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Séance Screenings

Bringing classic and neglected films back to light and life!


Live Piano Accompaniment Composed and Performed by Yakov Gubanov
September 14 (Thursday) 8 pm
September 15 (Saturday) 8 pm

Marvelous Méliès

At the very birth of the cinema the pioneering French magician, illusionist, film director, artist, and designer Georges Méliès (1861–1938) recognized the immense potential of the new medium to create never-before-seen worlds. Between 1896 and 1912 he directed some 500 films, of which fewer than 100 are known to have survived. Described by Chaplin as an “alchemist of light”, Méliès was at once illusionist and pantominist: in his films, human beings become comic creatures with fantastic costumes and makeup, liable to disintegrate or metamorphose into anything. This program, curated by Peter Dowd of the George Eastman House, features rare archival prints, including three dazzling, hand-colored originals. The program includes Pillar of Fire (1904), La Danse du Feu (1899), Voyage à travers l’impossible (1904), A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Living Playing Cards (1905), A Crazy Composer (1905), and Une Indigestion ou Chirugie Fin-De-Siècle.

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October 1 (Monday) 9 pm
October 3 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Il Grido (The Cry)

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Italy 1957, 35mm, b/w, 116 min.
With Steve Cochran, Alida Valli, Betsy Blair
Italian with English subtitles

Antonioni returned to the desolate landscapes of the Po Valley (“the landscape I remember from my childhood”) to film this study of a man who, deserted by his fiancée, sets out with his young daughter in search of peace of mind and a new life. Despite his efforts, he remains haunted by the image of his lover and the failure of their union. Directed just before L’Avventura made Antonioni an international name, Il Grido was the first film to reveal the director’s mature style and preoccupations and his only set amongst the working class. As would become the hallmark of his subsequent films, here landscape is used to reveal the psychology of the character and narrative is expressed “in silent interstices between minor events.” 

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Special Halloween Screening
October 31 (Wednesday) 9 pm

I Walked with a Zombie

Directed by Jacques Tourneur
US 1943, 35mm, silent, b/w, 68 min.
With Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison

After Universal’s success with Frankenstein and Dracula in the late 1930s and early 40s, RKO decided to make a series of low-budget horror films. Before the first film in the series, Cat People, was released, production began on I Walked with a Zombie. Often referred to as “a West Indian version of Jane Eyre,” the film’s elliptical narrative transposes the action to the Caribbean, with Rochester’s first wife the victim of a voodoo spell. Director Jacques Tourneur’s caressingly evocative direction, superbly backed by Roy Hunt’s chiaroscuro images, makes sheer magic of the film’s brooding journey into fear by way of voodoo drums, gleaming moonlight, somnambulistic ladies in fluttering white, and dark, silent, “undead” sentries.

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