The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 11-17

Moana being tattooed in Robert Flaherty’s MOANA WITH SOUND (1926/1980). Copyright 2014 The Robert and Frances Flaherty Study Center. Playing November 13-19.
Copyright 2014 The Robert and Frances Flaherty Study Center.

Moana (1926/1980)
Directed by Robert Flaherty
The measured pace and muted drama of this partly staged documentary mirror the rhythms of the lives it observes. In a probably somewhat idealized snapshot of an obsolete culture, co-directors (and husband-wife team) Robert and Frances Flaherty structured a loose story around the everyday activities of a few photogenic residents of a small Samoan island town. Depicting some recently abandoned customs and costumes as if they were still in use, the Flahertys and their Samoan collaborators capture in fascinating detail things like snaring a wild hog and creating a garment from a strip of mulberry bark. Dialogue and ambient sound recorded by the Flaherty’s daughter Monica on the island five decades later was seamlessly integrated into the originally silent film in this newly restored version, augmenting the vitality of the unshowily beautiful and enviably well-balanced way of life it depicts. Elise Nakhnikian (November 13-19 at Film Forum; showtimes daily)

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