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November 4 - December 15, 2002

Topics in film
Film in the Third Reich: The Power of Images and Illusions



November 4 (Monday) 9 pm

La Habañera

Directed by Detlef Sierck (Douglas Sirk)
Germany 1937, 16mm, b/w, 100 min.
With Zarah Leander, Karl Martell
German with English subtitles

La Habañera embraces a Scandinavian woman’s foreign affair, a romance with an exotic landscape, a seductive song, and a Latin lover. After Astrée goes astray and surrenders to a reckless moment, her paradise quickly loses its luster as she becomes a veritable hostage, bound to a tyrant who torments her. Her only solace is her young son, with whom she imagines life back in the snows of Sweden. La Habañera is a consummate example of Nazi cinema’s own foreign affair: its conscious attempt to appropriate the Hollywood melodrama for domestic audiences.

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November 25 (Monday) 9 pm

Münchhausen

Directed by Josef von Baky
Germany 1943, 16mm, b/w, 100 min.
With Hans Albers, Brigitte Horney
German with English subtitles

As the centerpiece for Ufa’s 25th anniversary celebration, Münchhausen offered Germans reeling from news of defeat in Stalingrad a welcome escape. Created in conjunction with the Ministry of Propaganda, the film enacts the definitive Aryan fantasy in this tale of the man who mastered his own destiny and marshaled the march of time. Here, the protagonist’s legendary powers become employed in Hitler’s war effort, literally cast in the role of a wonder weapon that could reanimate a paralyzed nation. Both a popular vehicle and a tool of propaganda, Münchhausen represents one of the Third Reich’s consummate cinematic achievements.

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December 2 (Monday) 9 pm

Mrs. Miniver

Directed by William Wyler
US 1942, 35mm, b/w, 134 min.
With Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon

 

It has been said that Mrs. Miniver was such a potent work of propaganda for Britain that it influenced the undecided Americans to join the war. More than half a century later, it still manages to convey the spirit and determination exhibited by the British people in the face of Nazi expansion, without resorting to the sappy sentimentality so often exhibited in films of this era. The tale of an average "middle-class British family" and its struggle to maintain normal life during wartime, Mrs. Miniver remains a powerful testament to the courage of ordinary people and the persuasive power of the cinema.

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December 9 (Monday) 9 pm

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Directed by George P. Cosmatos
US 1985, 35mm, color, 94 min.
With Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna

The ultimate "army of one" film, Rambo: First Blood Part II is a testosterone-laden fairy tale about one man’s fight to free Vietnam POWs. After being freed from prison to take on the dangerous assignment of bringing back photographic evidence that American MIAs are being held as prisoners of war in Vietnam, John Rambo goes ballistic, taking on not only the Vietcong but their Russian backers as he attempts to free the captured American vets. Made in the late cold-war fervor of the 1980s, the film remains a controversial portrait of American militaristic machismo.

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December 15 (Sunday) 9 pm

Schindler’s List

Directed by Steven Spielberg
US 1993, 35mm, b/w, 195 min.
With Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley

Nearly half a century after the end of the Third Reich, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List presents its own powerful set of indelible counter-images of the Nazi era in a story of devastation, genocide, and the triumph of human faith. Recounting how Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, overcame unbelievable odds to protect and then rescue more than 1,100 Jews from the Holocaust during World War II, the film, based on a true story and adapted from Thomas Keneally’s 1982 award-winning book, won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

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