Posts Tagged ‘Michael Apted’

boyhood_xlgThe relationship between movies and time is integral to the medium’s essence: film itself is a succession of still images moving so quickly that we feel they are existing in front of us like our experience of the world and of time itself.  In fact, the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky used the description of “Sculpting in Time” to distill the nature of what filmmaking was to him.

This month, Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking movie Boyhood, starring Ellar Coltrane, is released in theaters.  In this film, director Linklater has taken a bold approach in the depiction of a boy growing to manhood: He recorded  the feature over a number of years as Ellar Coltrane ages from 6 to 18 over the course of the story.  There have been movies that deal in a variety of ways with aging characters, such as the Up documentary series by director Michael Apted, or fiction series such as François Truffaut’s Antoine Doisnel movies or Linklater’s own Before… movies with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, but none have adapted as determined, lengthy, and particular approach to periodically filming the development of a young person and crafting it into a fictional world.

EllarColtraneBoyhoodThis article in the New York Times features a slide show titled “12 Years a Boy” in which one can view the physical transformations of actor Ellar Coltrane over the years during which this movie was made.  This article and topics discussed in Moving Images related to time and the relationships of reality to fiction in chapters 5 and 6 can be useful starting points in examining this movie.  Boyhood‘s content, moviemaking techniques, and media literacy-related discussion points can be a natural topical fit for students who are at the edge of adulthood, like the main character of Boyhood at the end of the movie (while it is important to note that this movie is rated R for language and teen alcohol and drug use).

As a final point, I find particular delight in one detail to this story: one of the links between father and son in the movie Boyhood concerns the ties that can be shared through music and time, and this manifests itself in the compilation of a Black Album of the Beatles (related to their “White Album” of 1968, actually titled simply The Beatles) made up of songs from after the group’s breakup and created by the father of the movie for his son (Ethan Hawke plays the father to Ellar Coltrane’s Mason).  The father writes, “Mason, I wanted to give you something for your birthday that money couldn’t buy, something that only a father could give a son, like a family heirloom.  This is the best I could do. Apologies in advance. I present to you: THE BEATLES’ BLACK ALBUM.”  Linklater and Hawke shared the 3-CD track list that they came up with (and which had originated as a real gift from Hawke to his oldest daughter).  Since every time my family and I get in the car my kids ask to put a Beatles CD on (and I can’t believe that I’m the one saying “could we try something else for a change”), I think it’s time that I made up our own family version of The Black Album, and I think I’ll have to make it a 4-CD package.

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att_icw_lgt_rgb_grd_posThrough It Can Wait and other initiatives, AT&T has dedicated a great deal of effort in public awareness campaigns about the dangers of texting and driving.  Recently, they released From One Second to the Nexta half-hour documentary by Werner Herzog that will be used as a public service announcement throughout schools in the United States.  “What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me,” Herzog has said. “There’s a completely new culture out there. I’m not a participant of texting and driving—or texting at all—but I see there’s something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us.”

itcanwait-documentaryWerner Herzog has created some of the most challenging and engrossing movies of the past half-century and his career is one of the strongest examples of a director whose work crosses many boundaries between fiction and documentary and across genres, like other directors featured in Chapters 5 and 6 of Moving Images, such as Agnès Varda, Michael Apted, and Bertrand Tavernier.   Among Herzog’s most celebrated non-fiction films are Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Manand Little Dieter Needs to Fly, while his fiction features include Aguirre, The Wrath of God and Nosferatu, The Vampyre.  In addition, his production of Fitzcarraldo is the subject of the highly acclaimed documentary Burden of Dreams by filmmaker Les Blank and is available on a deluxe Criterion edition.

From One Second to the Next is a powerful public service announcement and a striking piece of filmmaking, and it can provide good examples of cross-curricular work in the classroom, particularly as students work on issues related to safety and decision making, constant technology use, and communications.  It can also serve as a strong reference point as students work on their own documentaries or PSAs; here is a page that gives information on the type of team needed to put together a project like this.  And here is an excellent NPR Morning Edition interview with Herzog about this project.

For schools, there is a shorter 12-minute version of the PSA available.  (The full length version is 35 minutes.)

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