Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Harry Smith’s Film #18: Mahagonny

Castro Theater

Co-presented with the Castro Theatre
Sponsored by Goethe-Institut San Francisco

Outsider anthropologist, pioneering musicologist (he compiled the hugely influential Anthology of American Folk Music), radical archivist, mad scientist and enduring mystic, Harry Smith (1923-1991) also made remarkable abstract films, synaesthetic fusions of color, sound, rhythm and composition. Cinematheque is presenting a rare opportunity to see the restored 35mm version of Mahagonny, one of Smith’s most important yet little-seen works. Smith described his final masterwork as “a mathematical analysis of Duchamp’s Large Glass expressed in terms of Weill and Brecht’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.” This is an epic, non-narrative, kaleidoscopic collage, an abstract city symphony portraying New York City as the titular capitalist dystopia. Visually dazzling, musically grand, and featuring cameo appearances by underground icons Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith and Jonas Mekas, Mahagonny is a must-see work of experimental cinema and twentieth-century culture. (Steve Polta)