THE silent cinema classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame is to be shown in Ely Cathedral on a big screen complete with a live musical soundtrack provided by the church’s organ.

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Showing the 1923 classic, starring Lon Chaney, is the most ambitious project yet attempted by the new Ely Film Society, which is working in partnership with Ely Cathedral for the event.

The film – which set the standard for horror films to come including The Phantom of the Opera in 1925 – is famous for its grand sets of 15th Century Paris and Chaney’s portrayal of the tortured bell-ringer of Notre Dame.

The film will be shown on a screen below the Octagon on Friday, February 22, at 7.45pm.

Cathedral assistant organist Jonathan Lilley will watch the film via a TV monitor and provide an extemporised accompaniment.

He said: “I’ve never seen the film and am getting to know it in preparation for this event.

“This will be my first foray into the cinematic art. The music will be entirely extemporised, based on scribbled notes of what sort of thing I want to do and when.

“But although I won’t have a note of music in front of me, it’s not impossible that snippets of other people’s music will creep in.

“For instance, I’ll have at the back of my mind that one of my favourite composers of organ music, Louis Vierne, was organist of Notre Dame at the time when Hunchback was made.”

The great organ has 80 stops, 5606 pipes, and a huge range of power and tone-colour. The basic instrument was completed by the firm of Harrison & Harrison in 1908, with some pipes incorporated from the previous organ by William Hill, and some added in recent decades by the Harrison firm.

Tickets are available at the Box Office on 01353 660349 or online at www.elycathedral.org.uk

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