Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 164: Wed Jun 15

The Man Without Desire (Brunel, 1923): Cinema Museum, 7.30pm

The Kennington Bioscope is a regular cinema event featuring live accompaniment to silent films that takes place at the Cinema Museum. Tonight's film is from a BFI 35mm print.

BFI Screenonline introduction: One of the stranger films to emerge from Britain in the 1920s, Man Without Desire was the feature film debut of Adrian Brunel, better known today for a series of short burlesques, including Crossing the Great Sagrada (1925), and as a founder of the Film Society with Ivor Montagu and others. As the title - which surprisingly made it past the censor - suggests, Man Without Desire concerns loss of sexual desire and, implicitly, impotence. At its centre is Ivor Novello (on his way up but not yet the stage and screen idol he was to become) as tragic lover Vittorio, who, in despair at the death of his love Leonora, volunteers to be put into suspended animation, awaking after two centuries and immediately finding himself attracted to Leonora's descendant - and virtual double - Genevra. But Vittorio's slumber has robbed him of his passion, and their marriage is unfulfilled. Novello's other-worldly beauty and sexual ambiguity - a homosexual when such things weren't spoken of - is perfectly suited to Vittorio's aloofness, just as it was to his more celebrated role as Hitchcock's The Lodger three years later. Man Without Desire was the first of three films with Brunel, including Noël Coward's The Vortex (1927).

Here (and above) is an extract.

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