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March 6 - May 15

Masterworks of World Cinema

This selection of classic world cinema was curated by Professor Charles Warren.

Special thanks to Harvard Extension School.


March 6 (Tuesday) 7 pm

M

Directed by Fritz Lang
Germany 1931, 35mm, b/w, 99 min.
With Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Ellen Widmann
German with English subtitles

Based on accounts of an actual murder case, Lang’s landmark early-sound-era film eschews his previous expressionistic techniques to depict the growing agitation of a town in which a child murderer is on the loose with stylized realism. M captures the prevailing sense of despair and corruption of Germany in the early thirties in its portrayal of a pathetic killer (Brecht-trained actor Lorre in his film debut) hounded by an odd alliance of pursuers: both the chief of police and the highly organized criminal underworld.

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March 13 (Tuesday) 7 pm

L’Atalante

Directed by Jean Vigo
France 1934, 35mm, 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 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, the simple story of a young woman's stormy initiation into married life on a river barge is told with a mixture of naturalism and surrealist fantasy that infuses everyday life with startlingly magical moments. Print courtesy of New Yorker Films.

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March 20 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Modern Times

Directed by Charles Chaplin
US 1936, 35mm, b/w, 87 min.
With Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Chester Conklin

Chaplin’s last silent film—produced almost ten years after the advent of film sound—takes on the inequities of the Great Depression and the modern experience. Ultimately encompassing the tyranny of machine over man, the film’s closing sequence is among the director’s most famous and poignant as the Tramp (in the character’s final appearance on film), unable to find a place in the industrial metropolis, walks away from society toward an uncertain future. Print courtesy of Kino International.

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April 3 (Tuesday) 7 pm

The Rules of the Game

Directed by Jean Renoir
France 1939, 35mm, b/w, 113 min.
With Marcel Dalio, Nora Grégor, Jean Renoir
French with English subtitles

In his stinging appraisal of the erotic charades of the French leisure class before World War II, Renoir satirizes the manners and mores of a society near collapse.  Alternating between farce and melodrama, realism and tragedy, the film centers on a lavish country-house party given by a marquis and his wife, where the complicated intrigues of the upper-class guests are mirrored by the activities of the servants.  Banned on its initial release as "too demoralizing," The Rules of the Game has come to be regarded as one of the great masterworks of the cinema. Print courtesy of Janus Films.

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April 10 (Tuesday) 7 pm

The Magnificent Ambersons

Directed by Orson Welles
US 1942, 35mm, b/w, 88 min.
With Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter

One of the great tragedies of film history in terms of lost footage,
Orson Welles’ “compromised” adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel still stands as one of the towering achievements of modern cinema. The film chronicles the decline of the American Dream among members of an upper-class Midwestern family. While severely altered by the studio (RKO removed a third of Welles’ first cut, added a happy ending and destroyed the original material), the film’s powerful performances and visual dynamism remain.

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April 17 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm

My Dad is 100 Years Old

Directed by Guy Maddin
Canada 2005, 35mm, b/w, 16 min.
With Isabella Rossellini

Produced as part of the centennial celebration of the birth of her
father Roberto, Isabella Rossellini offers a loving and humorous tribute to one of the masters of Italian neorealism. Print courtesy of Zeitgeist Films.

Paisan

Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Italy 1946, 16mm, b/w, 115 min.
With Maria Michi, Gar Moore, Dale Edmonds
English and Italian with English subtitles

Rossellini’s follow-up to Rome, Open City is a compendium of six episodes that focus on a series of cross-cultural encounters during the Battle of Italy. Among the most poignant sequences are a story set on the coast of Sicily as an American G.I. and a local girl attempt to elude a group of German soldiers and a vignette in which a black G.I. in Naples tries to recover his stolen boots, only to be shocked by the miserable conditions in which the young thief and his compatriots live.

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April 24 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm

Tokyo Story

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Japan 1953, 35mm, b/w, 134 min.
With Chishu Ryu, Chiyeko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara
Japanese with English subtitles

Ozu’s sad, simple story of generational conflict is often regarded as the filmmaker’s greatest achievement and a landmark in the practice of narrative cinema. In precisely composed images that detail the objects and spaces of daily life, Ozu presents the story of an elderly couple who pay a visit to various busy, self-absorbed offspring in Tokyo. Ozu’s examination of the slow fracturing of the contemporary Japanese family is filled with quiet resignation and the realization that tradition is subject to change. Print courtesy of Janus Films.

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May 1 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Sansho the Bailiff

Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Japan 1954, 35mm, b/w, 120 min.
With Eitaro Shindo, Kinuyo Tanaka
Japanese with English subtitles

An intensely lyrical, uncompromising study of tragedy and psychic
degradation, Sansho the Bailiff is among Mizoguchi’s great masterpieces. The story, set in eleventh-century Japan, concerns a mother and her two children, who are kidnapped and sold into slavery. After a decade of subjugation the son sets out about deposing the cruel bailiff who brought tragedy upon his family. Print courtesy of Janus Films.

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May 8 (Tuesday) 7 pm

The World of Apu (Apur Sansar)

Directed by Satyajit Ray
India 1959, 35mm, b/w, 106 min.
With Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Alok Chakravarty
Bengali with English subtitles

This final film in Satyajit Ray’s “Apu trilogy” finds the now adult Apu
a struggling writer living in Calcutta.  When he is called upon by a friend to fill in at an arranged marriage Apu’s life veers unexpectedly toward love and loss. "In essence the film is a love story so fresh and spontaneous that one feels Ray created it entirely out of his own spirit, as if it were the world's first love story" (Pauline Kael). Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

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May 15 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Pickpocket

Directed by Robert Bresson
France 1959, 35mm, b/w, 75 min.
With Martin Lassalle, Marika Green, Pierre Leymarie
French with English subtitles

The first film for which Bresson composed an entirely original script, this tale of a lonely young man who embarks on a career as a petty thief was partly inspired by Crime and Punishment. In Pickpocket, however, Bresson deals more directly with themes of submission and salvation, and said that “with theft [he] entered by the back door into the kingdom of morality.”  Pickpocket has been praised by generations of fellow directors, including Louis Malle, who described it as “one of the four or five major events in the history of cinema.” Print courtesy of Janus Films.

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