Seventh heaven Silent Cinema Rerun of the cycle "Melodrama and the star system"

Seventh heaven

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Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente

Seventh Heaven (El séptimo cielo, USA, 1927), by Frank Borzage, featuring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. (103 minutes)

Presentation: Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente, 19,00 hours
Projection of the film: 19,30 hours

Seventh Heaven, directed by Frank Borzage, showed the sublime love between two marginated beings, a a sewer cleaner who lives in an attic, "close to the stars", and an abandoned girl. André Breton made this film a fetish for the surrealists. He created the "ideal couple" with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrel, who between 1927 and 1933 played a dozen films together.

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A VERY SPECIAL GUY

Seventh Heaven (1927) from the North American director Franz Borzage, a movie awarded with an Oscar, is one of the hidden geniuses of silent films. Martin Scorsese declared hardly a year ago that he had revisited the films of Borzage, specially the ones of the silent film era, and discovered a more relevant filmmaker than what the cinematographic history has suggested. Without doubt, this movie belongs to this imaginary and recovered location. Beyond its deep and torn romanticism, the apotheosis of final love scene is masterful, the movie is shot with a special sensibility towards the complexities of the protagonists, an effective cast of secondary actors, and a wonderful ambience, always supporting the final objective of the film. "Chico" (Charles Farell) is, as the decisive epiphany of the tape shows, a "special guy"; as special as the magnificent Janet Gaynor in her pamphletary role of "Diane".  All characters are transformed by the end of the movie, there are no shallow profiles, except evil (which is represented by the sister of Diane, the tormented victim). Life changes people, the circumstances are random and unpredictable, evil is always present at the doors of destiny, and destiny tends to trip the characters. But there beats an illusion "to look upwards", towards the seventh heaven that is referred in the title. Revisiting this film reminds us that true cinema, only the image, the narrative game through images in movement, without further additives than the gestural expression of the actors, was the essence silent films. Words can get to contaminate the image. And the merit, the genius, of directors like Franz Borzage, when adapting the extremely sentimentalist work of Austin Strong, lies in transforming it into images full of visual force, sensible towards the most sceptic viewer and, due to this, a love story which arises in the darkest corner of Paris, like a metaphor of the urge to live and the will of power.

Fernando R. Lafuente

  1. Fernando Rodríguez LafuenteFernando Rodríguez Lafuente

    Fernando Rodríguez Lafuente (Madrid, 1955). Doctor en Filología por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Director del Master sobre Cultura Contemporánea en el Instituto Universitario de Investigación Ortega y Gasset. Director de ABC Cultural (diario ABC). Secretario de Redacción de Revista de Occidente. Ha sido profesor de Teoría de la Literatura en la Facultad de Filología de la Universidad Complutense, antes profesor de Literatura Hispanoamericana en la misma Facultad; profesor en la Universidad de Lenguas Extranjeras nº 2 de Pekín (China), director del Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores) en Buenos Aires (Argentina), director general del Libro, Archivos y Bibliotecas (Ministerio de Cultura) y director del Instituto Cervantes (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores). Autor de numerosas monografías y estudios sobre Jorge Luis Borges, José Ortega y Gasset, Ramón Gómez de la Serna, Octavio Paz, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Gabriel García Márquez, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Imagen exterior de España, Cine español, Cine negro, Edgar Neville entre otros. Miembro del Consejo de Redacción de Ínsula, Revista de Estudios Orteguianos. Colabora habitualmente en Revista de Libros. Forma parte del Patronato de la Biblioteca Nacional, de la Fundación José Ortega y Gasset- Gregorio Marañón y de la Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez.