December

 

 

 

 

 


 

5 December

Vampyr (Dir. Carl Theodore Dreyer, 1932)  (Screening format – not known, 75mins) Technically, Dryer’s first sound film ( but with very little dialogue and extensive use made of inter-titles) Staying at a country inn, Allan Grey scoffs at the notion of supernatural death before being forced to believe that there may be things beyond his understanding. The skills of director and cameraman induce a similar confusion on the part of those watching, as we encounter one of cinema’s great nightmares. Dreyer offers few explanations for the phenomena on screen:  strange and frightening things may just happen. Vampyr  opened to a generally negative reception from audiences and critics. Dreyer edited the film after its German premiere and it opened to more mixed opinions at its French debut. The film was long considered a low point in Dreyer’s career, but modern critical reception to the film has become much more favourable with critics praising the film’s disorienting visual effects and atmosphere. Find out more at wikipedia.org With recorded soundtrack.  Close-Up Cinema, London E1 Link

Nosferatu (Dir. F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – DCP, 96mins) A German Expressionist horror masterpiece starring Max Shreck as the vampire Count Orlok.  The film was an unauthorised adaption of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel.  Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaption and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed.  However, a few prints survived and the film came to be regarded as an inspirational masterwork of the cinema. In the film, Count Orlok travels across Europe leaving a trail of death in his wake.  Brilliantly eerie, with imaginative touches which later adaptions never achieved.  Find out more at wikipedia.org With live musical accompanimen by The Arranz Ensemble.  ArtsCentre, Bridport, Dorset Link

Love, Life And Laughter (Dir. George Pearson, Br, 1923) (Screening format – DCP, 90mins) The film tells the story of a pair of working class youngsters with big dreams –a cheery chorus girl and a serious writer –the film toys with our expectations, blurring the boundaries of reverie and reality, tragedy and comedy. The films aesthetic is extremely evocative of the period, full of Art Deco styling from the overall design to Balfour’s costumes and the film’s set pieces. This restoration is a major event enabling today’s audiences to enjoy a truly vivacious performance from Balfour in one of her key films and adds to our knowledge of director Pearson, often likened to Dickens (whom he admired) for his ability to wring the maximum amount of emotion out of a story and a key figure in British cinema with now only a bare handful of his films survive.  This restoration is from a Dutch-language version of the film, which was identified by archivists at Eye Film museum inthe Netherlands, while being catalogued following its arrival at the archive in November 2012, the archive responded to BFI’s 75 Most Wanted list, a list compiled in 2010 outlining the film titles the BFI National Archive would like to preserve and make available. The print is part of a collection of film cans that belonged to a local cinema in the small town of Hattem (near Zwolle). Find out more at silentlondon.co.uk  Presented as part of the Independent Cinema Office Archive Screening Day.  With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

Peace on the Western Front (Dir. Fred Swann/Hans Nieter, UK, 1931) (Screening format – DCP) Towards the end of 1930, two veterans of the First World War, one German and the other British, came together to shoot a film pilgrimage of the Western Front battlefields to impress upon younger generations that war, “is not a childish game, a glorious adventure”, but “a hideous ugly thing”. Released in 1931 the film gained a following among the burgeoning peace movement and became an unofficial film for the League of Nations Union. The soundtrack was recorded on discs, now sadly lost, so a script has been created from the synopsis in the original press brochure and accounts of the battlefields and war-ravaged towns written at the time.  Presented as part of the Independent Cinema Office Archive Screening Day.  Introduced by Dr Toby Haggith, Senior Curator of the Imperial War Museum.  With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

Working in Shadows (Dir. unknown, UK,1943) (Screening format – not known, c60mins) It’s 1943 and it’s all hands to the pump on the Home Front.  When the Second World War was declared in 1939, the female population of Britain were called upon to fill all manner of roles. Women stepped up on the Home Front and abroad, which saw their lives drastically change.   Elliott’s of Newbury was a manufacturing firm whose workforce, during the 1940s, was predominantly female. The factory was adapted to war work, and amongst other things was responsible for producing various Spitfire components as one of many Shadow Factories.  The firm commissioned a series of films from this period detailing the work it was doing.   These films are held in the extensive collection of Hampshire County Council’s Wessex Film & Sound Archive and this is an unmissable opportunity to see archive footage that has not been publicly shared in over 75 years.  With live musical accompaniment .    Hampshire Record Office, Winchester Link

7 December

Peter Pan (Dir. Herbert Brenon, US, 1924)  (Screening format – not known, 105mins)  J M Barrie’s famous story of Peter Pan, a magical boy who refuses to grow up, brings the Darling children (Wendy, John, and Michael) from London to  Neverland where they have adventures that include a confrontation with the pirate Captain Hook and his crew.  Betty Bronson was personally selected by Barrie to play Peter Pan in a film that is an awful lot darker than the Disney version.  Find out more at  imdb.com .  With live harp accompaniment by Elizabeth Jane Baldry.  Forbury Cinema, Reading Link

8 December

Nana (Dir. Jean Renoir, Fr, 1926) (Screening format – not known, 170mins)  Jean Renoir’s second full-length silent film is a faithful adaptation of Émile Zola’s classic novel. The film’s extravagances include two magnificent set pieces – a horse race and an open-air ball. It’s an extraordinary achievement that now seems to fit perfectly into the Renoir oeuvre though at the time of its release in France it was a financial and critical disaster.  Catherine Hessling (Renoir’s first wife) played the title role of the Second Empire bit actress who became the most famous courtesan of her day. It moves from realism to expressionism to romanticism, all the while being somewhat comic and cool. Her Nana is a non-stop performance, whether she’s on‐stage or off, which is something that Renoir often seeks to emphasise by photographing scenes as if the camera were sitting in the orchestra of a theatre. Yet Renoir, who at this time was strongly influenced by the films of  Erich Von Stroheim, was fascinated by naturalistic detail, not only by the contrasts between the elegant and the seedy, but by the contrasts between the true and the make‐believe.  It is stunningly set and costumed from designs by Claude Autant‐Lara, who went on to direct his own films. The backstage settings are wonderfully bleak, while those of Nana’s town house have a fairy tale grandeur about them. A final sequence, set in a Montmartre club, predates by 50 years the exuberance of Renoir’s 1955 French Can‐Can. Find out more at wikipedia.orgWith live musical accompaniment from Prima Vista Quintet.   Regent Street Cinema, London  Link

Eerie Tales (Dir. Richard Oswald, Ger, 1919) (Screening format – DCP, 95mins)  After the old-books shop closes, portraits come to life and amuse themselves by reading stories in various guises and eras. The film, generally underrated if not completely overlooked, is a landmark of silent horror cinema, significant because it’s so unambiguously a horror movie and intended as such, and because it predates the cycle of more well-known German horror movies from about 1920 onwards. It’s also probably the first horror omnibus movie. The film consists of a framing story and five individual stories, each featuring Conrad Veidt, Reinhold Schünzel and Anita Berber in the main roles. The framing story takes places in an antiquarian bookshop where, after closing hours, pictures of the Devil, a harlot and Death come to life to read horror stories.  The film’s relative obscurity is linked to its unavailability. While it has never been a lost film (though sometimes falsely described as such in literature), it has very rarely turned up at film festivals and only a few prints have been available, often of poor quality, dark images and with the stories sometimes mixed around in different order. But when a nitrate copy with the alternative title Grausige Nächte (‘Gruesome Nights’) was found in Cinémathèque Française and a restoration was completed in 2002 with the original title reinstated, the film began to gain a wider audience. Find out more at  therevenantreview.com.  Introduced by film programmer Miranda Gower-Qian.  With live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne.  BFI Southbank, London Link

11 December

Moulin Rouge (Dir. E.A. Dupont, Br, 1928)  (Screening format – not known, 122 mins)  Directed by the great E. A. Dupont (Varieté, Piccadilly) and one of the most lavish British films of the silent era in both budget and scope, Moulin Rouge stars Jean Bradin, Eve Gray and Russian-German screen sensation Olga Tschechowa in the story of a young aristocrat driven to a suicide attempt after falling in love with a young dancer and her elegant, ravishingly beautiful mother.  Set in and around the famous dance-halls of Paris, Moulin Rouge showcased British International Pictures’ engagement of leading Continental film-makers during the late 1920s. The first British film directed by expressionist pioneer Ewald Andre Dupont, it also features Werner Brandes’ stylish, distinctively European cinematography and art direction by Oscar winner Alfred Junge.  Filmed at Elstree through the winter of 1927, Moulin Rouge is an incredibly entertaining, energetic and sexy film which pulls you right back into 1920s Parisian life and society, an era, in which, anything goes.  Find out more at thespinningimage.co.ukPresented by the Kennington Bioscope.  With live piano accompaniment.  Cinema Museum, Lambeth  Link

15 December

The Great White Silence (Dir. Herbert G. Ponting, UK, 1924) (Screening format – not known, 107 mins)  This documentary captured the story of the British Antarctic Expedition, led by Captain Scott, to reach the South Pole. With extraordinary footage of many stages of the exploration: on board the Terra Nova ship; life in the base camp; crew preparations and scientific research; and the local penguins, whales and seals. Still images, maps, miniature model shots, diary entries and recreations illustrate the rest of the journey across the ice. “The alien beauty of the landscape is brought dramatically to life and the world of the expedition revealed in brilliant detail.” – BFI. Find out more at bfi.org.uk.  With live piano accompaniment by Lillian Henley.  Palace Cinema, Broadstairs Link