Dizzy Heights: Silent Cinema and Life in the Air

2/23/12 to 2/26/12

Copresented by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, this series explores the intersection of silent cinema and aviation. It was film that first allowed moviegoers to vicariously experience flight. The screen was alive with speculations on how life might be lived in a futuristic world of airplanes, spaceships, and dirigibles. Above all, these films savor a new way of seeing: the aerial view. All programs feature live musical accompaniment.

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Past Films

  • Fantasies of Flight: Animation and Comedy Shorts

    • Sunday, February 26 2 pm

    Introduced by Patrick Ellis. Frederick Hodges on piano. The utter novelty of human flight during most of the silent period is hard for our post-jet-set age to fathom: this program aims to recapture an inkling of this lost sense of wonder. Included are the French comedy Airplane Gaze; Edwin S. Porter's The Dream of a Rarebit Fiend; Winsor McCay's The Flying House; Disney's Alice's Balloon Race; and the Mack Sennett-produced aviatrix comedy, Dizzy Heights and Daring Hearts. (97 mins)

  • The Mystery of the Eiffel Tower

    • Saturday, February 25 6 pm

    Julien Duvivier (France, 1927) Archival Print! Introduced by Patrick Ellis. Live musical accompaniment by Ralph Carney and Serious Jass Project. A palate cleanser for those who found Spielberg's Tintin wanting, Julien Duvivier's late-silent adventure masterpiece served as an inspiration for the original Tintin comics, and delivers much of the same charm, inventiveness, and visual delight. We are pleased to be screening the only known copy of this rare film. (129 mins)

  • High Treason

    • Friday, February 24 7 pm

    Maurice Elvey (U.K., 1929) Archival Print! Live musical accompaniment by Peter Chapman. In a futuristic London, the Peace League must stage a popular revolt in the air force -and in so doing repair the romance between a pacifist and a soldier. A modernist Lysistrata, an English Metropolis: High Treason is science fiction for the Jazz Age. (75 mins)

  • A Trip to Mars

    • Thursday, February 23 7 pm

    Holger-Madsen (Denmark, 1918) Archival Restoration! Introduced by Mark Sandberg. Bruce Loeb on piano. Part science fiction and part utopian fantasy, this silent film from Denmark combines the fascination for flight with a WWI-era imagination of a world without war-in this case, perhaps ironically, the planet Mars. (90 mins)