When Emigre met Diva: exotic films series

Critic's Choice: Film

October 21, 2001|By Michael Sragow

The most exotically alluring fall film series belongs to Johns Hopkins' Medical Institutions Office of Cultural Affairs. The self-explanatory title is "The Muse in Exile: Emigres and Divas -- Four Films by Emigre Directors and Classic Leading Ladies." The series unspools Thursday nights at 7:15 at the Preclinical Teaching Building (725 N. Wolfe St.), with cookies and coffee beforehand.

The kick-off attraction Thursday is The Scarlet Empress, an insanely outsized collaboration between Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich that still boggles the brain 67 years after they made it.

It's von Sternberg's version of "Catherine the Great and How She Grew," complete with erotic torture tales, perverse behavior at the Russian court, and outlandish set design that crams the melancholy history of feudal Russia into sculpted candle-holders and staircases, as well as doors scaled less to Queen Catherine than to King Kong.

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