A Nos Amours joins forces with Kino Klassika Foundation to present:
Eisenstein in Mexico: thinking about birth, death and rebirth of film works
Cinephilia wants us to resuscitate older works, keep them alive somehow. But what kind of life can be breathed into an old work? Is restoration much more than a perverse form of taxidermy, preserving the appearance of life, but in fact only parodying life? What about the status of special editions, out-takes, and director cuts? And how can films live when not much seen, at best items ticked off on lists of great films, admired but visible only on a small screen competing with pop up ads?
Eisenstein shot 50 hours of footage on location in Mexico in 1931 and 32, but was not able to finish the film. Despite luminous, astonishing images that leap from the screen, the film became mired in proprietorial scuffles. The project is one of cinema’s most beguiling objects; what would it have been had master finished work? This event will screen three hypothetical versions of Eisenstein’s film – as prepared by Marie Seton (Time in the Sun, 1939), by Pavel Sergeyevich Alexandrov (¡Que viva México!,1979) and by Oleg Kovalev (Mexican Fantasy, 1998). The three versions offer wildly different approaches to what the film might have been. They range in run time between 90 and 50 minutes. They are structured differently. They built from different shot selections. And yet, we want to say that they stand for one imaginary film.
These screenings will hopefully provide a springboard to discussion of what exactly restoration can and should be, and what sort of thing we are looking at when we look at an old film, to a critique of the notion of authenticity, and to a consideration of nostalgia and the persistence of cinephilia despite the odds. Guests and speakers to be announced – but happily Ian Christie (Professor of Film at Birkbeck College, London) is confirmed.
Here (and above) is an extract.