Since reopening in 2015, the Kings Theatre, in the heart of Flatbush, has hosted precious little in the way of film events, which is fine, really: it’s enough that the old Loew’s Wonder Theatre has been refurbished to something like its former glory, after nearly 40 years of dereliction, and is again a handsome cultural hub south and east of Prospect Park. The Dodgers will come back to the neighborhood before we go back to seeing films in 3,000-seat single-screen movie palaces again. But a little nostalgia never hurt anyone.
On Saturday, April 8, the Kings Theatre will host a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 Barry Lyndon, perhaps the most exacting work by perhaps the most grandiose of all filmmakers: a three-hour Thackery adaptation, with naturally lit compositions straight out of the 18th century wing of the National Gallery, and an Oscar-winning score, by Leonard Rosenman, featuring elements of Schubert, Handel, and Irish folk songs. The score, newly transcribed for performance will be played live, for the first time ever, by the 50-piece Wordless Music Orchestra—most recently, you may have seen the live Wordless Music performances of the Tree of Life or Punch-Drunk Love scores alongside the films at BAM last year.
(They’re currently at work on a number of similar projects, including a live performance of Mica Levi’s score for Jackie on June 3 in Los Angeles, as well as Brooklyn performances of the scores for both Creed and Selma, with the respective composers, Ludwig Goransson and Jason Moran, coming later this summer.)
“Barry Lyndon is essentially a silent film,” says Joseph A. Berger, the event’s producer, by way of explaining the impetus for Saturday’s screening, which will feature a new 2K digital restoration. “There’s very little dialogue, the performances are reminiscent of those seen in the silent era. It is absolutely Kubrick’s homage to directors like Abel Gance, D.W. Griffith, and Victor Sjöström. There’s over two hours of music in this three-hour film, and one can imagine that Kubrick had this sort of presentation in mind: the movie begs for live musical accompaniment. Kings Theatre opened its doors on September 7, 1929 with a screening of the silent film Evangeline—with a live orchestra, so our event is quite fitting.”