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January 31 - February 27

Silent Film Classics

January 30 (Tuesday) 7 pm

True Heart Susie

Directed by D.W. Griffith
US 1919, 16mm, silent, b/w, 91 min.
With Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Clarine Seymour
Live Piano Accompaniment

This pastoral romance is the last film in which Griffith draws directly
upon his warmest memories of a bucolic childhood, as well as his final reflection on a quickly vanishing America. Without the intervention of subplots, chases, sexually imperiled heroines, and the rest of his beloved melodramatic preoccupations, Griffith employs an urban/country dialectic—a typical strategy of the time—to valorize the virtues of a country girl (Gish) who patiently waits for her man to return to his senses after being “corrupted” by a city woman.

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February 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm


Directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein
USSR 1925, 35mm, silent, b/w, 82 min.
With Grigori Aleksandrov, Maxim Strauch, Yudif Glizer
Russian intertitles with live English translation
Live Piano Accompaniment

Full of dazzling cinematic conventions, Eisenstein’s first full-length film depicts the story of a 1912 strike by factory workers in Tsarist Russia and its brutal suppression by the authorities. Eisenstein’s dialectic montage is on full display, incorporating caricature, visual metaphor, and shock cutting. Made with members of the Proletkult Theatre, Strike is an essential work of the Soviet Constructivist art movement of the 1920s.

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February 13 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Earth (Zemlya)

Directed by Aleksandr Dovzhenko
USSR 1930, 35mm, silent with music track, b/w, 73 min.
With Stepan Shkurat, Semyon Svashenko, Yelana Maximova

This exquisitely beautiful film uses simple but powerful means to tell a story of collectivization on a Ukrainian farm that expresses profound and universal themes: the fruitfulness of the earth, its annual rebirth, life, love, and death. When a local kulak refuses to divide his land for a collective, a young villager (Svashenko) takes it for the people by force and turns it into a success. Despite the tragedy that ensues, the people sing songs of renewal as rain promises another cycle of life for the earth. Filled with sensuality, joy, and pain, Dovzhenko’s classic remains a stunning example of cinematic expression.

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February 20 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Pandora’s Box

Directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Germany 1929, 35mm, silent, b/w, 100 min.
With Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer
Live Piano Accompaniment

In Pandora's Box , Louise Brooks provides one of the great performances of the silent era as Lulu, the hedonistic but otherwise innocent prostitute who unwittingly brings down all who come into contact with her. Released just as sound films began to flood the market, Pandora's Box had multiple problems with the censors as well: Lulu sleeps with a father and his son, gambles, lies, and befriends cinema's first sympathetic lesbian. Panned and forgotten in its own time, it was rediscovered in the 1950s when numerous film historians agreed that Pandora's Box was a masterpiece and Brooks, a minor star best known for her black helmet haircut, a major talent.

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February 27 (Tuesday) 7 pm

The Passion of Joan of Arc

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
France 1928, 35mm, silent, b/w, 82 min.
With Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley
Silent Presentation

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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