“Facing Fascism: Time Capsules” is what The Bijou is calling its mini-fest (small festival) of time-honored art-house films to be presented in its screening room at 304 E. Broad St. They will run Thursday through Sunday over two weekends.
The first pair of classics will be presented January 19-22: Two easy-to-love, uplifting films. Both chuckle in the face of the brutality and pomposity of fascist dictatorships. Both show how life goes on: Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” and Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord.”
Thur. Jan 19: “The Great Dictator” at 6:20 p.m. and “Amarcord” at 9 p.m.
Fri., Jan 20: “The Great Dictator” at 6:20 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.
Sat., Jan 21: “Amarcord” at 6:20 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.
Sun., Jan 22: “Amarcord” at 3:40 p.m. “The Great Dictator” at 6:20 p.m.
The second pair of films will be presented January 26-29: One, a story that reveals the special lure fascism can have for a rube on-the-make looking to improve his station, quickly. The other, a film that pulls back the curtain to reveal the methods of control of a brutal authoritarian regime: Louis Malle’s “Lacombe, Lucien” and Costa-Gavras’ “Z.”
Thur., Jan. 26: “Z” at 6:20 p.m. and Lacombe, Lucien at 9 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 27: “Z” at 6:20 p.m. and again at 9 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 28: “Lacombe, Lucien” at 6:05 p.m and again at 9 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 29: “Lacombe, Lucien” at 3:20 p.m. and “Z” at 6:20 p.m.
Admission to all shows: $7 at the door; $5 with student ID.
Why: Time will tell how historians will look back on the USA’s 45th president. While some Americans are cheering the arrival of what they hope will be the Trump administration’s fresh approach to governing, others fear that approach will be anything but fresh, especially if it turns out to be patterned after blood-soaked authoritarian regimes of the past. Dare we say fascist regimes?
So cinephiles who don’t plan to celebrate Inauguration Day can opt to come together to watch some top shelf film classics for their edification, or perhaps just a welcomed distraction. These four movies, all distributed by Janus Films, were quite popular in the their day. Today they have messages from the 20th century about understanding fascism that should be considered by old and young film lovers, alike. Especially the young.
Sponsorship Note: To make this special quartet of bookings happen four keen-witted sponsors are pitching in to help defray expenses associated with renting and promoting the mini-fest. Accordingly, our thanks go out to: Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay, Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream, EAF Custom Communication and Once Upon A Vine. Without their participation these timely presentations wouldn’t be happening.
“The Great Dictator” (1940): B&W. 125 minutes. Directed by Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977). Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Henry Daniell. Note: In what was Chaplin’s first real talkie, he plays two roles – the fascist dictator of a make-believe country and a kindly Jewish barber, who is mistaken for the dictator. This cinematic mocking of Adolph Hitler was released nine months before the USA entered WWII. Chaplin won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor for his performance, which culminates with his famous speech.
“Amarcord”(1974): Color. 123 Minutes. Directed by Federico Fellini (1920-93). Cast: Bruno Zanin, Magali Noël. Note: A whimsical and somewhat fanciful glance at what it was like to grow up in a small Italian port during the era of fascist rule in Italy leading up to WWII. With its parade of eccentric townsfolk, Amarcord is a true masterpiece, directed by the master himself. This may be Fellini’s most accessible film; it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1975 (Italian). The trailer is here.
“Z”(1969): Color. 127 minutes. Directed by Costa-Gavras(1933). Cast: Yves Montand, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Irene Papas. Note: The cover-up of an assassination, modeled after a political murder in Greece in 1963, spawns a compelling whodunit, with sudden plot twists … all told at a furious pace. The tumultuous action is supported by Mikis Theodorakis’s haunting score. Thinking about suppression of the media and maybe too many generals in government? See this film. By the way, it won the 1970 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (French). The trailer is here.
“Lacombe, Lucien” (1974): Color. 138 minutes. Directed by Louis Malle (1932-95). Cast: Pierre Blaise, Auroe Clement, Holger Lowenadler. Note: How does a naive, nihilistic French teenage boy wind up running around with the Nazi invaders? In this case, why not? This film reveals how seductive fascism was in Europe during the 1920s and ’30s to the ignorant and angry – the folks who saw themselves as looked down upon by their countrymen who were better educated and more well off. This beautiful film won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Picture in 1975. The trailer is here.