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Film 50: History of Cinema

January 19, 2011 - April 27, 2011

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Wednesdays at 3:10 p.m.
Lectures by Russell Merritt

A UC Berkeley course open to the public as space permits.
This series runs through April 27

BAM/PFA and UC Berkeley’s Department of Film and Media copresent the film-lecture course Film 50, now in its nineteenth year. An undergraduate course designed for non-film majors, Film 50 is open to the public as space permits. Students learn to view film as a complex language and to understand how it articulates narrative, psychological, social, and ideological themes. This year’s course, taught by Russell Merritt, focuses on fantasy films, with particular emphasis on the connection between cinema and fairy tales. What happens when Modernists make beloved childhood icons strange, morbid, and altogether terrifying?

Special admission prices apply
General admission, $11.50; BAM/PFA members, $7.50; UC Berkeley students, $5.50; Seniors, disabled persons, UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non–UC Berkeley students, and youth 17 and under, $8.50. Programs often sell out, so we recommend advance tickets, which are available at on our website, at the PFA box office and BAM admissions desk, or by calling (510) 642-5249.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
3:10 p.m. Beauty and the Beast
Jean Cocteau (France, 1946). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Jean Cocteau's classic tale of love and transformation remains one of the cinema's most enchanting and sensuous excursions into the realm of poetic fantasy. “One of the most magical of all films” (Roger Ebert). (93 mins)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
3:10 p.m. The Thief of Bagdad
Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan (U.K., 1940). Direction by Michael Powell and set designs by William Cameron Menzies bring the tales of the Arabian Nights to life in this magnificent Technicolor fantasy, which set the bar for trick photography and technical wizardry in ‘40s moviemaking. (106 mins)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011
3:10 p.m. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Robert Wiene (Germany, 1919). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Judith Rosenberg on Piano. The quintessential German Expressionist film translates narrative and psychology into stunning set design. “Undoubtedly one of the most exciting and inspired horror movies ever made” (Time Out). (82 mins)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
3:10 p.m. Aelita, Queen of Mars
Jakov Protazanov (U.S.S.R., 1924). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Soviets in space, as class warfare extends to Mars in this exhilarating silent saga, a Russian Metropolis famed for its outlandish Constructivist production design. “A major early achievement in futuristic cinema” (Variety). (108 mins)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
3:10 p.m. Le Million
René Clair (France, 1931). Lecture by Russell Merritt. A search for a winning lottery ticket spurs René Clair’s unique blend of music and romance, a screen operetta by way of the Marx Brothers and Salvador Dali. With Jean Vigo’s schoolchildren-in-revolt, anti-establishment fantasy Zero for Conduct. (121 mins)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
3:10 p.m. Silly Symphonies
Walt Disney Productions (U.S., 1931-1937). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Alongside Mickey, Disney released a series of cartoon shorts that created a fantasy universe more daring, quirkier, and more diverse than anything starring the Mouse. The Silly Symphonies were Disney's Tiffany line, where he adapted his first fairy tales, pioneered his most important technical innovations, and routinely assigned his best artists. (67 mins)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
3:10 p.m. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
Roy Rowland (U.S., 1953). Lecture by Russell Merritt. A funny, clever musical written by Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Theodor Geisel). Scolded for not practicing the piano, a nine-year-old boy daydreams himself into a fantastic world where the piano reigns supreme. With short Gerald McBoing Boing. (95 mins)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
3:10 p.m. Black Orpheus
Marcel Camus (France/Brazil, 1955). Lecture by Russell Merritt. French director Marcel Camus reworks the Orpheus legend amidst the vibrant chaos of Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval in this poetic mix of naturalism and fantasy, classicism and modernity. (105 mins)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
3:10 p.m. Ugetsu
Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1953). Lecture by Russell Merritt. In sixteenth-century Japan, a simple potter is drawn into the realm of a phantom enchantress. Director Mizoguchi builds an eerie netherworld entirely out of shadows and lighting, decor and texture, and the graceful chicanery of human desire. (96 mins)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
3:10 p.m. The City of Lost Children
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro (France, 1995). Lecture by Russell Merritt.A sweet-natured strongman (Ron Perlman) discovers a city of kidnapped children, and the inventor who schemes to steal their dreams, in this elaborate French fantasy from the cult duo of Caro and Jeunet. “A fantasy grab-bag that encompasses everything from Grimm’s fairy tales to Star Wars ” (Stephen Holden, NY Times). (112 mins)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
3:10 p.m. Dreamchild
Gavin Millar (U.K., 1985). Lecture by Russell Merritt. On the occasion of a Lewis Carroll centenary, an eighty-year-old woman who was the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland begins to dream of the past, and opens up Wonderland again. Written by Dennis Potter (Pennies from Heaven; The Singing Detective). (93 mins)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
3:10 p.m. Alien – Director’s Cut
Ridley Scott (U.S., 1979) Lecture by Russell Merritt. On a ship bound for outer space, Sigourney Weaver battles workplace ennui, sexist colleagues…and a murderous alien in this classic science-fiction/horror film. Weaver’s film debut created a framework for sci-fi/horror films—and badass heroines—to come. (117 mins)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
3:10 p.m. Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders (Germany, 1988). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Wings of Desire, written in collaboration with Peter Handke and based on Wenders's reading of Rilke, posits two sad and sober trench-coat–clad angels whose beat is Berlin. (130 mins)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
3:10 p.m. Splice
Vincenzo Natali (Canada/France, 2009). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star as two hot-shot young genetic engineers who decide to create a life form of their own and raise it as a child, with predictably horrific results. “A modern-day horror film that will make you scream, squirm, and think” (Sundance Film Festival). (100 mins)