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On Location in Silent Cinema

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
7:00 p.m. Chang
Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack (U.S., 1927)

Introduction/Linda Williams


Linda Williams is professor in the Departments of Film and Media and Rhetoric at UC Berkeley

"Sequence by sequence, the picture was planned to seize an audience by the hair, to excite them as no ordinary film had ever excited them. And the magic works today."—Kevin Brownlow

Inspired by Robert Flaherty, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack, two independent cameramen-journalists, journeyed to exotic lands to create travelogues that were part documentary footage, part staged scenes, part crowd-pleasing life-and-death adventures. In Chang, they record a family’s struggles to farm at the edge of the Siam jungle. It is said to feature over four hundred elephants, tigers, pythons, and “other denizens of the wild.” Cooper and Schoedsack were intrigued by the unknown, the strange, and the dangerous, interests kindled during the First World War. Not surprising, then, that after making Grass (1925) and Chang, they went on to make King Kong, beloved by the Surrealists.

• (93 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Milestone Film and Video)

Followed by:
Land Without Bread (Luis Buñuel, Spain, 1933). (Las hurdes). A Surrealist documentary on the wretchedness of life in a remote region of Spain. (Written by Pierre Unik, 27 mins, English narration, B&W, 35mm, From Harvard Film Archive)

Total running time: 120 mins