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TO JAN. 28
Like the Art Nouveau exhibition it complements, this film series throws its net wide. The 14 features illustrate how filmmakers pursued the exotic and the irrationalturning to nature, the East, and other non-Cartesian realms for both visual and thematic inspiration. The program begins with 1921’s El Dorado, an experimental tale of a cabaret dancer, shot by the first film crew to gain access to the Alhambra, Granada’s Moorish landmark. El Dorado screens with L’Atlantide, a delirious adaptation of a potboiler about a seductive Saharan queen (Jan. 6). Also employing Middle Eastern themes are the 1922 version of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé (Jan. 14) and the 1926 Adventures of Prince Achmed, the first full-length animated film, which was derived from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Although filmed in California, 1919’s The Dragon Painter evokes Japanor at least then-popular Western notions of that country’s strangeness (Jan. 21). Other inspirations included the opera of Offenbach: Powell and Pressburger’s 1951 Tales of Hoffman (Jan. 12 & 15) lavishly uses art-nouveau design motifs, whereas Fritz Lang’s 1924 film Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (Jan. 27) draws on Viking and Teutonic patterns integral to art nouveau. For reasons that may not seem warranted today, many of the films focus on women, including 1958’s Gigi (Jan. 13), adapted from Colette, and 1921’s Camille, from Dumas. The program ends with a poetic documentary about Italian silent-film heroines, 1999’s Diva Dolorosa (Jan. 28), which, as it happens, leads into the gallery’s next film series, “Silent Divas.” “Art Nouveau and the Cinema” screens at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium; see Showtimes for details. (Mark Jenkins)