Can movie music be effective without any visual stimuli? At the Los Angeles Philharmonic's salute to the flicks at Hollywood Bowl before a combined 35,000 at two weekend concerts, that burning question was taken quite seriously by planners of the event. Perhaps too seriously.
Judging by the wildly uneven multimedia program led by John Williams on Saturday, it would have been better to let the music stand alone, minus such garish gimmickry as lighting effects and slides projected on screens flanking the stage and on the shell itself. Aside from the almost laughably inept presentation (missed cues, burning slides and indecipherable images projected over the speaker system), Ron Hays' heavy-handed "visual presentation" failed to capture the spirit of the music.
Do we need slides of Gene Kelly splashing in the gutter as accompaniment to "Singin' in the Rain"? Who among us cannot conjure that scene in the mind's eye? Is it necessary to project images of stars and planets to accompany "E.T."? Are there not, after all, plenty of real ones already on view?
Such misguided motives all but destroyed post-intermission tributes to Walt Disney, "Gone With the Wind" (represented by a baffling panorama of clouds) and MGM, despite Williams' earnest proddings and some spirited playing by the Philharmonic.