Facets Cinémathèque

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June 19, 2016

Facets Silent Sundays

Please join us in the inaugural program of Facets Silent Sundays, a celebration of extraordinary works of silent cinema.

(The Inhuman Woman)

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Film still: L'Inhumaine


"What to say about a film that, ninety years on from its release, is still so far ahead of most of what passes for cinema today?... L'Inhumaine must be one of the most absurd Great Movies ever made"
  —Senses of Cinema

This legendary film, unavailable until its recent re-discovery and restoration, is the amazing collaboration of director Marcel l'Herbier, along with Abel Gance, the most inventive director of the French silent era, with an unbelievable team: Fernand Leger and Robert-Mallet Stevens created the sets, Paul Poiret the costumes, Raymond Templier the jewelry and Rene Lalique the objects. Darius Milhaud wrote the music.

For one of its key scenes, the director, Marcel l'Herbier, asked 2,000 people from the film and fashion world to attend in evening dress and act as a hostile audience. Those participating included Pablo Picasso, Erik Satie, Man Ray, Leon Blum, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and the Prince of Monaco.

L'Inhumaine is an astonishing experiment in style and form. It follows Claire, an icy opera singer who loves to exert power over men. She invites her many admirers to her grand residence on the outskirts of Paris. These include a young scientist, Einar Norsen, who soon threatens to kill himself unless Claire returns his ardent feelings. Claire shows virtually no emotion when she learns that Norsen has driven his sports car off a cliff and her inhumanity becomes public knowledge. She is booed at her concert, but Norsen is alive (!), having faked the suicide, and Claire is led to Norsen's laboratory where his research will revolutionize the future of mankind. But Norsen's success with Claire infuriates another of her suitors, and he plans a terrible revenge.

Directed by Marcel l'Herbier, 1924, France, 135 min. Silent with English intertitles.

The screening will be introduced by Facets' director Milos Stehlik and will be followed by a discussion and wine reception.


  • Sunday, June 19 at 4:00 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation