Live Screenings – February


1 – 10 February (14 Screenings)

South (Dir. Frank Hurley, UK/Aus, 1919) (Screening format – digital, 88mins). Australian filmmaker Frank Hurley’s record of Shackleton’s 1914-17 Antarctic expedition is also a document of life – human and otherwise – striving to survive in the most adverse climatic conditions imaginable. More than a mere chronicle of an epic undertaking, the film is visually magnificent, its images of the vast frozen wilderness composed with a meticulous attention to framing and light.  Restored with its original tinting and toning by the BFI National Archive and EYE Filmmuseum, this incredible film of true-life heroism and survival in the most formidable conditions is over a century old. It lives on as an enthralling testimony to the delicate balance between humanity and the natural world.Find out more at moviessilently.com   With recorded score.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

2 February

(NB Rescheduled from 12 January)    A Soul in Torment (1921) (aka Frau Dorothys Bekenntnis / Mrs. Dane’s Confession) (Dir, Michael Curtiz, Au, 1921) (Screening format – 35mm, 62mins)   Dorothy (Lucy Doraine) awakens next to a body and is immediately arrested. Grilled by the police who accuse her of the murder, she protests that she’s innocent. Bit by bit Dorothy’s memories are pieced together, starting with the death of her parents and how she came under the tutelage of her uncle. But her seemingly safe life is derailed when she is saved from an attempted kidnapping by a dashing man. Unfortunately he is not really after her but her money.   In 1919, director Mihály Kertész (his stage name at the time – he was born Mano Kaminer) moved to Austria from Hungary, where he made nearly 20 films, often with his wife Lucy Doraine (until their divorce in 1923). While in Austria he would make another 21 films before going on to answer the call from Warner Brothers,  changing his name yet again, to Michael Curtiz and enjoying a long and glittering career directing such classics as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), Casablanca (1942), Mildred Pierce(1945) and White Christmas (1954).  Find out more at imdb.com.   Presented by the Kennington Bioscope.  With live musical accompaniment.  Cinema Museum, Lambeth Link

 

3 February

The ABC Of Asta Nielsen   Find out more about Asta Nielsen in this evening devoted to the indelible Danish star of silent cinema. First, season curator Pamela Hutchinson will present an illustrated lecture on Nielsen’s life and incredible career. She will then be joined by a panel of experts, Erica Carter, Professor of German and Film at King’s College London, So Mayer, writer, organiser and co-founder of Raising Films and Bryony Dixon, BFI curator of silent film, to examine Nielsen’s performance, stardom and significance in depth. BFI Southbank, London Link

 

The Abyss ( aka The Woman Always Pays, aka Afgrunden)  (Dir. Urban Gad, Den, 1910) (Screening format – digital, 37mins) + The ABC Of Love (aka Das Liebes-ABC  )(Dir. Magnus Stifter, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – digital, 42mins) In The Abyss Asta Nielsen plays a woman in an erotic dilemma in her screen debut The Abyss, the tale of a young woman who leaves her fiancée for a circus star. In comic and tragic mode – sowing the seeds for her provocative persona – Nielsen gives an arresting performance that culminates in a sensual rope dance displaying what Béla Balázs called her ‘spiritualised eroticism [which] is demonically dangerous, since it works at a distance through all of her clothes’.  Find out more at imdb.comThe ABC Of Love is a romantic comedy and a showcase for Nielsen’s skills in male impersonation and genderplay. Here, thirtysomething Nielsen plays a teenage girl who teaches her young suitor how to be the man of her dreams, by dressing up in trousers herself. Find out more atsilentsplease.wordpress.com Introduced by Silent London’s Pamela Hutchinson. With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

4 February

The Black Dream (aka Den sorte Drøm) (Dir. Urban Gad, Den, 1911) (Screening format – digital, 53 mins)  + The Film Primadonna (Urban Gad, Ger, 1913) (Screening format – 35mm, 17mins)  The Black Dreamis a tragic love-triangle melodrama fit for the supreme Danish diva.  In this early role for Nielsen, suited to her mastery of melodrama, she plays Stella, a circus star pursued by two suitors – a handsome count and a creepy jeweller. The Black Dream becomes a high-stakes love triangle as the jeweller’s jealousy threatens to destroy Stella’s chance of happiness. Just like many of Nielsen’s characters, Stella won’t go down without a fight. Find out more at www.imdb.comThe Film Primadonna is sadly just a 17 minute surviving fragment in which Nielsen plays a movie star with a tempestuous love life. Find out more atletterboxd.com  With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

Zapata’s Gang (aka Zapatas Bande) (Dir. Urban Gad, Ger, 1913/14) (Screening format – digital, 42mins) + Eskimo Baby (aka Das Eskimobaby) (Dir. Walter Schmidthässler, Ger, 1916/18) (Screening format – digital, 66mins)  Zapata’s Gang shows thatNielsen was perhaps surprisingly adept at broad comedy, though there’s always a transgressive twist. Here she plays an actor, as she often would, in self-reflexive reference to her own celebrity. On location to shoot a film about bandits, Nielsen and her crew run into a real band of robbers who steal their clothes, forcing them to change into their outlaw costumes. While cross-dressed as a brigand, Nielsen gets involved with admirers of both sexes. Find out more at letterboxd.com  The Eskimo Baby features one of Nielsen’s most full-throttle comic performances in the fish-out-of-water mode. In this romp that bears no relation to geographical authenticity, Nielsen plays a young Inuit woman brought to Berlin by an Arctic explorer, marveling at the madness of big-city life.  Find out more at imdb.com   With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

5 February

Queen Of The Stock Exchange (aka Die Börsenkönigin) (Dir. Edmund Edel, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – 35mm, 32mins) + The Guinea Pig (aka Das Versuchskaninchen) (Dir, Edmund Edel, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – digital, 36mins) In Queen Of The Stock Exchange, Asta Nielsen plays a woman at home in a man’s world . She’s the co-owner of a copper mine (an excellent opportunity for some location shooting), who makes the mistake of mixing business and romance – with potentially terrible consequences. This is a no-holds-barred melodrama, with Nielsen supremely embodying both the contemporary ideal of a modern woman and a tragic lover. Find out more atimdb.comThe Guinea Pig is a raucous comedy with a touch of the grotesque that finds Nielsen playing a manic, rebellious tomboy who exasperates her father so much that he sends her away. As fate would have it, however, she is mistakenly sent to a psychiatric clinic instead.  Find out more at letterboxd.com   With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

 

Dora Brandes (Dir. Magnus Stifter, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – digital, 59mins) +Poor Jenny (aka Die arme Jenny) (Dir. Urban Gad, Den, 1911/12) (Screening format – 35mm, 30mins) Asta Nielsen’s skill as a tragedian prompted comparisons to the great stage actor Sarah Bernhardt and the opera singer Eleonora Duse. In this double-bill, as she plays tragic heroines from opposite sides of the tracks, you can see why. In the German silent drama Dora Brandes she plays a feted actor slowly driven to despair and alcoholism after her politician lover betrays her and the sacrifices she made for his career. Luxurious interior and costume design sets off Nielsen’s intensely emotional performance to superlative effect. Find out more at moviefit.me In the earlier Danish film Poor Jenny, Nielsen plays a cleaner seduced by a callous young man, and then abandoned by her family. The setting may be downbeat but  Nielsen’s charisma radiates. Find out more at imdb.com  With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

 

6 February

The Hill Park Mystery (aka Nedbrudte nerver) (Dir, A W Sandberg, Den, 1923) (Screening format – digital, 75mins) The reporter Jimmie Brand at the “Daily Wire” solves the case of the Vibeleje murder. However, the case leaves  Brand in a terribly stressed condition and for this reason his boss decides to give him two weeks vacation.. Sent away to recuperate, what should he see but a beautiful girl murder a man in broad daylight? It’s love and a busman’s holiday from then on in. Witty, bright and modern, The Hill Park Mystery is a great example of the best of Danish silent cinema – a real charmer. Find out more at letterboxd.com .   With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

11 February

The Abyss ( aka The Woman Always Pays, aka Afgrunden)  (Dir. Urban Gad, Den, 1910) (Screening format – digital, 37mins) + The ABC Of Love (aka Das Liebes-ABC  )(Dir. Magnus Stifter, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – digital, 42mins) In The Abyss Asta Nielsen plays a woman in an erotic dilemma in her screen debut The Abyss, the tale of a young woman who leaves her fiancée for a circus star. In comic and tragic mode – sowing the seeds for her provocative persona – Nielsen gives an arresting performance that culminates in a sensual rope dance displaying what Béla Balázs called her ‘spiritualised eroticism [which] is demonically dangerous, since it works at a distance through all of her clothes’.  Find out more at imdb.com  The ABC Of Love is a romantic comedy and a showcase for Nielsen’s skills in male impersonation and genderplay. Here, thirtysomething Nielsen plays a teenage girl who teaches her young suitor how to be the man of her dreams, by dressing up in trousers herself. Find out more atsilentsplease.wordpress.com   With live musical accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

12 February

The Black Dream (aka Den sorte Drøm) (Dir. Urban Gad, Den, 1911) (Screening format – digital, 53 mins)  + The Film Primadonna (Urban Gad, Ger, 1913) (Screening format – 35mm, 17mins)  The Black Dream is a tragic love-triangle melodrama fit for the supreme Danish diva.  In this early role for Nielsen, suited to her mastery of melodrama, she plays Stella, a circus star pursued by two suitors – a handsome count and a creepy jeweller. The Black Dream becomes a high-stakes love triangle as the jeweller’s jealousy threatens to destroy Stella’s chance of happiness. Just like many of Nielsen’s characters, Stella won’t go down without a fight. Find out more at www.imdb.com.  The Film Primadonna is sadly just a 17 minute surviving fragment in which Nielsen plays a movie star with a tempestuous love life. Find out more at letterboxd.com  With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

Zapata’s Gang (aka Zapatas Bande) (Dir. Urban Gad, Ger, 1913/14) (Screening format – digital, 42mins) + Eskimo Baby (aka Das Eskimobaby) (Dir. Walter Schmidthässler, Ger, 1916/18) (Screening format – digital, 66mins)  Zapata’s Gang shows thatNielsen was perhaps surprisingly adept at broad comedy, though there’s always a transgressive twist. Here she plays an actor, as she often would, in self-reflexive reference to her own celebrity. On location to shoot a film about bandits, Nielsen and her crew run into a real band of robbers who steal their clothes, forcing them to change into their outlaw costumes. While cross-dressed as a brigand, Nielsen gets involved with admirers of both sexes. Find out more atletterboxd.com  The Eskimo Baby features one of Nielsen’s most full-throttle comic performances in the fish-out-of-water mode. In this romp that bears no relation to geographical authenticity, Nielsen plays a young Inuit woman brought to Berlin by an Arctic explorer, marveling at the madness of big-city life.  Find out more at imdb.com   With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London Link

 

17 February

Queen Of The Stock Exchange (aka Die Börsenkönigin) (Dir. Edmund Edel, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – 35mm, 32mins) + The Guinea Pig (aka Das Versuchskaninchen) (Dir, Edmund Edel, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – digital, 36mins)In Queen Of The Stock Exchange, Asta Nielsen plays a woman at home in a man’s world . She’s the co-owner of a copper mine (an excellent opportunity for some location shooting), who makes the mistake of mixing business and romance – with potentially terrible consequences. This is a no-holds-barred melodrama, with Nielsen supremely embodying both the contemporary ideal of a modern woman and a tragic lover. Find out more atimdb.comThe Guinea Pig is a raucous comedy with a touch of the grotesque that finds Nielsen playing a manic, rebellious tomboy who exasperates her father so much that he sends her away. As fate would have it, however, she is mistakenly sent to a psychiatric clinic instead.  Find out more at letterboxd.com   With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

 

Dora Brandes (Dir. Magnus Stifter, Ger, 1916) (Screening format – digital, 59mins) + Poor Jenny (aka Die arme Jenny) (Dir. Urban Gad, Den, 1911/12) (Screening format – 35mm, 30mins) Asta Nielsen’s skill as a tragedian prompted comparisons to the great stage actor Sarah Bernhardt and the opera singer Eleonora Duse. In this double-bill, as she plays tragic heroines from opposite sides of the tracks, you can see why. In the German silent drama Dora Brandes she plays a feted actor slowly driven to despair and alcoholism after her politician lover betrays her and the sacrifices she made for his career. Luxurious interior and costume design sets off Nielsen’s intensely emotional performance to superlative effect. Find out more at moviefit.me In the earlier Danish film Poor Jenny, Nielsen plays a cleaner seduced by a callous young man, and then abandoned by her family. The setting may be downbeat but  Nielsen’s charisma radiates. Find out more at imdb.com  With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbank, London  Link

 

18 February

Aelita – Queen Of Mars (Dir. Yakov Protazanov, 1924) (Screening format – not known, 113mins )  Reality and fantasy, revolutionary zeal, and bitter jealousy mix in Yakov Protazanov’s hugely influential yet rarely screened drama, whose impressive constructivist production design by Aleksandra Ekster has been a reference point for countless sci-fi films since. Tormented by a cryptic wireless message from Mars, engineer Los embarks on a journey into the unknown that sees him woo the Martian queen Aelita – fiercely portrayed by iconic actress and director Yuliya Solntseva – and lead an uprising against the planet’s corrupt rulers. Aelita remains one of the most ambitious endeavours of Soviet Russia’s silent cinema, and a bold showcase of its avant-garde design. Find out more at  silentfilm.org .  Presented by South West Silents and the Kino Klassika Foundation .   With live musical accompaniment by Juliet Merchant performing a score newly commissioned for the film.  Arnolfini, Bristol  Link

 

23 February

Chicago (Dir. Frank Urson & Cecil B.DeMille (uncredited),  1927) (Screening format – not known,   118mins )  Seventy-five years before Bob Fosse’s Oscar-winning musical version of Maurine Watkins’ successful stage play, Cecil B. DeMille’s production company made this saucy silent film version.  Phyllis Haver is hugely entertaining as the brazen Roxie Hart “Chicago’s most beautiful murderess” – a woman so pathologically shallow she sees notoriety for a murder rap as an opportunity to secure her fortune.  Egged on by her crooked lawyer (“they’ll be naming babies after you”) Roxie neglects her long-suffering loyal husband and sets about milking her celebrity status for all she’s worth.  The sequence in the prison is an absolute delight – particularly the rivalry between Roxie and fellow-murderess Velma (played by DeMille’s mistress), as are the climactic courtroom scenes.  A cracking, satire on fame and the media, this fun-filled tale of adultery, murder and sin (so sinful that DeMille – known for his Biblical epics – was at pains to keep his name off the credits) is as fresh and relevant as ever.  Find out more at wikipedia.org .  Presented by the Kennington Bioscope.  With live musical accompaniment.  Cinema Museum, Lambeth, LondonLink

 

Towards The Light (aka Mod Lyset) (Dir.  Holger-Madsen, Den, 1919) (Screening format – 35mm, 62mins)  + Asta Nielsen (Dir. Asta Nielsen, Den, 1968) (Screening format – Digital, 28mins)   The last film that Nielsen ever made in Denmark, Towards The Light is a captivating religious melodrama in which she plays a wealthy countess who strings along a series of suitors even though she’s fallen in love with a baron. When her thoughtless flirtations turn out to have dreadful consequences and she learns her lover’s terrible secret, can the countess redeem her wasteful life by turning to God? Find out more at ithankyouarthur.blogspot.comThe only film Nielsen ever directed, Asta Nielsen is a documentary self-portrait from 1968 in which the actress reflects on her life and magnificent career in conversation with the Danish actor Axel Strøbye. Watch as the celebrated tragedian poignantly sheds her final tear for the camera.   With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbnk, London  Link

 

25 February

Nosferatu (Dir. F W Murnau, 1922) (Screening format – not known,  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 master work 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 accompaniment by MinimaFoxlowe Arts Centre, Leek  Link

 

27 February

Towards The Light (aka Mod Lyset) (Dir.  Holger-Madsen, Den, 1919) (Screening format – 35mm, 62mins)  + Asta Nielsen (Dir. Asta Nielsen, Den, 1968) (Screening format – Digital, 28mins)   The last film that Nielsen ever made in Denmark, Towards The Light is a captivating religious melodrama in which she plays a wealthy countess who strings along a series of suitors even though she’s fallen in love with a baron. When her thoughtless flirtations turn out to have dreadful consequences and she learns her lover’s terrible secret, can the countess redeem her wasteful life by turning to God? Find out more at ithankyouarthur.blogspot.comThe only film Nielsen ever directed, Asta Nielsen is a documentary self-portrait from 1968 in which the actress reflects on her life and magnificent career in conversation with the Danish actor Axel Strøbye. Watch as the celebrated tragedian poignantly sheds her final tear for the camera.     With live piano accompaniment.  BFI Southbnk, London Link