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The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society is proud to welcome back for the fifth year, the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) to perform their new, original score to Universal Pictures’  THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928).  Universal itself has commissioned Berklee to create the original score recording for their brand-new 4K restoration of the film, the first time a Hollywood studio has ever engaged the students of a college or university to score one of its features.
We greatly appreciate the financial support of Sam Feldman and Marilyn Meyerhoff in our staging of this performance. 
90 years after Victor Hugo’s story of human cruelty and the redemptive power of love first captivated global film audiences, Universal Pictures’ The Man Who Laughs, a melodrama embued with a penetrating darkness, returns to the screen. Roger Ebert has called the film “One of the final treasures of German silent Expressionism.”  Its shadowy exteriors, the carnival setting, and the demonically misshapen “hero” — the acknowledged inspiration for DC Comics’ The Joker — made director Paul Leni’s THE MAN WHO LAUGHS something entirely new to American cinema and the foundation upon which the classic Universal horror films would be built.
Conrad Veidt (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) stars as Gwynplaine, a nobleman’s son who is kidnapped by a political enemy, and then is mutilated by a gypsy “surgeon” who carves a monstrous smile upon his face. Finding shelter in a traveling freak show, he falls in love with a blind girl (Mary Philbin of  The Phantom Of The Opera fame), the one person who cannot be repulsed by his appearance. As the years’ pass, the hand of fate draws Gwynplaine back into the world of political intrigue. He becomes the plaything of a jaded duchess (Olga Baclanova), and his enemies renew their efforts to control him.



Described by film critic Leonard  Maltin as “nothing short of thrilling,” the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra (BSFO) is dedicated to composing new, original scores for silent feature classics, and performing them live-to-picture. Based at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, in the world’s first undergraduate degree program in film scoring, the student orchestra has composed this new work and will perform it as an ensemble, under the leadership of Berklee Chair of Film Scoring Alison Plante, and Assistant Professor of Film Scoring Peter Bufano.  The BSFO’s seven student composers each conduct the 12-piece film orchestra in a “reel” of the film, passing the baton, in a small spectacle of musical synchrony and virtuosity, live-to-picture.