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	Image: still from A streetcar named Desire (detail)

Film series: Ain't there anyone here for love?

The changing representations of love in cinema

This series tells a brief history of 20th-century society by examining how cultural changes, social upheaval and shifting ideologies are reflected in the way the movies depict love.

Casablanca's war-torn lovers not only mirror the forced separation experienced by millions, but also the general dislocation and disruption of global conflict. The love-hate relationship at the heart of Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? perfectly reflects the emerging disillusionment of 60s America. And the doomed, interracial love affair at the core of Fear eats the soul is a direct response to a general anxiety surrounding large-scale immigration in the 1970s.

Popping up occasionally during the series will be one of the earliest films ever shown commercially to the public. In 1896 The kiss made cinema history as the first to depict a couple kissing on screen. Theatrical performers May Irwin and John C Rice snuggled together cheek-to-cheek, and playfully and affectionately kissed. Causing uproar and sensation wherever it was projected, this controversial 20-second film was one of many film experiments made in the famous Edison laboratory.

Institut Français is the agency for the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs with responsibility for cultural activity outside France. It works to promote artistic exchange and dissemination of the French language, books and knowledge. Institut Français also complements the role of UniFrance Films in promoting French patrimonial cinema, the non-commercial screening of recent films, and showcasing its professionals. And Institut Français supports world cinema through the Cinémas du Monde pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival, the Cinémathèque Afrique, and Fonds Sud Cinéma for the funding of films, which Institut Français manages alongside the National Centre for Cinematography and the Moving Image.

Image: still from A streetcar named Desire (detail)

Wednesdays 2pm & 7.15pm, Sundays 2pm
20 February - 28 April 2013

Special Saturday screenings:
23 February, 9, 16, 30 March & 6, 13 April 2013, 2pm


Tickets are issued at the Domain Theatre one hour before commencement. Films start at the advertised time. Doors open 30 minutes before this. Latecomers not admitted.

Location: Domain Theatre

Related exhibition: We used to talk about love

National Film & Sound Archive Embassy of France Institut Français


Dir: Michael Curtiz 1942 (US)
102 mins 35mm B&W Rated PG
Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman
Made while the world was engulfed in the horrors of World War II, Casablanca is considered one of the great romances in movie history. Thousands of movie-goers empathised with the war-torn lovers, forced apart by patriotic duty, which underpinned the compelling moral conflict of the film. Ilsa (Bergman) loves her resistance leader husband, Victor, and wants to be faithful to him. But, in order to obtain exit visas for them both, she is faced with the obligation to seduce Rick (Bogart). The film is blessed with a splendid expatriate cast and crew and is the pinnacle of the cosmopolitan talent that Hollywood amassed during this period.


Wednesday 20 February 2013 2pm – 3:42pm

Wednesday 20 February 2013 7:15pm – 8:57pm

Sunday 24 February 2013 2pm – 3:52pm

The Philadelphia story

Dir: George Cukor 1940 (US)
112 mins 35mm B&W Rated PG
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart
On the eve of her second marriage, a Philadelphia socialite, Tracey Lord (Hepburn), has her plans complicated by the simultaneous arrival of two romantic but cynical men: her ex-husband, CK Dexter Haven (Grant), and a gossip magazine reporter, Macaulay Conner (Stewart). Considered one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, amidst the fireworks of a fast-talking battle of personalities, the script slyly mocks class envy and conservative attitudes towards marriage and divorce prevalent in the US the 1930s.


Saturday 23 February 2013 2pm – 3:52pm

A streetcar named Desire

Dir: Elia Kazan 1951 (US)
122 mins 35mm B&W Rated M
Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando
World War II brought innumerable changes to American society. Written in the immediate post-war period, Kazan’s powerful drama, based on a Tennessee Williams play, focuses on a neurotic woman who lives in a world of illusion. Leigh plays Blanche Dubois, a fading southern belle whose reality begins to crumble when she moves in with her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), and brutish brother-in-law, Stanley (Brando). Her arrival infuriates Stanley, who sees her as a threat to his authority and his relationship with Stella. With undercurrents of post-war tension between the sexes, the film was produced at a time when many women wanted to retain their new-found independence gained as a result of war-time employment. Brando’s superbly detailed performance, pulsating with uncontrollable emotion, was revolutionary and changed the conventions of cinema acting. 'Before this role, there was usually a certain restraint in American movie performances. Actors would portray violent emotions, but you could always sense to some degree a certain modesty that prevented them from displaying their feelings in raw nakedness. Brando held nothing back, and within a few years his was the style that dominated Hollywood movie acting.’ – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times


Wednesday 27 February 2013 2pm – 4:02pm

Wednesday 27 February 2013 7:15pm – 9:17pm

Sunday 3 March 2013 2pm – 4:02pm

Gentlemen prefer blondes

Dir: Howard Hawkes 1953 (US)
91 mins 35mm Colour Rated PG
Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell
Hawkes’ Hollywood musical/comedy film is an adaptation of Anita Loos’ 1925 satirical novel and stage hit. Alive with the effervescent Technicolor of the post-war boom, it is a 'buddy film’ featuring characters from the 'wrong side of the tracks’ on the hunt for love. Monroe and Russell play gold-digging cabaret artistes on a transaltlantic voyage, who come into contact with their social superiors. Sexual and class stereotyping generates a series of hilarious embarrassments, which ensure the film’s hilarity. In her book on women’s humour and American culture, Nancy A Walker defines a humorist as someone who is at 'odds with the publicly espoused values of the culture, overturning its sacred cows’. The satire in Loos’ book could not be exactly matched in the film adaptation, but lends a subversive edge. The underlying theme is the solidarity of the central characters, Lorelei and Dorothy, in their disregard for social norms at a time when conformity and conservatism were ubiquitous. Archival print courtesy 20th Century Fox.


Wednesday 6 March 2013 2pm – 3:31pm

Wednesday 6 March 2013 7:15pm – 8:46pm

Sunday 10 March 2013 2pm – 3:31pm

The African Queen

Dir: John Huston 1951 (US)
105 mins 35mm Colour Rated G
Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn
Bogart won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the gin-swilling Charlie Allnut, in director Huston’s celebrated World War I adventure. With the spinster sister of a murdered missionary, Rosie Sayer (Hepburn), as his unlikely passenger, the pair combat the elements, the Germans and each other as they make their way downriver on a dilapidated steamboat in East Africa. Despite their constant bickering, the odd companions are surprised to find themselves falling in love. With a script by James Agee and Huston from CS Forester’s novel, the film was shot on location in the Belgian Congo by Jack Cardiff.


Saturday 9 March 2013 2pm – 3:45pm

Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Dir: Mike Nichols 1966 (US)
132 mins 35mm B&W Rated M
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
Edward Albee’s scandalous play was adapted for the screen by Ernest Lehman and directed by Nichols in 1966. Starring Taylor and Burton, the portrayal of destructive, vicious battles in a middle-class couple’s tempestuous, love-hate relationship was thought too frank for the screen. Reflecting the growing disillusionment of the late 1960s, the film depicts a night of bitter, painful revelations, when a jaded, fortyish history professor, George, and his wife, Martha, invite a young faculty couple to their house for drinks. As the evening turns into a vicious free-for-all, we come to the dawning realisation that this mutually lacerating couple actually love each other. In an action that marked the turning point of the censorship system, studio boss Jack Warner insisted on maintaining the integrity of the play and released the film without cuts. A new generation of filmmakers was now free to introduce startling subject matter which set their films apart from existing studio traditions. Print courtesy National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Wednesday 13 March 2013 2pm – 4:12pm

Wednesday 13 March 2013 7:15pm – 9:27pm

Sunday 17 March 2013 2pm – 4:12pm

Hiroshima, mon amour

Dir: Alain Resnais 1959 (France)
91 mins 35mm B&W Rated PG
Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada
French with English subtitles
In Resnais’ influential first feature, two people meet in Hiroshima and become lovers: a French woman who was punished for her wartime romance and a Japanese man whose life was shattered by the nuclear blast. A complex series of flashbacks, fantasies and nightmares reveal the past, present and future and establish the relationship between historical calamities and personal histories. Hailed as a masterpiece of the French new wave, this seminal film of the early 1960s ‘modernist’ renaissance was scripted by French novelist Marguerite Duras. 35mm print courtesy Institut Français and French Embassy.


Saturday 16 March 2013 2pm – 3:31pm

The honeymoon killers

Dir: Leonard Kastle 1969 (US)
108 mins 35mm B&W Rated M
Shirley Stoler, Tony Lo Bianco
Released in 1969, The honeymoon killers overstepped the limits of true-crime films emerging at the time. Bleak and unsentimental, it tells the story of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez, the notorious 'lonely hearts killers’ who may have murdered 20 women in the 1940s. Martha (Stoler) is a damaged woman who has never known love, and as a result has become bitter and angry. She meets Raymond (Lo Bianco), a smooth-talking Lothario who, using Martha as an accomplice, seduces and murders vulnerable older women for their money. One of the most bizarre and bleak love stories ever filmed, director Kastle’s realistic treatment explores jealousy, longing and loneliness without excusing the central couple’s amoral behaviour. The film saw the beginning of a general drift in American culture from a mood of optimism to one of disillusionment and apolitical social indifference.


Wednesday 20 March 2013 2pm – 3:48pm

Wednesday 20 March 2013 7:15pm – 9:03pm

Sunday 24 March 2013 2pm – 3:48pm


Dir: Terrence Malick 1974 (US)
94 mins 35mm Colour Rated M
Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek
Holly (Spacek) is a teenage girl living in a dead-end South Dakota town. One day she meets Kit (Sheen), a rebellious James Dean look-alike, who charms her. The couple go on a crime spree after shooting Holly’s father. Holly’s poetic narration, infused with naïve desire, describes her adventures in romantic clichés which contrast starkly with the grim reality of Kit’s sociopathic actions. Director Malick’s hypnotic, low-budget first feature, one of the most impressive directorial debuts ever, has an underlying sense of existential loss laden with the anxiety, cynicism and confusion prevalent in the early 1970s.


Wednesday 27 March 2013 2pm – 3:34pm

Wednesday 27 March 2013 7:15pm – 8:49pm

Sunday 31 March 2013 2pm – 3:34pm

Les amants du Pont-Neuf

Dir: Leos Carax 1991 (France)
125 mins 35mm Colour Rated M
Juliette Binoche, Denis Lavant
French with English subtitles
Carax’s idiosyncratic film, set against Paris’ oldest bridge, the Pont-Neuf, is a love story of two homeless people. Alex (Lavant) is addicted to alcohol and sedatives and survives doing street theatre. Michèle (Binoche) is a painter from a respectable suburban family who suffers from a degenerative illness. The film portrays the harsh existence of living rough, as Alex, Michele and Hans, an older vagrant, survive using their wits on the streets. Visually exhilarating, the streets, skies and waterways of Paris become dominating characters as the film veers seamlessly from reality to deliriousness, plunging into a dark fairytale of lovers-on-the-run. 35mm print courtesy Institut Français and French Embassy.


Saturday 30 March 2013 2pm – 4:05pm

Fear eats the soul

Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder 1973 (W Germany)
92 mins 35mm Colour Rated M
Brigitte Mira, El Hedi Ben Salem
German with English subtitles
Director Fassbinder’s stark, humanitarian film depicts a doomed love affair between an ageing German woman, who is a cleaner at a factory, and a younger Moroccan immigrant worker. Fear eats the soul brought the provocative director to international prominence, exposing racial prejudice and moral hypocrisy at the heart of West German society when faced with the large-scale immigration of Turkish 'guest’ workers. This low-budget drama, shot in just 15 days, received the 1974 Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Print courtesy National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.


Wednesday 3 April 2013 2pm – 3:32pm

Wednesday 3 April 2013 7:15pm – 8:47pm

Sunday 7 April 2013 2pm – 3:32pm

Dog day afternoon

Dir: Sidney Lumet 1975 (US)
130 mins 35mm colour Rated M
Al Pacino, John Cazale
One of the grittiest classics of 1970s Hollywood cinema is a true-crime heist movie, a love story, an authentic slice of overheated New York atmosphere, and a showcase for brilliant actors. Reflecting the growing power of the mass media in the 1970s, Dog day afternoon conveys the unfolding of crazy events in real time. An electrifying experience born of the synergy of celebrated director Lumet and lead actor Pacino, most of the action takes place inside a bank during an ill-conceived robbery masterminded by inexperienced crook Sonny (Pacino). The kinetic camerawork of Victor J Kemper contributes to the overwhelming artistic success of one of the finest American films of the modern age. New 35mm print.


Saturday 6 April 2013 2pm – 4:10pm

A short film about love

Dir: Krzysztof Kieslowski 1988 (Poland)
86 mins 35mm Colour Rated M
Olaf Lubaszenko, Grazyna Szapolowska
Polish with English subtitles
In celebrated Polish director Kieslowski’s strangely romantic film, Tomek, a 19-year-old postal worker, uses his telescope to spy on Magda, a beautiful older woman who lives in the apartment complex across the courtyard. When she discovers she is being watched, Magda is conflicted. Tomek’s actions are offensive, but his youthful love flatters and intrigues her. Reverberating with 1980s post-cold-war paranoia of surveillance and the illusory nature of privacy, this very atypical love story was an episode of The decalogue, a series of short films based on the Ten Commandments. A short film about love was developed into a feature film.


Wednesday 10 April 2013 2pm – 3:26pm

Wednesday 10 April 2013 7:15pm – 8:41pm

Sunday 14 April 2013 2pm – 3:26pm

Happy together

Dir: Wong Kar-Wai 1997 (HK)
96 mins 35mm Colour Rated MA15+
Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung
Cantonese with English subtitles
A series of vignettes follows the volatile romance between two gay Chinese expatriates living in Buenos Aires – a couple on the verge of breaking up. Director Wong’s elliptical exploration of crazy love, loneliness and dislocation is delirious, intimate and hyperkinetic. Mirroring the broader acceptance of sexual difference by the late 1990s, Wong’s film eschews stereotypes, instead representing gay men as complex social beings and individuals. Doyle’s cinematography, with its expressionistic, stylised brilliance, employs radical film processing techniques to provide high-key colours and textures pivotal to the emotional ambience.


Saturday 13 April 2013 2pm – 3:36pm

Y tu mamá también

Dir: Alfonso Cuarón 2001 (Mexico)
106 mins 35mm Colour Rated M15+
Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal
Spanish with English subtitles
'Y tu mamá también’ roughly translates as 'and your mother too’, a boyish insult that is thrown about between best friends Tenoch (Luna) and Julio (Garcia Bernal). Seventeen and ruled by raging hormones, Tenoch and Julio meet an older woman, Luisa, at a family wedding in Mexico City. Fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol, they ask her to join them on a road trip to a mythical remote beach called Boca Del Cielo. Gaining nominations at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards, this sexually rowdy and witty road movie is animated by the hyperactive, overly-stimulated atmosphere of the late 20th century and plays as a metaphor for modern Mexico.


Wednesday 17 April 2013 2pm – 3:46pm

Wednesday 17 April 2013 7:15pm – 9:01pm

Sunday 21 April 2013 2pm – 3:46pm

Two lovers

Dir: James Gray 2008 (US)
110 mins 35mm Colour Rated M
Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow
Gray’s hypnotic, romantic drama focuses on Leonard (Phoenix), a charismatic but troubled young man who moves back into his childhood home following a recent heartbreak. While recovering under the watchful eye of his parents, Leonard meets two women in quick succession: Michelle (Paltrow), a mysterious and volatile neighbour, and Sandra, the down-to-earth daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family’s dry-cleaning shop. Leonard is forced to make a choice between the impetuousness of desire and the comfort of love. Gray said of the film, 'The state of being in love is preposterous – we never leave adolescence when we are in love. We say and do such absurd and immature things… I think it’s very common that people live in states of arrested development.’


Wednesday 24 April 2013 2pm – 3:50pm

Wednesday 24 April 2013 7:15pm – 9:05pm

Sunday 28 April 2013 2pm – 3:50pm