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March 1-May 24, 2004  

Masterworks of Modern Cinema

March 1 (Monday) 7 pm

The Gospel According to St. Matthew
(Il Vangelo secondo Matteo)

Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini
France/Italy, 1964, b/w, 136 min.
With Enrique Irazoqui, Margherita Caruso, Susanna Pasolini
Italian with English subtitles

A committed Marxist, Pasolini made this chronicle of the life of Christ faithfully according to St. Matthew’s account, clearly showing the revolutionary and radical fervor implicit in the story and imparting the nature of its appeal to common people over so many centuries. The use of nonprofessional actors, location shooting in southern Italy (with a remarkable rock-wall city in a barren landscape), western classical music, and the African “Misa Luba,” all combine to render Pasolini’s earthiness, directness, and desperate spirituality. This is one of the greatest films ever made on Biblical subject matter.

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March 8 (Monday) 7 pm


Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
UK, 1966, color, 110 min.
With David Hemmings, Sarah Miles, Vanessa Redgrave

In Antonioni’s first English-language film, a fashion photographer-social documentarian worries about the correlation between art and life and gets caught up representsin a murder plot with an intriguing stranger, forcing him to question life’s most basic moral propositions and to ask whether two human beings can ever truly communicate. A dazzling riddle of perception versus reality, laced with a sexual frankness never before seen in commercial cinema, Blow-Up continues to capture audiences with its depiction of the swinging London scene of the mid-1960s.

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March 15 (Monday) 7 pm


Directed by Ingmar Bergman
Sweden, 1966, b/w, 81 min.
With Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand
Swedish with English subtitles

One of the most influential films of the 1960s and widely regarded as Bergman’s greatest work, Persona is a cinematic chamber piece whose simplicity belies a representscomplex intervention into both the nature of human relationships and the limits of the cinema. In a striking precredit sequence, situated in a stark, featureless room in which a young boy attempts to reach out and touch the projected image of a woman’s face, we are introduced to the central theme of communication and the primal barriers that inhibit it. Elizabeth (Ullmann), a distinguished actress, has had a breakdown on stage and retreats into silence. She is sent to an isolated country house by the sea with a young nurse, Alma (Andersson), who is as loquacious as Elizabeth is silent. The women’s relationship takes on sexual overtones as their identities merge visually and reality becomes blurred with dream and fantasy.

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March 22 (Monday) 7 pm

The Round-Up (Szegénylegények)

Directed by Miklós Jancsó
Hungary, 1965, b/w, 94 min.
With János Görbe, Zoltán Latinovits, Tibor Molnár
Hungarian with English subtitles

The film takes place in the years following the collapse of the 1848 revolution against Hapsburg rule. In order to crush the last traces of rebellion and eliminate the legendary Sandor Rozsa’s guerrilla bandits, the authorities employ a Kafkaesque mix of fear and uncertainty to identify and punish the remaining guerrillas in the peasant populace. Jancsó’s formally choreographed camera movements later developed into a mannerism; but here the stylization works perfectly in making an almost abstract statement of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed.

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April 5 (Monday) 7 pm

Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo)

Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
Cuba, 1968, b/w, 97 min.
With Sergio Corrieri, Daisy Granados, Eslinda Núñez
Spanish with English subtitles

One of the fathers of post-revolutionary Cuban cinema, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea made documentary shorts before directing his first features. Made in 1968 but set in 1961, his critically acclaimed Memories of Underdevelopment focuses on the early pivotal period in the young history of the new country. The protagonist is a writer (Corrieri)who has just sent his wife off to live in Miami and counters the rush of historical events surrounding him with a singular introspection that borders on the absurd. He eventually becomes involved with a culturally “underdeveloped” young woman, whose education becomes his pathway back into the culture.

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April 12 (Monday) 7 pm

Ceddo (The Outsiders)

Directed by Ousmane Sembene
Senegal, 1977, color, 120 min.
With Tabara N’diaye, Ismaila Diagne, Moustapha Yade
Wolof with English subtitles

Banned in Senegal on an absurd technicality, Ceddo, Sembene’s most ambitious film, uses the story of a beautiful princess’s kidnapping to examine the confrontation between opposing cultural forces: Muslim expansion, Christianity, and the slave trade. The “Ceddo”—or feudal class of common people—cling desperately to their customs and their fetishistic religion amidst the impending changes. Nominally set in the nineteenth century, Ceddo ranges far and wide to include philosophy, fantasy, militant politics, and a couple of electrifying leaps across the centuries to evoke the whole of the African experience.

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April 19 (Monday) 7 pm


Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
USSR, 1979, color, 161 min.
With Aleksandr Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn
Russian with English subtitles

Conceived in an epic form, Tarkovsky’s film represents the peak of the Russian director’s cinematic career, exemplifying what he called a “poetic, philosophical, and spiritual cinema.” Two disenchanted intellectuals wish to explore the Zone, a mysterious region at the center of which a room, said to offer knowledge of one’s most secret desires, is located. The men hire a stalker for their guide, whose obsession with the Zone takes on religious and mystical overtones.

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April 26 (Monday) 7 pm

A Woman Under the Influence

Directed by John Cassavetes
US, 1974, color, 148 min.
With Peter Falk, Gena Rowlands, Seymour Cassel

John Cassavetes offered a new cinematic vision to Americans, one centered on relationships and fueled by the raw performances of his extraordinary ensemble company. A Woman under the Influence is perhaps his most fully realized work. Gena Rowland’s performance earned an Academy Award nomination for her riveting portrayal of the emotionally broken Mabel, who struggles to remain sane in a world where she is expected to “grin and bear it.” Peter Falk is equally potent as Mabel’s hard-hat husband, who cannot handle her slide into insanity.

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May 3 (Monday) 7 pm


Directed by Werner Herzog
West Germany 1977, 35mm, color, 115 min.
With Bruno S., Eva Mattes, Clemens Scheitz
English, German, Turkish with English subtitles

One of Herzog's most accessible films, Stroszek is a lyrical, melancholy, bitterly funny tale of three oddly-assorted Berlin misfits who follow the American Dream to Wisconsin and find a bleak El Dorado of television, football, CB radio, truck stops, and mobile homesteading. The title role is played by Herzog's unique actor Bruno S., with Eva Mattes as a soulful whore, and Clemens Scheitz as an eccentric old man conducting a homemade search for the secrets of animal magnetism.

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May 10 (Monday) 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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May 17 (Monday) 7 pm

Ju Dou

Directed by Zhang Yimou and Yang Fengliang
China/Japan 1990, color, 95 min.
With Gong Li, Li Baotian, Li Wei
Mandarin with English subtitles

A fatalistic, Oedipal fable of an abusive husband, his new bride, and the adopted nephew who falls in love with her, Zhang Yimou's Ju Dou is a disturbing tragedy that counts pyromania and manslaughter among its dramatic developments. Zhang, trained as a cinematographer, creates visually stunning, edenic landscapes and then exposes the hellish realities beneath them. Banned in China on its initial release, the film went on to win numerous international film awards, including a nomination for best foreign language film at the 1990 Academy Awards.

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May 24 (Monday) 7 pm

And Life Goes On (Szegénylegények)

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran 1991, color, 95 min.
With Farhad Kheradmand, Buba Bayour, Hocine Rifahi
Farsi with English subtitles

In the aftermath of the earthquake in northern Iran which killed some 50,000 people, director Abbas Kiarostami returned to the setting of his Where is the Friend's Home? to learn the fate of the two young actors who had played in the film. His search became the dramatic source for And Life Goes On, an Iranian road movie traveled by the director and his young son, who along the way meet earthquake survivors valiantly working to reconstruct their lives. By pushing the limits of fiction and documentary, Kiarostami gently engages the viewer in cinema's process of transforming reality.

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