Controversial, deplored and debated, praised and prized, Robert Flaherty’s 1922 profile of an Inuit man is a favorite movie in anthropology and film classes alike. But how real is this “documentary”? What are some of the ethical dilemmias inherent in the documentary process? How does the ethnographic lens distort our perceptions of indigineous cultures? Watch Nanook of the North and you decide.
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As the semester gets underway, thoughts turn to films that are perpetual winners, thosecinematic treasures that hold up through the decades –and now even centuries! Such movies are simply never not not going to be used in film classes. One of those gems is Buster Keaton’s The General. “Death-defying” is such a cliche but ’tis an accurate description for the wild stunts Keaton fearlessly performs on a moving train. Kids, watch them all at Krasker …but don’t try them at home!
There are hundreds of laser discs at Krasker. For those of you who might not know, laser discs were a precursor to DVDs; approximately the size of an LP record, laser discs look similar to DVDs, only bigger. Wait. What? What’s an LP? Oh good grief, how about you just Google that! For today’s lesson all you need to know is that the darn thing’s big. Whilst prized by hardcore cineastes, the laser disc didn’t catch on and soon the more portable DVD usurped its position as the next best thing. We still use laser discs at Krasker for one simple reason: we have to. Yes there are certain films (or certain editions of certain films) that just are not available any other way. Unfortunately laser discs do degrade over time leaving some titles at risk for extinction, all the more reason to support film preservation initiatives. Plus often DVD releases (see comments below) are very flash-the-pan and not always easy to obtain for educational purposes.
Current BU faculty, staff and students can learn more about laser discs by visiting our center at Mugar Library, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA 02215. Check out our website for additional info.