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September 28-November 17, 2004

The Moving Image and Visual Representation

September 28 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
September 29 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm

Metropolis (Das Schicksal einer Menscheit im Jahre 2000)

Directed by Fritz Lang
Germany, 1926, b/w, silent, 130 min.
With Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich

The greatest science-fiction film of the silent cinema, Metropolis was made by Lang at Berlin’s UFA studio with an unprecedented budget for its huge sets, inspired by the New York skyline. Set in the twenty-first century, the story is derived partly from medieval legends and partly from the dystopic vision of a future of intensified conflict between capital and labor. Photographed in Expressionist style and designed to display powerful geometric symmetries, many of the film’s sequences are unforgettable, especially the dramatic laboratory creation of the robot-woman.

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October 11 (Monday) 9 pm
October 13 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Sunrise

Directed by
US, 1927, b/w, silent, 100 min.
With George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston

Renowned for his use of moving camera shots to explore three-dimensional space, Murnau arrived in Hollywood as sound films were coming into vogue. His first American film, shot silent but released with a musical track, was based on a melodramatic German novel. Murnau, along with acclaimed cameramen Karl Struss and Charles Rosher, transformed the material by merging the psychological realism of the domestic drama with a lyrical depiction of both the quiet country village and the bustling city—connected by the protagonists’ celebrated streetcar journey through the different visual landscapes.

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October 27 (Wednesday) 7 pm

L’Avventura

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Italy, 1960, b/w, 145 min.
With Monica Vitti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Lea Massari
Italian with English subtitles

After an argument with her lover during a yachting party, a woman disappears from the Sicilian island the couple has been exploring. Both the lover and her best friend set out to find her, but the urgency of their search dissipates as they fall into a disquieting sexual relationship. Antonioni’s celebrated film, which he once described as “a detective story back to front,” displays the director’s fascination with landscape, geometry, and architectural forms as means of expressing the troubled state of Italy’s postwar middle class.

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November 3 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Craig’s Wife

Directed by Dorothy Arzner
US, 1936, b/w, 75 min.
With Rosalind Russell, John Boles, Billie Burke

 

Rosalind Russell’s wild performance dominates Dorothy Arzner’s adaptation of George Kelly’s play about a woman’s struggle to control every inch of her home. By assuming the housewife’s perspective and confining plot and conflict to discrete moments within the home, Craig’s Wife takes the cult of domesticity to a strange extreme. Through the director’s subtle yet subversive treatment of domestic space, a fascinating portrait emerges of a housewife who walls herself up, brick by brick, in a pathological tomb of her own creation.

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November 9 (Tuesday) 7 pm
November 10 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Toute une nuit (All Night Long)

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium, 1982, color, 90 min.
With Aurore Clément, Tcheky Karyo, Jan Decorte
French with English subtitles

On a sultry summer night in Brussels, various bodies in search of love collide: some succeed, others do not. Fashioned from the shards of two dozen pulverized melodramas, Akerman’s urban nocturne foregrounds small gestures as it captures the shape of solitude itself. Locations criss-cross as characters meet and embrace, dance and split up, yank one another into cabs, or merely watch the action from doorways and stairwells. The choreography of indoors and out, upstairs and down, attraction and rejection distills the complex machinations of urban romance into a sweetly rhythmic dance.

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November 16 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
November 17 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm

Playtime

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

In this brilliant send-up 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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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700