Summer Cinema Opens 41st Season at MSUM

Modern theaters are everywhere in the FM area today, but in the 1920’s and 1930’s there were around 67 movie palaces similar to the Fargo Theatre we still have downtown. Live music would accompany silent films, creating a unique art form the audience could experience together as they watched. The Summer Cinema Series at MSUM’s Weld Hall is a chance for modern audiences to experience this part of American film history.

Ryan Hardy, President of the Red River Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, says about silent films, “If someone does a visual comedy joke on screen everyone laughs.” These films give an opportunity for audience interaction and collaboration that doesn’t exist with Netflix or movies viewed at home.

The Summer Cinema Series begins Monday, July 10th, and continues every Monday through the month. The series is a collaboration between MSUM’s School of Media Arts & Design and the Red River Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. Pre-show organ music begins at 7:15 p.m., and the film at 7:30 p.m.

The “main chamber” which houses half of the organ’s pipes. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hardy.

The Summer Cinema Series started in the early 1970’s alongside the Film Studies program at MSUM. Tom Brandau, the program director for Summer Cinema, says the series is devoted to silent film because “it emphasizes the connection between the silent films themselves and the accompanying work.”

Before modern technology, music was the only way to accompany films. Organs were commonly used because they were more cost-effective than hiring a whole orchestra. This series showcases organ music and gives audiences a chance to experience the films as they were originally shown.

A variety of films will be shown over four weeks, featuring stars like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. The films range from comedies, to wartime dramas, to a night with a nautical theme.

Organ console. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hardy.

Tickets are $4 per movie and are available at the door. They can also be purchased online at mnstate.edu/tickets, or through the MSUM Box Office at (218) 477-2271.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Hardy.

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