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Marlon Brando in costume as Napoleon in the film "Desire"
"Desiree" (1954)

This Month at the Packard Campus Theater — November 2023

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Larger in life than he was in stature, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) fought against the French monarchy to end their royal rule over France.  He eventually became Emperor of the French which was kind of like being king but without the bluish bloodlines.  Mirroring another western European ruler that would come along a century later, Napoleon was charismatic but bit crazy.  And like that other guy, one of his biggest missteps was thinking he could militarily defeat Russia.  However, between wars (with intermittent periods of peace), Napoleon did make strides in stabilizing France as it transitioned from monarchy to some form of a republic.  This month we take a look at that brief time known as the Napoleonic Era and see what France was up to in those early days of the 19th century.

And–JUST ADDED–“Language is Life,” a look at Native American language and its endurance…. 

Image from film under CinemaScope banner and on a yellow background
“Desiree” (1954)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2  @ 7:30 p.m.

Desiree (20th Century-Fox, 1954)

Marlon Brando takes a turn at portraying Napoleon . Variety called the film “easily one of the best and most potent costumers to come along in the widescreen age,” while calling Brando’s performance “a masterful exhibition of thesping.”  While there is plenty of war and politics in the film, it is also a love story between Napoleon and his true love, Desiree (played by Jean Simmons). Color, 110 minutes.

Image of French flag--red, white and blue--also contains drawings of the faces of the film's two lead actors
“Danton” (1983)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 3 @ 7:30 p.m.

Danton (Gaumont, 1983)

Per the Polish Cinema Database:  “[The] action opens in November of 1793, with Danton returning to Paris from his country retreat upon learning that the Committee for Public Safety, under Robespierre’s incitement, has begun a series of massive executions, The Terror.  Confident in the people’s support, Danton clashes with his former ally, but calculating Robespierre soon rounds up Danton and his followers, tries them before a revolutionary tribunal and dispatches them to the guillotine.”  The film stars Gerard Depardieu. French with English subtitles. Color, 136 minutes.

Native American Man in traditional dress at ceremony
“Language is Life”


Language is Life (PBS, 2023)

Explore the beauty and power of contemporary “Indian” Cultural in this Native-American directed series.  Language is Life celebrates the power of Native languages and the inspirational people who are working to save them.  From “Star Wars” films dubbed into Navajo all the way back to Passamaquoddy wax cylinders recorded in 1890 that were digitized by the Library of Congress here in Culpeper last year.  A panel discussion with representatives from the Passamaquoddy, as well as director Daniel Golding and executive producer Gary Glassman will follow the screening.  Color, 90 minutes.


Illustrative portrait of Ronald Colman in front of flaming background and large, graphic letters
“A Tale of Two Cities” (1935)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER  9 @ 7:30 p.m.

A Tale of Two Cities (MGM, 1935)

It was the best of times, it was  the…. well, in the mid 1930s, it was nothing but the best if you were able to cast Ronald Colman as the lead of your film.  Colman is at the top of his game in this retelling of life before and during the French Revolution.  It is one of Colman’s best films and a role he long coveted.  Earlier, in 1935, producer David O. Selznick also produced another Charles Dickens story, David Copperfield. Black & White, 123 minutes.

Opulent sitll from film with title of film--"Waterloo"--at bottom of image
“Waterloo” (1970)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16 @ 7:30 p.m.

Waterloo (Paramount, 1970)

The name of Napoleon’s most famous battle is now synonymous with failure.  This time it is Rod Steiger who portrays the Emperor of the French, and the rest of the cast is rather impressive, too, with Orson Welles, Christopher Plummer and Jack Hawkins amongst the many well-known players in this epic.  A multinational production, shot partially in Ukraine, the film has been praised for its historical accuracy. Color, 123 minutes.

Black and white images from film showcasing film stars Allen adn Keaton
“Love and Death” (1975)


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17  @ 7:30 p.m.

Love and Death (United Artists, 1975)

James Tolkan plays Napoleon, but it is Woody Allen and Diane Keaton that truly star in the film.  Woody is a Russian, of course, and the story looks at Napoleon from the POV of his main adversary.  Directed and written by Allen, the film was made after Sleeper and before Annie Hall, and so it was within the golden age of the filmmaker’s career.  Allen called Keaton his “muse” and the two have made eight films together, were once romantically involved and even today remain close friends. Color, 145 minutes.

Against vibrant blue backdrop, Kirsten Dunst, in pink costume, smiles at camera
“Marie Antoinette” (2006)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17  @ 7:30 p.m.

Marie Antoinette (Columbia, 2006)

The life of the last Queen of France is told–with a very modern interpretation.  Rock music combines with period appropriate classical music and the characters take on a bit of 21st century attitude to go with their 18th century settings, costumes and story.  Kirsten Dunst plays Marie and the film was directed by Sofia Coppola.  The film received both boo’s and a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival when it was first debuted, showing Coppola did something right. Color, 123 minutes.




Please note:  Due to necessary electrical maintenance to the NAVCC facility, the film screening schedule for the next few months will be altered. The Packard Campus Theater will be screening films on Thursday and Friday nights only.  (Minus holidays and holiday weekends.)  Programs are free and the matinee show will be family friendly. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Seating at the screenings is on a first-come, first-served basis unless otherwise noted.

Patrons must go through an “airport style” security check upon entering and no large parcels, purses or backpacks are permitted.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. 930) prohibits the possession of any firearm or other dangerous weapons on this Federal facility. This includes in the parking lot, on all roads, trails, and grounds as well as inside the building. This also applies to off-duty law enforcement officers (LEO) and concealed-carry permit holders.

The Packard Campus is located at 19053 Mount Pony Road in Culpeper, Virginia. Access to the campus parking lot begins one hour before show time, entrance into the building begins 45 minutes before the show, and the theater opens for seating 30 minutes before the curtain. Please do not arrive early and queue at the Packard Campus gate.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center oversees one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world. Acquired primarily through copyright deposit, exchange, gift and purchase, the collection spans the entire history of the cinema. Since 2008, the art deco theater located at the Packard Campus has shown films each week and screened more than 2,500 titles. The programs highlight the best in cinema, including silent films, Hollywood classics, kids’ cartoons and foreign films.

For more information on LC screenings, see this link.



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