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The silent film is an art that is generally lost on today's mass audience. Thanks to all the innovations in film technology, people have become spoiled on total sensory immersion. After all, talkies killed the silent film for a reason - why think and read when you can have a character explain everything to you? For that reason, any silent film released today needs to have a specific gimmick, and that's just what Louis has.
A trailer for the silent Louis Armstrong biopic, starring Jackie Earle-Haley, Anthony Coleman, Anthony Mackie, and Michael Rooker, has been posted on zSHARE and the concept is pretty interesting. Much like the early days of film, the movie will have no soundtrack, but will instead have each screening accompanied by traveling band that will both provide music and dialogue for the film. Obviously this means that the film will have very few screenings and will only be shown in larger venues (really the only way for it to make any of its money back). While the trailer includes all of the details you need, I've also put the film's press release below so you can peruse it at your convenience.
Check out the trailer below.
LOUIS, a silent film directed by Dan Pritzker and starring Jackie Earle Haley, Shanti Lowry and Anthony Coleman, will premiere in US cities in late August with live musical accompaniment by Wynton Marsalis, renowned pianist Cecile Licad and a 10-piece all-star jazz ensemble, including Sherman Irby, Victor Goines, Marcus Printup, Ted Nash, Kurt Bacher, Vincent Gardner, Wycliffe Gordon, Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez, Ali Jackson, and conductor Andy Farber. Marsalis will play a score comprised primarily of his own compositions. Licad will play the music of 19th century American composer L.M. Gottschalk. The group will perform live with the film in a series of special performances in New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, Detroit, and Philadelphia August 25 - 31.Partial proceeds from the five concerts will benefit Providence Saint Mel School in Chicago, IL in honor of Paul J. Adams III. Shot by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond as a modern re-imagining of early silent film, LOUIS is an homage to Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, beautiful women and the birth of American music. The grand Storyville bordellos, alleys and cemeteries of 1907 New Orleans provide a backdrop of lust, blood and magic for 6 year old Louis (Anthony Coleman-pictured above; photo credit: Peter Sorel) as he navigates the colorful intricacies of life in the city. Young Louis's dreams of playing the trumpet are interrupted by a chance meeting with a beautiful and vulnerable girl named Grace (Lowry) and her baby, Jasmine. Haley, in a performance reminiscent of the great comic stars of the silent screen, plays the evil Judge Perry who is determined not to let Jasmine's true heritage derail his candidacy for governor. "The idea of accompanying a silent film telling a mythical tale of a young Louis Armstrong was appealing to me," says Marsalis (pictured below; photo credit: Frank Stewart). "Of course, calling it a silent film is a misnomer -- there will be plenty of music, and jazz is like a conversation between the players so there'll be no shortage of dialogue. I look forward to playing with Cecile. The contrast between Gottschalk's music and jazz can be a revelation to those unfamiliar with Gottschalk's music and jazz." "The combination of Cecile playing Gottschalk and Wynton and his ensemble playing jazz reflects the wide-ranging nature of the American musical landscape," notes Pritzker. "LOUIS came about when I was writing a screenplay about Buddy Bolden, the first jazz trumpeter of New Orleans, and I took my mom to see Chaplin's 'City Lights' with the Chicago Symphony performing the score. It was without a doubt the best movie experience I ever had. The challenge of trying to tell a story visually, without dialogue, was compelling. I thought that if I was going to shoot one film, I might as well try to shoot two -- the second being a silent film that picked up where BOLDEN ended. And it put Vilmos and me on even footing -- he'd never made a silent film before either." LOUIS is a companion piece to Pritzker's BOLDEN, starring Anthony Mackie, Wendell Pierce and Lowry. BOLDEN will be released theatrically in 2011.