26

SATURDAY

Silent cinema was fading in 1928, when German director Paul Leni made The Man Who Laughs, but this epic-scaled melodrama doesn’t feel like an afterthought. The title character is Gwynplaine, who had a permanent grin carved into his face by a surgeon in the employ of cruel King James II. This disfigurement was the boy’s punishment for being the son of a rebel nobleman, a heritage that becomes an issue years later, after Gwynplaine has become a player with a traveling company that also includes his true love, the conveniently blind Dea. Derived from a Victor Hugo novel and shot on Hollywood soundstages, the film features ornate sets and spectacular crowd scenes, notably ones featuring the docks and carnivals of London’s bustling Southwark. This screening will be accompanied by the live performance of an original score, with Canadian composer and pianist Gabriel Thibaudeau joined by Paris’ Octuor de France Orchestra. The film screens at 3 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)

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