Silents in the Cathedral 20th Anniversary

If you’ve ever wondered what going to the movies was like before “talkies,” you can experience it first hand at Silents in the Cathedral on Friday, Oct 27 at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 701 SW 8th Ave. The event starts at 7 pm.

This year marks Silents in the Cathedral’s 20th anniversary. We are celebrating the milestone by featuring one of the greatest classic horror films of all time – Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922).

The late film critic Roger Ebert said of Nosferatu, “Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in clichés, jokes, TV skits, cartoons and more than 30 other films.”

Film historian Denise Morrison will provide historical perspective on F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece as well as provide some background information on the evening’s other short films.

Silents in the Cathedral is a celebration of cinematic history and music is a big component. Accompanists in the silent film era composed music to meet the dramatic needs of the story. For example, various villains had different musical themes and hurry music was composed differently for duels, fires and other struggles.

Two professional musicians, organist Marvin Faulwell and percussionist Bob Keckeisen, score, accompany and provide sound effects to the Silents in the Cathedral film each year. Marvin’s melodies seem to add voice to the characters as well as add atmosphere to the films. Bob’s sound effects emphasize the content of the films. Together, their musical talents really bring the films to life.

The library collaborates with the Kansas Silent Film Festival, Inc. on this event. Silents in the Cathedral originated as a spin-off of the Kansas Silent Film Festival in 1997. Jim Rhodes, retired librarian, organized the publicity and the use of Grace Cathedral as a location. He and other library staff have worked hard to keep this a free event for the community. The library funds the program using a National Endowment for the Humanities grant.

Grace Episcopal Cathedral provides a beautiful, unique setting that allows hundreds of silent film fans to gather and watch the films each year. There aren’t many places in Topeka where you can hear the haunting melodies of a pipe organ live and Marvin plays it beautifully. Also, no movie night is complete without concessions. Grace Cathedral provides plenty of popcorn and water via their youth group’s fundraiser.

The Silents in the Cathedral film series has provided entertainment to hundreds of people year after year. Take the opportunity to experience it yourself… you won’t regret it!

Browse this list of spooky silent films available for checkout from the library.


View complete list

Kelli Smith is a bookmobile librarian who helps bring the library to you. She also works with partners to coordinate community movie events including Movie on the Lawn and Silents in the Cathedral.