Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fort Worth vs. Ingmar Bergman

Fifty years ago, the City of Fort Worth had the dubious distinction of blocking the showing of Ingmar Bergman's Academy Award-winning film Jungfrukällan / The Virgin Spring (1960) at the Capri Theatre, a long-since demolished venue that showcased independent world-class films and inspired, among others, Fort Worth musician T-Bone Burnett (by his own reckoning) to widen his horizons in life-changing ways.   

In JANUS FILMS, INC. v. CITY OF FORT WORTH 354 S. W. 2d 597 (1962), this act of censorship by the "Board of Censors" of Fort Worth was justified in part by the following statement:

The ordinance [Fort Worth Ordinance No. 2475] provides that no permit shall issue for the exhibition of motion pictures (or other forms of entertainment) which are, in the opinion of the Board of Censors, indecent or injurious to the morals of the citizens of Fort Worth, or which would tend to promote or encourage indecency, immorality, or racial or sectional prejudice, or juvenile delinquency.

If this ruling had stood, in 2012 it could have still been called upon to justify blocking the screening of Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012) or Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012). As it is, well -- I'll get to that.  

Presumably, the supposed justification for suppressing an Ingmar Bergman film was nullified by the US Supreme Court in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964).

Meanwhile, Fort Worth no longer has any daily venue for the screening of independent or international films. There is only the Magnolia at the Modern (Art Museum), which shows films only on weekends (usually), and the Lone Star Film Festival, which has been held once every year since 2007. For a city of its size (a little bigger than Detroit proper), Fort Worth is in serious need of a permanent "alternative" theater.  If we're lucky here, the planned Citizen Theater on Magnolia Avenue may bring succor by sometime in 2013 or so.  

Today's Rune: Movement.     


1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've been through Fort Worth several times in the past. A nice place. It did seem a little 'mainstream" perhaps. No campaign to "keep Fort Worth weird." :)