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American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre Presents...
Movies on the Big Screen Since 1940!
1328 Montana Avenue at 14th Street in Santa Monica

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Series compiled by: Grant Moninger, Chris D. and Gwen Deglise.

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Special Thanks to:  Marilee Womack/WARNER BROS.; Paul Ginsburg/UNIVERSAL; Mike Schlesinger/SONY REPERTORY; Emily Horn/PARAMOUNT; Amy Lewin/MGM Repertory; Tom Holland/HOLLAND RELEASING; Harry Guerro.

 

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Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

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Tickets are $10 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the newly re-opened and renovated Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica and at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Barry Gerber. Aero Theatre (c) 2004.

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<< November 3 - 5, 2006 >>>

Fabulous Versailles


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This series is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!

 

Presented in association with the Ile de France Film Commission.

With the support of the French Film & TV Department of the French Consulate, Los Angeles.

 

Enjoy lavish Versailles on the big screen with this series of classic French films set at the famous French palace, a chateau that is gaining renewed celebrity in the wake of Sofia Coppola's MARIE ANTOINETTE! Versailles is not only an important part of French history, but also of our American heritage. It's at Versailles that the New World took a new path when LaFayette and Benjamin Franklin convinced Louis XVI to engage France as our ally in the War of Independence. It's at Versailles that President Woodrow Wilson organized a conference in 1919 that confirmed the United States as a world power, changing the map of Europe. From the Revolution to the Versailles Treaty, the Versailles castle is at the center of world history. It has its place, too, in the history of cinema, from the Brothers Lumiere to Hollywood, from Sacha Guitry to Renoir, from W.S. Van Dyke to Sofia Coppola.

 

 

 

Friday, November 3 – 7:30 PM

Original Uncut Version! ROYAL AFFAIRS IN VERSAILLES (SI VERSAILLES M'ETAIT CONTE), 1954, Rene Chateaux, 165 min. With his usual wit and exuberance, director Sacha Guitry traces an episodic, Technicolor history of Versailles through three hundred years. Favoring bedroom antics and poetic observations, the writer-director himself stars as Louis XI alongside a gargantuan cast that also features Jean Marais, Claudette Colbert, Edith Piaf, Brigitte Bardot, Gérard Philipe and even Orson Welles in the role of Ben Franklin ("In that particular wig," Welles would later recount, "it's impossible for me to look like anything except…a dirty old man"). Among Guitry's final films -- the 1885-born writer-director died in 1957 -- SI VERSAILLES M'ÉTAIT CONTÉ proved the biggest success of the French box-office in 1954. However, the film, like many of Guitry's others, was roundly lambasted by left-wing critics particularly due to its perceived royalist leanings – later, even Roland Barthes would criticize the "limited artifice" of its costumes as one which "corrupts the landscape, appears mean, seedy, absurd." However, François Truffaut came to Guitry's defense. A longtime admirer of Guitry, Truffaut likened him to Jean Renoir – both directors beholden to "a clearer view of life as it is: a comedy with a hundred different acts, of which the screen is well suited to offer the most exact reflections." - and professed that Guitry was "the ideal figure of the free man, above convention, indifferent to the judgment of contemptuous intellectuals and the condemnations of political conscience." These compliments were returned when, twenty years later, Robert Lachenay, as one of the last visitors to a dying Truffaut, noted that, "In his bed, Francois looked like Sacha Guitry, in the picture – one of the last – where you see him editing a film." Currently, the film is only available in the United States as ROYAL AFFAIRS IN VERSAILLES: a dubbed, black and white VHS that shaves off an entire hour of the film's original running time of over 160 minutes. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Saturday, November 4 – 7:30 PM

DANTON, 1983, Janus Films, 136 min. Directed by Andrzej Wajda while in exile, the Polish filmmaker's French language debut is an adaptation of "The Danton Affair" written in the 1920’s by the Communist playwright, Stanislawa Przybyszewska. Set in the French Revolution's immediate aftermath, the film depicts a famished and devastated Paris under the Reign of Terror as the government of the ruthless Maximilien de Robespierre (Wojciech Pszoniak) intimidates any opponents to its absolute power. Against this horrific regime arises Georges Danton (an "exuberantly earthy" Gérard Depardieu, per Andrew Sarris), onetime ally and friend of the leader. Seeking an end to the ceaseless bloodshed, Danton, joined by Camille Desmoulins (writer-director Patrice Chéreau in his first acting role), attempts to foster peace and mediate tolerance in the streets of the capital. Seen by Robespierre as an affront to his authority, particularly due to rumors of a coup plot planted by the tyrant's own cronies, Danton is imprisoned. Facing an off-the-record trial that excludes reporters, negates the defense's right to call witnesses and even denies him the opportunity to vocally address his charges, Danton awaits the guillotine with steely resolve. A scandal in Paris during its release due to Wajda's apparent displacement of Polish politics onto French history – specifically, Danton was commonly considered a stand-in for Lech Walesa, the original leader of the anti-Communist Solidarity movement, while Robespierre not only invokes Wojciech Jaruzelski, Poland's Prime Minister who used martial law against Walesa, but also Joseph Stalin - in America, Andrew Sarris professed in the Village Voice that "I do not know of any play or movie that has ever come so close to suggesting the fascinating complexity of the French Revolution." Years later in the same paper, J. Hoberman would call it "Wajda's last great movie." The oddest compliment may come by way of the veteran American experimentalist Stan Brakhage, who reckoned DANTON was his favorite film at the 1983 Telluride Film Festival. NOT ON DVD.

 

 

Sunday, November 5 – 7:30 PM

LA MARSEILLAISE, 1938, Connaissance du Cinema, 135 min. Jean Renoir's second commission from the Popular Front, a left-wing coalition of the French Communist and Socialist parties for whom he oversaw the production of LA VIE EST À NOUS in 1936, illustrates events of the French Revolution leading to the fall of the monarchy in 1792. Written and directed by Renoir and starring his brother Pierre in the role of Louis XVI, the film refuses to depict the king or his patrician allies as villainous caricatures. Instead it is, in Renoir's own words, "a witness of the daily life of the participants of a great tragedy," all thirty or so of them. There are the soldiers from Marseille, many played by minor actors with genuine regional accents, which carry with them a song from the Rhineland that will become France's national anthem (after which the film itself is named). The king, while crowds are ransacking the Bastille, ponders a tomato and regrets its absence from his diet. A peasant (Edouard Delmont) flees to the mountains after being sentenced to death for killing an aristocratic pigeon. Marie Antoinette (Lise Deamante – whose costumes are designed by Coco Chanel) campaigns against the new hygienic practice of brushing teeth. "We note much nobility in the revolutionaries, much ingenuity and honesty in the nobles," François Truffaut noted, "Renoir serves up an entire world." "Jean Renoir's great accomplishment…is to have made a film so contemporary, so captivating, so human that we are carried away for more than two hours as if it were our own life being fought out before our very eyes." Louis Aragon. Later, Truffaut hailed it as a "neorealist fresco" with "the look of newsreels" while Dudley Andrew hoped that though LA MARSEILLAISE was "a populist film that disappointed the populace of its time," it "ought to stand a good chance with us." NOT ON DVD.