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: AFP (2-27-09)
So begins the wrenching account of Frau W., a prisoner of the Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrueck north of Berlin who between mid-1943 and December 1944 was forced to work as a sex slave for her fellow detainees.
Her story forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition at Ravensbrueck about the fate of women pressed into prostitution between 1942 and 1945, like Asia's "comfort women" during World War II.
But rather than servicing soldiers, the camp prostitutes were the brainchild of SS chief Heinrich Himmler to increase productivity among forced labourers and try to keep homosexuality from "breaking out" among their ranks.
Their numbers were far smaller than the tens of thousands of "comfort women" kidnapped across Asia to...
SOURCE: NYT (2-27-09)
Yet the honoree is not a war hero, nor even a patriot. It is the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, who welcomed the brutal German occupation of Norway during World War II and gave his Nobel Prize in Literature as a gift to the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. Hamsun later flew to meet Hitler at Hitler’s mountain lair in Bavaria.
Why the festivities, then? Call it reconciliation therapy, or a national airing out.
Hamsun died in 1952 at 92, shunned by his countrymen and heavily fined for his spectacular wartime betrayal. But as the author of revered novels like “Hunger,” “Pan” and “Growth of the Soil,” Hamsun has remained on school reading lists and in the hearts of many Norwegians.
“We can’t help loving him, though we...
SOURCE: NYT (2-27-09)
The work and story of Schulz, a Jewish writer and painter in Poland who was forced to illustrate a children’s playroom in a Nazi officer’s home and then killed, have long attracted literary attention. There was something about his humility, talent and fate that captivated writers like Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth and David Grossman, who all made him a character in their works.
Yet until the wall drawings for children were discovered in 2001 by a documentary filmmaker, fading and peeling like ancient Roman frescoes, they were thought to have been destroyed. Spirited out of Schulz’s hometown in what is now Ukraine under contested circumstances...
SOURCE: NYT (2-26-09)
SOURCE: Economist (2-26-09)
Reviled in some circles and mocked in others, Rand’s 1957 novel of embattled capitalism is a favourite of libertarians and college students. Lately, though, its appeal has been growing. According to data from TitleZ, a firm that tracks bestseller rankings on Amazon, an online retailer, the book’s 30-day average Amazon rank was 127 on February 21st, well above its average over the past two years of 542. On January 13th the book’s ranking was 33, briefly besting President Barack Obama’s popular tome, “The Audacity of Hope”.
Tellingly, the spikes in the novel’s sales coincide with the news (see chart). The first jump, in September 2007, followed dramatic interest-rate cuts by...
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (2-27-09)
The exhibition, Voids, a Retrospective, fills, or fails to fill, five rooms in the French national museum of modern art on the fourth floor of the Pompidou building. All the rooms are entirely empty. The walls are white. The floors are bare. The lighting has been arranged just as carefully as for any other temporary exhibition. The gardiens (guards) watch suspiciously to make sure that the visitors do not touch anything, or in this case that they do not touch nothing.
The aim of the retrospective exhibition – refused by several other leading museums in other countries – is...
SOURCE: Times (UK) (2-27-09)
Hughes, who died in 1998, wrote The Story of Vasco in the late 1960s, but his version of the play was never performed because it was intended to be adapted into a libretto for an opera.
The play is an adaptation of a French drama by Georges Schehadé, but Hughes infused it with his own language and imagery.
The opera, also called The Story of Vasco, was performed at Sadler’s Wells in 1974, but Hughes’s source material was heavily cut, according to Gordon Crosse, who wrote the music...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-27-09)
The finger – the middle digit from Galileo's right hand – is mounted on a marble base and encased in a crystal jar.
It will be among 250 objects which will go on display in Florence as part of an exhibition entitled Galileo: Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope, which opens next month in Florence.
The finger was removed when the astronomer's body when it was exhumed from his unconsecrated grave and transferred to a mausoleum in a Florentine church in 1737. It is usually on display at Florence's Museum of the History of Science.
Last month British and Italian scientists unveiled plans to exhume Galileo's body to determine whether a degenerative eye condition affected his observation of the planets in later life...
SOURCE: Spiegel Online (2-27-09)
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the school and a series of events and exhibitions are about to remind us once again that without Gropius the world of architecture and design would look very different today.
Gropius, who was 35 at the time, had made it his principle to turn his back on tradition and yet, in a thoroughly old-fashioned way, he was also determined to assume social responsibility. On March 20, 1919, he submitted an application to establish an academy in the...
SOURCE: Robert Nedelkoff at the New Nixon blog (2-19-09)
So why is Dean writing about Frost/Nixon? It would appear that his big concern is that the film and play overglorify the role of James Reston Jr. in the development of David Frost’s line of questioning that led to the catharsis depicted so effectively in the play and film by Frank Langella as RN.
(Indeed, whenever Dean does bother to see the film, his fears might be assuaged. Sam Rockwell amusingly delineates Reston as a self-important, somewhat obtuse Nixon-hater whose contribution to the Frost team’s “strategy” isn’t as vast as he thinks it is.)
The onetime White House counsel spends a paragraph discussing Reston’s father, the longtime New York Times columnist Scotty Reston,...
SOURCE: New Republic (2-24-09)
If one were able to descend into that room, and if that room were as bottomless as the agonies for which it stands, and if our universe were shaped like Dante's, we would re-emerge from the...
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (2-23-09)
In its reliance on homemade movies, Dews’s film is also reminiscent of Andrew Jarecki’s Capturing the Friedmans (2004). Dews’s film, however, has no single narrator, strictly confining itself to pieced-together audio recordings, home movies and old photographs that Dews’s grandmother Allis left behind when she died in 2001, at the age of 90. They were found with a note that said, “Must Read After My Death.”
The voices of Allis, her husband Charley, and their four children — one of whom was Dews’s mother — provide the narration for the film. Allis clearly took pleasure — perhaps even a weird sort of pride — in the relentless documentation of...
SOURCE: Media Week (2-23-09)
The upcoming 12-Webisode History.com exclusive will feature the historian Timothy Dickenson, who is known for his love of strange or unexpected stories. For example, episodes of the series have been titled Great Moon Hoax and Jimmy Carter vs. The Killer Rabbit.
Besides Dickenson’s commentary, episodes of the new broadband original will incorporate animation aimed at brining the bizarre tales to life, said officials.
SOURCE: NYT (2-26-09)
“We were both tall black ladies with attitude, and most people were really scared of us,” Ms. Angelou told a crowd that filled the pews and balconies as Pete Seeger warmed up offstage. “To be in the ’50s, black and turned away from almost everything and to say, ‘I have come here to stay’ and to be a sister of somebody who had courage is no small matter.”
The occasion was a celebration of an artist who gave rhythm and voice to the civil rights era — who “sang us into freedom,” as Ms. Angelou put it. The event had both a neighborly and a historical feel. Many in the crowd were New Yorkers who had grown up to Odetta’s music, listening to her and her guitar in Greenwich Village coffeeshops, in concert halls or in Central Park. Born Odetta Holmes in Birmingham, Ala...
SOURCE: NYT (2-25-09)
In straitened times it’s easy to mistake cost for value. You might also say it’s the difference between cash and culture, the price of something and what’s ultimately priceless.
Romanians, it seems, have been prone to confuse the two since even before the revolution that overthrew the country’s Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and executed him and his wife, Elena, nearly 20 years ago.
That’s one explanation, at least, for why, when the courts here recently ruled that some art formerly in the possession of the Ceausescu family should be returned to Nicolae’s only surviving child, Valentin, Romanians hardly blinked.
The art is mostly Romanian paintings, but also some Goya prints. That ruling was not quite an equivalent to German courts handing art formerly at Berchtesgaden over to Hitler’s relatives. But it was close.
A soft-spoken 60-year-old physicist who never helped run his father’s regime,...
SOURCE: BBC (2-26-09)
Officials at the museum in Kathmandu say of the 90 rooms, only 19 will be opened in the first phase.
On Wednesday, former king Gyanendra left for India on his first foreign trip since being deposed last year.
SOURCE: Brian Mockenhaupt in the Atlantic (3-1-09)
Sophocles wrote these words 2,400 years ago when he inventoried the maladies of combat veterans in his plays Philoctetes and Ajax, which recount two Greek soldiers’ anguish during the Trojan War. Now the Theater of War project has revived these ancient stories, with a plain message for today’s veterans: your experiences are timeless. For as long as men have fought one another, they surely have been psychologically damaged by it. The diagnosis has...
SOURCE: Edward Rothstein in the NYT (2-23-09)
It is a campaign poster from 1932, when the Nazi Party was already the second largest in the German Parliament. The mass rallies, the storm troopers, the frenzied rhetoric of this electrifying speaker: all are condensed into this silent face, which is deliberately unsettling, starkly divided into light and shade, mixing comfort with ferocity, transparency with subterranean energies.
It is chilling because we know what that face unleashed, and as we make our way through the exhibition, we feel almost physically assailed. A muscular fist smashes into the face of a cringing, sweating Jew (1928). An...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-24-09)
"There's little doubt that most Labour supporters would see a state funeral for Margaret Thatcher as the ultimate betrayal by their party and that to acknowledge her in this way would reopen many of the sores of the 1980s," says Wood. "We wanted to explore what the repercussions of this could be, particularly in the north of England, where many communities were decimated during the Thatcher years."..
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-25-09)
But Lindsay Duncan, the actress who plays her, insists that Margaret isn’t like that.
“It’s in no way a hatchet job,” she says. “It’s unsentimental but it invites you to empathise with her.” She adds that the scene that shows Mrs Thatcher deciding to resign should move even her bitterest opponents (Duncan should know, because she hates Mrs Thatcher – more of this later). “If you’re against her politics,” says Duncan, “it’s where the demon departs and the human being comes in.”