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DCA Archive

Bluebeard's Castle

With recorded introduction by Lillian Crawford

See three films in our Powell & Pressburger season for £21 – select your tickets and the discount will be applied at checkout. Please note this offer excludes The Boy Who Turned Yellow, which is Pay What You Can.

This screening will feature a pre-recorded introduced by film and culture writer, Lillian Crawford, and is part of Cinema Unbound – our 14 screening Powell and Pressburger retrospective celebrating Britain’s greatest and most enduring filmmaking partnership.

Bluebeard’s Castle is an adaptation of Béla Bartok’s expressionist opera (which itself featured a libretto by the Hungarian film theorist Béla Balázs), produced for West German television. Bass-baritone Norman Foster stars as the titular wife-killer as he takes on a new bride (the Uruguayan mezzo-soprano Ana Raquel Satre). At the time of its 1918 premiere, Bartok’s opera was thought to be nearly unperformable due to the sheer abstraction of its onstage action; Powell and production designer Hein Heckroth use that abstraction as a glorious pretext to craft a vividly colourful, intensely stylized mise en scène, indelibly visualizing the psychodrama of Bartok and Balázs’s take on the Bluebeard folktale.

"...vividly colourful, intensely stylized"

Bluebeard’s Castle is performed in German and is presented without English subtitles for the libretto. This was the choice of director Michael Powell who wanted audiences to be immersed in the imagery of the film rather than reading subtitles. Instead, Powell created limited English subtitles that set the scene and provide context where he felt audiences might require additional information.

Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFl's Film Audience Network and National Lottery funding from the BFI.