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Apr 5

CANCELLED: THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920) w/ Pipe Organ Music by Ben Model

April 5 @ 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Join us for the original swashbuckler! Action-adventure icon Douglas Fairbanks battles oppression with graceful athleticism and joyful, exuberant comedy! Featuring a live musical score performed on our Historic Estey by Ben Model, resident silent film accompanist at MoMA and The Library of Congress!

The film opens with the statement “Oppression breeds a champion of the oppressed”. In response to widespread political corruption, a mysterious masked avenger appears to protect the poor and punish the wicked, leaving “The Mark of Zorro” in his wake…

Ben Model is one of the nation’s leading silent film accompanists, performing on both piano and theatre organ. Over the past 40 years, he has created and performed thousands of live scores for silent films at universities, museums, and historic theaters, and is one of the few exponents of this craft who is working at it full-time. Ben is a resident film accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art (NY) and at the Library of Congress’ Packard Campus Theatre, and he accompanies silents at classic film festivals around the USA and internationally. Ben’s Blu-ray/DVD label Undercrank Productions works with archives and collectors to bring undiscovered gems of silent cinema to fans. The Online Film Critics Society recently awarded him a Special Achievement Award in for his work restoring and releasing silent films on home video. Ben is a Visiting Professor of Film at Wesleyan University. This will be Ben Model’s 5th time performing at Epsion Spires! Read more about his previous performances on our historic Estey HERE.

Historical Context of Zorro:

“When The Mark of Zorro premiered on November 29, 1920, Combat in the Great War had ended two years earlier and the Spanish Flu pandemic, which claimed millions more lives worldwide, was just subsiding. Exhausted by tragedy, audiences were ready for a full dose of romance and the triumph of social justice, delivered by the charismatic Douglas Fairbanks. The daring and mischievous Zorro turned out to be the perfect vehicle for Fairbanks’s popular style of athletic, joyful exuberance and comedy. The costume choice, all-black clothing, including mask and cape, defined Zorro’s look from the on, providing a model of inspiration for an entire genre of masked avengers including Batman and The Princess Bride.”

“Johnston McCulley’s original story, The Curse of Capistrano, is set in California during the Spanish mission period, which spanned from 1769 to 1821. Spain constructed a series of 21 missions along the coast of California, from San Diego to Sonoma, strategically placed 30 miles apart, close enough to travel from one to another in one day. Intended to convert the local indigenous peoples, the Franciscan-run missions also kept control over the valuable lands desired by Spain. The original plan was to hand over a portion of power to the Indians and establish California as a colony. Spain, however, never fulfilled its promise, keeping the land under the control of corrupt colonial officials and one all-powerful governor. One of the enduring qualities of Fairbanks’ character, Don Diego and his avenging alter ego is that he represents a member of a privileged class who cares about the underclass. However, There were few ranchos in California like the one owned by Fairbanks’s character during the mission period. The king of Spain had deeded 30 private land grants to families, five in the Los Angeles area.”

“As Zorro, Fairbanks had the opportunity to go on location, ride horses, and fight with a sword. The athletic actor then went on to make his best-known adventure films: The Three Musketeers, The Thief of Bagdad, and The Black Pirate, as well as the 1925 Zorro sequel, Don Q, Son of Zorro. The character Zorro went on to a long, fruitful career of his own, spawning at least 12 other films, a comic book, a radio program, a television show, and five video games.”
-Excerpts from an essay by Aimee Pavy for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival


April 5
8:00 PM - 10:00 PM


Epsilon Spires
190 Main Street
Brattleboro, VT 05301 United States
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Epsilon Spires
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