By: Tara Bennett
Take a classic film with live music accompaniment against the setting sun and you have a recipe for quintessential fun this summer in Baton Rouge.
The Baton Rouge Gallery (BRG) will be bringing back its popular and inventive summer film series “Movies & Music on the Lawn,” which will kick off its 2014 season with a performance of the 1922 slapstick comedy “Grandma’s Boy.”
The films will be shown on a towering inflatable screen on the lawn behind the BRG located inside BREC’s historic City Park. The screenings begin at 8 p.m. or when the sun sets (whichever happens first), and admission price is $5, which includes free bottomless popcorn.
“It’s ramped up in popularity in the last five years,” said BRG Executive Director Jason Andreasen. “It was always popular, however, it’s certainly grown. One thing I would attribute that to is the diversifying of the musicians that are playing along with the films.”
According to Andreasen, originally only one music group would be selected to play for each film showing, but over the years, the gallery decided to branch out and pursued to have a different band for each film.
“So the band is then able to hone in on that one film and really make it as special as possible,” said Andreasen.
The selected genres for this year’s series run the gambit from slapstick comedy, to romance and suspenseful thriller paired with some of Southern Louisiana’s best contemporary bands. The bands, ranging from Americana to ambient chamber rock, to electronic and experimental folk, will breathe new life into the iconic silent films.
“It’s something I think that updates the films in a way,” said Andreasen. “To have a contemporary musician watch the film and think of what it would sound like in 2014.”
The series will close out with a grand finale celebration in September, which promises to be a night not to miss with a musical performance that will stick with people for a while. The selected film and band for the grand finale will be announced at the June 28 Movies & Music on the Lawn.
“I can tell you it’s the biggest one we’ve ever done,” said Andreasen. “It’s the most ambitious Movies and Music on the Lawn the gallery has ever undertaken. It was something when we first started talking about it is was something that we didn’t think was possible, but when we found out it was something we could do we’ve been excited ever since.”
This year’s films include:
Saturday, May 31 – “Grandma’s Boy,” with music written by American artist Denton Hatcher & the Soapbox Blues. One of the biggest slapstick comedies of the silent era, “Grandma’s Boy” tells the story about a coward who receives courage using a charm from his grandmother.
Saturday, June 28 – “The Man Who Laughed,” with music written by DJ Matsy. A melodramatic thriller about a man who was given a permanent grin on his face. This film is the inspiration for the creation of The Joker from the Batman comics.
Saturday, July 25 – “Sunrise,” with music written by chamber folk band Minos the Saint. Considered to be one of the top five silent films ever, it tells the story of a married farmer who falls under the spell of a women from the city, who tries to convince him to murder his wife.
Saturday, August 29 – “The Lodger” with music written by England in 1819. Alfred Hitchcock’s most acclaimed silent film about a landlady who suspects her new lodger is killing women around London.
Saturday, September 26 – The Grand Finale Celebration. Movie and band TBA during “The Man Who Laughed.”
“Staying away from a theme allowed us to build a summer-long series that provides something for everyone,” said Andreasen. “This way we’re able to bring something different every month. Whether they’re watching a light-hearted comedy or a nerve-racking thriller, I hope they enjoy the film and the effect that the visual and auditory can have at the same time.”
For more information on Baton Rouge Gallery’s Movies & Music on the Lawn series, call 225-383-1470 or visit batonrougegallery.org.