NYFF Spotlight: From Morning Till Midnight
Posted by Simran Bhalla on 9.22.2011
Why you should see it:
A lost treasure of German Expressionist cinema, From Morning Till Midnight (sometimes translated as From Morn to Midnight) is an adaptation of the Georg Kaiser play of the same name. Filmed in 1920, it was never released in Germany because it was considered too abstract and radical. However, it screened in Japan in 1923. Decades later a print was found there and preserved by the National Film Center of Japan. The plot concerns a small-town bank cashier who embezzles money and escapes to the city, discovering its pleasures and then its pitfalls. The screening will be accompanied by a live performance by the Alloy Orchestra, who have composed an original score for the film.
The show will include a screening of George Melies’ seminal silent film A Trip To the Moon.
From Morning Till Midnight will screen with the Alloy Orchestra at the Detroit Institute of the Arts this month. It also screened at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010.
About the director:
Karl Heinz Martin, born in 1886, was a German director of plays and films. His film style was experimental and boldly Expressionist. In addition to From Morning Till Midnight, he directed a production of Ernst Toller’s play Transfiguration, and revived Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera in Berlin after the Second World War.
What the critics said:
Meredith Brody for indieWIRE: “From Morning to Midnight is astonishingly, amusingly stylized in a German Expressionist style familiar from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”
Juliet Jacques for Cineaste: “Censored by cinemas for its form rather than politicians for its content, From Morning to Midnight was simultaneously a stunning success and an abject failure—precisely because it was not allowed to be judged on its own terms, as an avant-garde work aiming for mass influence.”
What the NYFF programmers say:
"This stunning adaptation of Georg Kaiser’s play pushed the Expressionist stylization of sets, costumes and gestures introduced by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (made a few months earlier) to such a radical point that German movie theaters refused to show it; long thought lost, a print was found and preserved by the National Film Center of Japan in the 1980s... Of special note is the bicycle race, surely one of the most amazing sequences in silent cinema. The Alloy Orchestra has created a new score for this legendary work, which it will perform live at both shows."