Category Archives: documentary film

A Horrible Lesson

Watching a documentary about the life of Anne Frank–Anne Frank Remembered–that includes powerful first-person accounts from Auschwitz survivors.   One of the women talked about arriving in Auschwitz on the train and the horror of having to stand naked in front of the German guards.  It went against all her values and she said that she learned at that moment that her values were no longer important.  She had to learn a whole new set of beliefs and values, and, she said, if you didn’t learn them, you would die.  Another woman comments on how the horror became somewhat commonplace.  The first time she saw the cart of dead bodies, she looked away. The next time, she noticed but was not as frightened.  Finally, the third time, she didn’t even notice.  Her brain, she said, was learning a new way of living.

Documentary Films

I’ve been blogging about the movies I’ve watched but wanted to create a database as well.  I considered using the wiki but figured there was probably an honest-to-goodness database out there.  Sure enough, the Internet Movie Database has a “my movies” section where you can add movies and add notes.  In addition, you can share the list publicly.  Here’s my URL with the six movies I’ve watched so far:  I feel like I’ve watched more and then I remembered that Monterey Pop was a three-disk set and Netflix only sends one at a time.

Scholastic Withdraws The Path to 9/11

About Scholastic: News

Finally got around to reading Education Week for September 20 and found this article concerning Scholastic’s decision to pull the classroom materials they had created to accompany the controversial ABC TV drama, The Path to 9/11.
Here’s the intersection of media literacy and documentary film: ABC maintained that their film was a fictionalized version and had already taken a lot of criticism about evident bias against the Clinton administration. Scholastic created materials that furthered inaccuracies. So, Scholastic turned it into a media literacy lesson and, according to Education Week, “replaced the disputed materials with an online discussion guide that took a much different approach to the ABC movie–one that aims to help students dissect the ways the news media convey various messages” (p. 9, September 20, 2006). The article quotes Diane Ravitch who says that creating classroom materials based on “partially fictional accounts of history” is problematic.

Continue reading Scholastic Withdraws The Path to 9/11

The Criterion Collection: Monterey Pop

The Criterion Collection: Monterey Pop

From the publishers of the Monterey Pop DVD set, an amazing website about the concert including full text versions of articles written about the festival within days of the event.  Lots of interesting stories of who was there and who wasn’t and why…several musicians were having issues with pot charges and draft dodging.  Extensive musician biographies as well.  We’re watching the third DVD of the set which is just outtakes, stuff that didn’t make it into the original documentary.  Great music cut with shots of the audience.  And it really is about the music.

Some of those writing at the time are critical of the organizers for not having more ethnic diversity.  Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix are in the documentary but so far the outtakes have been all nice white boys.  But the comment I found most interesting was Robert Christgau’s suggestion that “real” hippies were gone: “But there are no hippies—they have disappeared in an avalanche of copy. Most of the originals who were living in the Haight in 1966, when the journalists started nosing around, have fled from the bus tour and the LSD-Burgers and the panhandling flower children who will be back in school next semester.”

I can’t help but contrasting these hippies with the members of the Weather Underground.  While the hippies in Monterey might be anti-establishment, the Weathermen were anti-government.  Christgau suggests that there is sort of hippie-mentality that is associated with liberal ideas.  But the Weathermen were actual communists, politically motivated.  Yet, both groups tended to be affluent white kids; they could afford to be bohemians and radicals.

Quieter Lives for 60’s Militants, but Intensity of Beliefs Hasn’t Faded

Quieter Lives for 60’s Militants, but Intensity of Beliefs Hasn’t Faded

From The New York Times, an article about the Weather Underground.  I was particularly interested in the quote late in the article from Brian Flanagan.  He did appear to be more “rueful” than the others in the film, something he says isn’t a true portrayal.  This article also highlights some of those who are anti-Weather Underground, feeling they got off easy for their crimes.  But, then, the WU members would say that is typical:  while black radicals were killed outright, these young often well-off white kids did their deeds, went underground, then emerged later only to have their charges dropped.  Flanagan gets quoted a lot: “When you feel you have right on your side, you can do some pretty horrific things.”  So, it seems that the filmmakers used Flanagan as a way to show a different side of the Underground.  And, unlike the NY Times article, the film doesn’t interview any WU members who are now completely negative towards the group.