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February 2 - 27, 2004  

Deleuze: Philosophy and Film

Drawing from the writings of Gilles Deleuze, most notably his two-volume work Cinema 1 and Cinema 2, this series provides an overview of some of the more significant works discussed by the late French philosopher.


February 2 (Wednesday) 7 pm

India Song

Directed by Marguerite Duras
France, 1974, color, 120 min.
With Delphine Seyrig, Michel Lonsdale, Matthieu Carrière
French with English subtitles

Best known as one of the major practitioners of the “new novel,” Marguerite Duras began her involvement with the cinema in the late 1950s and went on to write and direct ten feature films. India Song remains her masterpiece, and while it was shown continually in Paris for nearly four years, it never received theatrical release in this country. The film is an oblique love story set in India in the 1930s, populated by a group of characters whose actions, and, most notably, inaction, were prefigured in her earlier novels. Here Duras focuses on a summer monsoon season during which a group of Europeans—Anne-Marie Stretter, the Vice-Consul, the Ambassador’s Attaché—haunt the film’s interiors through their reflections in ballroom mirrors, through the faceless voices that narrate their stories, and through the memories they endure. The voices also remember the story of a beggar woman, whose mournful tale counterpoints the love story in its recollection of famine, monsoon, and heat.

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February 2 (Wednesday) 9 pm

La Jetée

Directed by Chris Marker
France, 1962, b/w, 29 min.
With Hélène Chatelain, Davos Hanich, Jacques Ledoux
French with English subtitles

Marker’s sole fiction film is constructed (with one crucial, brief exception) from still photographs that are combined in serial fashion with voiceover narration and music. The result is one of cinema’s most compelling works, a love story set in a bleak future and involving time travel and memory. After the destruction of civilization by war, a member of the underground survivor community, haunted by glimpses of a barely recalled face, is sent by scientists back to the past to look for a key to humanity’s salvation. There he finds a lover, love of the world when it was still alive, and traces of his earlier self. This ecstatic, lyrical film conveys the pain and weight of modern history and the intense power of images.

Every Man for Himself (Sauve qui peut)

Directed by Jean-luc Godard
France/Switzerland, 1980, color, 90 min.
With Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye
French with English subtitles

After numerous experiments with video in the 1970s, Godard returned to filmmaking his postmodern autobiography. Dutronc stars as Paul Godard, a struggling filmmaker who fails to maintain meaningful connection with both is ex-wife (Bay) and a prostitue (Huppert). Godard was compelled to come back to filmmaking after many of his funding sources began to dry up in the late 1970s. The result is one of his most personal works in years.

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February 13 (Sunday) 7 pm - Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov

The General Line (aka The Old and the New)

Directed by Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Alexandrov
USSR, 1929, b/w, silent, 90 min.
With Marfa Lapkina, Vasya Buzenkov
Russian language version

Originally neglected because of its release at the end of the silent era, The General Line was Eisenstein's only completed film to deal with a contemporary subject. Focusing on a peasant woman and her attempts to fight greed and superstition, the film depicts the mechanization and collectivization of a farm. Using his signature montages of brief, graphically insistent images, Eisenstein creates visual drama from economic policy in sequences as unlikely but compelling as the introduction of the cream separators and the "dance" of the tractors.

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February 13 (Sunday) 9 pm

L'Atalante

Directed by Jean Vigo
France, 1934, b/w, 89 min.
With Jean Dasté, Dita Parlo, Michel Simon
French with English subtitles

One of the most cherished films among cinephiles, L'Atalante—the simple and engaging story of a young woman's stormy initiation into married life on a river barge—was the sole feature film made by director Jean Vigo, who died at age 29 from tuberculosis just as the work premiered. Under Vigo's sensitive direction, naturalism and surrealist fantasy blend beautifully as everyday life is infused with magical moments: in the ship mate's (Simon) fantastic travel stories; in the strange, plein-air bridal procession; in the young barge captain searching for his sweetheart under water. Poorly received on first showing, the film was badly cut and a popular song imposed on it. Happily, it has since been restored to its original form, and its romantic charms remain fresh and startling.

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February 20 (Sunday) 7 pm - Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
France, 1928, b/w, 100 min.
With Marie Falconetti, Antonin Artaud, Michel Simon

The close-up of the tear-stained face of Marie Falconetti in Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc is one of the most famous images in all of cinema. Based on authentic records of the eighteen-month-long trial of the fifteenth-century warrior-saint in Orléans, the film brings a rigorous formal style, exquisite cinematography, and striking architectural sets to bear on the moral questions that surround Joan, her judges, and her ultimate fate. Falconetti had never appeared in films before and would never act again, but her performance here is ranked among the greatest creations of cinema.

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February 20 (Sunday) 9 pm

Ordet

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
1955, 1955, Denmark, 126 min.
With Henrik Malberg, Preben Lerdorff-Rye, Cay Kristiansen
Danish with English subtitles

In a remote West Jutland farming community, a severe father of three sons refuses to let one of them, Anders, marry the daughter of a man with whom he has religious differences. When Inge, his daughter-in-law, dies in childbirth, Johannes, the visionary son, prays for her resurrection. Based on a play by Kai Munk and winner of Best Film at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, Dreyer’s penultimate work is an extraordinary expression of spiritual optimism. Dreyer achieves the powerful effects by deceptively simple means. Using only 114 shots, he makes the film into an enriching experience.

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February 27 (Sunday) 7 pm

Film

Directed by Alan Schneider
US, 1965, b/w, 22 min.
With Buster Keaton

Samuel Beckett wrote the script for this one-character drama without dialogue featuring Buster Keaton. Alan Schneider, the film’s director, staged all of Beckett’s plays in the United States. He also directed four of Edward Albee’s plays, winning the coveted “Tony” award for his work on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Boris Kaufman (who won an Oscar for On the Waterfront) was the director of photography.

Variety (aka Vaudeville) (Varieté)

Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov
Directed by E. A. Dupont
Germany, 1925, b/w, 89 min.
With Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Lya De Putti
German language version

A husband and wife acrobatic team achieve great fame with a young new partner, Aerinelli. After the wife is seduced by the young trapeze artist, the husband is driven to commit murder. An exceptional expressionistic outing which brought the distorted angles and warped camera effects to a standard social drama. Variety stands as an awesome example of the genre; it was both commercially and critically successful and brought the young Dupont to Hollywood, where, unfortunately, he ended up making mostly forgettable B-movies.

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