dlynn

The new Superwoman

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Oct 022010
 

Before the wind blows us too far past Scarlett O’Hara, I want to point out that opinions about her have changed as women have challenged their role in society.  GWTW was released on the cusp of a decade that dispensed a raft of movies featuring strong, even ruthless women; Joan Crawford epitomized this type, with her mannish shoulder pads and hard-edged face.  In an essay about the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the fair’s science director Gerald Wendt outlined social problems the Fair hoped to address—among them was “the ambitions of women” (Dawn of a New Day, published by The Queens Museum).  So, while modern viewers might call Scarlett obnoxious, it was her drive (her very narcissism) that appealed to contemporaneous movie-goers.   The movie allowed her to be every bit as ambitious as a man.  That was a big boost to women.  Plus, some Depression-era women thought men had screwed up America, and should now back off and give women room to fix it.

Memorial to 54th Regiment

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Oct 012010
 

Here is a link to a bas relief commemorating Robert G. Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment (the subject of next week’s film).  The memorial is at the National Gallery of Art in D.C.  If you click on different places within the photo it will enlarge that part of the relief so you can see details.  The artist did place Shaw in front, and on a horse—traditional elements of a classical-style piece such as this.  However, the artist also took care with the soldiers, to show range of ages and even traces of personality.  If you have time, the links below the image of the relief lead to interesting information, and don’t take long to read.

Memorial to 54th Regiment

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Oct 012010
 

Here is a link to a bas relief commemorating Robert G. Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment (the subject of next week’s film).  The memorial is at the National Gallery of Art in D.C.  If you click on different places within the photo it will enlarge that part of the relief so you can see details.  The artist did place Shaw in front, and on a horse—traditional elements of a classical-style piece such as this.  However, the artist also took care with the soldiers, to show range of ages and even traces of personality.  If you have time, the links below the image of the relief lead to interesting information, and don’t take long to read.

Slaves drowning

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Sep 232010
 

I know we all have plenty of disturbing images in our minds from the Middle Passage scenes in “Amistad.”   But I think it’s important to see that, although the way art is delivered to us has changed over the centuries, artists have always found ways to engage and arouse us.

Here’s a painting by J.M.W. Turner, done in 1840, one year after the Amistad events.  You may already be familiar with it from an art class.  It is nearly indecipherable at first glance, but if you look closely at the foreground you can see black bodies in the water, having been tossed from the slave ship in a group.  Turner used his medium of painting for the same purpose Spielberg used his medium of film—to unveil cruelty and make us see unspeakable truths.

Amistad means friendship

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Sep 222010
 

According to www.merriam-webster.com, the word “amistad” is a feminine noun meaning “friendship.”   Ironic considering the ship’s use in the 1900s.   But things have changed.  A nonprofit organization called Amistad America built a replica of the Amistad schooner, and is dedicated to cultivating diversity and erasing racism.

Hey cinephiles!

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Sep 042010
 

(From Deborah S., written Saturday night)  TNT is airing “The Patriot” at 9 p.m. tonight.  Sorry for the short notice, but I just found out, myself.

Sure cure for eternal infernal songs

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Sep 032010
 

(From Deborah S.)  This is strange but true:  If you have a song stuck in your head (such as That One from “Pocahontas”), you can get rid of it by singing the theme song to the old TV comedy “Gilligan’s Island.”  Here’s the good part:  the “Gilligan” theme song itself won’t get stuck.  I learned this when I sang with our community chorale, and darned if it doesn’t work.   If you don’t know the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song, here it is from YouTube. 


Non-historical thoughts about “Pocahontas”

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Aug 302010
 

     I’d never seen this Disney movie before, and at first thought it was following the “noble savage” route so well-traveled by the horrific “Dr. Quinn” TV series.  Then I realized that ”Pocahontas” is another “West Side Story,” Broadway score and all, but with organic mysticism taking the place of immigrant ambition.  Also, James Cameron apparently watched “Pocahontas” before writing ”Avatar”—but probably only needed one viewing to capture the subtle complexities of the plot.

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