Reel World

The Devil Went Down To China

Devin D. O'Leary
2 min read
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The thing about silent film is that it was never actually silent. The earliest, black-and-white examples of the filmmaker’s art were accompanied by live music, which heightened the emotional experience and lured audiences into the pictures just as surely as today’s most high-tech special effects.

The Devil Music Ensemble, a trio of multi-instrumental musicians from Boston, has been composing its own live original scores to classic silent film for years. Over the course of six U.S. and two European tours, DME has become one of the premier American groups in this field. The group is in the midst of a three-month fall tour and will pass through Albuquerque on Monday, Sept. 29. The Southwest Film Center at UNM will host a special one-time-only music-and-movie performance beginning at 7 p.m.

For this tour, DME has resurrected an extremely rare print of the 1929 Chinese film
Red Heroine . Directed by Wen Yi-Min, the film is considered the only surviving Chinese martial arts film from the silent era. Made during the martial arts craze of ’20s Shanghai and banned during China’s Cultural Revolution, the film was originally one part of an epic 13-episode serial. It chronicles the rise of a woman warrior capable of fantastical physical feats and mystical derring-do. The surviving 94 minutes are accompanied by a brand-new score composed by the members of Devil Music Ensemble. This combination of the ancient tradition of martial arts, early 20 th -century Asian film and contemporary 21 st -century music promises to be a rare treat. Tickets run a mere $5 general admission. For more info, log on to or go to
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