Fusing music and cinema

The Invincible Czars, known for their scores to silent films, are set for a performance alongside a screening of “Nosferatu” at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Gryphon Theatre. Courtesy photo

The Invincible Czars, an eclectic music ensemble with a love of classic cinema, will perform Saturday in Laramie during a tour through the western and west coast states.

The Invincible Czars — who write music to accompany silent films — will play along to the German Expressionist silent horror film “Nosferatu” during their show at the Gryphon Theatre.

“We kind of veer more into the modern side with our instrumentation,” said Josh Robins, a founding member of the Invincible Czars. “You know, I play guitar and we have violin and a piano and organ sounds, flute and bass clarinet. So we try, with these, to really make music that modern audiences will find interesting but … we try to balance that with complimenting the movie.”

Based in Texas, the band started in 2003 and took its shows on the road when the silent film accompaniment fad died down in their home state. They have found popularity and success touring throughout the U.S.

“The Invincible Czars apply a cinematic sensibility to each of their intricately crafted scores,” a news release states. “They use a mix of acoustic and electric instruments, sound effects, and vocals to add a distinct and tastefully modern touch to their performances, giving contemporary audiences a clear context in which to appreciate silent cinema.”

“Nosferatu” was a 1922 rip-off of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” that became an instant hit with German audiences. A court order ruled all copies of the plagiarized film be destroyed, but a few copies survived and the film was eventually released in the US. Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks “Nosferatu” as the third best horror movie ever.

Robins said the film might come across as hokey or even laughable to modern audiences, but it’s still creepy.

“It’s certainly one of the most important silent films ever made, but a lot of people consider it one of the most important films ever made,” he said. “Cinema had only been around for 20-ish years by that time so a lot of what they did in that movie was really groundbreaking for the time.”

Robins said it was a challenge to arrange a score for “Nosferatu” simply because the movie is a popular one in the world of silent film accompaniment.

“We made a score for this movie because our fans kept asking us to do it,” Robins said. “I would go on YouTube and listen to scores other people had put on YouTube for it — not so much to get ideas, but to get ideas for what not to do.”

Multiple versions of the film exist today, since all modern copies were stitched together from surviving fragments. The Czars will be playing to the most restored version of the film, so the show should last about 90 minutes.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m., Saturday at the Gryphon Theatre, 710 Garfield St. Tickets can be purchased at www.gryphontheatre.org for $10.

Call the Gryphon Theatre Box Office at 745-8000 for more information.

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