It’s no coincidence that Hollywood has a thing for Rio de Janeiro. The city’s breathtaking landscape enlivens the most uninspired camerawork. Its pulsating musical rhythms spice up any soundtrack. Rio’s favelas (slums), with their arresting squalor, stoke movie-goers’ fears and fantasies
Films & Media
According to the infamous seventeenth-century gossip, Madame de Sévigné, on April 24, 1671 François Vatel, distraught over the late arrival of fish for a banquet in honor of Louis XIV, committed suicide by impaling himself through the heart with a sword. Sévigné and other nobles speculated that Vatel, a well-known perfectionist, succumbed to the overwhelming pressures of planning an extravagant three-day banquet in honor of the king’s royal visit and decided to kill himself instead of having to face public humiliation for his failure.
“They did it. Not us!” According to historian Tony Judt, this was the way Europeans tried coming to terms with the fate suffered by their Jewish neighbors during the Second World War
Over at the AHA website (that’s the American Historical Association), Jacqueline Jones recalls two favorite films with poignant links to her own experiences
The new HBO Films production of George Stevens Jr’s one-man play, Thurgood, is a portrait of a man who knows and respects the power of the law as a force in American society.
As a historian of early America, my subject predates the invention of film or video, voice or music recording, or even photography. When I watch my modernist colleagues deliver multi-media lectures – including film clips, snatches of popular music or speeches, and photos – I feel a twinge of envy.
It is Moscow in the early 1960s. In this transitional period, when Stalin’s death opened up new possibilities for private life in Soviet society, we meet three young men and a young woman who can almost bring themselves to believe that they are entitled to a life that will be individually meaningful.
The HBO series Boardwalk Empire may currently be winning laurels for its workmanlike depiction of Prohibition-era gangsters and corrupt politicos, but viewers interested in a more fully-realized work about the Golden Age of American organized crime would be wise to turn to the Coen Brother’s 1990 masterpiece Miller’s Crossing.
The forces that created the Cuban Revolution often get lost in polarizing debates about Castro’s Cuba. Two very different films highlight the changes that ripped through Cuban society in the 1950s and early 1960s and created the Cuban Revolution.