The Colours of Antiquity in Silent Cinema

11 April 2015, 3.00 PM - 11 April 2015, 5.45 PM

This screening focuses on early cinema’s attitudes towards colour as they manifest themselves in representations of classical antiquity in the period between 1905 and 1911, a period of intense technological and aesthetic experimentation. The use of colour in films of this period participates in larger debates around polychromy and monochromy in Western art, debates for which classical antiquity has always served as both a backdrop and a stage. The chromatic worlds of silent cinema juxtapose an aesthetic preference for firm lines and contours that are colourless, pure and remote and an aesthetic preference for vibrant colours that are striking, hybrid, and immersive – in other words an antiquity of contemplation and an antiquity of the senses.

Films to be screened include ‘Serpentine dance’ by imitator of Loie Fuller (Pathé Frères, France, 1905); Amour d’esclave or A Slave’s Love (Albert Capellani, Pathé Frères, France, 1907); Dans l’Hellade or In Ancient Greece (Pathé Frères, France, 1909); Le fils de Locuste or The Son of Locusta (Louis Feuillade, Gaumont, France), and Une excursion dans la Grèce ancienne or An excursion in ancient Greece (Milan Films, Pathé, 1913). The screening will be introduced by Pantelis Michelakis and will be accompanied by live music by the silent film composer and pianist Stephen Horne.

Booking is available via this link.

Midas (The Legend of King Midas, France, 1910, dir. Louis Feuillade). Still frame from original nitrate print held at the British Film Institute.

King Midas entertained by Pan, Midas (The Legend of King Midas, France, 1910, dir. Louis Feuillade). BFI