Fall Films 2011: Surrealism & Cinema

The Surrealists were among the first artists to realize the power of film. They believed that images from the unconscious, particularly dreams, could create insights and inspirations capable of transforming the world.  Cinema, in its ability to induce a kind of dream-like state, was the ultimate toolbox. These fantasies shouldn’t be merely escapist, but perhaps a little disquieting, and we experience in our series the touch of a Beast’s fur, the dank chill of a shadowy dystopia, the attentions of a too mysterious lover.  Some of these films were made by artists officially in the surrealist movement, like the scandalous L’Age D’Or, or the fantastical sequences designed by Salvador Dali in Hollywood.  Others are fairy tales evoking ancient emotions or romances that defy convention.  But all fuse remarkable images with compelling storytelling. The Surrealist influence on the movies’ visual language has a timeline almost as long as film history, itself.

September 16

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) Written and directed by Alfred Lewin.  Ava Gardner, James Mason, Nigel Patrick (122 min).

A bored socialite experiences the redemptive power of love when she meets a doomed wanderer.  Designed to look like canvases painted by Giorgio Di Chirico and Paul Delveax, Pandora is played by the Exquisite Tarheel, Ava Gardner. The Ava Gardner Museum of Smithfield will display a selection of memorabilia before the screening. New 35mm print! Film notes for Pandora

September 23

Brazil (1985) Written and directed by Terry Gilliam.  Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond.(132 min) Rated R

A meek bureaucrat’s crusade jolts into a convoluted retro-futuristic nightmare. Gilliam’s dark post-Python comedy looks more modern every year (unfortunately). “There is not a more daft, more original or haunting vision to be seen on American movie screens” (Time Magazine). Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Devin Orgeron.

September 30

L'Age D'Or (The Golden Age) (1930) Directed by Luis Buñuel.  Gaston Modot, Lya Lys, Max Ernst (60 min).

A non narrative, quaintly shocking exploration of unconscious desires, from the odd to the perverse, triggered a riot, was banned by the police and did not premiere in US theaters until 1979. The aristocratic producer risked excommunication for his endorsement of depravity. “An exhilarating, irrational masterpiece of censor-baiting chutzpa.” (BBC). Film notes for L'Age D'Or.

Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) (1947) Written and directed by Jean Cocteau.  Jean Marais, Josette Day, Marcel Andre (96 min).

Cocteau’s interpretation of a fairy tale about a young girl held captive by a sorrowful monster is one of cinema’s most magical experiences. Cocteau wanted his enchanting film "not to be admired, but to be believed” saying, “The movie screen is the true mirror, reflecting the flesh and blood of my dreams." Film Notes for Beauty and the Beast

October 14

Donkey Skin (Peau d'Ane) (1970) Written and Directed by Jacques Demy.  Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Delphine Seyrig (100 min).

A beautiful princess runs away to escape her father’s shocking marriage proposal. Based on a 17th century tale, Demy’s candy colored homage to Cocteau’s classic Beauty is “a primer on how to rework a literary classic into an impressively restrained movie with something fresh and intelligent to say” (Boston Globe). Film notes for Peau D'Ane.

October 28

Little Otik (2000) Written and Directed by Jan Svankmajer.  Veronika Zilkova, Jan Hartl (132 min) in Czech with English Subtitles. 

The loving husband of a woman longing for a child carves a tree root into the shape of a baby. Macabre imagination shapes this handmade fable from the legendary Czech animator.  “Truly extraordinary! Hilariously chilling!” (Time Out New York). Introduced by NC Film Studies Professor Marsha Orgeron, who visited the filmmaker in Prague.

November 4

City of Lost Children (1995) Written and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.  Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet (112 min) In French with English subtitles. Rated R

An evil scientist in a steampunk city loses his dreams, and kidnaps children to steal theirs.  Amélie director Jeunet sets a circus strongman and a plucky orphan to battle within the villain’s mind. “One of the most audacious, original films of the year” (LA Times). Introduced by Independent Weekly Film Critic Zack Smith.

November 11

Moontide (1942) Directed by Archie Mayo and Fritz Lang.  Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell (94 min)

A roguish longshoreman thinks he may have killed a man during a drunken binge (designed by Salvador Dali) and his creepy best friend (played by Scarlett O’Hara’s dad) tries to take advantage.  Broody working class hero Gabin’s first Hollywood film is a romantic film noir set in a dock side bait shack. Film Notes for Moontide.

November 18

Spellbound (1945) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Leo G. Carroll (111 min).

A prim psychiatrist is entranced by a suave colleague who may be an imposter. Hitchcock’s bubbling caldron of guilt, Freudian analysis and murder is intensified by the Oscar winning, Theremin-spiced music by Miklos Rozsa.  “ A tense and exciting tale, a psychological thriller which is packed with lively suspense” (New York Times). Film Notes.


Thanks to Tim Lanza (Douris Corp.), Paul Ginsberg (Universal), Jason Leaf (Kino) Sarah Finklea (Janus Films) Anoush Froundjian (eOne Entertainment) Benjamin Crossley-Marra (Zeitgeist), Mike Dicerto (Sony Pictures) Caitlin Robertson (Fox Archive) and Mary Tallungan (Disney).

All films are shown in 35mm and begin Fridays at 8:00 pm

The galleries and Iris Restaurant will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members

Series Passes $35/$25 NCMA Members

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the NC Museum of Art: ncartmuseum.org