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May 1 - May 6, 2002

The Moving Image: Film and Visual Representation


May 1 (Wednesday) 7 pm


Directed by Christopher Nolan
US 2000, 35mm, b/w and color, 113 min.
With Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Leonard (Pearce) is an insurance investigator seeking revenge on the man who raped and murdered his wife. His single-minded quest is complicated by an accident that has left him with no short-term memory, and he relies on a complex system of scribbled notes, Polaroids, and tattoos to guide him in his paranoid pursuit of retribution. Director Nolan’s neo-noir thriller relies on the intricate use of editing to create the desperate aura of a mind—and a narrative—in search of memory and cohesion. Using a combination of black-and-white and color cinematography and a complex narrative structure, Memento succeeds in placing the audience and the protagonist on equal and ambiguous footing.

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May 1 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

Contempt (Le Mépris)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard 
France/ltaly 1963, 35mm, color, 103 min. 
With Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance 
French with English subtitles 

Based on Alberto Moravia’s novel Il Disprezzo (A Ghost at Noon), Godard’s early masterpiece focuses on the breakup of a marriage as it delivers sharp commentary on the state of international filmmaking. A scriptwriter (Piccoli), conscripted to craft an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey, is caught between the film’s earnest director (Fritz Lang) and its crass producer (Palance), who imagines a vulgarization of the story. Marital and professional contempt reach a crescendo as the locale shifts from Rome to a modernist villa in Capri, where Godard places the moral choices in stark relief.

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May 6 (Monday) 7 pm


Directed by Spike Lee
US 2000, 35mm, color, 135 min.
With Damon Wayans, Savion Glover, Jada Pinkett-Smith

Frustrated that his ideas for a mainstream sitcom have been rejected, a black writer at a major network devises an outlandish scheme: reviving the minstrel show. Surprisingly, instead of being a flop, the show becomes an instant smash. Taking its title from a speech by Malcolm X, Bamboozled is a kamikaze assault on racial stereotyping in America. Shooting on fuzzy-edged digital video, Spike Lee repackages one-hundred years of media stereotyping (including archival footage from Birth of a Nation, glimpses of a corked-up Judy Garland, and a black-faced Bugs Bunny) to drive home the point that little has changed.

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