Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rebel Music: The Bob Marley Story

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This video offers a portrait of a musician, who, in reality, was much more than that. The first third-world figure to achieve lasting musical fame, Robert Nesta Marley was as much prophet and politician as he was a musician. This video traces the course of this man's remarkable career, liberally sprinkled with interviews with the man himself and the people who knew him. Much archival footage of Marley's performances is included, including some never before seen. ~ Rob Ferrier, All Movie Guide

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

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Dreams — aka Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, Yume (夢), I Saw a Dream Like This, Konna yume wo mita, or Such Dreams I Have Dreamed — is a 1990 portmanteau film based on actual dreams of the film's director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. The film is based more on imagery than on dialogue.

Grave of the Fireflies

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Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓, Hotaru no Haka?) is a 1988 anime movie written and directed by Isao Takahata for Shinchosha. This is the first film produced by Shinchosha, who hired Studio Ghibli to do the animation production work. It is an adaptation of the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Akiyuki Nosaka, intended as a personal apology to the author's own sister.

Some critics—most notably Roger Ebert—consider it to be one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made. Animation historian Ernest Rister compares the film to Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List and says, "it is the most profoundly human animated film I've ever seen."

American Experience - Summer of Love

American Experience presents Summer of Love, a striking picture of San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district during the summer of 1967 -- from the utopian beginnings, when peace and love prevailed, to the chaos, unsanitary conditions, and widespread drug use that ultimately signaled the end. Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco (Daughter from Danang) examine the social and cultural forces that sparked the largest migration of young people in America's history.

"Many of these idealistic youth were products of the 1950s with its confusing mix of post-war affluence and the threat of nuclear annihilation," says Dolgin. "San Francisco, in 1967, seemed like mecca, the center of a visionary new society, one that rejected war, hatred, conformity and money. The Haight Ashbury, for a brief period, was the playing field for a new way of life."

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Frontline: Jesus to Christ: The First Christians

This FRONTLINE series is an intellectual and visual guide to the new and controversial historical evidence which challenges familiar assumptions about the life of Jesus and the epic rise of Christianity.

For an overview of the series read the Synopsis. It includes links to some of the stories and material on this web site which expand the narrative.

This site is anchored by the testimony of New Testament theologians, archaeologists and historians who serve as both critics and storytellers. They address dozens of key issues, disagreements and critical problems relating to Jesus' life and the evolution of Christianity. Throughout the site, maps, charts (for example, the fortress of Masada), ancient texts (including Perpetua's diary), pictures of the archaeological discoveries, ancient imagery, and audio excerpts from the television program complement and illuminate the scholars' commentary.

A new addition to this site is the edited transcript of a two-day symposium at Harvard University. This symposium was a follow-up to the FRONTLINE broadcast and featured scholars' presentations, workshops and audience discussion.

Part 1

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Part 2

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

American Experience - Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro has survived U.S. hostility, an invasion, several CIA assassination attempts and an economic embargo. His face has become an iconic image worldwide, yet the man himself remains an enigma to all but a few. Through interviews with relatives, childhood friends, fellow rebel leaders, Bay of Pigs veterans, human rights activists and journalists, this program constructs an intimate portrait of the most resilient of leaders.

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Slavery and the Making of America

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Underscoring how slavery impacted the growth of this country's Southern and Northern states; the series examines issues still relevant today. The variety of cultures from which the slaves originated provided the budding states with a multitude of skills that had a dramatic effect on the diverse communities. From joining the British in the Revolutionary War, to fleeing to Canada, to joining rebel communities in the U.S. the slaves sought freedom in many ways, ultimately having a far-reaching effect on the new hemisphere they were forced to inhabit.

Acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman narrates the series, which features a score by Michael Whalen.

NOVA - The Elegant Universe

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The Elegant Universe was adapted for a three hour program in three parts for television broadcast in late 2003 on the PBS series NOVA.

Based on Brian Greene's book, this three-part Nova program should do for physics what Cosmos did for astronomy. Greene hosts the program on the relative new concept of String Theory, a potential (and explosive) answer to the Holy Grail of science: a single, ultimate theory for everything.

Jazz by Ken Burns

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10 Episodes - 20 hours

Jazz: A Film By Ken Burns is a documentary miniseries directed by Ken Burns.

Jazz is the last in a trilogy by Burns, following The Civil War and Baseball. It was broadcast on PBS in 2001, and was released on DVD later that year by the same company.

The film concerns the history of jazz music in the USA, from its origins at the turn of the twentieth century through to the present day. It is narrated by Keith David, and features interviews with present-day musicians and critics such as trumpeter Wynton Marsalis (also the artistic director and co-producer of Jazz) and noted critics Gary Giddins and Stanley Crouch. Music critic and African-American historian Gerald Early was also a consultant. Jazz is the longest jazz documentary yet produced, and it is rich in musical examples and classic, rare and unseen footage.

Visually, Jazz is very much in the same style as Ken Burns' previous works: panning and zooming shots of photographs are mixed with period movie sequences, accompanied by music of, and commentary on, the period being examined. Between these sequences, present-day jazz figures provide anecdotes and explain the defining features of the major musicians' styles. Duke Ellington's Lazy Rhapsody (1932) is a recurring motif at the opening and closing of individual episodes of the series.

The documentary focuses on a number of major musicians: Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are the central figures, "providing the narrative thread around which the stories of other major figures turn", among them Sidney Bechet, Stan Levey, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

The Civil War by Ken Burns

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9 Parts - 11 hours

The Civil War is an acclaimed documentary film created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was broadcast on PBS in September 1990. Forty million viewers watched it during its initial broadcast, making it the most watched program ever to air on PBS, to this day remaining one of the most popular shows broadcast by PBS.

The documentary is 11 hours in length, consists of nine episodes and makes extensive use of more than 16,000 archival photographs, paintings, and newspaper images from the time of the war. These are intermixed with contemporary cinematography, music, narration by David McCullough, anecdotes and insights from authors such as Shelby Foote, historians Barbara J. Fields and Stephen B. Oates, and a chorus of voice acted characters such as Sam Waterston as Abraham Lincoln, Jason Robards as Ulysses S. Grant, Garrison Keillor as Walt Whitman, and Morgan Freeman as Frederick Douglass, who read quotes from the historic figures of the period. The film was remastered on the twelfth anniversary of its release, and a book following the movie has also been released.

The War by Ken Burns

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7 Parts - 14 hours

The film focuses on World War II in a "bottom up" fashion through the lenses of four "quintessentially American towns":

* Luverne, Minnesota
* Mobile, Alabama
* Sacramento, California
* Waterbury, Connecticut

The film recounts the experiences of a number of individuals from these communities as they move through the war in the Pacific, African and European theaters, and focuses on the effect of the war on them, their families and their communities.

A number of notable actors including Adam Arkin, Tom Hanks, Ernie Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eli Wallach are heard as voice actors reading contemporary newspaper articles, telegrams, letters from from the front, etc.

The documentary is 14 hours and was broadcast in seven parts on PBS over two weeks, starting on Sunday, September 23, 2007 and continuing four nights the first week and three nights the second week, from 8 to 10 p.m. (8 to 10:30 p.m. on three nights).

Powers of Ten

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A short documentary film written and directed by Charles Eames and his wife, Ray. The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten (see also logarithmic scale and order of magnitude). The film is a modern adaptation of the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke---and more recently is the basis of a new book version. Both adaptations, film and book, follow the the form of the Boeke original, adding color and photography to the black and white drawings employed by Boeke in his seminal work. (Boeke's original concept and visual treatment is all too often uncredited or insufficiently credited in contemporary accounts.)

The film begins with an aerial image of a man reclining on a blanket; the view is that of one metre across. The viewpoint, accompanied by expository voiceover by Philip Morrison, then slowly zooms out to a view ten metres across ( or 101 m in standard form), revealing that the man is picnicking in a park with a female companion. The zoom-out continues, to a view of 100 metres (10² m), then 1 kilometre (10³ m), and so on, increasing the perspective—the picnic is revealed to be taking place near Soldier Field on Chicago's lakefront—and continuing to zoom out to a field of view of 1024 metres, or the size of the observable universe. The camera then zooms back in to the picnic, and then to views of negative powers of ten—10-1 m (10 centimetres), and so forth, until we are viewing a carbon nucleus inside the man's hand at a range of 10-18 metre.

The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1998.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Summertime and the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin' and the cottons are high
Oh your Daddy's rich and your ma is good lookin'
So hush little baby, don't you cry

One of these mornings
You're gonna to rise up singing
Spread your wings
And take to the sky
But till that morning
There's nothin' can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin' by

Billie Holiday