THE ANCIENT LAW updated list of dates

Announcements of upcoming theatrical silent film exhibitions.
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THE ANCIENT LAW updated list of dates

Unread post by jessica » Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:34 pm

This is an update for showings of Dupont's THE ANCIENT LAW which is touring with a new live score by Alicia
Svigalis and Donald Sosin. As it Jewish themed a number of the dates are at Jewish festivals but also theaters, museums etc.

12/2 ( this Sunday) Cleveland Museum of Art ... ncient-law
12/4 Chicago Music Box Theater
12/12 Philadelphia National Museum of American Jewish History
Jan NY & Miami dates TBA
Jan 16 Boston Temple Israel sponsored by Boston Jewish Film Festival
Jan 30 Huntington NY Cinema Arts Theater

Also coming to New Haven, Westchester, Montreal, Providence and more . I will try to remember to post updates. There is a generous foundation that is covering the fees for the musicians and it is a great film with a great score so try to see it if it is coming near you


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Mike Gebert
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Re: THE ANCIENT LAW updated list of dates

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:50 am

So I saw this in Chicago at the Music Box last night. And...

One of the best live music-accompanied silent screenings I've ever been to.

First off, the film. Yes, superficially it follows the general outlines of The Jazz Singer (and reportedly inspired it), but it's a far richer film. Ernst Deutsch (the rabbi in Der Golem, the sinister-fey Baron Kurtz in The Third Man), plays Baruch, the son of a rabbi in the shtetl who dreams of the outside world, which his strict father wants nothing to do with. He flees to Vienna and, through some contrivances which are convenient but not entirely improbable in an era of aristocratic patronage, lands at the Court Theater and before long plays Hamlet to world acclaim. (The art for the Flicker Alley disc, which makes him look like he's in mid-transformation to a werewolf, shows him in his Hamlet costume.) But worldly success still leaves a hole in his life, in the family and beloved he left behind...

The Jazz Singer was none too subtle about making the point that assimilation was inevitable and beneficial for immigrant Jews in America. This film is considerably more subtle about the tradeoffs, portraying the court, not just the Jews, as having "ancient laws" of its own and (SPOILER) winning the old rabbi over through a means that's rather sweet in its earnest naivete. At the same time there are prices to be paid—Hamlet premieres on Yom Kippur and there's a clear implication that the power of performance comes, Method-style, from the anguish Baruch feels at breaking the sacredness of the day of atonement. In many ways it feels like an ethnographic film, trying to show audiences the alien world of the shtetl Jews in a way that will make them more sympathetic and less strange. (Yeah, that worked out well in Germany.)

After seeing Varieté, I wondered if the real director of that flamboyant film wasn't Karl Freund, and director E.A. Dupont had followed it in things like Piccadilly and Moulin Rouge by imitating a style that wasn't really his. I'm far more impressed with him after seeing this earlier film, which shows remarkable sensitivity to the actors and to expressing their emotional states—the middle of the film is nearly stolen by Henny Porten, a major star of the teens but by this time a bit matronly, as the sad and lovelorn Archduchess Teresa, who orchestrates Baruch's rise. Deutsch—a huge star in German theater before and after the war, a minor player of movie Nazis in Hollywood in between (he was Jewish)—is able to convince, at least, that he has such actorly depths in him speaking Shakespeare silently. Print quality is 99% outstanding; the original German version was lost, and an earlier reconstruction was a shadow of the orginal, but the discovery of the German censor records allowed them to recreate it from multiple foreign versions.

Now the music. Donald Sosin, a NitrateVillain, is well known for his scores on dozens of discs and hundreds of live performances; Alicia Svigals is less so, but an important figure in the revival of klezmer music in the 80s as part of The Klezmatics. Sosin had just been approached about doing this film when he saw Svigals play for another film at Pordenone last year, and he was inspired to bring her into it, him on keyboard (piano and other instruments sampled) and her on violin/klezmer fiddle. (You should hear more about this on the podcast early next year.) So you get everything from sweeping silent movie accompaniment to Fiddler on the Roof-style Jewish violin and even a mock Strauss waltz. It's a fantastic match of movie and accompaniment, and I urge you to see the film and these performers if they play anywhere near you. If not—they're on the new Flicker Alley disc, as one of the two scores.

Here, from Sosin's site, is their schedule at present:

Dec. 5 Das Alte Gesetz, Orpheum Theater, Fairfield Iowa, with Alicia Svigals

Dec. 12 Das Alte Gesetz, National Museum of Amer. Jewish History, Philadelphia, with Alicia Svigals

Jan. 13 Das Alte Gesetz, NY Jewish Film Festival, Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center, with Alicia Svigals

Jan. 23 Das Alte Gesetz, Miami Jewish Film Festival, with Alicia Svigals

Jan. 30 Das Alte Gesetz, Huntington Cinema Arts Centre, with Alicia Svigals

April 1 Das Alte Gesetz, Swarthmore College, with Alicia Svigals

April 3 Das Alte Gesetz, Ann Arbor, with Alicia Svigals (tentative)

April 10 Das Alte Gesetz, Montreal

April 11 Das Alte Gesetz, Ashland Film Festival (OR) (tentative)

April 13 Das Alte Gesetz, Providence RI, with Alicia Svigals
“Maybe I’m an idealist, but I still think of the movie theater as a cathedral where we all go together to dream the dream together.” —Bernardo Bertolucci

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