Fire Up Your Projector-Looms: Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Art House Classic Gabbeh in 35mm – May 30 at NEIU

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, May 30 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf • 1996
In Farsi with English subtitles
The massively vital and influential Tehrani director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, perhaps best known to Western audiences for playing himself in Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up, scored an unexpected art house hit in 1997 with this strange and beautiful fable which defies easy (or even complex) categorization. Is Gabbeh a rich, circular, endlessly fertile film-poem slyly masquerading as a simple folk tale? Or is it an explosive meditation on color, texture, and the act of seeing, disguised as an easygoing narrative that pushes us toward a gentle reimagining of film language? It’s all of these things, and perhaps none of them as well. The title refers to a style of hand-woven, hand-dyed carpet made by rural nomads of southern Iran, the design of which often depicts an abstracted narrative. We first glimpse the eponymous carpet being washed in a clear stream; soon, the submerged gabbeh becomes Gabbeh, a mysterious young woman whose story the rug (and the film) will seem to depict. This soft transformation is just the first of many small, heart-stopping moments of ecstatic poetry. Those who surrender to the film’s quiet authority will be rewarded: the central tale of Gabbeh’s reckless desire to escape her family and elope with a distant lupine figure is deftly and powerfully interwoven with riveting episodes showing her tribe’s rug-making process, an unforgettable dyeing lesson, and the occasional unexplained mystical digression. (GW)
75 min • MK2 Productions • 35mm from CFS Collections, permission Arrow Films
Short: “The Red Thread” (Larry Gottheim, 1987) – 17 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema


And if that wasn’t colorful enough for ya …

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, June 5 @ 7:30 PM
Directed by Charles Vidor • 1952
Danny Kaye, here at his very best, plays Hans Christian Andersen in this not-biopic, a gorgeous Technicolor musical which has next to no relation to the much-stranger-in-real-life man behind The Ugly Duckling and The Red Shoes. Exiled from his hometown of Odense, Denmark, for corrupting the minds of school children with fables, Andersen and his assistant cobbler Peter leave for Copenhagen, quickly driven to distraction by the French Ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire. Babyface Farley Granger plays the brutish ballet producer, though he doesn’t turn out to be such a bad guy. A pet project of producer Samuel Goldwyn, the film was in pre-production for fourteen years and went through sixteen different screenplays before it was finally produced. The trailer boasted that Goldwyn had never spent so many millions, and it even caused an international dispute when the people of Denmark feared their hero was being disgraced by this American mega-production. (Kaye himself was sent to smooth things over.) Happily, the money shows up on screen: beautiful, lavish sets and costumes, a delightful and luxurious twenty-minute ballet sequence, and eight perpetually hummable musical numbers, all in glorious Technicolor. (JA)
112 min • Samuel Goldwyn • 35mm IB Technicolor from private collections, permission Park Circus
Short: “Alice in Wonderland: Act II” (Ruth Page, 1977) – 7 min – 16mm from Chicago Film Archives

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