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TO JAN. 28

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Like the exhibit it complements, the National Gallery’s “Art Nouveau and the Cinema” film series throws its net wide: The features and shorts highlighted here illustrate how filmmakers pursued the exotic and the irrational, by turning to nature, the East, and other non-Cartesian realms for both visual and thematic inspiration. Director Charles Bryant looked to the Middle East in his circa-1922 version of Oscar Wilde’s Salome (pictured, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14). As did Lotte Reininger, who took her inspiration for 1926’s Adventures of Prince Achmed (the first full-length animated film) from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights (at noon Sunday, Jan. 28). Although filmed in California, 1919’s The Dragon Painter evoked Japan —or at least then-popular Western notions of that country’s strangeness (at noon Sunday, Jan. 21). Other inspirations included the opera of Offenbach: Powell and Pressburger’s 1951 Tales of Hoffman (at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 and Monday, Jan. 15) lavishly uses art-nouveau design motifs. And Fritz Lang’s two Die Nibelungen films (at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27) draw on Viking and Teutonic patterns integral to art nouveau. Many of the films focus on women, including 1958’s Gigi (at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13), adapted from Colette, and 1921’s Camille (at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14), from Dumas; there’s also a 1921 version of Arthur Schnitzler’s The Affairs of Anatol (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21), in which a femme fatale named Satan Synne wears striking “octopus gowns.” The program ends with Peter Delpeut’s poetic 1999 documentary about Italian silent-film heroines, Diva Dolorosa (at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28), which leads into the gallery’s next film series, “Silent Divas.” Art Nouveau and the Cinema screens at the National Gallery of Art East Building Auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)