Bruno Ganz’s Smile

Gareth Evans looks forward to In The White City which is screening at Picturehouse Central from a rare 35mm print

The final film in our Bruno Ganz season at Picturehouse Central is a very rare screening of Alain Tanner’s In The White City from a 35mm print. As Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times on its 1983 release ‘In this film he [Ganz] delivers a remarkably sharp, complex portrait of a man who sets out to explore his own essentially irrational being without losing touch with what passes for the rational world.’

As the season draws to a close, Gareth Evans offers a final reflection on one of Ganz’s most wonderful features:

A smile is one of the great human gestures. A smile cannot be faked. A smile is undeniably itself, a profound expression of the best that humanity is and proposes – wry, relaxed, resilient, enduring, wondrous, awed, affectionate, committed, purposeful – fully aware of the sadnesses of being, but always larger than defeat.

A smile looks to the future but celebrates what is, at the same time. A smile is not imbued with the exchanges common to the marketplace, informed by commerce and the financial.

A smile is part of the altogether more humane gift economy. A smile encourages both reception and return, and creates an atmosphere in which the act of smiling is likely to be propagated further, in meetings and encounters to come.

Bruno Ganz has perhaps the greatest smile in contemporary cinema. This is both a joy to behold and at the same time entirely to be expected, since he embodies all the above qualities.


In The White City (15)

Director: Alain Tanner.
Starring: Bruno Ganz, Teresa Madruga, Julia Vonderlinn. Germany 1983. 108 mins. German, English, Portuguese & French with English Subtitles.

Ganz, that great loner of modernist cinema, here plays a Swiss seaman who jumps ship in Lisbon, gets involved with a barmaid, and sends reels of home movies back to his wife. Adrift in the exotic White City, he is robbed and then stabbed, loses the barmaid after a passionate fling, and finally hitting rock bottom he raises the fare home. The home movies, accompanied by Jean-Luc Barbier’s beautiful, hard-edged jazz score, terrifyingly reflect the disintegration of a man in flight from himself. But this is no idling tract on alienation, more an intrigue built around silences, blankness, deceptions of space and time. A teasingly simple film that compels and stimulates. (Time Out)

In The White City is preceded by a rare screening of Alain Tanner’s short film Nice Time. This montage of the night-life of Piccadilly Circus was shot in the area surrounding Picturehouse Central 60 years ago.

The screening takes place at Picturehouse Central on Tuesday 28 November, 6.30

The Party – In Cinemas Now

A witty, sharp and very funny new comedy that will be an unmissable date for everyone’s diary.

Watch the trailer