Welcome, through June-July, for 7 pm Sunday evening screenings of great classics from the silent era, featuring live original piano scores by the HFAs resident musical consultant, Yakov Gubanov. Dr. Gubanov, born in Kiev, the Ukraine, was a piano prodigy who, in Moscow, was awarded private lessons in composition with Dmitri Shostakovich. Gubanov wrote his doctoral dissertation on the harmony of Shostakovitchs music, followed by a teaching career at the Kiev Conservatory and tours of Eastern Europe as a concert pianist. He also taught in Israel and, in Germany, at the Franz Liszt Musical Academy, before arriving to live in the Boston area.
June 6 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Robert Weine
Germany 1919, b/w, silent, 35mm, 69 min.
German with English intertitles
With Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Lili Dagover
Weimar Republic hysteria translates into Expressionism run murderously wild, at the edge of a traveling carnival featuring a spooky somnambulist (Krauss) and his macabre walking-dead companion(Veidt). Wondrous set design, but is that dubious hypnotist really Caligari, the fascist head of an asylum?
Directed by D.W. Griffith
USA 1909, b/w, silent, 16mm, 17 min.
With James Kirkwood, W. Chrystie Miller, Frank Powell
D.W. Griffiths most "leftist" short, showing how a business tycoon controls the wheat market and forces farmers into poverty. Later, a Soviet favorite.
June 13 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Buster Keaton
USA 1927, silent, b/w, 35mm, 74 min.
With Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavendar
Buster Keatons masterful silent comedy is based on a real incident in the Civil War (the so-called "Great Locomotive Chase"), so Keatons strategy is to adhere to a genuine historic look. There are moments in the film where the story seems to step out of Matthew Brady photographs. Slowly, slowly, Keaton turns versimilitude into hysterical comedy, as his runaway train (Keatons character is on the Southern side) is chased by hoards of Unionists. Trying to impress his curly-haired girl (Mack), Keaton does all his own stunts, and these are unbelievable.
June 20 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by D.W.
USA 1915, b/w, silent 35mm, 175 min.
With Lillian Gish, Miriam Cooper, Mae Marsh
Unquestionably one of the most influential works in the history of cinema, Griffiths controversial, pro-Ku Klux Klan treatise prompted race riots in New York, Chicago, and Berkeley, and pickets by Bostons NAACP. It was also banned in much of Europe for decades. Yet even its detractors must concede that it marks a cornerstone in the evolution of the cinematic language, in its use of cross-cutting, close-ups, and last minute rescue.
June 27 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Abram Room
USSR 1926, b/w, 35mm, 71 min.
With Ludmila Semenova, Nikolai Batalov, Vladimir Fogel
Silent with English intertitles
A young married couple, a Moscow housing shortage. The married guy takes in his friend, who promptly sleeps with the wife. The wounded married guy moves out. The woman finds herself pregnant, and neither possible father want her to have an abortion. What will she decide? There are no tractors here, no Revolution, only a pleasing pre-feminist spirit.
July 11 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by V.I. Pudovkin
USSR 1926, b/w, 35mm, 90 min.
With Vera Baronovskaia, Nikolai Batalov
Wilent with English intertitles
As with Eisensteins Potemkin, V.I. Pudovkins Mother, from the proletcult novel of Maxim Gorky, deals with anti-Czarist stirrings during the faltered 1905 Revolution. A worker son goes to prison because of his mothers political inexperience. Afterward, the son attempts to escape, while his mother is attacked by horsebacked cavalry when she joins a workers demonstration. This is certainly Pudovkins most accessible work, prime Social Realism punctuated with his masterly montage.
July 18 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by D.W. Griffith
USA 1919, b/w, silent, 35mm, 80 min.
With Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp
This story of father-daughter abuse and interracial love in Londons dockside district is one of Griffiths most powerful films, with great performances from Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess (as a Chinese), and Donald Crisp (as Gishs brutal prizefighter father). The shock of World War I, which had just ended when the film was made, can be felt behind this simple domestic story, and rarely have violence and its opposite, compassion, been depicted so vividly on the screen. Griffiths studio decor is wonderfully realistic, and his storytelling and editing tense and beautifully controlled.
July 25 (Sunday) 7 pm
Directed by Henry King
USA 1921, b/w, silent, 35mm, 80 min.
With Richard Barthelmess, Gladys Hulette, Ernest Torrence
A mild-mannered boy (Barthelmess) takes his brothers place delivering the mail, and dealing with a trio of heinous criminals who have moved into their rural community. Filmmaker Henry King out-Griffiths Griffith with his deft, exciting editing and cross-cutting. This was a film which, in Moscow, Eisenstein supposedly wore out studying. Leonard Maltin: "Beautifully crafted Americana. The finale is a rip-roaring piece of storytelling."