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Pandora and the Flying Dutchman film image

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman

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“Albert Lewin’s gloriously Technicolor modern myth Pandora and the Flying Dutchman is almost unique — a staid yet outlandish star-vehicle that is also an exercise in by the book surrealism.

Based on the legend that inspired Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman,” Pandora has the doomed-to-wander sea captain cast anchor off the coast of a picturesque Spanish town, circa 1930. On shore and mad with desire, the men of the expat community are metaphorically sipping champagne from the slipper of the Indiana-born American singer, Pandora Reynolds (Gardner).

One hapless suitor kills himself, another demonstrates his adoration by pushing a beloved racing car off a cliff. Moments after agreeing to marriage, Pandora spots the mysterious yacht and impetuously dives into the sea. Swimming nude to the boat, she discovers its sole occupant, a dourly enigmatic Dutchman (James Mason), painting her portrait.

An arrogant matador (Mario Cabré, a former torero who had an onset affair with Gardner) further complicates the plot as the various love stories unfold amid a clutter of surrealist bric-a-brac — disembodied hands entwined in a tangled fisherman’s net, a racing car speeding past a headless Greek statue, a geometric chess set designed by Lewin’s friend Man Ray (who also painted Gardner’s portrait).” J Hoberman, New York Times

Newly restored in conjunction with the George Eastman House and The Film Foundation.

March 19: Introduction from Ashley Daniel Foot (Senior Manager, Partnerships and Engagement, Vancouver Opera) speaking about Vancouver Opera’s upcoming event, Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.


Watching this film is like entering a strange and wonderful dream.

Martin Scorsese

Passionate, classical, mysterious and surreal all at once.

Trevor Johnston, Time Out


Albert E. Lewin


Ava Gardner, James Mason, Nigel Patrick, Sylvia Sim

Country of Origin






126 min

Book Tickets

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Joe Kaufmann, Albert Lewin


Albert Lewin