Ecstasy (1933) by Gustav Machaty

Sunday, November 29, 1987, 8:00 pm

Repression and Sexual Expression

Friedrich’s Damned If You Don’t and Machaty’s Ecstasy


800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA, 94133

Su Friedrich in person

This program presents two films (old and new) which deal explicitly with illicit sexual desires, confronting the viewer through complex weaves of sensual and intellectual narrative elements. Friedrich’s earlier work (Gently Down the Stream, The Ties That Bind) are masterful montages of personal reminiscences and dream-like imagery that deal with intimate concerns (of her own sexuality or the painful experiences of her mother’s life as an independent woman). Damned If You Don’t (1987) intercuts documentary material, dramatic re-enactments, footage from Powell/Pressburger’s Black Narcissus and evocative related imagery to depict various sexual relationships between nuns spanning four centuries. Friedrich creates an ambience which is simultaneously religious and carnal, often balancing itself precariously between the erotic and the tongue-in-cheek. Gustav Machaty’s Ecstasy (Czechoslovakia, 1933) was one of the most scandalous films of the 1930s, outrageous for its sensitive but frank depiction of a classic menage-a-trois and the sensuous portrayal of its young star, Hedy Lamarr.