Film 50: History of Cinema

1/19/11 to 4/27/11

Through April 27
This year's edition of Film 50, a UC Berkeley film course taught by Russell Merritt and open to the public, focuses on the oddly parallel movements in fairy-tale lore and film narrative, and includes such films as Black Orpheus, Ugetsu, Alien, and Wings of Desire.

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Past Films

  • Splice

    • Wednesday, April 27 3:10 PM

    Vincenzo Natali (Canada/France, 2009). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley star as two hot-shot young genetic engineers who decide to create a life form of their own and raise it as a child, with predictably horrific results. “A modern-day horror film that will make you scream, squirm, and think” (Sundance Film Festival). (100 mins)

  • Wings of Desire

    • Wednesday, April 20 3:10 PM

    Wim Wenders (Germany, 1988). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Wings of Desire, written in collaboration with Peter Handke and based on Wenders's reading of Rilke, posits two sad and sober trench-coat–clad angels whose beat is Berlin. (130 mins)

  • Alien – Director's Cut

    • Wednesday, April 13 3:10 PM

    Ridley Scott (U.S., 1979) Lecture by Russell Merritt. On a ship bound for outer space, Sigourney Weaver battles workplace ennui, sexist colleagues…and a murderous alien in this classic science-fiction/horror film. Weaver's film debut created a framework for sci-fi/horror films-and badass heroines-to come. (117 mins)

  • Dreamchild

    • Wednesday, April 6 3:10 PM

    Gavin Millar (U.K., 1985). Lecture by Russell Merritt. On the occasion of a Lewis Carroll centenary, an eighty-year-old woman who was the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland begins to dream of the past, and opens up Wonderland again. Written by Dennis Potter (Pennies from Heaven; The Singing Detective). (93 mins)

  • The City of Lost Children

    • Wednesday, March 30 3:10 PM

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro (France, 1995). Lecture by Russell Merritt.A sweet-natured strongman (Ron Perlman) discovers a city of kidnapped children, and the inventor who schemes to steal their dreams, in this elaborate French fantasy from the cult duo of Caro and Jeunet. “A fantasy grab-bag that encompasses everything from Grimm's fairy tales to Star Wars ” (Stephen Holden, NY Times). (112 mins)

  • Ugetsu

    • Wednesday, March 16 3:10 PM

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1953). Lecture by Russell Merritt. In sixteenth-century Japan, a simple potter is drawn into the realm of a phantom enchantress. Director Mizoguchi builds an eerie netherworld entirely out of shadows and lighting, decor and texture, and the graceful chicanery of human desire. (96 mins)

  • Black Orpheus

    • Wednesday, March 9 3:10 PM

    Marcel Camus (France/Brazil, 1955). Lecture by Russell Merritt. French director Marcel Camus reworks the Orpheus legend amidst the vibrant chaos of Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval in this poetic mix of naturalism and fantasy, classicism and modernity. (105 mins)

  • The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.

    • Wednesday, March 2 3:10 PM

    Roy Rowland (U.S., 1953). Lecture by Russell Merritt. A funny, clever musical written by Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Theodor Geisel). Scolded for not practicing the piano, a nine-year-old boy daydreams himself into a fantastic world where the piano reigns supreme. With short Gerald McBoing Boing. (95 mins)

  • Silly Symphonies

    • Wednesday, February 23 3:10 PM

    Walt Disney Productions (U.S., 1931-1937). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Alongside Mickey, Disney released a series of cartoon shorts that created a fantasy universe more daring, quirkier, and more diverse than anything starring the Mouse. The Silly Symphonies were Disney's Tiffany line, where he adapted his first fairy tales, pioneered his most important technical innovations, and routinely assigned his best artists. (67 mins)

  • Le Million

    • Wednesday, February 16 3:10 PM

    René Clair (France, 1931). Lecture by Russell Merritt. A search for a winning lottery ticket spurs René Clair's unique blend of music and romance, a screen operetta by way of the Marx Brothers and Salvador Dali. With Jean Vigo's schoolchildren-in-revolt, anti-establishment fantasy Zero for Conduct. (121 mins)

  • Aelita, Queen of Mars

    • Wednesday, February 9 3:10 PM

    Jakov Protazanov (U.S.S.R., 1924). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Soviets in space, as class warfare extends to Mars in this exhilarating silent saga, a Russian Metropolis famed for its outlandish Constructivist production design. “A major early achievement in futuristic cinema” (Variety). (108 mins)

  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

    • Wednesday, February 2 3:10 PM

    Robert Wiene (Germany, 1919). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Judith Rosenberg on Piano. The quintessential German Expressionist film translates narrative and psychology into stunning set design. “Undoubtedly one of the most exciting and inspired horror movies ever made” (Time Out). (82 mins)

  • The Thief of Bagdad

    • Wednesday, January 26 3:10 PM

    Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan (U.K., 1940). Direction by Michael Powell and set designs by William Cameron Menzies bring the tales of the Arabian Nights to life in this magnificent Technicolor fantasy, which set the bar for trick photography and technical wizardry in ‘40s moviemaking. (106 mins)

  • Beauty and the Beast

    • Wednesday, January 19 3:10 PM

    Jean Cocteau (France, 1946). Lecture by Russell Merritt. Jean Cocteau's classic tale of love and transformation remains one of the cinema's most enchanting and sensuous excursions into the realm of poetic fantasy. “One of the most magical of all films” (Roger Ebert). (93 mins)