BFI silents: January roundup

There is lots to look forward to in the BFI’s January schedule.

First up, we are very excited about Hamlet (1920) starring Asta Nielsen. This is the first UK screening of a new print of the film, with a new score by Claire van Kampen. Silent Shakespeare has a special place in Silent London’s heart and this is a classic. Some people can get a bit agitated about the fact that Asta Nielsen, who plays Hamlet, is a woman. But she’s Danish too, which is more than you can say for Laurence Olivier. Plus, the film puts a little twist on the plot of the play, which explains everything.

Hamlet is on Thursday 27 January at 8.45pm.

Second, is The Birth of a Nation (1915). It’s horribly racist and terribly long, but DW Griffith’s epic is a game-changer in the history of feature films. Plus, it is shown here with an introduction by Oscar-winner Kevin Brownlow – so this is a good time to catch it, if you haven’t seen it already.

The Birth of a Nation is on Monday 24 January at 6.10pm.

The Howard Hawks retrospective was always going to be a treat, but we’re really pleased to see five silent features (and one incomplete film, Trent’s Last Case, as well) in there.

Fig Leaves (1926) is on 1 January at 6.30pm and 5 January at 8.40pm.

The Cradle Snatchers (1927) with Trent’s Last Case (1929) is on 1 January at 8.40pm and 7 January 6.20pm.

Paid to Love (1927) is on 2 January at 4.10pm and 10 January at 8.30pm.

A Girl in Every Port (1928), which stars Louise Brooks, is on 2 January at 6.30pm and 7 January at 8.45pm.

Fazil (1928) screens on 2 January 8.40pm and 10 January at 6.30pm.

All of the Hawks films are shown in NFT2 and have live piano accompaniment.

Honourable mention also to a short, London After Dark (1926), shown as a companion piece to Say it With Flowers (1934) on Wednesday 12 January 6.30pm.

Priority booking for BFI members is open on 7 December.

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