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 email@example.com.
SOURCE: MOTOKO RICH and BRIAN STELTER in NYT (12-30-08)
The story of Herman and Roma Rosenblat, who said they reunited years later on a blind date in New York, turned out to be fabricated, and over the weekend the publisher of his memoir, “Angel at the Fence: The True Story of a Love That Survived,” canceled the February release of the book. This isn’t the first time either a publisher or Ms. Winfrey has been gullible in the face of an exaggerated tale. Now both Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, and Ms. Winfrey are faces on a media dartboard, with Ms. Winfrey dodging criticisms of what the media blog Gawker called her “liar’s club.”
SOURCE: WSJ (12-31-08)
The first thing you learn as you enter the temporary gallery is that Grant was a much better artist than Lee. Indeed, while Lee was able to go all four years at West Point without a single demerit and graduated second in his class, his artistic talents left something to be desired. On display here is a crude 1847 pencil sketch of Mexican soldiers trying to capture a farmer's pig for supper.
By contrast, Grant struggled to even graduate near the bottom of his class, but he was a talented watercolorist. One such work, from 1843 and on loan from the West Point Library, depicts Indians bartering for goods, while another, from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, is a beautiful pastoral...
SOURCE: NYT (12-30-08)
Mr. Salinger’s disappearing act has succeeded so well, in fact, that it may be hard for readers who aren’t middle-aged to appreciate what a sensation he once caused. With its very first sentence, his novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” which came out in 1951, introduced a brand-new voice in American writing, and it quickly became a cult book, a rite of passage for the brainy and disaffected. “Nine Stories,” published two years later, made Mr....
SOURCE: Historian Deborah Lipstadt at CNN.com (12-31-08)
Rosenblat's claim that, as an inmate in a Buchenwald sub-camp, he had survived because a young girl had tossed an apple over the fence each day for seven months just did not seem credible to me.
The notion that a concentration camp inmate could approach the fence without the SS shooting him beggared the imagination. I could not believe that a little girl whose family was supposedly passing as non-Jews would allow their daughter to engage in such an act.
The fairy tale nature of the incident was enhanced by the supposed reunion of the couple on a blind date years later when both had moved to America. The story was that they discovered each other's true identity and,...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (12-31-08)
In a biography to mark the 250th anniversary of Burns's birth, Prof Robert Crawford of St Andrews University has unearthed new evidence which he believes is conclusive proof that Burns was a democrat who sympathised with the French revolution.
A private journal written by a contemporary of Burns records meeting the poet and a friend in Dumfries, two months before he died there in July 1796, aged 37. The diary by James Macdonald recalled: "They were both staunch republicans." Crawford said this claim could have had explosive consequences for Burns: "It was dangerous to be called that then."
SOURCE: Times (UK) (12-31-08)
This is not a new James Bond film, but Craig playing the lead role as Tuvia Bielski, a real life Jewish partisan commander who waged guerrilla warfare against the Germans in Poland during the Second World War.
Bielski’s and his fighters saved more than 1,200 civilians, mainly Jews, and their exploits are about to be celebrated in “Defiance”, a $50 million Hollywood film which premieres this week.
Bielski’s extraordinary courage is meant to cast a new light on the Holocaust. After the Nazis murdered Bielski's parents and his first wife, he and his brothers Zus, Asael and Aharon decided to fight back rather than accept their fate. The brothers transform fellow Jews from the terrorised, hopeless victims -- familiar in films such as Schinder’s List and The Pianist --...
Rarely can a writer's prediction have been so far off the mark. The Diary of Anne Frank, first published in 1947, has become the best-selling book in the world after the Bible. It is perhaps the most celebrated book of the 20th century. Written with wit and insight, the diary presents the best-known life story of all the six million people who lost their lives during the Holocaust. And it is this story that BBC1 has decided to dramatise in a riveting new five-part serial, adapted by novelist Deborah Moggach, that starts on Monday.
The details of Anne's extraordinary life bear repetition. Just a few weeks...
The finds include the remains of a 65 ft-long hadrosaurus, which could be a record size for the duck-billed dinosaur. In addition, the first ceratopsian skull to be found outside of North America has been excavated.
Mr Zhao said the majority of the fossils dated from the late Cretaceous period, leading up to when dinosaurs became extinct around 65 million years ago. He said the area was originally marshland and an ideal environment for duck-billed hadrosaurs.
Zhucheng, known locally as China's "Dinosaur City," has produced dinosaur fossils in some 30 sites, since the first major field was discovered in the 1960s by a team searching for oil.
At the time, the British aristocracy was extremely worried about the risks of radical ideas spreading in Britain following the French revolution and of threats to George III's life.
But Prof Crawford has discovered a private journal, written by a contemporary of Burns, which records meeting the poet and a friend in Dumfries, two months before he died there in July 1796, aged 37.
The diary by James Macdonald says: "They were both staunch republicans."
Expressing such sentiments could have resulted in Burns being deported to a penal colony in Australia.
Prof Crawford said: "Particularly towards the end of his life in the 1790s, democracy was a dirty word. It was a word associated with terrorism, a word which has...
SOURCE: NYT (12-28-08)
... Atlantic Overseas Pictures, which is making a movie based on Mr. Rosenblat’s story, said it would proceed with production and “portray the fictional elements of the love story.” Atlantic said that Mr. Rosenblat had “agreed to donate all monies from the film to Holocaust survivor charities as a condition to moving forward.”
SOURCE: Jeffrey Herf in the New Republic (12-30-08)
A new German movie that has attracted considerable attention in Europe is part of this tradition--albeit in an unusual way. While Vergangenheitsbewältigung generally refers to examination of the Nazi era, this film looks at another chapter in German history: the rise, during the 1970s, of a radical left-wing group called the Red Army Faction (or the Baader-Meinhof Gang, after its leaders, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof). Obviously, the group's...
SOURCE: Reuters (12-26-08)
Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, all statues and monuments in public squares made reference to Saddam's Baath party or told a story about its military victories against Iraq's numerous enemies.
Along with the giant Saddam statue that U.S. troops pulled down from Baghdad's al-Firdous square before television cameras in April 2003, many other images of the former president, often in military uniform, dotted the city.
SOURCE: AP (12-24-08)
Poe - author of "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and other poems and tales of the macabre - was born in Boston on Jan. 19, 1809. He was raised largely in Richmond. As an adult, he migrated between Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York.
Befitting his difficulty establishing roots, Poe will be feted at birthday parties in those five cities in January. Events will continue throughout the year - including new museum exhibits, performances and readings of Poe's work, academic conferences and, in Baltimore, a reenactment of his funeral that is sure to draw more mourners than the hasty burial itself.
The push to honor Poe dovetails with an escalating debate about the places that were most important to the author's life and work.
SOURCE: LAT (12-30-08)
But the new movie "Milk," on the life of one of the first openly gay politicians to hold office in the United States, has given students at the nation's first public school dedicated to teaching gay, lesbian and transgender youths a glimpse into the leader's legacy, connecting them to a history many never knew.
"When it finished, I just felt so proud that I go to his school," said Matthew "Matty" Agostini, 18, who watched an advance screening with classmates from Harvey Milk High School. "After he died, when they showed the people marching and there was a long line of people holding candles, I remember thinking if I was there, I would have been walking too....
SOURCE: FoxNews.com (12-28-08)
The selection among four finalists -- Gehry Partners, Los Angeles; Krueck and Sexton, Chicago; Rogers Marvel Architects, New York; and PWP Landscape Architecture, Berkley, Calif. -- is expected in March.
"Eisenhower is overdue," said Carl Reddel, executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. "One of these designers will have the opportunity to bring Ike's legacy of integrity, leadership and public service to the forefront of American thought."
The four-acre site several blocks from the U.S. Capitol will be the first national presidential memorial of the 21st century. It will sit across the street from the National Air and Space Museum, which is fitting as Eisenhower is credited with establishing the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA.
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (12-29-08)
The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce, made in Australia and starring two Northern Irish actors, opened in Tasmania recently and was shown on Ireland’s RTE Television on Monday. The film’s rather chilling tagline is: “No man knows what hunger will make him do.”
Pearce, a farm labourer, was transported to Australia in 1819 for stealing six pairs of shoes, and ended up on Sarah Island, a notoriously harsh penal colony off the west coast of Tasmania. Flogged repeatedly for the slightest misdemeanour, tortured and brutalised, he decided to escape, along with seven fellow prisoners.
Hacking through dense...
SOURCE: http://www.examiner.com (12-28-08)
"It's a sensitive subject. It's an important subject, though," museum director Cindi Malinick said of an exhibit on black history in the White House neighborhood. "The more we discuss it and discuss ... how these people lived and worked and got through their lives, I think the better off we all will be as a society."
Decatur House, now administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, holds one of the few remaining examples of urban slavery in the United States, Malinick said.
It was there that 15 members of the King and...
SOURCE: David Forsmark at frontpagemag.com (12-29-08)
Why, indeed? It's a great, even inspiring story that anyone interested in World War II history should know.
However, it's also a story that the Allied forces occupying Europe had as little interest in telling as the Nazis did. Granting Germans any amount of national pride was not exactly a priority at the end of a brutal, terrifyingly nasty war.
Nor would the widows and orphans of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge find comfort in knowing that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal henchmen vetoed Allied involvement with the plotters -- despite Winston Churchill's objections.
As a result, the myth crafted by Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels himself -- that the anti-...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-28-08)
"Che lives!" we of the great unwashed cried in the Sixties, and, more than 40 years after his death, it seems only right that he remains insistently among us – as an idea, a global brand, and, in these times of capitalism's crisis, a useful provocation.
His old pal, Fidel Castro, is still in business in Cuba, new books continue to feed the Guevara legend, and now, lumbering onto the pop-cultural battlefield like some huge, agitprop-lobbing trench mortar, comes Steven Soderbergh's four-hour-plus, two-part Hollywood biopic Che.
The film, starring Oscar-winner Benicio del Toro in the title role, has sharply divided opinion, with grown Frenchmen weeping in the aisles during its first outing at Cannes, while outraged Cuban exiles hurled bottles of habanero salsa at the screen in Miami. Some...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-27-08)
Little was known about A Portrait of a Lady and a Boy with Pan by John Hayls, the Baroque painter, when it was aquired by the Tate in 1995.
But a stencilled lot number on the canvas was found to refer to a Christie's sale in 1929, when the artwork - dated 1655-9 - had been described as"Portrait of Mrs Dobson, of West Peckham, Kent, and her son, Thomas Dobson, in a landscape with Satyr and Cupids".
Yet there was nothing cherub-like visible on the canvas. The mystery was resolved when an infrared photograph was taken, which revealed two Cupids holding a wreath, together with a rose being thrown into the lady's lap and a theorbo - a long necked lute - at the right of the painting.