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Louis: The Movie

Silent film debuts at screenings around the country

Jackie Earl Haley as Judge Leander Perry from Louis film
Carmen de Lavallade as Comtesse Willie Piazza from Louis film
Dionne Figgins and Bethany Stronge as Muses from Louis film
Nejla Yatkin as Mistress Henna from Louis film
Still from Louis film
Delfeayo Marsalis as Professor Davis from Louis film
Shanti Lowry as Grace Lamennais from Louis film
Anthony Coleman as Louis

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the highly anticipated debut of Louis – a silent film with live musical accompaniment that debuted in Chicago’s Symphony Center on the evening of August 25th. Given the exquisite artistry I saw in the trailers, I thought it would be a biographical movie about the early years of trumpeter Louis Armstrong, with a sort of fantasy touch to it. I was partly right and very much surprised at the ride I was in for.

The film’s Director, Dan Pritzker, founding member of the band, Sonia Dada, was inspired back in 2001 to create a silent film, after seeing the Chaplin movie, City Lights, with live musical accompaniment by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He went about creating Louis, which is part Chaplin; part Keystone Kops, about a boy named Louis, “the story of a young boy born into poverty who dreams of playing the trumpet.” The film incorporated parts of Armstrong’s childhood story, into a very original plot. Academy award-winning cinematographer, Volmos Zsigmond, did a superb job in creating a film that was vibrantly colorful, yet had a look and feel of the old black and white movies. The score was written and performed by Wynton Marsalis and a 10-piece, all star jazz ensemble from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, with classical selections performed by renown pianist Cecile Licad.

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Originally Published