BSL-English supported event
A thrilling, historical melodrama, packed with political intrigue, romance and a host of sensational characters.
Conrad Veidt stars as Gwynplaine, who was scarred with a ‘permanent smile’ at the cruel command of King James II - a punishment literally carved onto the boy’s face by the royal surgeon, so that he “may always laugh at his father’s foolishness”. Ostracised, Gwynplaine befriends Dea, a blind girl who is not aware of his scarred features. But the contented lives of the happy pair are threatened by the unexpected appearance of a face from Gwynplaine’s past
The distinctive ‘look’ of Gwynplaine is cited as a major influence for the American comic book writer, animator and artist, Bob Kane, when he created the visual aesthetics of Batman’s grinning nemesis: the Joker. Veidt’s extraordinary performance, and the film overall however, deserve to be celebrated for far more than this. The gripping story is propelled by director Paul Leni’s masterful visual style, rewarding us with excitement, pathos, plus a triumphant star-turn by Zimbo the dog!
Dir. Paul Leni | US | 1928 | PG | 1h 50m
With: Conrad Veidt, Mary Philbin, Brandon Hurst, Cesare Gravina, Olga Baclanova
Performing live: Meg Morley (piano), Frank Bockius (percussion)
Screening material (and images) courtesy of Park Circus/Universal
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