April 20, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: Rallying for Red River
By†Dan Szczesny

A wildly enthusiastic crowd of more than 400 people came to the Capital Center last Friday to be entertained by a remnant of the past that spoke well of the cityís future.

Harold Lloyd. Know who that is? Iíll bet your grandparents did.

The Red River Theatre took a chance by bringing Harold Lloyd, a silent film legend and icon of grandmothers everywhere, to the Cap Center, and it paid off in a big way.

With an original score composed and played live by Michael Annicchiarico and a fresh beautiful restoration of Lloydís classic 1927 film, Safety Last (itís the one with the guy in a straw hat hanging from a clock on the side of a building), Red River was able to connect with film fans old and young in a way rarely done outside of the film festival circuit.

The audience literally roared with laughter and joy, so loudly at times that it drowned out the music. The reasons why a nearly 80-year old film scored such a success in Concord are worth exploring.

It occurs to me that old is new. Audiences and lovers of film have had enough of the typical cinder box blockbuster of the day. Itís not a stretch to say that the silent era provided fans of the day a type of entertainment that even our modern age of special effects and big budget star vehicles are not able to duplicate. As my colleague Jeff Rapsis, who served as the eveningís emcee, put it, silent films were designed to be a shared experience that connected with the audience in a very real and physical way.

Concordís two multiplex houses are decaying dinosaurs of sprawl that suck the joy out of going to the movies. The beauty of last weekís show, beyond the wonderful film and performance, is that events like that are community builders, allowing people to be participants in the art and to share with each other what they have seen and how they feel.

Itís simply not done anymore the way Red River does it because there are not enough organizations like Red River willing to get it done.

The planning and dedication to the art of film that went into Fridayís event was not insignificant. From finding the proper composer to score the film, to securing the rights, to setting up the venue and marketing what in this day and age is a tough sell, the folks at Red River often work on nothing more than caffeine and a devotion to film.

And thatís why they need and deserve our support.

Red River met its first big fund raising goal last month, but supporters have a long way left to go to reach the hundreds of thousands needed to cover the costs of the new theatre that will be built inside the Capital Commons on Main Street. If you enjoy $10 popcorn, lack of heat and the latest Rob Schneider movie, then Loudon Road is the place for you. If you want some community pride, along with a film worth seeing, then call Red River at 225-5650 and ask them how you can help.


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