Film

Opium

Director
Robert Reinert
Certificate
PG
Running Time
112 mins

Back in the days before our old friend the Moral Panic heralded film censorship (i.e. 1919), this splendidly lurid, sensationalist and erotic tale of addiction was released under the guise of being a terrible warning about the dangers of drugs and sexual debaucery. It’s the tale of an English professor (Conrad Veidt) working in China who frees a young woman named Sin (no, really) from a den of inequity run by Nung Chiang (played by the not notably Chinese Werner Krauss, who later became a Nazi collaborator and appeared in the notorious, antisemitic propaganda film Jud Süß). Naturally, the vengeful Nung Chiang sets off in hot pursuit. ‘Problematic’ on so many levels for delicate woke audiences, the film is renowned for its ground-breaking hallucinatory opium dream sequences and has now been gloriously restored in colour.

This screening includes live piano accompaniment by Meg Morley and is part of the Watershed’s October Weimar Sundays brunch season, marking 100 years since the establishment of the Weimar Republic – the period of economic and political turmoil between WWI and WWII, which also gave rise to a key film movement in the history of cinema. This, in turn, forms part of an epic collaboration between South West Silents, Bristol Festival of Ideas, Cube Cinema, Curzon Cinema and the Watershed celebrating the films of the Weimar Republic as well as the ‘City and Silent Film’. These two seasons run through September, October and November 2019 as part of the Festival of the Future City 2019.

By robin askew, Friday, Sep 6 2019

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