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Negro Slavery (McGraw-Hill Films) 1970 25min. Color Through the use ofmaps, portraits, excerpts oforiginal speeches, and dramatic music, the film traces the institution of slavery from the time it was introduced into seventeenth century America to the election ofAbraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860. The issue of slavery is analyzed from social, economic, and political points ofview. This film, also, provides a more coherent analysis of the chain of events leading to the Civil War. With various dramatic devises employed in the film, the viewer is forced to become emotionally and intellectually involved with the slavery question. Slavery, "the wound that was to divide" the United States, comes forth as an institution created by men and one which has to be abolished by them. By stressing the role of a number of important people who helped shape the events during this period, the film manages to capture the high tempers ofthe time, the diverse feelings which existed, and yet, a sense that freedom is forthcoming. Due to its provocative nature, this film could be used successfully in a survey course of American History, Black Studies, or Civil War history. Course: American History to 1866 Judy Reinhartz, Univ. ofTexas at Arlington The City (American Institute of Planners, 1939) 30 min. b&w Drawn from an original outline of Pare Lorentz and with a persuasive commentary by Lewis Mumford, The City could be considered the classic documentary film ofAmerican urban history. The film is a propaganda piece funded by the Carnegie Corporation and designed to stimulate public interest in and awareness ofthe greenbelt/new town movement ofthe 1930s. Because of its particular nature, it can be utilized as an historical document as well as an introduction to one dimension oftwentieth century urban planning. The City is a circular analysis ofthe American urban experience. Opening with an idyllic portrait ofthe hallowed New England town, the viewer is reminded that in an earlier era, a sense ofcommunity prevailed and "we never let our cities grow too big for us to manage. We never pushed the open land too far away." The happy, sunlit life ofthe pre-industrial period is abruptly contrasted with the seamy, smokechoked environment of a steel town. Noting that there "must be something better," the scene shifts to New York City and the camera focuses on the rapid pace oflife, the congestion ofpeople and traffic, and the dangers to life and limb. In both examples from the contemporary setting, an emotional appeal is generated by dwelling on the hazards ofurban living for children. Having been inundated by an intensely negative image, no positive aspects ofurban life are shown, the viewer is rescued by a return to the Utopian New England town in the form ofa greenbelt/new town community. "No suburb where the lucky few play at living in the country," the new town is portrayed as a reversion to the old sense of community, a place that "spells cooperation" between all types and classes. The new town is a place where man and machine are in harmony, where order has come, and where the school is the center ofactivity. The film closes with a challenge. "You take your choice. Each one is real; each one is possible . . . You and your children, the choice is yours!" 14 The production was so capably executed that thirty-five years later it is as convincing as when it was first made. The viewer is stirred by Aaron Copland's score and the dramatic impact is heightened by a frequently staccato narration and some ofthe best editing ever done in a documentary. Because it is such an adroit propaganda vehicle, caution is necessary in classroom usage as the students need a context in which to evaluate it. For balance and contrast, one might also show The Rise ofNew Towns (America's Crisis series, 1966, 60 min., b&w, 16mm), a contemporary promotional film which is somewhat more objective and relates the European and American new town movements of the 1960s. Course: U.S. Urban History 19 Lawrence L. Murray, SUNY Fredonia LETTERS Dear Editors: I am writing to congratulate you for presenting Swastika the other night (see News, p. 1 6), and also in hopes that you...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9922
Print ISSN
0360-3695
Pages
pp. 14-15
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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