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March 5 - May 1

The Perverted Desires of Slavoj Zizek

This unique series presents a new documentary starring philosopher Slavoj Zizek which presents his ruminations on spectatorial pleasure. In addition, we offer a collection of films selected by Zizek which represent the most forbidden of these viewing desires. 


April 6 (Friday) 7 pm
April 8 (Sunday) 7 pm

The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema

Directed by Sophie Fiennes
US 2006, video, color, 150 min.
With Slavoj Zizek

In Sophie Fiennes’ new documentary Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek asserts, “Cinema is the ultimate pervert art…It doesn't give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire.” At its core the film is nothing more than a recorded lecture, but Zizek invigorates his journey through film history with an often hilarious, tour-de-force performance of reflections on Chaplin, Hitchcock, Lynch and many others. Inserting Zizek into classic film scenes from The Birds, The Conversation and Solaris, Fiennes adds a vibrant new dimension to the already animated theorizations of this famed scholar. Print courtesy of the filmmaker.

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March 5 (Monday) 7 pm

To Be or Not to Be

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
US 1942, 35mm, b/w, 99 min.
With Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack

See description in Shakespeare on Film: Selected Works.

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April 3 (Tuesday) 9:15 pm

Beau Geste

Directed by William A. Wellman
US 1939, 35mm, b/w, 112 min.
With Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston

William Wellman chronicles the adventures of the three Geste brothers, the French Foreign Legion and the highly coveted “Blue Water” sapphire. Gary Copper stars in the title role as the gallant Alpha male while Brian Donley chews scenery as the sadistic sergeant in this action-packed melodrama. P.C. Wren’s novel provided the source for several film versions, however none have endured quite like Wellman’s engaging interpretation. Print courtesy of Universal Pictures.


April 15 (Sunday) 9:15 pm

The Black Cat

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
US 1934, 35mm, b/w, 65 min.
With Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners

The first on-screen pairing of stars Boris Karloff (Frankenstein) and Bela Lugosi (Dracula), Edgar Ulmer’s loose adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s story is one of Universal’s great horror films of the period.  Ulmer draws heavily from the influence of German expressionism in the wondrous design of Karloff’s Art Deco styled mansion to visually charge the minimal plot, which involves a cat-and-mouse game between a vengeful scientist (Luogsi) and a Satan-worshipping architect (Karloff). Print courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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April 17 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Mission to Moscow

Directed by Michael Curtiz
US 1943, 35mm, b/w, 123 min.
With Walter Huston, Ann Harding, Oskar Homolka

An unusual example of Hollywood produced pro-Soviet propaganda, Michael Curtiz’s follow-up to Casablanca presents a positive rendering of Stalinist Russia as the nation prepared to enter World War II. Based on the memoirs of Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, the film chronicles the diplomat’s journey to Moscow, where he and his family are treated regally by Stalinist officials. Warner Brothers was encouraged by the Roosevelt administration to create a more sympathetic portrait of U.S./Soviet relations in a film that was later condemned by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Print courtesy of Warner Brothers.

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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

See description in Masterworks of World Cinema.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700