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Not So Silent Film - January 2020

Short French Films by Georges Méliès, Charles le Bargy, and André Calmettes with music by Saint-Saëns, Rameau, Le Roux, and Couperin

Still image from the film L’Assassinat du duc de Guise (1908)

Not So Silent Film's main feature is The Assassination of the Duke of Guise (1908), directed by Charles le Bargy and André Calmettes. A historical drama, it's famous because Camille Saint-Saëns was asked to write music to accompany the film, making it the second ever original score. The Assassination joins other french shorts by illusionist and film director Georges Méliès from 1900-1910. These films will be paired with baroque music connected to Saint-Saëns, editor of the first complete works of Jean-Philippe Rameau.

L’assassinat du duc de Guise au château de Blois en 1588 (1834) by Paul Delaroche


The historical story behind the Assassination of the Duke of Guise takes place during the War of the Three Henries (1587–89), the last of the religious wars in 16th century France. Henri I de Lorraine, 3e duc de Guise, le Balafré, and founder of the Catholic League controls France. The League has installed Henri III as a puppet king against protestant champion, Huguenot leader, and heir Henri of Bourbon, King of Navarre

Tensions mounted between Henri III and the Duke of Guise. According to A Pocket Mirror for Heroes by Baltasar Gracian, the King was told, "Sire, [The Duke] does good wholeheartedly: those who do not receive his good influence directly receive it by reflection. When deeds fail him, he resorts to words. There is no wedding he does not enliven, no baptism at which he is not godfather, no funeral he does not attend. He is courteous, humane, generous, the honorer of all and the detractor of none. In a word, he is a king by affection, just as Your Majesty is by law."

But Henri III wanted to control his own throne and created a cunning plan! Louring the Duke of Guise into the inner chambers of the Château de Blois, le Balafré was set upon by Henri III's guards, Les Quarante-Cinq as Henri III watched. He was murdered on December 23rd, 1588. Fortunately, deeds of all kinds do not go unrewarded. King Henri III only lived one more year; he was assassinated by Jacques Clément, a member of the Catholic League.



Not So Silent Film's first set highlights shorts by George Méliès, a french illusionist and pioneer of early french film. The concert opens with the Saint-Saëns' 'Introduction and Royal March of the Lion' from 'Carnival of the Animals'

with Méliès' film 'The Living Fan'. For this program, a newly-discovered hand-tinted version of his most famous work 'A Trip to the Moon' is paired with Couperin's 'L'Apothéose de Lully,' arranged for 2 violins, cello, and piano by one of Saint-Saëns contemporaries, the conductor Georges Marty (1860-1908).

The Magician - George Méliès (1898)

L'homme orchestre - George Méliès (1900)


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