“The Great Dictator,” Charlie Chaplin’s
controversial masterpiece and first true talking movie, is among
the offerings in the spring 2013 edition of the Buffalo Film
Seminars, the popular, semester-long series of film screenings and
discussions hosted by UB faculty members Diane Christian and Bruce
Each session of the Buffalo Film Seminars (BFS) will begin at 7
p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 15 and running through April 23,
in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main St. in downtown
There is no screening on March 12.
Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the
Department of English, and Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor
and James Agee Professor of American Culture in the Department of
English, will introduce each film. Following a short break at the
end of each film, they will lead a discussion of the film.
The screenings are part of “Film Directors” (Eng
438), an undergraduate course being taught by the pair. Students
enrolled in the course are admitted free; others may attend at the
Market Arcade’s regular admission prices of $9 for adults, $7
for students and $6.50 for seniors. Season tickets are available
any time at a 15 percent reduction for the cost of the remaining
Free parking is available in the M&T fenced lot opposite the
theater’s Washington Street entrance. The ticket clerk in the
theater will reimburse patrons the $3 parking fee.
“Goldenrod handouts”—four- to eight-page notes
on each film—will be posted on the seminar’s website
the day before each screening, and will be available in
the Market Arcade lobby 45 minutes before each session.
The series will open on Jan. 15 with Georg Wilhelm Pabst’s
1929 silent melodrama “Pandora’s Box.”
The film stars Louise Brooks in the story of the rise and
inevitable fall of a seductive, thoughtless young woman whose raw
sexuality and uninhibited nature inspires lust and violence in
those around her. Brooks’ performance, although initially
unappreciated, eventually made her a star.
The remainder of the BFS schedule, with descriptions culled
from the IMDb online movie database:
- Jan. 22: “L’Atalante,” 1934, directed by Jean
Vigo. Juliette marries Jean and comes to live on his ship with his
strange, old second mate, Pere Jules. Soon bored by life on the
river, she slips off to see the nightlife when they come to Paris.
Angered by this, Jean sets off, leaving Juliette behind. Overcome
by grief and longing for his wife, Jean falls into a depression and
Pere Jules goes off to find Juliette. It has been hailed by many
critics as one of the greatest films of all time.
- Jan 29: “The Great Dictator,” 1940, directed by
Charlie Chaplin. In his most commercially successful film, Chaplin
combines slapstick, satire and social commentary in the dual role
of a Jewish ghetto barber and dictator Adenoid Hynkel.
- Feb 5: “Les visiteurs du soir” (“The
Devil’s Envoys”), 1942, directed by Marcel
Carné. At the end of the 15th century, two of the
devil’s envoys, Gilles and Dominique, arrive at the castle of
Baron Hugues to ruin the upcoming wedding of his daughter, Anne.
Gilles charms Anne, while Dominique charms both Hugues and
Anne’s fiance. But when Gilles falls in love with Anne, the
devil arrives to ensure that any happiness is destroyed.
- Feb. 12: “Touch of Evil,” 1958, directed by Orson
Welles. The stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping and police
corruption in a Mexican border town. Stars Welles, Charlton Heston
and Janet Leigh.
- Feb. 19: “Revenge of a Kabuki Actor,” 1963,
directed by Kon Ichikawa. While performing in a touring kabuki
troupe, leading female impersonator Yukinojo comes across the three
men who drove his parents to suicide 20 years earlier. He plans his
- Feb. 26: “Fat City,” 1972, directed by John Huston.
Two brothers working as professional boxers come to blows when
their careers each begin to take opposite momentum. Stars Stacy
Keach and Jeff Bridges.
- March 5: “The Tin Drum,” 1979, directed by Volker
Schlöndorf. Oskar Matzerath is a most unusual boy. Possessing
adult intellect right from birth, he decides on his third birthday
not to grow up as he sees a crazy world around him on the eve of
World War II. So he refuses to take part in society, and his tin
drum symbolizes his protest against the middle-class mentality of
his family and neighborhood, which stand for all passive people in
Nazi Germany at that time. The film won the Palme d’Or at the
1979 Cannes Film Festival and the 1979 Academy Award for Best
Foreign Language Film.
- March 19: “Naked,” 1994, directed by Mike Leigh.
Johnny flees Manchester for London to avoid a beating from the
family of a girl he has raped. There, he finds an old girlfriend
and spends some time homeless, meeting characters in situations
very much like his own.
- March 26: “Heaven’s Gate,” 1980, directed by
Michael Cimino. This bleak Western film portrays a fictional
dispute between land barons and European immigrants in Wyoming in
- April 2: “Punch-Drunk Love,” 2002, directed by Paul
Thomas Anderson. A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is
nudged into a romance with an English woman, all the while being
blackmailed by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress
salesman—and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding. Stars
Adam Sandler in his first major departure from the broader comedies
that made him a star.
- April 9: “Before the Devil Knows You’re
Dead,” 2007, directed by Sidney Lumet. When two brothers
organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store, the job
goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them,
their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a
shattering climax. This was Lumet’s last feature film before
he died in 2011.
- April 16: “Watchmen,” 2009, directed by Zack
Snyder. In an alternate 1985 where former superheroes exist, the
murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own
sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely
change the course of history as we know it.
- April 23: “Within the Whirlwind,” 2009, directed by
Marleen Gorris. During Stalin’s reign of terror, literature
professor Evgenia Ginzburg is sent to a gulag in Siberia for 10
years of hard labor. Having lost everything and no longer wishing
to live, she meets the camp doctor and begins to come back to
For more information, visit the Buffalo Film Seminars’ website.