Two very different classic films are being re-released at the IFI this February: Dennis Hopper’s landmark road movie Easy Rider (1969) and Max Ophüls literary adaptation a Stefan Zweig’s novella, Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948).
Increasingly recognised as one of cinema’s great stylists, German-born Max Ophüls, made his films in France and the US. This bittersweet saga, the finest from his Hollywood sojourn, represents the quintessence of his art; an aching illustration of the gulf between our dreams of romance and the cruel realities doomed to disappoint us. Cynical 19th-century concert pianist Louis Jourdan receives a surprise missive from a half-remembered ex-lover (Joan Fontaine) who has let her passion for him shape the whole course of her life. Author David Thomson called it ‘a perfect film’, and that’s no understatement.
Re-released in a new 35mm print that does justice to its outstanding visuals and inspired soundtrack, Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider (1969) became famous as an industry milestone. Two drug-dealing bikers who are ‘going to look for America’ find only moral waste and redneck repression. With its soundtrack composed of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Robbie Robertson, Carole King and others, and its fairly constant pot-smoking, Easy Rider became the pop event of its time, its despair and alienation from America glossed over as a predictable reflex gesture. In fact, its message about the American dream is sharply pointed and has a clarity that transcends its reputation.
Easy Rider will be screened on Wed 14th February at 2.30pm and Thurs 15th February 7pm and Letter from an Unknown Woman is re-released at the IFI from 12–21 February.
Tickets are available online at www.ifi.ie or by telephone: 01 679 5744.