The Cinema of Law film series is back with screenings in the Berkshire Athenaeum auditorium each Tuesday evening in March at 6 pm. Presentations are co-sponsored by the Berkshire Bar, the Berkshire Law Library and the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum. Free and open to the public. No registration required. Join us for one or more!
Tuesday, March 6 The Crucible (1996) 6 pm
The Crucible is an American historical drama about the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials, based on the play of the same title by Arthur Miller. In 1953, Miller saw his play as a comment on the repressive tactics used by the House Un-American Activities Committee, in their effort to root out Communists from American society. Miller wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film.
The film will be introduced by Veronica Van Tol, Assistant District Attorney for Berkshire County.
Tuesday, March 13 The Salem Witchcraft Trial of George Jacobs: Art and Legal History Lecture by Gary Smith, Librarian and Art Historian 6 pm
Focusing on a nineteenth century painting of The Trial of George Jacobs by Tompkins Matteson and related art works, this presentation will examine the value of visual imagery in the study of legal history. George Jacobs was tried as a witch in Salem in 1692. Smith will examine how artistic representations of witches and witchcraft trials changed over time, and what this tells us about changing attitudes about witchcraft and the law.
Gary Smith has a M.A. and A.D.B. in the History of Art, as well as an MLS (Master of Library Science), and is particularly interested in the intersection between art and law.
Tuesday, March 20 The Scarlet Letter (1926) 6 pm
The Scarlet Letter is a silent film based on the famous novel (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Set in the strict Puritan society of Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1640s, the film stars Lillian Gish as Hester Prynne, whose affair with her minister leads to the birth of a child. Hester refuses to reveal the name of the father, and Reverend Dimmesdale suffers over what to do. For her adultery as prescribed by law, Hester is publicly shamed and sentenced to wear a scarlet A on her clothing for the rest of her life.
Marilyn Manning, member of the Executive Committee of the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum and Events Chairperson, will be introducing the film. For this assignment, she is drawing upon knowledge from her time as a teacher at Crosby Junior High and Pittsfield High School.
Mike Schiffer, Berkshire County pianist, will perform live improvised music for the silent film. Schiffer performed his first music for a silent film in the late 1940s at Kenyon College.
Tuesday, March 27 Bob Roberts (1992) 6 pm
This film is a satire about a political campaign, seen by many reviewers as shockingly prophetic of the current political situation in the United States. The film follows the political career of the fictitious Robert “Bob” Roberts, a millionaire businessman and musician who runs for the U.S. Senate with an ultra-conservative populist campaign. Written, directed and starring Tim Robins, the film also features Gore Vidal, Giancarlo Esposito, Brian Surray, Susan Sarandon, James Spader, Ray Wise, and John Cusack.