Mahagonny | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Experimental filmmaker Harry Smith conceived the film he considered his magnum opus for four 16-millimeter projectors, each filling a different quadrant of the screen; this posthumous 35-millimeter version combines the images into one strip with a cold precision he might not have appreciated. Inspired by the Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht opera that provides the sound track, the film is an inventory of performers, places, abstract animated shapes, and nature scenes. They illustrate mostly themes of illusion and desire and convey a sense of overwhelming vastness: repeating images seem organized by a hidden architecture, and the mix of abstractions and city scenes makes each image seem like a transformative symbol. A Chicago premiere. 141 min. Fri 5/5, 8 PM, Univ. of Chicago Film Studies Center, 5811 S. Ellis, room 307, 773-702-8596.

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