Past Event6 Aug 2023

Live Cinema: The Circus

No longer available

The Civic


We are thrilled to welcome back festival favourite Live Cinema to The Civic for the 2023 New Zealand International Film Festival!

Charlie Chaplin’s 1929 classic, The Circus, will screen on the last day of NZIFF 2023, accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and conducted by Vincent Hardaker.

Live Cinema: The Circus is the festival’s 21st collaboration with the APO who will play Chaplin's own score created forty years after the film's release. The Circus was one of the biggest films of the silent era and can only be fully appreciated on the enormous screen of a genuine picture palace, with live musical accompaniment.

Bring the whole family for an unforgettable experience!


More about The Circus

The Circus

Chaplin’s Tramp stumbles into the circus arena as a lonely thief and exits transformed. As he walks a tightrope of love and loneliness, he dodges lions, mules, and a despicable ringmaster, who has only hired him because his mess-ups are much funnier than his deliberate attempts at humour.

In many ways, the film is a love-letter to the community of performers and an allegory for Chaplin’s own showbiz journey, from struggling at the lowest levels of vaudeville to becoming the most famous person in the world. As a filmmaker, he relishes the details of his pocket world: the rickety caravans, the fortune teller’s table, the magician’s wardrobe.  Chaplin’s master cinematographer Roland Totheroh is at the height of his powers: shadows loom over the circus grounds; foggy greys comfort our lonely protagonist; the spotlight transforms tatty props and dusty ground into a magical realm.

This enchanting film rose from the ashes of Chaplin’s scandalous-at-the-time divorce from Hollywood starlet Lita Grey. Grey’s lawyers halted the release, but this was not the most dramatic obstacle Chaplin faced. Gales, fire and theft ravaged the sets and props before and during shooting. His beloved mother died. And then the Internal Revenue Service came knocking. Despite challenges that made the arduous shoot of The Gold Rush look like a walk in the park, Chaplin persevered, and The Circus became an instant success upon its delayed release.

About the Conductor - Vincent Hardaker

Conductor Vincent Hardaker steps up to the podium to conduct Live Cinema and says he is excited to be part of this special performance for the first time.

“I know how much the orchestra and Auckland loves this event and I’m delighted to be a part of it. Charlie Chaplin is an icon of the silent film era and this film is a unique opportunity for people of all ages to come along and experience the magic of cinema and live music from the APO.”

A graduate of the New Zealand School of Music, until recently Vincent was the APO’s Resident Conductor following two years as the orchestra’s inaugural New Zealand Assistant Conductor-in-Residence.

He has since conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

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