Italy, 1954, 35mm, 123m; Italian and German with English subtitles
Set amidst Italy’s struggle for unification, Visconti’s operatic melodrama is a key link between the neorealist grit of his early work and the increasingly grand-scale historical spectacles to come. The Third Man’s Alida Valli plays a tremulous 19th-century Venetian countess torn between loyalty to her country and a dissolute Austrian officer (Hollywood beauty Farley Granger). As much an aesthete as a political radical, Visconti luxuriates in the aristocratic period trappings—a Technicolor feast of sumptuous gold, lavender, scarlet, and emerald jewel tones—while casting a jaundiced eye on Italian history, class, and nationalism. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Tuesday, June 12, 6:30pm
The Stranger / Lo straniero
Italy/France/Algeria, 1967, 35mm, 104m; French and Italian with English subtitles
Visconti brilliantly translates Albert Camus’s landmark work of existential humanism to the screen in this shattering adaptation. Marcello Mastroianni is (perhaps unexpectedly) perfectly cast as the alienated atheist Meursault, who, due to a series of seemingly random events, shoots an Arab man on an Algerian beach and finds himself on trial for murder. The cosmic absurdity of Camus’s vision is delivered with a gut-punch by Visconti and Mastroianni in a stunning final scene that stands as one of the actor’s greatest moments. Long unavailable (and never released on DVD), The Stranger deserves to be rediscovered for its singular, haunting power. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà. Friday, June 8, 9:30pm; Tuesday, June 12, 9:00pm.
The northern slopes of the Qin Mountains and the lower Wei valley were originally covered with deciduous broad-leaved forest. The bulk of northern Shaanxi, except for the pure steppe (treeless plain) of the northern and western borders, was originally part of the so-called northwestern forest-steppe area, where deciduous broad-leaved woodland grows only on the highest ground and around watercourses, most of the area being covered by grass or low, drought-resistant scrub. This northern area has been intensively cultivated since the 1st millennium bce , and its natural vegetation has been virtually destroyed.