A Parent’s Review: Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount
Food, music and funny movies, what’s not to love? During the month of July, the Paramount Theatre has expanded its silent movie programming to include a series of shorts as matinees each Monday at noon. Delightfully nostalgic, timelessly funny and beautifully preserved, these films continue to entertain with a simplicity that has been almost lost.
I must admit, while I was eager to see the films myself, I was a tad worried how my overly techno-savvy kids would respond. I decided to give it a shot when I saw that the first Monday included the short, A Trip to the Moon, by George Melies. My kids were familiar with this filmmaker and movie from the book Hugo Cabret.
It was an instant hit, but oddly enough, their favorite shorts were the two Charlie Chaplin films that followed. It just goes to show, you never know what your kids will love until you expose them to it. My very insightful 8-year old daughter remarked that watching Charlie Chaplin was kind of like watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Even though she laughed out loud each time he fell, she did say that she hoped he was wearing knee and elbow pads under his clothes.
My equally insightful 11-year old son loved how the actors told the story with their whole bodies and expressive faces. They didn’t even need words. Upcoming Mondays feature more Chaplin shorts as well as a few by Buster Keaton. The show on July 16 includes Impossible Voyage and The Kid; Kingdom of Fairies and The Cameraman are on the bill for July 2; and the series culminates on July 30 with Rip’s Dream and Go West.
One of the neatest features of the Silent Movie Mondays is the music. The films are accompanied with live organ music performed by Jim Riggs on a 1928 Wurlitzer pipe organ. While some movie soundtracks are overwhelming, the music for silent movies truly enhances the experience. The variety of sounds the organ can produce is truly remarkable, and Riggs is a master at work. My son, who enjoys messing around with garage band, was impressed with the versatility of the organ and its ability to not only add music but sound effects as well.
Taking kids to the movies is a tricky thing. However, the good folks at Paramount have removed many of the obstacles that make parents wait for the DVD. First off, the length of the short films is reasonable. Even with three shorts and introductions given by the organist, the show only lasted 70 minutes. One of my personal favorite features was the elimination of previews, saving time and confusion about what we were there to see.
While the Paramount does offer popcorn and a few other snacks, perhaps the best twist on the whole series is their open food policy. That’s right, they invite you to bring a sack lunch or whatever you want to eat into the theater and drinks, too! The one twist is that without dialogue, you really have to watch the film to follow the story, so don’t bring food that will be too difficult for the kids to manage as there are no tables, trays or even drink holders at the seats.
Finally, the feature of the Paramount that makes it incredibly kid-friendly is its sheer size. Even staying with the orchestra seats, your family will be able to have a row or two or three to itself so that wiggling, seat-kicking and even strolling about will not be distracting for other movie-goers. So, even if your child has never made it through a whole movie, this series might be worth trying.
Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based out of Lake Forest Park where her home movies feature her children, ages 8 and 11, and are anything but silent.
If You Go...
Where: The Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle.
When: At noon on Mondays in July: July 16, July 23 and July 30.
Cost: $5 per ticket, discounts available for groups of ten or more.
Contact: 1-877-784-4849 or www.stgpresents.org.