Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ...
Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits
This page features links to reviews of movies, documentaries and exhibits with a historical theme. Listings are in reverse chronological order. Descriptions are taken directly from the linked publication. If you have articles you think should be listed on the Pop Culture page, please send them to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: NYT (6-20-08)
Behind the pictures are stories of smashed equipment and journalists beaten, of activists drawn south by images, of amateurs who picked up cameras for the first time. “The Race Beat,” a book by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, which won the Pulitzer Prize for history last year, traces the news coverage of the movement in heart-stopping detail. Now the High Museum of Art here has opened a large and popular exhibit that brings to light many new images of the era, along with the struggles of the photographers who made them.
Atlanta, where so many lions of the movement still live (and where the...
SOURCE: AP (6-19-08)
The 1543 copy of Copernicus' "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) was among more than 300 books offered Tuesday at Christie's auction. It was expected to sell for up to $1.2 million.
Christie's called the volume "arguably the finest copy in private hands."
SOURCE: Time (6-19-08)
Experts have confirmed "Rembrandt Laughing" — bought for a bargain price of $4.5 million at an English auction house in October — is a self-portrait by the Dutch master himself, depicted with his head tilted back in easygoing laughter.
William Noortman from Noortman Master Paintings, specializing in Dutch and Flemish masters, said it's worth $30 million to $40 million, adding: "I'm very surprised it didn't make more at auction."
The 9 1/2-inch-by-6 1/2-inch painting will hang in the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam through June 29, on loan from the anonymous Briton who bought it at the auction by Moore, Allen and Innocent in Gloucestershire and had it cleaned and examined by British experts.
SOURCE: Richard Dorment in the Telegraph (UK) (6-10-08)
Works like Delacroix's The Death of Sardanapalus (1827) and The Fanatics of Tangier (1838) set precedents for later depictions of the East as a place given to sexual excess, wanton cruelty, mass murder and unbridled sensuality.
But as Tate Britain's The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting makes clear, on this side of the Channel the story was very different.
From the 17th century onwards, British artists were happy to paint portraits of eccentric fellow countrymen and women who liked to dress up in oriental costume, but they didn't actually begin to visit the Middle East until the late 1830s.
At the start of the period, a few exhibited sensationalist subject pictures, such as William Allan's Slave Market, Constantinople of 1838. Later, John...
SOURCE: History Today (6-16-08)
SOURCE: AP (6-15-08)
It was driven by "superstar brides," including Grace Kelly, Tricia Nixon, Diana Spencer and Carolyn Bessette.
While few could afford their extravagance, the princess brides pointed the way to a particular style of designer gown or a certain brand of expensive champagne that, taken alone, might well be affordable, writes Jellison, an associate professor of history at Ohio University.
She attributes the endurance of white weddings through decades of cultural tumult -- including the rise of feminism and divorce rates -- to their adaptability; a white gown,...
SOURCE: AP (6-17-08)
They also feel it should tell of the trials they encountered stateside, like seeing German prisoners of war being treated better and afforded rights that were withheld from black American citizens.
Now that "Red Tails" is in preproduction, some of the airmen say they are excited their story is coming to the big screen but torn over how much it should devote to each of their two historic fights — against Adolf Hitler abroad and Jim Crow at home.
Lt. Col. Eldridge F. Williams, 91, wants the film to recount the discrimination they had to overcome in their own country. Williams, who served in the military from August 1941 to November 1963, said a white doctor's false diagnosis of an eye condition kept him from achieving his dream of being a pilot, though he...
SOURCE: Reuters (6-15-08)
Officials said a 1939 Mercedes Benz presented by the Nazi leader to King Tribhuvan, Gyanendra's grandfather, is now rusting at Nepal's main Narayanhiti palace grounds.
It has lain there for more than three years after an engineering college in Kathmandu, which was using it to train mechanics, said it did not have enough money and spare parts to restore the antique car.
But now efforts are being made to display the car in the palace, which the government is turning into a museum.
SOURCE: NYT (6-17-08)
In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”
Historians typically trace the origins of the World Wide Web through a lineage of Anglo-American...
SOURCE: AFP (6-14-08)
An indisputable icon of American pop culture, the Man of Steel made his first appearance in the June 1938 issue of "Action Comics." He is the brainchild of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, residents of the midwestern town of Cleveland, Ohio.
Superman can fly in the sky, but he's not a bird or a plane. He's faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
About 1.9 meters (six feet, three inches) tall and weighing some 102 kilos (225 pounds), Superman has blue eyes, black hair and is a mild-mannered reporter working at the "Daily Planet" newspaper under the alias Clark Kent. He was born on the planet Krypton, exiled to Earth as an infant, and for decades has been fighting for Truth, Justice and...
SOURCE: NYT (6-11-08)
SOURCE: AlterNet (6-10-08)
American slave trading is a human rights atrocity forever associated with the Confederacy of the Southern United States. Northerners are stereotypically portrayed as benevolent abolitionists fighting the South's slave labor plantations. But history is rarely that cut and dried.
Katrina Browne is the producer, director, and writer of "Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North," which premiers on PBS as part of the Point of View film series on June 24. She grew up very proud of ancestry: Her New England-based DeWolf family is filled with generations of prominent and successful people. The fact that they originally made their fortune as slave traders was only ever mentioned in family lore as a footnote. As Browne says, "I never thought to ask how we got so established."
SOURCE: Heather Wilhelm at the website of realclearpolitics.com (6-9-08)
Perhaps it's a sign of the times. After all, we did just surface from a similar drawn-out battle for presidential power, and we're not even past the election yet. Appropriately, then, HBO's weightier, earlier entry, John Adams, is scheduled to make a comeback this week: once screened exclusively on HBO, the series will be released in DVD format tomorrow, much to the delight of history buffs nationwide.
"I have no talent for politics," John Adams mutters, recalcitrant, early in the film. For the rest of the eight and a...
SOURCE: Salon (6-12-08)
After Perestroika ... Russia's economy spluttered and lurched as the old capitalist machine warmed up again after seven repressive decades of communism. These days, though, it is lubricated by a seemingly endless torrent of oil and natural gas, leaving the nation's elite awash in money. ...
Around 200,000 Russians now live in London (a sizable colony in a population of 7.5 million), and of these, around a tenth are those who would be considered super-wealthy. They come here in large part because of a lax tax law that allows "non-domiciled residents" to escape paying revenue on the mountains of money they bring into Britain. Much to the consternation of the upper-class old guard, they...
SOURCE: http://pajamasmedia.com (6-10-08)
One of the ironies of these supposedly post-racial Barack Obama times is that so much seventies-era identity politics has been coming back to haunt us like the “undead” in a horror movie.
And I’m not just talking about the excrescences of Wright, Pfleger and Meeks, et al. Director Spike Lee has reared his head to blow smoke from his joint again - targeting, of all people, Clint Eastwood.
According to Spike, the multiple Academy Award winning filmmaker erred by omitting black soldiers from his Iwo Jima movie Flags of Our Fathers. Never mind that Eastwood, director of Bird and evidently planning a film about Nelson Mandela, is about as far from a racist as you could get and never mind that historically the flag was hoisted over Iwo Jima by white guys, Spike had to get his two cents in. Crusty old Clint unsurprisingly told Lee to “Shut his...
SOURCE: Time (6-9-08)
"Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total, and there was not one Negro actor on the screen," Lee said at the Cannes Film Festival. "In his version of Iwo Jima, Negro soldiers did not exist." Eastwood's counter: "Has he ever studied history? [African-American soldiers] didn't raise the flag," he said. "If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, they'd say,...
SOURCE: DAVID STERRITT in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (6-9-08)
Today the film is widely regarded as a masterpiece of world cinema, but in 1958 its prospects didn't seem so bright. Advance publicity from Paramount Pictures had primed the public for a romantic thriller in the vein of previous Hitchcock hits, and the moody Vertigo was no such thing. In addition, Hitch was nervous about a screenplay decision he'd made, revealing the solution to the mystery with a third of the picture still to go. And marketers at Paramount didn't like the title. Would moviegoers know what it meant? Even if they did, would it sell tickets?
Those forebodings proved accurate. The pace was too...
SOURCE: NYT (6-8-08)
But this time he has tackled a more mythic monument: D. W. Griffith’s 1916 silent epic “Intolerance,” in particular the portion that unfolds in the court of ancient Babylon.
To create the film Griffith, the pioneer director, had a gargantuan set built in 1915 and filled it with sweeping staircases, plaster elephants and a cast of thousands. Although the movie is now frequently hailed as the diadem of his oeuvre, it flopped mightily at the box office. Griffith’s production company was forced into bankruptcy, and the fabulous set famously rotted in place for years at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards as Hollywood grew up around it, mainly because he couldn’t afford to take it down.
In Mr. Cvijanovic’s painted...
SOURCE: New Yorker (6-9-08)
The magazine had recently published its May/June issue, which includes the “Indy Spirit Awards,” a catalogue of those archeologists who best exemplify Dr. Jones’s spirit (e.g., Nels Nelson, 1875-1964: “When beset by outlaws in Mongolia, he brandished his glass eye at the brigands, who quickly fled”). Last Tuesday, Powell organized an expedition: a matinée in Long Island City, followed by lunch,...
SOURCE: NYT (6-6-08)
“The power of space was to raise our aspirations to those things that are possible,” he says, “if we will commit.”
He punches each of those last four words, so it comes out “If. We. Will. Commit!”
Those four words lay out the underlying argument of the six hours of a NASA documentary that goes far beyond recounting history, and which begins on Sunday at 9 p.m., Eastern and Pacific times, on the Discovery Channel.
Mr. Kranz is not just making a statement. He’s asking a question — will we commit? — and issuing a challenge: Well?
Mr. Kranz, who was the famous flight director on the nearly tragic Apollo 13 mission — Ed Harris played him in the 1995 movie “Apollo 13” — has still got the flattop. He’s still wearing a...