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Topics in Film: Film Architectures

November 7 (Tuesday) 7 pm

The Fountainhead

Directed by King Vidor
US 1949, 35mm, b/w, 114 min.
With Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey

This adaptation of the epic novel by Ayn Rand, whose controversial "objectivist" philosophy articulated a neo-Nietzschian vision of free enterprise, relates the compelling story of an aspiring architect (Cooper) who refuses to compromise his purist agenda. Vidor’s stylized interpretation transforms the skyscrapers and interiors of New York into an abstract backdrop for the sexual tensions and ideological conflicts of this highly charged drama.

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November 14 (Tuesday) 6 pm
November 15 (Wednesday) 7 pm


Directed by Jacques Tati
France 1967, 35mm, color, 152 min.
With Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Jacqueline Lecomte
French with English subtitles

In this brilliant sendup of the absurdities of modernist architecture, actor-director Tati reprises the beloved character of Monsieur Hulot, who does battle with urban space as he observes a group of American tourists on their peregrinations around a Paris of modern office blocks and skyscrapers. The extraordinary metropolis of glass and concrete, designed by Eugene Roman, combines with Tati’s incomparable articulation of sound, image, and performance in this hilarious yet poignant analysis of the modern condition.

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November 28 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Vive L'Amour (Aiqing Wansui)

Directed by Tsai Ming-liang
Taiwan 1994, 35 mm, color, 118 min.
With Yang Kuei-mei, Chen Chao-jung, Lee Kang-sheng
Chinese with English subtitles

New Wave Taiwanese director Tsai, best known for his critically acclaimed Rebels of the Neon God, here follows three love-deprived city dwellers through the flow of urban life. The stories of a middle-aged real estate agent, a possibly gay purveyor of burial lockers for a designer cemetery, and a headstrong street vendor intertwine with Tsai’s stylized portrayal of the city to create a comic yet haunting vision of modern urban life.

December 5 (Tuesday) 7 pm
December 6 (Wednesday) 7 pm

The Belly of an Architect

Directed by Peter Greenaway
Great Britain 1987, 35mm, color, 108 min.
With Brian Dennehy, Chloe Webb, Lambert Wilson

This visually stunning work by Peter Greenaway chronicles the self-destructive decline of an American architect, in Rome to mount an exhibition on the eighteenth-century architect Etienne-Louis Boulée. An obsession with his stomach causes him to lose his wife, his creativity, and perhaps even his sanity. Extravagant in detail and color, the film—in true Greenaway form—is packed with art and architectural references, obsessions and omens, and exquisite traces of life and death.

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December 12 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin)

Directed by Wim Wenders
West Germany/France 1987, 35mm, b/w and color, 128 min.
With Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin, Peter Falk
German with English subtitles

Inspired by a poem from Rilke and co-written by acclaimed Austrian playwright Peter Handke, Wings of Desire follows a pair of angels who descend to earth to eavesdrop on the lonely, melancholy populace in the streets and buildings of pre-unification Berlin. Aided by the haunting, mostly monochromatic images of veteran cinematographer Henri Alekan, Wenders creates a spiritual documentary of the city and a haunting portrait of what it means to be human. He earned a Best Director award at Cannes for this meditative work, aptly dedicated to three of his own cinematic "angels": Ozu, Truffaut, and Tarkovsky.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700