Silent Return: London Symphony

The Capital is Finally Captured in this Classic Form of Cinema

Today’s short on The Plus, London Symphony, is a black and white silent movie accompanied by a new and exciting score from composer James McWilliam. It takes the viewer on an enticing visual journey through the city’s landscapes. We see famous attractions and lesser-known destinations; highlighting the diversity of cultures, people, neighbourhoods and design that the bustling metropolitan has to offer.

The film is a modern take on the classic city symphony style, a genre of filmmaking from the 1920s. Cities such as Berlin, Paris and Rotterdam all had City Symphony style films made in their honour, but one has never been made for London, until now. And director Alex Barrett told us why it’s not a moment to late.

‘Just because we now have the option to make films in colour and with sound, I don’t see why that means we have to,’ he explained. ‘By using this classical form to look at life today, something interesting will be revealed. It gives it some kind of contextualisation, and reminds us that we’re part of a historical spectrum.’
Alex and his team feel it is the right time to capture a snapshot of the city as it stands today, as diversity and modernism have exploded the city’s sense of culture and design.

London Native, Alex, talked us through the film and his new found love for his home city:

The Plus: Trying to capture the essence of such a diverse capital city sounds like an epic task.
Alex Barrett:
It’s certainly a challenge trying to decide which areas and locations to feature. By necessity of runtime, there’s going to have to be some selection, some kind of ‘editorialising’. So that’s tricky, trying to make sure we find the right balance. And then, of course, there’s the funding. It’s a black and white silent film – so it’s not the type of thing that attracts investment easily. That’s why we’ve turned to crowdfunding (and why we really do need people to support the crowdfunding campaign).
TP: Do you think only Londoners would appreciate the film?
Primarily, the film is aimed at fans of silent cinema. But also people who love London, and those who love independent film in general. It’ll be an exciting, experimental viewing experience, as well as a creative record of London as it stands today.
TP: What do you hope the audience will go away thinking about after watching the film?
I think we want to inspire a mix of ‘oh, I love that place’ and ‘wow, where is that? I never knew that was there’. We want to explore London, helping people to get to know the city. But we also want to promote a positive social message about the mix of cultures found within London. We believe this diversity is inspiring.
TP: Have you always felt so strongly about London?
One of the things that’s been really interesting for me is that, even though I was born and raised in London, I’ve started to see it in a new light since commencing work on this project. I’m noticing things I never saw before, and finding new beauty in the city. So, in some ways, it’s taught me a new way of looking at the world. Hopefully, it will make other people see London in a new light too.

Support the London Symphony Kickstarter campaign here.