Past events
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An elephant is an imposing creature – no wonder, that it has so often had the desires of humans projected onto it in films. There is no other animal that has been cast in such a variety of roles.

Its memory is proverbial, its communication system sophisticated, its roles diverse: the Terrible Beauty film series uses selected film examples to show how the elephant, the ‘pachyderm’ known and loved from TV and film, has always been a figure on which humans project their own interpretations and desires. A role which this striking animal not infrequently served was that of the embodiment of existing and outdated clichés of an authentic, strong, wild, indomitable Africa – a different, foreign, exotic but all the more fascinating place. From African Queen to Elephant Boy, from Hatari! to Light of Asia: this film series, commentated on by elephant and film experts from four continents, presents the elephant as a cinematic protagonist in a wide variety of configurations – sometimes cliché-laden, sometimes struggling to leave the clichés behind.

The programme comprises a total of around 20 documentaries, animated and feature films related to the themes of the exhibition and with a focus on elephant and human. The films are a mix of classics, historical discoveries and contemporary productions from Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. Around half of the films are suitable for a family audience, and are particularly aimed at children and young people. Each film will be screened in its original format with subtitles and/or with live interpretation. Each screening will begin with a five- to ten-minute, specially produced Eye-to-Eye introduction given by a person with a particular connection to the film. For example, in addition to international film experts, we have invited a South African ranger to introduce the film which was shot in ‘his’ national reserve, and a Tamil salesperson from Berlin, having watched Chandani and Her Elephant, will offer reflections on biographical parallels between herself and the film’s protagonist.

The Terrible Beauty film series is curated by Dorothee Wenner.

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The films

Further films and screening times from November will be published shortly

Programme Terrible Beauty