Alienating Resurrections

— by Daniel Schmidt

Galeria Zé dos Bois

Hipnotismo ao Domicílio (Hypnotism at Home) -- 1927 -- Reinaldo Ferreira
A Dança dos Paroxismos (The Dance of the Paroxysms) --1929 -- Jorge Brum do Canto
Les Feuilles Chéant (Falling Leaves) -- 1912 -- Alice Guy
Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled -- 1918 -- R G Phillips
La Chute de la Maison Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher) – 1928 -- Jean Epstein
Os Crimes de Diogo Alves (The Crimes of Diogo Alves) – 1909+1911 -- João Tavares
Body and Soul -- 1925 -- Oscar Micheaux
O Facínora (The Scoundrel) -- 2012 – Paulo Abreu
Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray) -- 1924 -- René Clair
O Fauno das Montanhas (The Faun of the Mountains) -- 1926 -- Manuel Luís Vieira
Kurutta Ippêji (A Page of Madness) -- 1926 -- Teinosuke Kinugasa

The latest incarnation of an ongoing film series concerning resurrections – curated by Daniel Schmidt (director of Diamantino and Palacios de Pena with Gabriel Abrantes). The five nights of screenings take place at ZDB – a place near and dear to Danie’s heart, and the homebase of many his favorite collaborations and collaborators. Each night will make the most of ZDB’s lovely rooftop cinema – pairing a Portuguese silent film with one or two foreign silent films. The films will play without music, soundtracked instead by the summer noises and silences of life below.

For the past 15 years my recurrent dreams are those in which I encounter dead familiars: people seemingly and repeatedly resurrected, but estranged both from their former selves and from me. I am left with conflicted feelings of happiness to be afforded the opportunity to see alive again people I love, and also sadness, frustration, and fear at having this reunion be so alienating. This is a collection of films that explicitly and implicitly concern alienating resurrections. Most have at their centers the emotional narratives of people who experience a sort of demise and a sort of revival. While some elaborate on their initial deaths—the central concern is of the problems and possibilities wrought by their rebirths, both for themselves and the living whom they encounter. These are films populated with phantoms who often lack direct motivations and are mired in existential confusion, perhaps seeking identity, or perhaps freedom from it.




Hipnotismo ao Domicílio (Hypnotism at Home) 1927
Reinaldo Ferreira (19min) no intertitles

Kurutta Ippêji (A Page of Madness) 1926
Teinosuke Kinugasa (71min) no intertitles

total run time 90min



O Fauno das Montanhas (The Faun of the Mountains) 1926
Manuel Luís Vieira (40min) (English and Portuguese intertitles)

Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray) 1924
René Clair (67min) (English and French intertitles)

total run time 107min



O Facínora (The Scoundrel) 2012
Paulo Abreu (27min) (Portuguese intertitles)

Body and Soul  1925
Oscar Micheaux (93min) (English intertitles)

total run time 120min



Os Crimes de Diogo Alves (The Crimes of Diogo Alves) 1909+1911
João Tavares (30min) (English and Portuguese intertitles)

La Chute de la Maison Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher) 1928
Jean Epstein (63min) (English and French intertitles)

total run time 93min



Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled 1918
R G Phillips (11min) (English intertitles)

Les Feuilles Chéant (Falling Leaves) 1912
Alice Guy (19min) (English intertitles)

A Dança dos Paroxismos (The Dance of the Paroxysms) 1929
Jorge Brum do Canto (45min) (English and Portuguese intertitles)

total run time 75min

Hipnotismo ao Domicílio (Hypnotism at Home)

I can’t pretend to understand what is going on in this kinetic ensemble folly. A directionless succession of hypnotisms perpetrated by a Harold Lloyd look alike which mostly seem done, not so much as to induce the subjects into various actions, but instead to freeze them into static targets to be gleefully slapped and kicked in the face and ass. There is the suggestion the instigator is performing these actions as a symposium on how to conduct hypnotisms? People come in and out of varying states of consciousness, but a consistent climate of confusion persists; the only lesson to be learned is the joy of fucking around. Could be a Portuguese satire of contemporary American comedies. DS

Kurutta Ippêji (A Page of Madness)

My understanding is that Kinugasa wanted audiences to have no context for this film: refused to use intertitles, tried to prevent a famous Benshi from narrating the film, etc. So I’ll only offer these fragments of context: the sole print was lost for 45 years … found in Kinugasa’s garden shed … rediscovery elicited reorientation of our understanding of early radical cinema … disturbing masterpiece. DS

O Fauno das Montanhas (The Faun of the Mountains)

An English tourist accompanying her naturalist father to the Madeira Islands, is startled when she discovers their peasant host bears a resemblance to the statue of a faun in her garden back home. As the trio journey into the interior of the island to observe rare birds – the young woman journeys into her own mind. The sublime landscape becomes the stage for hellish premonitions and mythic hallucinations. These culminate in murders – first in her dreams, and then in her waking life, each undone by resurrections. Gorgeous footage of waterfalls, demons twirling sparks, and unique superimposed title cards imbue this short work with qualities of a sort of haunted postcard. Probably the first fiction film shot in Madeira, and certainly a very early entry into films concerning the nascent industry of tourism, which would inextricably link England, Portugal, and the islands in the century that followed. DS

Paris Qui Dort (The Crazy Ray)

Mad scientist uses a crazy ray to freeze Paris. A few denizens remain animate. Anarchy and good times ensue. René Clair’s first film, made same year as Entr’acte: both fundamental cornerstones of whatever this genre is I’m so obsessed with. DS

O Facínora (The Scoundrel)

An homage to the silent era: purported to be lost amateur film of real life Conrad Wilhelm Meyersick, a German engineer, made while on a business trip to Guimarães. Concerns a small village and its well-regarded priest – a man of the cloth by day, and law enforcer by night. Until one evening he succumbs to his lust for one of his parishioners, makes a deal with a witch, and unleashes a curse. Resurrections to be sure, but for whom? DS

Body and Soul

Paul Robeson’s brilliant, devilish screen debut. The entire film is framed as a nightmare. Title says it all. DS

Os Crimes de Diogo Alves (The Crimes of Diogo Alves)

The 1909 version is the first serial killer narrative in the history of cinema. A true crime concerning Diogo Alves, a Galician who terrorized Lisbon from 1836 to 1840, killing seventy people. He murdered many victims by throwing them from Lisbon’s iconic Aguas Livres acqueduct – so as to make their deaths appear as suicides. The 1911 version marks one of the earliest remakes, and certainly the first Portuguese remake. Together they share a handful of tableaus and flurries of actions. The brief films read almost like exercises or crime reenactments which have been done as public humiliation in jurisdictions such as Thailand, South Korea (think Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Memories of Murder, and Mother). 1841, Alves became the penultimate criminal to be executed by the state, as Portugal became the first country (at least in the western world) to abolish the death penalty. Alves’

head was preserved and studied by scientists, in an attempt to understand the scientific origin of his evil. The head remains in a jar on display at the University of Lisbon, and is visited by tourists. DS

The Fall of the House of Usher

A story that should need no introduction, and one that I find all too relatable. My favorite cinematic version of my favorite Poe. I wonder what he would have thought. Buñuel worked as the assistant director to Epstein, as well as co-screenwriter – and it shows. DS

Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled

Early horror slapstick in which a suitor tries to earn the consent to marry from his girlfriend’s father. The father – an experimental chemist who agrees to the marriage if his next experiment works. What he means by “works” and what his general intentions are, remain vague – but seem to loosely affiliated with bringing the dead or inanimate back to life (he is introduced using a concoction to transform a painting of a duck into a real duck). For his next experiment he seeks an Egyptian mummy. The suitor, wanting to impress his would-be father-in-law, buys a sarcophagus from a store and hires a stranger to play the part of the mummy, replete with bandage wrappings and white face. Created at the dawn of cinema by an all back cast and crew, via the influential and controversial Ebony Films – this is a wild caper, with some incredible gags including the mummy actor unintentionally riding the sarcophagus down the street, and later having his unspooling bandages used as an escape rope from the chemist’s window. Increasingly frenetic and intertwined cast of characters – which includes two Egyptians trying to reclaim stolen artifacts. The print is severely damaged – but nitrate degradation creates unintentionally surreal moments that serendipitously go into full fever mode during the film’s resurrection climax. DS

Les Feuilles Chéant (Falling Leaves)

🍃 😭


A Dança dos Paroxismos (The Dance of the Paroxysms)

Equal parts rapturous and desolate fairytale set an indeterminate time and place. Follows strange and solitary knight traversing great distance to reach his betrothed, the aristocratic daughter of some well landed, unseen lord. Beset at first by fatigue, and then by the seductive charms of a forest banshee and her dancing fairies – the knight loses his way, or finds a new one? First failing to acquire the intended wedding gift (he planned to gift his new wife the Holy Grail!?), and then failing to return to her in a timely fashion – he eventually encounters a faceless robed specter which is ostensibly her ghost. The shock and sorrow of which kills him as well? These impressionistic flights of spirits and emotions are made terrestrial by a protracted opening chapter populated with villagers who the knight stays with en route. Most poignantly is an early cinema milestone capturing the private drama of a young girl eating her own boogers. Inchoately inventive and erratic imagery, story and edit – swirling camera work, both POV and disembodied, superimpositions, upside down landscapes, faux-underwater miniatures, three-way split screens, four way split screens, Abel Gance innovations on a shoestring budget. All of this spun together by the then 19 year old Jorge Brum do Canto – who wrote, edited, directed, and starred in this fantasia. DS

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