Monday, 6 July 2015

Capital Celluloid 2015 - Day 207: Sun Jul 26

 No1 Providence (Resnais, 1977): Barbican Cinema, 3pm

Here is the Barbican introduction to a special 35mm screening of the Alain Resnais film:
This first English-language film from French director Alain Resnais (Last Night in Marienbad, Hiroshima, Mon Amour) is a typically mesmerising and tricksy affair. An ageing writer, Clive (John Gielgud), roams his shadowy, empty mansion one night composing the plot of his final novel, its characters based on his family, among them son Claud (Dirk Bogarde) and his wife Sonia (Ellen Burnstyn). The following day, the real characters assemble for his birthday lunch, and we see them suddenly without the filter of Clive’s warped imagination.

On the surface a sparkling comedy, it is at base another of the director’s famously knotted, thorny explorations of the distorting processes of memory and time, complete with surreal slips into dream logic, characters whose identities morph and merge, and an unsettling geographic fluidity to the locations. Providence has been chosen for us by artist Tacita Dean, and is screened at her request from an archive 35mm print brought in especially from France. Tacita joins us after the screening for a ScreenTalk.

Chicago Reader review:
Alain Resnais' first feature in English (1977, 110 min.) focuses on the imagination, dreams, and memories of an aging British novelist (John Gielgud) over one night as he mentally composes and recomposes his last book, using members of his immediate family—Dirk Bogarde, Ellen Burstyn, David Warner, and Elaine Stritch—as his models. Although David Mercer's witty, aphoristic script can be British to a fault, the film's rich mental landscape is a good deal more universal, with everything from H.P. Lovecraft's werewolves to a painted seaside backdrop providing the essential textures. Like all of Resnais' best work, this is shot through with purposeful and lyrical enigmas, but the family profile that emerges is warm and penetrating, recalling the haunted Tyrones in Long Day's Journey Into Night rather than the pieces of an abstract puzzle. The superb performances and Miklos Rozsa's sumptuous Hollywood-style score give the film's conceit a moving monumentality and depth, and Resnais' insights into the fiction-making process are mesmerizing and beautiful.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) are extracts from the film.


No2 Njinga: African Warrior Queen (Graciano, 2013) : Phoenix Cinema 2pm

Phoenix Cinema introduction:
Njinga, an African Warrior Queen of the area now referred to as Congo/Angola, was on her throne at the time as England's James I. This epic historical action-drama tells the astonishing true story of this female general who fought a 40 year war against slavery. The story begins in 1617, the year Njinga's father King Kilwanji dies. The Portuguese army takes advantage of the political confusion and invades Southern Africa so they can kidnap the population and force them to work on sugar plantations in Brazil. Princess Njinga has to fight to gain the throne and then lead her people in a battle for national freedom.

We're delighted to welcome Dr Michelle Asantewa for a Q&A after the screening. This event is an extension of the BFI African Odysseys programme in association with the Phoenix Cinema: Inspirational films by and about the people of Africa, from archive classics to new cinema. Explore the African roots of World Cinema through our monthly programme of Sunday screenings.

Supported by Black History Walks

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