I’m happy to report that once again this year I’ll be hosting Movies That Matter, the KC Public Library’s series devoted to some of the greatest titles in cinema history.
Last year for our kickoff we offered such classics as Buster Keaton’s “The General,” Orson Welle’s “Citizen Kane,” Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” Carl Theodore Dryer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” the screwball comedy “Bringing Up Baby,” Disney’s animated “Snow White,” the musical “Singin’ in the Rain” and Wim Wenders’ haunting “Wings of Desire.”
Movies That Matter: The Sequel consists of 10 titles from both the silent and sound eras. We’ll be showing comedies, musicals, adventures, searing drama, horror – even an animated classic.
All screenings are at 1:30 p.m. Sundays in the Truman Forum of the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. Admission is free.
THE GRAND ILLUSION (France; 1937)
Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013
On the outside it’s a World War I escape movie about Frenchmen breaking out of a German POW camp.
On the inside Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion is a meditation on the inevitability of armed conflict and the changing face of European society.
The titled French officer De Boldieu (Pierre Fresnay) has more in common with the aristocratic German commander of the prison camp (Eric Von Stroheim) than he does with his own working-class fellow prisoner, Marechal (Jean Gabin). Then there’s Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio), the Jew whose “new money” denotes a future in which competence, not birthright, determines the pecking order.
Renoir, the son of impressionist painter August Renoir, was a humanist who observed that no matter which side you’re fighting for, the basic qualities we share should trump the politics that push us apart. But it never works out that way.
An end to war? Alas, Renoir argues, that’s the grand illusion.