The March 19 & 24 screenings will be presented with live musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin.
“This is a story they tell in old Madrid… the story, they say, is true.” A Freudian pile-up of repressed desires, castration anxiety, and Oedipal subtext, The Unknown is widely considered Browning’s crowning achievement and one of the premier works of the silent era. Lon Chaney stars as the Great Alonzo, a supposedly armless precision knife-thrower with a secret or two, including his love for Nanon (Joan Crawford in her breakout role), his assistant, who is possessed by a phobia of men’s upper extremities. Unencumbered by subplots or final-reel repentances, Browning crafts a hallucinatory parable of pent-up passions run amok that unfurls with delirious, brute-force momentum until the very last moment—as strange and haunting today as it was nearly a century ago. The Unknown has finally been restored to essentially its full length by the George Eastman Museum, with approximately 10 minutes of previously lost shots and sequences taken from a Czech export print in the collection of the National Film Archive in Prague. Presented in a digital reproduction of a 35mm print restored by the George Eastman Museum with funding from NFPF.