol Ensemble orchestra are bringing entertainment to the animals – and you.



South West Silents Speak Up: Fantômas

Welcome to the first in a series of posts from our friends, South West Silents.

While we here in the video store can talk about Hal Hartley, 1980s horror and Nicolas Cage movies until well after closing time, we’re not so au fait with the silent stuff. That’s why it’s good to have friends in quiet places. If you’re wondering where that is, it’s over here. Read on friends!


by James Harrison

‘The first great movie experience’ David Thompson


There is no argument about it. Louis Feuillade had an impeccable track record for bringing chaos to the cinema screen. Over the course of his directing career, which only lasted just under 20 years (he made roughly 600 films between 1906 – 1924) Feuillade would bring audiences an extensive amount of assassinations, a big concentration of exploding buildings, the destruction of national monuments, bridges and the French public transport system; to be honest, Feuillade’s creations made the likes of SPECTRE look like a bunch of amateurs!


And that is the fun thing about Feuilade’s first major serial, Fantômas (1913-14). You hardly ever find yourself rooting for the good guys such as Inspector Juve (played by Scottich born Edmund Breon) or his collaborator, the reporter Jérôme Fandor (Georges Melchior). You are always rooting for the bad guys. In this case, the master criminal Fantômas (René Navarre) who is not only incredibly ruthless and cunning but also very well dressed throughout (apart from the full cover black suit).


The same can be said for many later villains in cinema of course, Robert Mitchum’s ‘preacher killer’ Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter (1955), the many incarnations of Hannibal Lecter, Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982) as well as Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988); although, Gruber is a personal favourite of mine to be honest. These are all villains who, in many ways, you want to keep watching instead the main protagonists. They are all very well dressed as well, apart from Rutger Hauer I guess.

fantomas (1)

It is also worth noting that the likes of the villains listed above were cut from the same cloth as Fritz Lang’s Dr Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) and Haghi (also played Rudolf Klein-Rogge) the criminal mastermind of one of Lang’s most underrated of thrillers, Spione (1928). These earlier villains were most certainly highly influenced by Fantômas, especially when it came to the subject of bringing chaos to a contemporary society as well as the ability to dramatically change their appearance and identity within a few seconds.

There are however flaws with Fantômas. The use of the camera in particular is incredibly simple and basic. A scene which could last almost 10 minutes could well be shown in one single shot (with the odd cutaway if you are lucky). Even for 1913/1914 standards in filmmaking the camerawork in Fantômas is painfully basic for the time. Other filmmakers such as Evgenii Bauer and of course D. W. Griffith were advancing the use of the camera in every film they made. Sadly none of this transpires in Fantômas. So you have been warned.


However, do not let this turn you off. Fantômas is thrilling throughout because of what happens in front of the camera and that is the important factor here; the sense of, where are we going now? What is going to happen next? In many ways, Fantômas is one of those pioneering titles which formed the basis for future film and television serials; so your recent addition to HBO and other Television programmes could well be blamed on Fantômas as well.

If anything it’s a key title in the history of cinema, and one which establishes many themes  we would see throughout the future of cinema, even today! Enjoy!

Written by James Harrison of South West Silents for 20th Century Flicks.

Film Quiz in the Pub: The Return of DJ WillSpinz

Last month we unleashed the Australian Feminist on you, in DJ WillSpinz’ absence.

This month, HE IS BACK.

Less ideological agenda, more movie trivia – the 20th Century Flicks film quiz in the pub returns!

Sharpen your witticisms, get your pun-tastic team name together and come on down to the Christmas Steps pub on Monday July 6th for a night of good times, perplexing questions, strong Brizzle accents and a whole bar full of beer. See you there, innit.

Film Quiz Poster July

Entry is a pound per person, we don’t allow more than six to a team but otherwise the general gist is beer, questions, revelry. So join us for good nerdy filmic times!

Doreen and the VHS nail varnish caper.

A few days ago we received a curious message via social media… it read:

“Hey. This is an odd message I’ll admit. But for years I’ve collected trashy vhs from in and around Bristol. Yet occasionally I stumble upon a very obscure oddball title whose previous owner Doreen has scrawled her name on the cassette in what looks like nail varnish or lipstick. I’ve at least a dozen of her bizarro collection. Have you lot found any others or are aware who this person could be?”


Sadly, we do not know Doreen. But we do like the cut of her jib.



So then we thought, maybe others have seen these tapes around town? And maybe, just maybe, if we can piece together her collection we can learn something about the who and the varnish of a woman who clearly loved VHS…



So, if you know anything about Doreen, her tapes or her varnish, holler.

I like to think there’s a little VHS caper in all of us, don’t you?