Imagine the sound of silence in the theatre when you’re watching a silent film. Imagine that moment when the audience remains unmoving and pays undivided attention to what they’re watching. Imagine that moment when they hold their breath at the twists and turns of the plot. Or when they laugh together in sync. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Such is the magic and drama that silent theatre brings with it. Here, dialogue can also be conveyed by the use of muted gestures and mime in conjunction with title cards or written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. There’s no sound to count on if you’re distracted by your mobile phones. If you miss it, you just miss it.
During the silent-film era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation. The introduction of synchronized dialogue with the movies that we so casually enjoy today became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. Can you imagine this being done now? With technological advancements, we now have sound effects, music, dialogues and what not! Can you imagine how the theatre will be like in 2040? Give it a thought!
Though most lost silent films will never be recovered, some have been discovered in film archives or private collections. From Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush to Fred Niblo’s Ben-Hur, silent films have made us all laugh, cry, and filled us with renewed excitement and joy.
Owing to advancements in technology and changing times, our films have also taken a big leap. From what it used to be, to what it is now – we have come a long way, indeed! It’s uncertain what the future brings with it, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to transform our movie-viewing experiences. And for that, we at Galalite are prepared. With innovative technologies and constant invention, and reinvention, we will forever contribute to more enchanting visual experiences.