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: Mail (UK) (1-4-09)
The stunning work by Richard Stone, one of the world’s leading portrait artists, is revealed for the first time today by The Mail on Sunday.
The painting, which is not yet finished, depicts the Iron Lady at the height of her powers just after the Falklands War in 1982.
Mr Brown told Lady Thatcher he intended to commission the painting when he invited her to tea at No10 in September 2007, shortly after he succeeded Tony Blair. She told him she was ‘honoured’.
The portrait is to be hung in perpetuity in her former No10 study, unofficially known as the Thatcher Room, which Mr Brown uses for meetings with foreign dignitaries.
It is the first painting of a former Prime Minister ever to be commissioned by Downing Street. Even more remarkably, it will be the only painting of any Prime...
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (1-4-09)
A police spokeswoman said authorities in other countries had been asked to look out for the missing sculptures and etchings, worth an estimated 180,000 euros ($250,000).
They were stolen from the Fasanengalerie, a private gallery in the fashionable Charlottenburg district of western Berlin.
The missing works include Picasso's 1947 Profil au Fond Noir and Nude in a Rocking Chair (1913) by Matisse as well as a sculpture weighing around 100 kilograms...
SOURCE: BBC (1-4-09)
At the very least, he is the undisputed father of modern optics, or so we are told at school where our textbooks abound with his famous experiments with lenses and prisms, his study of the nature of light and its reflection, and the refraction and decomposition of light into the colours of the rainbow.
Yet, the truth is rather greyer; and I feel it important to point out that, certainly in the field of optics, Newton himself stood on the shoulders of a giant who lived 700 years earlier.
For, without doubt, another great physicist, who is worthy of ranking up alongside Newton, is a scientist born in AD 965 in what is now Iraq who went by the name of al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham.
Most people in the West will never have even heard of him.
As a physicist myself, I am quite in awe of this man's contribution to my field, but I was fortunate enough to have...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-3-09)
A £900,000 revamp of Down House, the Darwin family home near Orpington, Kent, will give visitors fresh insights into the story of evolution, with a new exhibition and the opportunity to be guided around its grounds by leading intellectuals.
Sir David Attenborough, Lord Bragg and the evolutionary biologist Steve Jones, are among the narrators of a multimedia tour of the gardens and fields around Down House, which will set out on handheld monitors their role as a natural laboratory for Darwin’s science. Professor Jones, of University College London, described the site as “Britain’s Galápagos”, because the observations that Darwin made there were as important to his intellectual development as those that he made during the voyage of...
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-3-09)
The story of the movie Kubrick never made - despite investing enormous energy into it - is to be told through a new art installation at the British Film Institute in London by the Turner-prize nominated artists Jane and Louise Wilson.
The twin sisters were invited to delve into the Stanley Kubrick archives at the University of the Arts in London and come up with a piece of work to coincide with a major Kubrick season on the South Bank this year. What they alighted on was the fascinating story of Aryan Papers, a film that he was adapting from Louis Begley's 1991 novel, Wartime Lies. It tells the story of a young Jewish boy hidden as a Catholic by his aunt.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-2-09)
The project to "promote an awareness of European identity" is the brainchild of Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the European Parliament and a Federalist German Christian Democrat.
"I should like to create a locus for history and for the future where the concept of the European idea can continue to grow," he said.
The European Parliament has approved the plan for a permanent exhibition on history with a display area covering up to an acre.
The creation of the museum goes hand in hand with moves by Germany and France to create a "European history book", to be taught in all schools across the EU to foster a common cultural identity.
But moves to define a "common European history" have been dogged by controversy and deep political...
SOURCE: Sky News (1-3-09)
Disappointed tourists cannot see anything beyond the boarding that surrounds the world-famous clipper.
On site, a rusting skeleton is all that is visible through the tarpaulin and scaffolding.
Arson was suspected, but the cause of the fire was more mundane - an industrial vacuum cleaner left on over a weekend.
First a crime scene and then a toxic hazard, it was months after the fire before work could commence on the site.
All the delays mean the ship will not reopen to the public this month as planned. Visitors will now have to wait until mid 2010.
The cost of the project has spiralled. Up to £10m of the £40m total still needs to be raised.
In the current economic climate, the clipper's keepers are finding that money increasingly hard to find.
Billed as the most famous ship in the world, 16m...
SOURCE: BBC (1-2-09)
The artworks - worth an estimated 180,000 euros ($250,000/£173,000) - were stolen over the New Year holiday.
Picasso's 1947 Profil au Fond Noir and Nude in a Rocking Chair (1913) by Matisse are among the pieces missing.
The works, including sculptures and etchings, were taken from the Fasanengalerie, a private gallery near western Berlin's shopping district...
SOURCE: Edward Zwick in the International Herald Tribune (12-30-08)
"No," he said,"this is a story about Jewish heroes. Like the Maccabees, only better."
The triumph of the three Bielski brothers, Tuvia, Zus and Asael, who fought the Nazis in the deep forests of Belarus and saved 1,200 lives, was unlike anything I had ever read about that dark time. Rather than victims wearing yellow stars, here were fighters in fur chapkas brandishing submachine guns. Instead of helplessness and submission, here were rage and resistance.
I knew of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto, yet it seemed to stand alone in the popular imagination as the only moment in which organized opposition took root. Yet I have learned that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the impulse to fight back was everywhere: from the streets of Vilnius to the forests of Bialystok, even unto the concrete...
SOURCE: Times (of London) (1-2-08)
While serving on a ship tracking Nazi submarines in the Gulf of Mexico, Hemingway wrote in code about his exploits.
The notes are among 3,000 letters and other writings by the Nobel laureate to be made accessible online from Monday by curators at the writer’s former residence in Cuba, where he lived from 1939 to 1961.
Scholars and fans hoping to read some unpublished fragments of stories may be disappointed as curators at the Finca VigÍa museum in Havana say that there are not known to be any new literary texts in the collection. Among the array of documents, though, they may find clues to some previously unexplained chapters in Hemingway’s colourful life.
SOURCE: Reuters (12-31-08)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-2-09)
Built for a nobleman as a country estate a couple of decades after the better-known White House, Ukraine's white house slipped into obscurity and disrepair in the bleak post-Soviet era. It now houses Chernomyn School, and school officials say they have appealed to the past two American presidents for funding for renovations without success.
With Barack Obama about to take office, students and teachers are once again trying to raise the $2.1 million needed to repair and repaint the dilapidated structure.
"We want this building to be as good as the real White House, we want to show it to the whole world," said school principal Ruslan Brol, 43.
Mr Brol said the architect who built the mansion in 1820, 20 years after...
SOURCE: CNN (1-1-09)
"I didn't mind someone saying, 'Well, your take on him, I don't really like,' or 'You've left these things out and included these things.' That's fine," Soderbergh said."What I didn't want was for somebody to be able to look at a scene and say, 'That never happened.'"
But he's aware that he's going to be accused of romanticizing the Argentine doctor and Marxist guerrilla who helped Cuba's Fidel Castro launch the first and only victorious socialist revolution in the Americas. He doesn't buy the criticism.
"I don't have sort of a personal investment in making him look one way or another," Soderbergh said in one interview with CNN."I picked [these periods in his life] because I was interested in the specifics of how you wage a war like this -- mostly because I don't believe you can wage a war like this anymore."
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-1-09)
This $58 million production was made entirely without American financing, and its eschewal of Hollywood formulae is quite startling. Soderbergh isn't interested in grand revelations about the Latin revolutionary hero Che Guevara, in potted psychology, in Che's controversial stature, or even in fitting his life into a two-part, four-hour-plus viewing marathon (in fact it covers only the last decade or so).
It's clear what Che is not, then, and one thing's for sure – it has absolutely no chance at the Oscars. But what is it?
The best I can do is "guerrilla biopic", but even that gives the impression of a portrait, and this film is a landscape, in its very bones. It's rangy and contemplative, a war picture about attrition, made with a painstaking fidelity to the factual record of Che's achievements, or those it...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-1-09)
Curators from the National Palace Museum in Taipei will head to Beijing for a chance to examine some of the 600,000 not-so-spectacular pieces of art that were left behind by the Nationalists and are now stored in China's capital.
China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT fled to the island...
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (1-1-09)
But besides using the opportunity to deal with the fact that Hitler planned to make Linz a major cultural center of the Third Reich, the steel town along the Danube river will offer a host of quirky cultural projects geared towards a wide public rather than a select few.
"Linz is an unknown creature even for Austrians," Mayor Franz Dobusch said of this town which was first mentioned as a medieval trading hub in 799, but which remained a small provincial center until the 20th century.
While few Austrians know about the medieval alleys of the historical center, most associate Linz with voestalpine AG, the steel producer that was founded as part of Nazi Germany's industrial complex in 1938, after Austria was annexed by the German Reich.