the colonial theatre marquee

Illuminating Cinema: The Man Who Laughs

Directed by Paul Leni. US. 1928. NR. 2 hour 4 minutes. Universal. Digital Restoration.
Sun., October 6, 2019
October 6, 2019
1:00 pm

Brand New 4K restoration with a newly recorded orchestral score by the Berklee School of Music! Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, this silent film classic tells the story of Gwynplaine (Conrad Veidt). Orphaned and disfigured by a villainous king, Gwynplaine wanders the countryside alone until one day his rescues an abandoned blind girl (Mary Philbin). As the years go by, the two lost souls fall in love – but a greedy royal adviser threatens their future. Famous for inspiring the look of the comic book villain The Joker, The Man Who Laughs is beautiful and haunting film that is ripe for rediscovery.

About the Talk & Conversation

The image is indelible – the hideously ironic grin of Conrad Veidt’s, “Gwynplaine,” conceived in the imagination of Victor Hugo, and rendered into being for the cinema screen by legendary make-up artist, Jack Pierce; the individual responsible for such classic imagery as Whale and Karloff’s, Frankenstein (1931), and Chaney, JR’s, The Wolfman (1942). The potency of that tragic rictus grin is undeniable, foremost amongst its progeny is Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s figure of “The Joker,” and like its iconic offspring, it presents an incongruous laugh, bearing witness to a world devoid of laughter. The insane visage of a jester seemingly without reason; driven insane by the violence and oppression that encompasses mortal life. In the hands of director, Paul Levi, the eponymous disfigurement becomes metaphorical, a deliberate commentary on the unease and stigma that follows the mutilated, those survivors of the First World War that medical advancements had saved, only for many within normal society to reject, to shun with muted embarrassment.

Come join us for this edition of Illuminating Cinema as we discuss the image of mutilation in early film, examining the arguments and artistry of the individuals behind such classics as, The Man Who Laughs (1928), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), The Penalty (1920), Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), and, Freaks (1932).

About the Speaker

Andrew Owen received an M.A. and a PhD in sociology from Bangor University, UK; and is a fulltime faculty member of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department at Lebanon Valley College. Andrew’s main areas of research focus on the social history of popular culture; analyzing areas related to propaganda, censorship, horror, and science fiction. Andrew also examines the phenomenon of humor in society, especially as it pertains to its usage by subordinated social groups to attack, challenge, or draw attention to the oppressive ideologies and practices of the dominant social group. Andrew has presented on the topic of film in several countries, including, Great Britain, Norway, and China, as well as throughout the United States. Most recently he has co-authored a chapter for the text, Becoming: Genre, Queerness, and Transformation in NBC’s Hannibal (Syracuse University Press, 2019).


1:00PM – Pre-Show Talk in the Garden Suite
1:30PM – Film Screening in the 1903 Theatre
3:40PM – Post-Show Conversation in the Garden Suite


Adults: $25
Seniors & Students: $20
Members: $18

Click HERE to purchase a ticket to The Exorcist film screening only.
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Discounts are available when you purchase tickets for all current Illuminating Cinema selections during the same transaction.

In addition to admission to the film screening and the pre- and post-film discussions, your Illuminating Cinema ticket includes a free small popcorn and a free small soda. Plus $5 beer or wine (at this event only).

A limited number of tickets are available for each Illuminating Cinema presentation so we encourage advance purchases.

Member Passes are not accepted for this program.

About Illuminating Cinema

When the credits end that’s when the conversation begins!

Illuminating Cinema connects you with film fans of all ages for fun, refreshments and engaging conversation. Each presentation begins with a pre-show introduction from a guest speaker who offers insight and observation to help sharpen your focus on the respective film. After the film, we’ll meet for an entertaining and enlightening conversation with the speaker and each other.

In addition to admission to the film screening and the pre- and post-film discussions, your Illuminating Cinema ticket includes a free small popcorn and a free small soda. Plus $5 beer or wine (at the Illuminating Cinema event only).

Focus your appreciation for film with Illuminating Cinema!