Max Ophüls, an influential German-born Jewish film director, was an auteur before the idea of auteurism existed, a globalist before globalism was a catchphrase and a "womenist" before feminism was valued. His works feature distinctive stylish camera movements, with complex crane and tracking shots that gave rise to one of the most extravagant, evocative, powerful and distinct bodies of work in cinema history. The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA), in its "Restored Treasures" series, will screen two of his restored films in June and July.
The two restored treasures are the renowned literature adaptation "Caught" (1949) and the masterpiece "Lola Montès" (1955). The films will be screened at 2pm on June 5 and July 3, representatively, at the Cinema of the HKFA.
To complement the screenings, a seminar entitled "Passion and Despair: The Cinema of Max Ophüls" will be held at 4pm on June 5 after the screening of "Caught". The HKFA's programmer, Mr Sam Ho, will host the seminar and the speakers will be film critics Ms Joyce Yang and Mr Lau Yam. There will also be a post-screening talk for "Lola Montès" hosted by film critic Mr Fung Ka-ming. Admission will be free and both talks will be conducted in Cantonese.
Ophüls made nearly 30 films. Before World War II, he directed films in four countries in four languages: German, Dutch, Italian and French. After fleeing the Nazis, he worked in Hollywood and made films adapted from literature including "Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948) and "Caught", which won him acclaim. After the war, he returned to Europe to direct more films including his distinguished work "Lola Montès".
Director Jean-Luc Godard has regarded "Caught" as Ophüls' best American work. It's the story of a model who dreams of having a rich husband, only to find that the husband has a psychiatric problem. Ophüls tones down his characteristic ornate style and the film's brilliance attests to the magic of cinema. The film was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive from a 35mm nitrate positive, in cooperation with Republic Pictures and with funding provided by Martin Scorsese and the AFI/NEA Preservation Grants Program.
Starring Martine Carol and Peter Ustinov, "Lola Montès", the last work of Ophüls and his only film in colour, is so rich in style and emotions that it demands repeated viewings, with audiences guaranteed fresh insights each time. Based on the life of the beautiful courtesan Lola Montès, the film is an ornately orchestrated picture that confronts the ideas of romance, womanhood and celebrity. The film was met with scorn during its initial release and was subsequently butchered into various forms with some of the original material lost. The digitally restored version shown at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, which had most of the missing footage reinstated, will be screened at the HKFA.
Both films have English subtitles.
Priced at $50, tickets for "Caught" are available now at all URBTIX outlets. Tickets priced at $50 for "Lola Montès" will be available from June 3. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999, or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in the leaflet distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the websites www.filmarchive.gov.hk or www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp.
Ends/Friday, May 27, 2011
A film still from "Caught" (1949).
A film still from "Lola Montès" (1955).