Saturday, June 7, 2008

The End of TV - A Documentary from CBC

TV used to be something we watched at home...and we had to wait for our favourite show to come on. But now, television has been unplugged. Tivos and digital recorders let us watch TV whenever we want.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lost John Ford propaganda film, never before seen in the US

Eric Spiegelman says: "John Ford produced a pro-Vietnam [war] documentary on behalf of the US Government right before he died. The film was never released in the US, and very few people have seen it. I just put it online."

The last film ever produced by the legendary John Ford was a work of propaganda commissioned by the United States government in support of the Vietnam War. Production of the documentary, “Vietnam! Vietnam!,” began a few months after the Tet Offensive, and by the time the film was completed at the end of 1971, American policy toward the war shifted toward withdrawal and negotiation for peace. As such, the film’s message was obsolete and embarrassing the moment it was ready for distribution. It was never released.

Federal law at the time prohibited the domestic exhibition of any motion picture financed by the U.S. Information Agency, which included “Vietnam! Vietnam!.” Ford’s last documentary remained locked away in a vault for the next 27 years, when a change in the law allowed the National Archives to make it available to the public.

I learned about the existence of “Vietnam! Vietnam!” three years ago. Curiosity led me to pull the ancient reels from the National Archives and have them digitized. Years of neglect badly damaged the audio portion of the first half of the film, and my cousin painstakingly restored the soundtrack to the best of his ability.

The documentary is, actually, quite terrible. Nothing about it even approximates a John Ford masterpiece. Accounts vary as to the extent that Ford was actively involved in the production — he apparently spent time on location in Vietnam toward the beginning of the shoot, but his advanced age and poor health kept him home during almost all of the principal photography. According to Ford scholar Tag Gallagher, Ford supervised the editing of the film and rewrote it’s scenario. Regardless, John Ford clearly wanted his name associated with “Vietnam! Vietnam!” — it reflected his strong belief in the cause — and it is incontrovertibly part of his repertoire.

I offer the film here because it’s a little piece of American history that very few people have seen, and for that reason alone it belongs on the Internet.


Vietnam! Vietnam! from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Salvador Dalí: Self Styled Genuis

A documentary on one of art's most eccentric, colorful characters, Salvador Dalí. Featuring exclusive interviews and archival footage.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Horizon: Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony

As Albert Einstein lay on his deathbed, he asked only for his glasses, his writing implements, and his latest equations. He knew he was dying, yet he continued his work. In those final hours of his life, while fading in and out of consciousness, he was working on what he hoped would be his greatest work of all. It was a project of monumental complexity. It was a project that he hoped would unlock the mind of God.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Einstein’s Equation of Life and Death

In the summer of 1939, Albert Einstein was on holiday in a small resort town on the tip of Long Island. His peaceful summer, however, was about to be shattered by a visit from an old friend and colleague from his years in Berlin. The visitor was the physicist Leo Szilard. He had come to tell Einstein that he feared the Nazis could soon be in possession of a terrible new weapon and that something had to be done.

Lost Worlds-Vanished Lives: Dinosaurs

In the series Lost Worlds- Vanished Lives, noted writer Sir David Attenborough uses paleontological evidence to reconstruct the daily lives of dinosaurs and give viewers a sense of what life was like on Earth some millions of years ago. In this particular episode, RT 39:32, viewers see the excavation of one of the largest dinosaur skeletons ever unearthed and examine the techniques used to preserve these valuable specimens. Also, Attenborough offers viewers an up-close look at the frontiers of this science, showing how scientists use the evidence they have to reconstruct a model of this lost world.