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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: NYT (5-28-11)
THE big names — Fort Sumter, Gettysburg, Lee, Grant — are getting much of the focus during television’s Civil War spring and summer, as they always do when this pivotal conflict comes up. But to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the war, the programming that resumes with a burst this weekend and continues over the next several months also has much smaller things on its mind: a child’s doll, an aging tintype, a faded letter. And it is those things, 19th-century artifacts elevated to new prominence by a 21st-century television trend, that provide some of the clearest reminders of what the war was really about and how it remains with us today.
Finding new ways to look at the war is, of course, a sort of Ken Burns effect — an effort to clear the bar that Mr. Burns set so high in 1990 with his mini-series “The Civil War.” Mr. Burns, for one, doesn’t think the form is dead.
“I think there are still stories to be told,” he said. “The Civil War is such a watershed...
SOURCE: Cinema Blend (5-24-11)
The History Channel is partnering with Kevin Costner for a special miniseries chronicling the most talked about family feud of all-time. For nearly thirty years, the Hatfield's and the McCoy's shot, stabbed and burned each other alive with reckless zeal, culminating in a threatened standoff between Kentucky and West Virginia's militias. Seeing as how often the back-and-forth is referenced today, it's crazy to think the Hatfield's and the McCoy's battled it out almost one hundred and fifty years ago. Then again, seeing as how vicious, violent and lawless the whole thing was, it's crazy to think the most celebrated family feud in the history of the United States occurred less than one hundred and fifty years ago.
For most, the details have grown fuzzy over the years and the specifics have boiled down to a couple of families who hated each other's guts, but The History Channel is ready to fill in the details. The network will begin shooting The Hatfields & The McCoys...
SOURCE: The Root (5-22-11)
People of African descent have long been involved in "classical music" -- as creators, interpreters, performers and entrepreneurs. A number of well-known black singers -- from William Warfield to Jessye Norman -- have made their mark in the rarefied world of opera. So it's no surprise that even in the age of hip-hop, young African Americans are a growing presence on opera stages around the world.
In the 1700s, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges made his fortune in the court of Louis XV. Born to a slave mother and a French noble father in the Caribbean, Saint-Georges was educated in France. As a military man -- he was an accomplished swordsman -- he commanded a regiment in the French Revolution and held the rank of colonel.
A contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, he conducted their work and composed and wrote symphonies, chamber music and operas. A onetime candidate to head the Paris Opera, he was thwarted by...
SOURCE: NYT (5-17-11)
“One of the five greatest public libraries in the world” is the boast made at a new exhibition celebrating the centennial of the New York Public Library’s august building on Fifth Avenue. And if we are inclined to question the claim, it is only because the institution’s distinctiveness is scarcely suggested by putting it in a class with the Library of Congress, the British Library, the National Library of France and the Russian State Library.
As we learn in this show, “Celebrating 100 Years,” the New York Public Library is the only one of this group that was not established by a national government. Unlike many Old World museums, it is also not an “imperial” institution, many of whose holdings were gathered through plunder and conquest. In addition, it was not established, as many such libraries were, to reflect the character of a nation; it was actually intended to help shape that country’s character.
Moreover, that public mission...
SOURCE: CBS (5-15-11)
Atlanta artist Brian Dettmer creates memorable works of art by slicing, whittling and tearing into books. Mark Strassmann reports on Dettmer's vision for a vanishing form of art.
SOURCE: NYT (5-13-11)
FOR some people, filmmaking is a lifelong dream. For Stanley Nelson, it began as more of a situational thing, a response to time and place. The time was the late 1960s and early ’70s, the place to be avoided was Vietnam, the refuge was film school at the City University of New York. “It was kind of my motive to stay in school no matter what, you know what I’m saying?”
In some ways Mr. Nelson, whose graying hair is the only thing that betrays his 59 years, has been in school ever since. An accomplished director and producer of documentaries, primarily for television — his latest film, “Freedom Riders,” makes its debut on Monday night as part of the PBS series “American Experience” — he has spent his career exploring the byways of black history and culture, and passing along the stories he finds.
“I feel like...
SOURCE: NYT (5-9-11)
EDGARD, La. — Mary Todd Lincoln, in shimmering evening wear, calls to her husband. They are late. A gaunt, black-clad president strides to join her in a horse-drawn carriage bound for Ford’s Theater.
The rest is history. But not the usual kind.
As the Lincolns depart, a vampire stares from his perch on the South Portico of the White House.
This is a film set, at the 179-year-old Evergreen Plantation here, and the cast and crew of the movie, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” are scrambling to deliver a summer blockbuster. It is set for release,...
SOURCE: NYT (http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/movies/city-of-life-and-death-from-lu-chuan-review.html)
Two terrible faces stare out from “City of Life and Death,” a fictionalized telling of the Rape of Nanjing, a pair of indelible bookends for this anguished film. The first belongs to Lu (Liu Ye), who, with hundreds of other soldiers, has been rounded up by invading Japanese troops amid a frenzy of violence. The close-up of Lu’s impassive face locked in unspoken emotion floods the screen. Much later, after innumerable deaths and acts of barbarism and heroism, the face of a woman will similarly fill the screen in close-up, her frantic eyes stretched wide, as if they had been permanently shocked open by what they have seen.
These faces are mirrors of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians tortured and killed during the mass butchery also known as the...
SOURCE: NYT (4-29-11)
LOS ANGELES — Before you are submerged within the museum’s theatrically darkened central galleries, before you learn how the cafes and intellectual life of the Weimar Republic gradually gave way to the annihilationist racial fantasies Hitler outlined in “Mein Kampf” — before, that is, you experience a variation of the Holocaust narrative with its wrenching genocidal climax — there are other trials a visitor to the Museum of Tolerance here must pass through.
You must first choose a door. One is invitingly labeled “Unprejudiced”; the other, illuminated in red, screams “Prejudiced.” No contest. But one door doesn’t open; the other does. Here, evidently, we must admit we are all prejudiced, not just the guards at Auschwitz.
As proof, below a streaming news ticker (“Gay Basher Gets 12 Years”) are panels about “Confronting Hate in America”: Two Latinos are beaten on Long Island; a white supremacist shoots Jews in Los Angeles; a Sikh is murdered in a post-9/11 “hate crime”; a...