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Close Encounters

Each month, the Harvard Film Archive invites members of the community to select a favorite film from its holdings (or, on occasion, from the holdings of a sister archive) and to introduce the work to the public. This season, we are pleased to present selections by Joshua Rubenstein and Karen C. C. Dalton.

May 31 (Wednesday) 7 pm
HFA Archival Print
Introduced by Joshua Rubenstein
With Live Piano Accompaniment
by Martin Marks

The Love of Jeanne Ney (Die Liebe der Jeanne Ney)

Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Germany 1927, 35mm, b/w, 120 min.
With Edith Jehanne, Uno Henning, Fritz Rasp
German with English subtitles

An adaptation of the novel by the Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg, this film by the great German master G. W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box, Joyless Street) relates the story of Jeanne’s flight from civil war in the Crimea, where her Bolshevik lover has assassinated her diplomat father, and her relocation to a new life in a very modern Paris, full of corruptions and betrayals. As always, Pabst is more concerned with psychological contexts and scrupulously recreated settings—that is, in the physical and social worlds in which people actually move—than in the melodramatic plot. The film’s rich visual articulation is dedicated to the expression of mood, which has been called “perfect in its tension and understanding.”

Joshua Rubenstein is an Associate of the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard, Northeast Regional Director of Amnesty International, and author of Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg (University of Alabama Press, 1999).

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June 14 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Introduced by Karen C. C. Dalton 

Princess Tam Tam

Directed by Edmond Greville
France 1935, 35mm, b/w, 77 min
With Josephine Baker, Albert Préjean, Robert Arnoux
French with English subtitles

Perhaps the best of the six features the émigré American performer Josephine Baker made, Princess Tam Tam is an exotic Pygmalion story set out as a musical comedy. A French author (Préjean) goes to North Africa to write a novel but becomes distracted—then entranced—by a native girl whom he transforms into a “princess.” Shot partly on location in Tunisia, Princess Tam Tam provides a vehicle for Baker’s comedic charms as well as her erotic and evocative talents. The film was written by the entertainer’s husband at the time, Pepito Abatino.

Karen C. C. Dalton is Assistant Director of the W. E. B. Dubois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard and co-author of Josephine Baker and La Revue Nègre: Le Tumulte Noir in Paris, 1927 (Harry N. Abrams, 1998).

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