The Color of Nothingness, a presentation by Tom Gunning, and The Pearl
With live piano accompaniment by Makia Matsumura
The modern detective genre deals with the problem of identification in a society where identity is no
longer emblazoned in outward appearances. The arrest of a criminal depends not only upon capture, but also, and even more fundamentally, on identification. Acclaimed film scholar Tom Gunning will trace early film criminals’ visual identity, focusing on their acts of disappearance and transformation that owe much to the realms of magic and early trick film. Under special scrutiny will be the black costume, the body suit, and masks worn by such nemeses of the law as Fantômas and Irma Vep of the Vampire gang in popular French crime serials of the 1910s. The program includes a special screening of the short film The Pearl (Le Perle) (Dir. Henri d’Ursel, 1929, Belgium. Archival 35mm print from the Royal Belgium Film Archive). The Pearl is a Belgian Surrealist dazzler, with a pearl necklace at the center of the action. The movie stars a young group of female criminals who are secret residents in a hotel where they steal from rich guests; the film plays with disguises and multiple identities.
Free with museum admission.