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Celluloid Hagiography:
Looking at Rembrandt on Film

Dates: Thursday and Friday, July 7 and 8, 2005
Location: Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Admission: Free; reservations required.

Rembrandt van Rijn has been the subject of numerous films of all genres—melodrama, documentary, propaganda—since the beginning of cinema.

In this three-part series, media scholar Thomas Y. Levin presents a sampling of the wide range of largely unknown Rembrandt films—from an early German silent to a Dutch avant-garde costume drama. Levin discusses the political, social, and art historical stakes of what he calls these "mobilizations" of the Dutch master.

Please note that films are subject to change based on availability.

Die Tragödie eines Großen

Rembrandt fecit 1669

Lecture and Short Film Program

Still from Rembrandt fecit 1669

Die Tragödie eines Großen (The Tragedy of Holland's Great Master)

(Arthur Günsburg, 1920, Germany, 103 min.)
Thursday, July 7, 7:00 p.m.

The first feature-length costume drama about the life of Rembrandt was made not in Holland but in Germany, a fact that can be ascribed to the massive popularity of a deeply reactionary 1890 German volume titled Rembrandt as Educator that portrayed Rembrandt as the antidote to the decaying civilization of fin-de-siècle Europe.

This is the North American premiere of this film.

Silent with Dutch intertitles and live musical accompaniment. Introduction and live English translation by Thomas Y. Levin.

Die Tragoedie eines Grossen

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Rembrandt fecit 1669

(Jos Stelling, 1977, Netherlands, 114 min.)
Friday, July 8, 12:00 p.m.

This experimental feature was perhaps the first attempt to portray Rembrandt's life without using a traditional narrative structure. Instead, the film—whose title references the Latin phrase with which the artist signed his works—explores what it might mean to use cinema to convey the development of Rembrandt's very way of seeing. Both praised and criticized, this film proves that the costume drama can be a vibrant vehicle for artistic experimentation.

Dutch with English subtitles. Introduction by Thomas Y. Levin.

Rembrandt fecit 1669

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Lecture and Short Film Program

Friday, July 8, 7:00 p.m.

Using video excerpts from many different Rembrandt films, Thomas Y. Levin traces the divergent ways that Rembrandt has been treated as a cinematic subject throughout the history of the medium. The lecture is followed by a screening of three short postwar Rembrandt films.

Rembrandt in de schuilkelder (Rembrandt in the Bunker)
(Gerard Rutten, 1941–1946, Netherlands, 25 min.)

This fascinating documentary chronicles the protection of Dutch national treasures during World War II. It contains scenes salvaged from the 1941 costume drama The Magician of Amsterdam, whose production was halted by the Nazis after their invasion of Holland.

This is the North American premiere of this film.

In Dutch, with live English translation by Thomas Y. Levin.

The Passover of Rembrandt van Rijn
(Martin Hoade, 1948, NBC television program in the "Eternal Light" series, 30 min.)

Sponsored by the Jewish Theological Seminary, this television production portrays Rembrandt, who had many interactions with Jewish neighbors, friends, and clients, as the quintessential "good European."

Rembrandt, schilder van de mens (Rembrandt, Painter of Man)
(Bert Haanstra, 1957, Netherlands, 20 min.)

Made in 1957 on the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth, Rembrandt, Painter of Man uses a montage of the artist's self-portraits to present a depoliticized, humanistic portrayal of the artist and his evolving vision.

Dutch with English subtitles.

Rembrandt film stills

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