Thursday, September 11, 2008

Documenting History/History of Documenting

You caught me. I haven't been posting anything for a while, and that was very bad of me. In my defense, the summer got really crazy, with not enough time for films OR blogging. But, now that I am back in school, life is settling down, and I have to watch at least two films a week in school, I am going to try and back to blogging!

One of my film theory classes this semester is Documentary History. So far we have watched some early Lumiere films -- the grandfathers of documentary's if you will -- Nannook of the North, which a lot of people think of as the first documentary, but since the term wasn't even coined yet...I think it gave us a lot of the style choices we make today when documenting nature or people in other parts of the world, but I don't think it should be held accountable for its not being cinéma vérité.

Anyway, then we watched Man With a Movie Camera and yesterday we finished our discussions on it and watched two federally funded films of the late depression era. These were really neat, with striking footage of ecological disasters. The first one we watched was The River, about the Mississippi. The narrator speaks in poetry, and the script actually won a Pulitzer Prize Award for poetry. The music, for both films, was composed by Virgil Thompson, so you can imagine what that sounded like.

One of the reasons we watched The River was that it talks about the flooding of the New Orleans area that happened in the early part of the twentieth century, and our Professor felt it was interesting to see how the government knew about these problems seventy years ago, and still we had the devastation of Katrina. Also interesting to note that the film puts almost all responsibility on Human interference with nature, and yet there are still people denying that today...*cough, sara palin, cough*.

Our first paper is due next week and I will be sure to post some if not all of it here on my blog. I will be writing about 51 Birch Street which says some interesting things about family, secrets and love. So check back for that!

1 comment:

Onkel Hankie Pants said...

If too much water comes down the Mississippi from Minnesota, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can open a huge gate and let the river flow directly to Lake Pontchartrain, bypassing New Orleans. This system was the government's main response to the New Orleans flooding described in The River. It's called the Bonnet Carre Spillway Project, and you can visit it and even drive across the 1.5-mile-wide spillway that would carry all that water. Unfortunately, the Katrina flooding was from water coming up from the south, not down from the north.