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TABLE BALLET AND TOM KHA GAI
16 April 2010
What a great day we had today. It started out kind of iffy. My digestive tract wasn't behaving properly and I had the horrible feeling that I was going to have to send Walt off alone, but fortunately I just had a bland breakfast and by mid-morning, when we had to leave, I was feeling OK.
We drove down to the Bay Area to pick up Char and Mike so we could carpool over to the City. We had tickets to see the San Francisco Symphony play live music for a showing of Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush at Davies symphony Hall.
We have attended some of these live music showings before. A couple of years ago we saw the symphony play the score to The Wizard of Oz and there was some great silent Russian epic film that we saw many years ago. It's amazing how much richer the films are with a live orchestra.
We went early so we could catch the prologue . While waiting for the speaker, we looked out over the audience, and all we could see was a sea of white hair (unless there was no hair). There was also a walker-brigade of ushers who would accompany an older person in a walker to his or her seat and then take the walkers to the back of the hall. As Char put it, "It was the biggest collection of walkers and canes seen anywhere. We felt young and fit in this crowd." Walt later commented that probably a lot of the people in the audience had seen the movie when it was new!
Before the prologue started, there was a guy dressed as Chaplin who went all over the theatre, interacting with the audience. He was very cute and everybody seemed to be enjoying him.
The pre-movie talk was delivered by Stephen Salmons, co-founder of The San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Originally made in 1925, Chaplin reworked the film in 1942, so that it was shorter. He also took out the printed material and added his own narration. They were able to put back the deleted scenes and all the printed material so that audiences could see the film as movie-goers did at its premiere in 1925. They don't consider this a full restoration, but more a "work in progress."
I had, of course, seen The Gold Rush before, or at least the most famous scenes--the house teetering on the edge of the snowy mountain top, the shoe-eating scene, the "table ballet" Chaplin does with the dinner rolls (Photoshopped onto the screen above). It turns out that the dance he does with the rolls was really a fairly authentic reproduction of a clog dance he had done in England as a boy.
The full movie is 2 hours long (and I know I've never seen a 2-hour long silent film) and what a delight it was. For one thing, it was played on the type of projector that it was made for, so you didn't get all that jerkiness that you usually see when watching silent films and after you got over the fact that there was no spoken dialog, it didn't matter. I could understand why people were suspicious of "talkies" when they came along and feared that it would ruin the art of movie making. Of course that was long before people started fearing that Avatar was going to ruin acting. It's all just one long progression, I guess.
When we left Davies hall there was a big line of buses, tour buses and buses from assisted living facilities and any kind of bus you can imagine, coming to load all those white haired people with all of their walkers and take them home.
It was too early for dinner when the movie was over, so we drove back across the bay and by the time we got close to Mike & Char's house, it was 5 p.m., so we stopped at a place called Chada Thai, where we had a wonderful dinner starting with Tom Kha Gai, a fabulous sweet and sour chicken soup with a coconut milk stock. I could have made a whole meal on that alone, but we ordered several dishes to share.
Everything was wonderful, and I think this was the first time I've ever eaten in a Thai restaurant where I did NOT get Pad Thai.
We were home in time to find out who was booted off of Survivor. It was all just a lovely day.
PHOTO OF THE DAY