Tag Archives: film and visual media

Ten Days that Shook the World

Ten Days that Shook the World: A book (1919) by the US journalist John Reed (1887-1920), an eyewitness account of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917. Reed, who came from a wealthy background, was one of the leading radical figures in the USA, became a friend of Lenin and helped to found the US Communist Party. Accused of treason in the USA, he fled to Soviet Russia, where he died of typhus. After his death the US Communist Party established many John Reed’ clubs for writers and artists in US cities. His life is the subject of the film Reds (1981), directed by and starring Warren Beatty.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Bonnie and Clyde

As I get ready to leave school for the day, I’ll post this reading on Bonnie and Clyde and its attendant vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheetNota bene, please, that this is not biographical material on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, but rather a reading on Arthur Penn’s film starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, respectively, in the title roles.

Have you seen it? It’s a masterpiece by any standard I recognize.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Auteur Theory

auteur theory: A theory of film criticism and analysis that derived from the writings of Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, and others, which appeared in the influential magazine Cahiers du cinema in the early 1950s. In an article printed in Cahiers in 1954, Truffaut proposed “la politique des auteurs” in an effort to free directors from traditional script-dominated films. Truffaut and his colleagues, who were to become the vanguard of the New Wave, held that, although films are collaborative efforts, they should ultimately bear the artistic stamp of the director, whose personal vision creates the film as an author (auteur) would create a book. The theory was first championed in the U.S, by the critic Andrew Sarris.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

The Wizard of Oz

Finishing up on this unutterably beautiful morning in Southwestern Vermont, here is a reading on the classic film The Wizard of Oz along with its accompanying worksheet for building vocabulary and comprehension.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Apocalypse Now

“Apocalypse Now: A film (1979) directed by Francis Ford Coppola, loosely based on the story Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). The title refers to the Revelation of St. John the Divine, also called the Apocalypse; ‘apocalypse’ (Greek apokalupsis) literally means an uncovering, but is popularly taken to mean the violent end of the world, as described by St, John. The ‘Now’ in the title refers to the fact that the film is set during the Vietnam War (which had come to an end four years before the film’s release). The film stars Martin Sheen as US Army captain detailed to assassinated the renegade Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando, and includes such epic set pieces as a helicopter assault conducted to the accompaniment of Wagner’s ‘The Ride of the Valkyries.’ The massive cost of the film, which was shot in the Philippines and complicated when Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack, was compounded by the extent to which it went over schedule. In the film business it became known by the alternative titles Apocalypse When? or Apocalypse Later. During filming Coppola referred to the film as his “Idiodyssey.” He later said

‘We made Apocalypse the way Americans made war in Vietnam. There were too many of us, too much money and equipment—and little by little we went insane.’

In 2001 Coppola released his own cut, Apocalypse Now Redux (redux is Latin for ‘brought back,’ ‘restored’), which included the fabled ‘French plantation sequence,’ the existence of which had been rumored among fans for years.”

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Walter Wallace Decodes the Rockingham Meeting House Cemetery

While I realize that it’s not most people’s idea of fun, I like to spend time in cemeteries. I appreciate funerary art. I enjoy the solemnity and quiet of cemeteries. I benefit from the perspective cemeteries provide. And, since the advent of the smartphone, I enjoy using cemeteries as a primary source in historical research. One can learn a lot about the demographics of a town by its deceased citizens.

So, I am pleased to see that my pal Walter Wallace, in Springfield, Vermont, has worked with a local cable access production company to offer this video on Puritan symbolism on gravestones at the Rockingham Meeting House, in Rockingham Vermont, where he is a docent. Incidentally, this meeting house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Great work, Walter!

A Learning Support on Aesthetic Criteria for Reviews

A little over a decade ago, I worked for a couple of years in a middle school in the North Bronx. While there, I developed a short unit on writing reviews. Somewhere in along the way, across that ten-year span, I lost the unit (it took me a while, as a slow learner on these things, to master data storage), but somehow hung onto its templates. Those are in a folder awaiting redevelopment; I do think teaching students to write reviews is a good way to guide them to a broader understanding of culture in general, and the elements of culture in particular.

While rummaging around in some old folders, I found this learning support on aesthetic criteria for writing reviews. I remember distinctly that these lists were student generated. I acted only as a Socratic foil by asking questions to clarify terms.

At some point, I’ll get back to writing the unit this document was meant to support, and post its lessons in these pages.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.