January 19 - February 24
Through the Looking Glass
(and Down the Rabbit Hole…)
"The world is much deeper but also more transparent than we think.... And the magic of film consists in the possibility to express any phenomenon you want. That's why I like it so much. Sometimes you may think that I am out of touch with reality, but in fact I am a part of reality, that's all."—David Lynch
Rene Magritte's enigmatic paintings, with their deadpan humor and emphasis on monumental objects, were created during a century that saw the birth of both cinema and psychoanalysis and, in the words of LACMA's senior curator of modern art, Stephanie Barron, continue "to appeal to modern audiences hungry for the puzzling conjunctions of the everyday and the fantastic." Though the concept of parallel realities existed in the Victorian era, it was cinema that could induce a dreamlike state in the viewer and depict the visual landscape of the unconscious.
Lewis Carroll's "looking glass" is perhaps our most famous metaphor for the irrational, but it is also an ancient symbol with a variety of meanings: vanity, duplicity, madness, schizophrenia, and hallucination among them. Not surprisingly, many of the films in this series are thrillers, and many depict characters whose obsessions become pathological or self-destructive.
For filmmakers like David Lynch, Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, and Jacques Rivette, the "looking glass" is the cinema itself, and the silver screen is the mirror through which we, the audience, pass. At its most mythic, death is the unknown land that lies on the other side of the looking glass: in Orphée and Vertigo, the characters journey into the mirror to steal a loved one back from Death itself.
Alternatively, films such as Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz depict imaginary landscapes peopled by delightful and menacing creatures. And in virtually all the films in the series, the audience, like the characters, must ask itself: what is real, and what is fantasy?
Saturday, January 27
5:00 pm Alice in Wonderland (1951/color/75 min.)