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The Mechanical Age

September 3, 2006 - October 22, 2006

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Modern Times, September 3

As our culture—cinematic and otherwise—moves ever deeper into digital dependency, we would do well to look back at the period that preceded the digital era: the mechanical age, which also happens to be the age of the movies. From its very beginnings, cinema has been obsessed with the machine. For the avant-garde filmmakers of the 1920s, mechanical motion and speed were objects of formal fascination, paralleling movements in painting and photography of the period, examples of which we invite you to view in the BAM exhibition Metropolis
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Fritz Lang's gorgeous, dystopian classic, "a crazed, pathetic ballet of mechanized ant-man in revolt against his Utopian overlords."—Monthly Film Bulletin

Sunday, September 3, 2006
6:00 p.m. Modern Times
Chaplin's politically outspoken picture of an overmechanized world also contains some of his funniest scenes, in which Charlie causes complete chaos merely by being human. With Fernand Léger short Ballet mécanique.

Sunday, September 3, 2006
6:00 p.m. Modern Times


Thursday, September 7, 2006
5:30 p.m. The Mechanical Man (Free Screening!)
A robot runs amok in this remarkable early science-fiction film from Italy. With shorts March of the Machines and Robots.

Thursday, September 7, 2006
5:30 p.m. The Mechanical Man (Free Screening!)


Sunday, September 10, 2006
3:00 p.m. Charley Bowers: Dream Machines
Jon Mirsalis on Piano. The charming, crazy contraptions of animator/comic Bowers take American ingenuity to surreal heights.

Sunday, September 10, 2006
5:00 p.m. Edward Scissorhands
With pruning shears for hands, Johnny Depp's Edward can only create useless beauty. "An entrancing, slyly comic vision."—Variety. With Fischli-Weiss short The Way Things Go.

Sunday, September 10, 2006
5:00 p.m. Edward Scissorhands


Sunday, September 24, 2006
4:00 p.m. Sherlock Jr.
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Buster Keaton is a projectionist who dreams his way onto the screen in this ode to cinema, the beautiful machine. With Japanese animated short Broken Down Film.

Sunday, September 24, 2006
4:00 p.m. Sherlock Jr.


Sunday, September 24, 2006
5:30 p.m. The Man with a Movie Camera
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Dziga Vertov's "epitome of machine art, the grand summa of the Soviet futurist-constructivist-communist avant-garde."—Village Voice

Thursday, September 28, 2006
7:30 p.m. The Serial and the Mechanical Age
Lecture by David Francis. Judith Rosenberg on Piano. The struggle between man—or woman—and machine is the theme of this program of serials, featuring episodes from The Perils of Pauline, The Exploits of Elaine, Nick Carter, and other cliffhangers. Eminent archivist David Francis introduces an assortment of archival prints.

Saturday, September 30, 2006
7:00 p.m. The Magic Lantern and the Mechanical Age
Presentation by David Francis and Joss Marsh. Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Francis and Marsh reveal how that wondrous 19th-century pre-cinema entertainment, the magic lantern, reflected the concerns and obsessions of the mechanical age. Featuring beautiful lantern slides from Francis's own collection. Please note: this program will be presented in the Museum Theater at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2621 Durant Avenue between Bowditch and College.

Sunday, October 1, 2006
2:30 p.m. Pandora's Box, Episode One: The Engineer's Plot
Judith Rosenberg on Piano. In Pandora's Box, acclaimed British film essayist Adam Curtis intriguingly muses on the determinism that has shaped our age. In this episode: the Soviet Five Year Plans. Then, at 4 p.m., it's down on the collective farm with Sergei Eisenstein, revolutionary master of montage, in The General Line. Shown with Ralph Steiner and Jay Leyda's 1930 short Mechanical Principles.

Sunday, October 1, 2006
2:30 p.m. Pandora's Box, Episode One: The Engineer's Plot


Sunday, October 8, 2006
3:30 p.m. The Steel Beast
Commissioned to celebrate the anniversary of a rail line in 1935, this film by a great German photographer, Willy Otto Zielke, is a daring collage of abstractions, rhythms, and historical commentary, and was immediately banned by the Nazis. With shorts, Shirley Clarke's Bridges-Go-Round and Joris Ivens's The Bridge.

Sunday, October 8, 2006
3:30 p.m. The Steel Beast


Sunday, October 8, 2006
5:30 p.m. La bête humaine
Jean Gabin delivers a tragically human performance as a locomotive engineer in Jean Renoir's poetic, pessimistic adaptation of Zola's novel. With short Pacific 231, a 1931 Soviet montage worthy of Arthur Honegger's great symphonic tribute to the steam locomotive.

Sunday, October 8, 2006
5:30 p.m. La bête humaine


Sunday, October 15, 2006
5:30 p.m. Human, All Too Human
In 1972, Louis Malle filmed the workers and workings of a Citroën automobile factory and created this real-life counterpart to Chaplin's Modern Times. With Jean Mitry's short film Symphonie mécanique, in which the activities of factories become an abstract ballet set to music by Pierre Boulez.

Sunday, October 15, 2006
5:30 p.m. Human, All Too Human


Thursday, October 19, 2006
7:00 p.m. Spinning Up, Slowing Down: Industry Celebrates the Machine
Introduced by Rick Prelinger. In one of his patented presentations of ephemeral films, archivist Prelinger reveals American industry's fascination with the machine and its off/on contributions to our prosperity. Featuring a newly preserved print of Jam Handy's Wagnerian-industrial epic Master Hands.

Sunday, October 22, 2006
3:00 p.m. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Kubrick's most memorable character, the computer Hal, embodies evolutionary anxiety.

Sunday, October 22, 2006
6:00 p.m. Crash
Cronenberg's steely look at people for whom car crashes are the ultimate turn-on.

Curated by Senior Film Curator Emerita Edith Kramer.

The Mechanical Age
is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. David Francis's residency is supported by the Consortium for the Arts at UC Berkeley.

Archival and restored prints and musical accompaniment for silent films are presented with support from the Packard Humanities Institute.