The Devil Is a WomanThe Devil is a Woman (Josef von Sternberg, 1935, USA, 79 minutes)
The 2018 SummerScape Film Series will explore the influence of Russian nationalism, folk music, and exoticism in pieces by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, other members of The Five, and the pioneering Mikhail Glinka on international filmmaking through a group of overlapping pairs. Two of the films – Aleksandr Sokurov’s single-shot exploration of the Hermitage museum and the socialist realist biopic Man of Music – use the music of Glinka to address questions of aesthetic continuity across the tumultuous history of modern Russia. A pair of adventurous animated films screening during the first weekend adapt Modest Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain in strikingly original ways, setting the stage for the stylistic exuberance of the Classical Hollywood features the following weekend. Nationalist concerns are central to the third weekend’s pair of films, which demonstrate the dramatic stylistic transformation that took place in the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” (The Cranes are Flying is the emblematic film of the Thaw period). A final pair of realist films utilize music by Rimsky-Korsakov and Aleksandr Borodin – Terence Davies employs part of the same Borodin String Quartet that inspired the musical Kismet – to complement their nuanced, outsider’s views of American life.