Stream Classic Poetry Readings from Harvard’s Rich Audio Archive: From W.H. Auden to Dylan Thomas

harvard poetry

Founded in 1931, the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University features (among other things) 6,000 recordings of poetry from the 20th and 21st centuries. There you can find some of the earliest recordings of W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, T. S. Eliot, Denise Levertov, Robert Lowell, Anais Nin, Ezra Pound, Robert Penn Warren, Tennessee Williams and many others.

In the “Listening Booth,” a section of the Poetry Room website, you can listen to recordings of classic readings by nearly 200 authors, including John Berryman, Robert Bly, Jorge Luis Borges, Joseph Brodsky, Jorie Graham, Seamus Heaney, Jack Kerouac, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Anne Waldman, William Carlos Williams and more. The sound files are all free to stream. And if this is your kind of thing, make sure you visit the Penn Sound archive at the University of Pennsylvania, which is an equally rich and amazing audio archive. We previously featured it here.

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

Related Content:

630 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free

Bill Murray Reads Great Poetry by Billy Collins, Cole Porter, and Sarah Manguso

13 Lectures from Allen Ginsberg’s “History of Poetry” Course (1975)

Sonic Youth Guitarist Thurston Moore Teaches a Poetry Workshop at Naropa University: See His Class Notes (2011)

Download 55 Free Online Literature Courses: From Dante and Milton to Kerouac and Tolkien

An Illustration of Every Page of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick


Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the work he is most known for in death, had the effect in life of ruining his literary reputation and driving him into obscurity. This is but one of many ironies attending the massive novel, first published in Britain in three volumes on October 18, 1851. At that time, it was simply called The Whale, and as informs us, was “expurgated to avoid offending delicate political and moral sensibilities.” One month later, the first American edition appeared, now titled Moby Dick; Or, The Whale, compiled into one huge volume, and with its censored passages, including the Epilogue, restored. In both printings, the book sold poorly, and the reviews—save those from a handful of American critics, including Melville’s fellow Great American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne—were largely negative.

Another irony surrounding the novel is one nearly everyone who’s read it, or tried to read it, will know well. We’re socialized through visual media to approach the story as great, tragic action/adventure. As Melville’s friend, publisher Evert Augustus Duyckinck, described it, the novel is ostensibly “a romantic, fanciful & literal & most enjoyable presentment of the Whale Fishery,” driven by the revenge plot of mad old Captain Ahab. And yet, it is not that at all, or not simply that. Despite the fact that it lends itself so well to adventurous retelling, the novel itself can seem very obscure, ponderous, and digressive to a maddening degree. The so-called “whaling chapters,” notably “Cetology,” delve deeply into the lore and technique of whaling, the anatomy and physiology of various whale species, and the history and politics of the venture.

Throughout the novel, ordinary objects and events—especially, of course, the whale itself—acquire such symbolic weight that they become almost cartoonish talismans and leap bewilderingly out of the narrative, forcing the reader to contemplate their significance—no easy task. Depending on your sensibilities and tolerance for Melville’s labyrinthine prose, these very strange features of the novel are either indispensably fascinating or just plain excess baggage. Since many editions are published with the whaling chapters excised, many readers clearly feel they are the latter. That is unfortunate, I think. It’s one of my favorite novels, in all its baroque overstuffedness and philosophical density. But there’s no denying that it works, as they say, “on many levels.” Depending on how you experience the book—it’s either an incredibly gripping adventure tale, or a very dense and puzzling work of history, philosophy, politics, and zoology… or both, and more besides….


Recognizing the power of Melville’s arresting imagery, artist and librarian Matt Kish decided that he would illustrate all 552 pages of the Signet Classic paperback edition of Moby Dick, a book he considers “to be the greatest novel ever written.” He began the project in August of 2009 with the first page, illustrating those famous first words—“Call me Ishmael”—above. (At the top, see page 489, below it page 158, and directly below, page 116). Kish completed his epic project at the end of 2010. He used a variety of media—ink, watercolor, acrylic paint—and incorporated a number of different graphic art styles. As he explains in the comments under the first illustration, he chose “drawing and painting over pages from old books and diagrams because the presence of visual information on those pages would in some ways interfere with, and clutter up, my own obsessive control over my marks.” All in all, it’s a very admirable undertaking, and you can see each individual illustration, and many of the stages of drafting and composition, at Kish’s blog or on this list we’ve compiled. (You can also find links to the first 25 pages at bottom of this post.) The entire project has also been published as a book, Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page, a further irony given the obsessive literariness of Melville’s novel, a work as obsessed with language as Captain Ahab is with his great white nemesis.


Nonetheless, what Kish’s project further demonstrates is the seemingly inexhaustible treasure house that is Moby Dick, a book that so richly appeals to all the senses as it also ceaselessly engages the intellect. Kish has gone on to apply his wonderful interpretive technique to other classic literary works, including Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. These projects are equally striking, but it’s Moby Dick, “the great unread American novel,” that most inspired Kish, as it has so many other artists and readers.

Related Content:

The Moby Dick Big Read: Celebrities and Everyday Folk Read a Chapter a Day from the Great American Novel

A View From the Room Where Melville Wrote Moby Dick (Plus a Free Celebrity Reading of the Novel)

How Ray Bradbury Wrote the Script for John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956)

Orson Welles Reads Moby Dick

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Arthur C. Clarke Predicts in 2001 What the World Will Look By December 31, 2100


“Clarke sm” by Amy Marash. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

When you want a vision of the future, I very much doubt you turn to Reader’s Digest for it. But Arthur C. Clarke did once appear in its small-format pages to provide just that, and when Arthur C. Clarke talks about the future, you’d do well to listen. Last year, we featured a 1964 BBC documentary in which the science-fiction luminary predicted the internet, 3D printers, and trained monkey servants. Today, we’d like to link you up to his Reader’s Digest predictions from the comparatively recent year of 2001 — one in which, for obvious reasons, Clarke made the media rounds — which you can read in full at Some highlights of his speculative timeline from 2001 to 2100:

  • By 2010, commercial nuclear devices, household quantum generators, and fully re-engineered automobile engines will have ended the Fossil Fuel Age. We’ll have seen the first acknowledged human clone and seen off the last human criminal.
  • By 2020, we’ll have discovered a 76-meter octopus, fly on “aerospace-planes” (one of which will carry Prince Harry), and trade in “mega-watt-hours” instead of any now-known currencies, and tsunamis caused by a meteor will wreck the coasts of Greenland and Canada (prompting the development of new meteor-detecting technologies).
  • By 2030, artificial intelligence will have reached human level, we’ll have landed on Mars, computer-generated DNA will make possible a real-life Jurassic Park, and the neurological “braincap” will allow us the direct sensory experience of anything at all.
  • By 2040, the “universal replicator” will allow us to create any object at all in the comfort of our own homes, resulting in the phase-out of work and a boom in arts, entertainment, and education.
  • By 2050, Buckminster Fuller-style self-contained mobile homes become a reality, and humans scattered as far as “Earth, the Moon, Mars, Europa, Ganymede and Titan, and in orbit around Venus, Neptune and Pluto” celebrate the centenary of Sputnik 1.
  • By 2090, Halley’s comet will have returned, and on it we’ll have found life forms that vindicate “Wickramasinghe and Hoyle’s century-old hypothesis that life exists through space.” We’ll also start burning fossil fuels again, both as a replacement for the carbon dioxide we’ve “mined” from the air and to forestall the next Ice Age by warming the globe back up a bit.
  • By 2100, we’ll have replaced rockets with a “space drive” that lets us travel close to the speed of light. And so, Clarke writes, “history begins…”

You’ll notice, of course, that we’re already behind Clarke’s vision, according to which many a still-improbable development also lies ahead in the near future. In any case, though, the end of crime, the beginning of private space travel, and the era of the Dymaxion home must come sooner or later, mustn’t they? And as Clarke himself admits, one plays a mug’s game when one predicts, even when one does it with uncommon astuteness. “In 1971 I predicted the first Mars Landing in 1994,” he remembers in the preamble to his list. “On the other hand, I thought I was being wildly optimistic in 1951 by suggesting a mission to the moon in 1978. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin beat me by almost a decade.”

But to this day, Clarke’s scorecard looks better than most of ours: “I take pride in the fact that communications satellites are placed exactly where I suggested in 1945, and the name “Clarke Orbit” is often used (if only because it’s easier to say than ‘geostationary orbit’).” Who knows what he could tell us to watch out for now if, as he predicted in 2001, he’d lived to see his hundredth birthday aboard the Hilton Orbiter Hotel?

Related Content:

Arthur C. Clarke Narrates Film on Mandelbrot’s Fractals; David Gilmour Provides the Soundtrack

Isaac Asimov Predicts in 1964 What the World Will Look Like Today — in 2014

Free Science Fiction Classics on the Web: Huxley, Orwell, Asimov, Gaiman & Beyond

Better Living Through Buckminster Fuller’s Utopian Designs: Revisit the Dymaxion Car, House, and Map

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Little Albert Experiment: The Perverse 1920 Study That Made a Baby Afraid of Santa Claus & Bunnies

The field of psychology is very different than it used to be. Nowadays, the American Psychological Association has a code of conduct for experiments that ensures a subject’s confidentiality, consent and general mental well being. In the old days, it wasn’t the case.

Back then, you could, for instance, con subjects into thinking that they were electrocuting a man to death, as they did in the infamous 1961 Milgram experiment, which left people traumatized and humbled in the knowledge that deep down they are little more than weak-willed puppets in the face of authority. You could also try to turn a group of unsuspecting orphans into stutterers by methodically undermining their self-esteem as the folks who ran the aptly named Monster Study of 1939 tried to do. But, if you really want to get into the swamp of moral dubiousness, look no further than the Little Albert experiments, which traumatized a baby into hating dogs, Santa Claus and all things fuzzy.


In 1920, Johns Hopkins professor John B. Watson was fascinated with Ivan Pavlov’s research on conditioned stimulus. Pavlov famously rang a bell every time he fed his dogs. At first the food caused the dogs to salivate, but after a spell of pairing the bell with dinner, the dogs would eventually salivate at just the sound of the bell. That’s called a conditioned response. Watson wanted to see if he could create a conditioned response in a baby.

Enter 9-month old Albert B., AKA Little Albert. At the beginning of the experiment, Albert was presented with a white rat, a dog, a white rabbit, and a mask of Santa Claus among other things. The lad was unafraid of everything and was, in fact, really taken with the rat. Then every time the baby touched the animals, scientists struck a metal bar behind him, creating a startlingly loud bang. The sound freaked out the child and soon, like Pavlov’s dogs, Little Albert grew terrified of the rat and the mask of Santa and even a fur coat. The particularly messed up thing about the experiment was that Watson didn’t even both to reverse the psychological trauma he inflicted.


What happened to poor baby Albert is hard to say, in part because no one is really sure of the child’s true identity. He might have been Douglas Merritte, as psychologists Hall P. Beck and Sharman Levinson argued in 2009. If that’s the case, then the child died at the age of 6 in 1925 of hydrocephalus. Or he might have been William Albert Barger, as Russ Powell and Nancy Digdon argued in 2012. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 87. He reportedly had a lifelong aversion to dogs, though it cannot be determined if it was a lasting effect of the experiment.

Later in life, Watson left academics for advertising.

You can watch a video of the experiment above.

via Mental Floss

Related Content:

Free Online Psychology Courses

How To Think Like a Psychologist: A Free Online Course from Stanford

Watch Footage from the Psychology Experiment That Shocked the World: Milgram’s Obedience Study (1961)

Hermann Rorschach’s Original Rorschach Test: What Do You See? (1921)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Bill Nye the Science Guy Takes the Air Out of Deflategate

Did the weather have anything to do with those balls deflating in New England during the AFC championship game? It’s unlikely, very unlikely. Bill Nye explains why with science, but not without putting the hyped controversy into perspective first. Take it away Bill.

Related Content:

The Physics of a Quarterback’s Pass

Bill Nye, The Science Guy, Says Creationism is Bad for Kids and America’s Future

Watch the Highly-Anticipated Evolution/Creationism Debate: Bill Nye the Science Guy v. Creationist Ken Ham

Critics Pick the Top 100 Movies of All Time in the Pages of Cahiers du Cinéma

Yesterday I wrote about the hugely influential film journal Cahiers du cinéma. It is not hyperbole to say that the publication not only altered the course of cinema history but it also, most likely, affected the way that you understand film. If you think of The Shining as a Stanley Kubrick movie instead of a Jack Nicholson flick, you can thank Cahiers du Cinema.

In 2008, Cahiers published a list of the 100 best movies of all time. The list is filled with both film school staples and some odd, unexpected entries. Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane tops the list – no surprise there – but coming in at number two is Charles Laughton’s strange fairy tale The Night of the Hunter. European art house masterpieces like The Rules of the Game, M and L’Atalante place high on the list along with Hollywood greats like The Searchers and Singin’ in the Rain. But so does Tod Browning’s cult film Freaks and Nicholas Ray’s baroque western Johnny Guitar.

The highest-ranking film by a Cahiers veteran is Jean Luc Godard’s technology reverie on the evils of Hollywood and the beauty of Brigitte Bardot’s rear-end, Le Mépris. The second highest-ranking movie is Jean Eustache’s little-seen masterpiece The Mother and the Whore  23. Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows, the clarion call of the French New Wave, and Jean-Luc Godard’s fractured, modernist, effortless cool noir Breathless, also make the list at 58 and 63 respectively.

You can see the entire list below, and perhaps you can use it to build up your Netflix queue. We’ve linked to 11 films you can watch online right now, including Nosferatu above.

Update: The Cahiers du cinéma informs us via Twitter that this list, originally published in their magazine, was selected by 78 film critics, and not by the board/editors of the magazine itself.

1. Citizen Kane – Orson Welles
2. The Night of the Hunter – Charles Laughton
3. The Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu) – Jean Renoir
4. Sunrise – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
5. L’Atalante – Jean Vigo
6. M – Fritz Lang
7. Singin’ in the Rain – Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
8. Vertigo – Alfred Hitchcock
9. Children of Paradise (Les Enfants du Paradis) – Marcel Carné
10. The Searchers – John Ford
11. Greed – Erich von Stroheim
12. Rio Bravo – Howard Hawkes
13. To Be or Not to Be – Ernst Lubitsch
14. Tokyo Story – Yasujiro Ozu
15. Contempt (Le Mépris) – Jean-Luc Godard
16. Tales of Ugetsu (Ugetsu monogatari) – Kenji Mizoguchi
17. City Lights – Charlie Chaplin
18. The General – Buster Keaton
19. Nosferatu the Vampire (above) – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
20. The Music Room – Satyajit Ray
21. Freaks – Tod Browning
22. Johnny Guitar – Nicholas Ray
23. The Mother and the Whore (La Maman et la Putain) – Jean Eustache
24. The Great Dictator – Charlie Chaplin
25. The Leopard (Le Guépard) – Luchino Visconti
26. Hiroshima, My Love – Alain Resnais
27. The Box of Pandora (Loulou) – Georg Wilhelm Pabst
28. North by Northwest – Alfred Hitchcock
29. Pickpocket – Robert Bresson
30. Golden Helmet (Casque d’or) – Jacques Becker
31. The Barefoot Contessa – Joseph Mankiewitz
32. Moonfleet – Fritz Lang
33. Diamond Earrings (Madame de…) – Max Ophüls
34. Pleasure – Max Ophüls
35. The Deer Hunter – Michael Cimino
36. L’Avventura– Michelangelo Antonioni
37. Battleship Potemkin – Sergei M. Eisenstein
38. Notorious – Alfred Hitchcock
39. Ivan the Terrible – Sergei M. Eisenstein
40. The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola
41. Touch of Evil – Orson Welles
42. The Wind – Victor Sjöström
43. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Stanley Kubrick
44. Fanny and Alexander – Ingmar Bergman
45. The Crowd – King Vidor
46. 8 1/2 – Federico Fellini
47. La Jetée – Chris Marker
48. Pierrot le Fou – Jean-Luc Godard
49. Confessions of a Cheat (Le Roman d’un tricheur) – Sacha Guitry
50. Amarcord – Federico Fellini
51. Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) – Jean Cocteau
52. Some Like It Hot – Billy Wilder
53. Some Came Running – Vincente Minnelli
54. Gertrud – Carl Theodor Dreyer
55. King Kong – Ernst Shoedsack & Merian J. Cooper
56. Laura – Otto Preminger
57. The Seven Samurai – Akira Kurosawa
58. The 400 Blows – François Truffaut
59. La Dolce Vita – Federico Fellini
60. The Dead – John Huston
61. Trouble in Paradise – Ernst Lubitsch
62. It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Capra
63. Monsieur Verdoux – Charlie Chaplin
64. The Passion of Joan of Arc – Carl Theodor Dreyer
65. À bout de souffle – Jean-Luc Godard
66. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola
67. Barry Lyndon – Stanley Kubrick
68. La Grande Illusion – Jean Renoir
69. Intolerance – David Wark Griffith
70. A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne) – Jean Renoir
71. Playtime – Jacques Tati
72. Rome, Open City – Roberto Rossellini
73. Livia (Senso) – Luchino Visconti
74. Modern Times – Charlie Chaplin
75. Van Gogh – Maurice Pialat
76. An Affair to Remember – Leo McCarey
77. Andrei Rublev – Andrei Tarkovsky
78. The Scarlet Empress – Joseph von Sternberg
79. Sansho the Bailiff – Kenji Mizoguchi
80. Talk to Her – Pedro Almodóvar
81. The Party – Blake Edwards
82. Tabu – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
83. The Bandwagon – Vincente Minnelli
84. A Star Is Born – George Cukor
85. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday – Jacques Tati
86. America, America – Elia Kazan
87. El – Luis Buñuel
88. Kiss Me Deadly – Robert Aldrich
89. Once Upon a Time in America – Sergio Leone
90. Daybreak (Le Jour se lève) – Marcel Carné
91. Letter from an Unknown Woman – Max Ophüls
92. Lola – Jacques Demy
93. Manhattan – Woody Allen
94. Mulholland Dr. – David Lynch
95. My Night at Maud’s (Ma nuit chez Maud) – Eric Rohmer
96. Night and Fog (Nuit et Brouillard) – Alain Resnais
97. The Gold Rush – Charlie Chaplin
98. Scarface – Howard Hawks
99. Bicycle Thieves – Vittorio de Sica
100. Napoléon – Abel Gance

Related content:

The Cahiers du Cinéma Names the 10 Best Films of the Year, from 1951 to 2014

Jean-Luc Godard Gives a Dramatic Reading of Hannah Arendt’s “On the Nature of Totalitarianism”

Jefferson Airplane Wakes Up New York; Jean-Luc Godard Captures It (1968)

700 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.

Richard Dawkins Reads “Love Letters” from “Fans” (NSFW)

Richard Dawkins — some know him as the Oxford evolutionary biologist who coined the term “meme” in his influential 1976 book, The Selfish Gene; others consider him a leading figure in the New Atheism movement, a position he has assumed unapologetically. In recent years, Dawkins has made his case against religion though different forms of media: books, documentaries, college lectures, and public debates. He can be aggressive and snide, to be sure. But he dishes out far less than he receives in return. Just witness him reading the “love letters” (as he euphemistically calls them) that he has received from the general public. They are not safe for work. You can see him reading a previous batch of letters here.

Related Content:

Growing Up in the Universe: Richard Dawkins Presents Captivating Science Lectures for Kids (1991)

Richard Dawkins’ Documentary The God Delusion Tackles Faith & Religious Violence (2006)

Richard Dawkins Explains Why There Was Never a First Human Being

Free Online Biology Courses

Hear Gandhi’s Famous Speech on the Existence of God (1931)

A perfect symbol of the mechanisms of British rule over India, the Salt Acts prohibited Indians from access and trade of their own resources, forcing them to buy salt from British monopolies, who taxed the mineral heavily. In 1930, in one of the defining acts of his Satyagraha movement, Mohandas Gandhi decided to defy the Salt Act with a very grand gesture—a march, with thousands of his supporters, over a distance of over 200 miles, to the Arabian Sea. Once there, following Gandhi’s lead, the crowd proceeded to collect sea salt, prompting British colonial police to arrest over 60,000 people, including Gandhi himself.

The 1930 action, the first organized act of civil disobedience after the Indian National Congress’ declaration of independence, got the attention of the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, who had been directing harsh repressive measures against the growing independence movement, and in January of 1931, after his release, Gandhi and Irwin signed a pact. Gandhi agreed to end the movement; Irwin agreed to allow the Indians to make their own salt, and the Indians would have an equal role in negotiating India’s future. British officials were outraged and disgusted. Winston Churchill, for example, staunchly opposed to independence, called the meeting of the two leaders a “nauseating and humiliating spectacle,” saying “Gandhi-ism and everything it stands for will have to be grappled with and crushed.” (Churchill favored letting Gandhi die if he went on hunger strike.)

The terms of the pact, of course, did not hold, and the movement would continue until eventual independence in 1947. But Gandhi had not only succeeded in incurring the wrath of the British colonialists; he had also won many supporters in England. One of them, Muriel Lester, invited the Indian leader to stay with her in London at a community center she had founded called Kingsley Hall. “He enjoyed his stay here,” says the current Kingsley Hall manager David Baker, “and it was wise because if he had stayed in the West End the press would have lampooned him. He wouldn’t have had a life, but here he was left alone and walked around in the streets. He wanted to stay with the people that he lived with in India, i.e. the poor.” However, Gandhi wasn’t totally ignored by the press. While at Kingsley, he delivered a short speech, which you can hear above, and the BBC was there to record it.

In the speech, Gandhi says absolutely nothing about Indian independence, British oppression, or the aims and tactics of the movement. He says nothing at all about politics or any worldly affairs whatsoever. Instead, he lectures on the existence of God, “an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything,” and which “defies all proof.” Gandhi testifies to “an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives,” though he also confesses “that I have no argument to convince through reason.” Instead relies on analogies, on things he “dimly perceives,” on the “marvelous researches of [Indian engineer and scientist] Sir J.C. Bose,” and on “the experiences of an unbroken line of prophets and sages in all countries and climes.” It’s not a speech likely to persuade anyone who isn’t already some sort of a believer, I think, but it’s of much interest to anyone interested in the history of Indian independence and in Gandhi’s life and message.

You can read the full text of the speech here, and see footage of Kingsley Hall and a filmed interview with Muriel Lester, discussing Gandhi’s stay, here.

Related Content:

Mahatma Gandhi’s List of the 7 Social Sins; or Tips on How to Avoid Living the Bad Life

Mahatma Gandhi Talks (in First Recorded Video)

Albert Einstein Expresses His Admiration for Mahatma Gandhi, in Letter and Audio

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Confusion Through Sand: A Short, Hand-Drawn Animation on the Terror & Confusion of War

Back in October 2012, Ornana Films raised $30,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to produce Confusion Through Sand, an animation that “explores the spectrum of haze experienced by today’s soldiers in the desert.” It’s an interpretation, Ornana tells us, “of what happens when top training encounters circumstances beyond the realm of human control, in both interior and exterior conflicts.” The action takes place “on the ground, under the helmet of a 19 year-old infantryman.” Once completed, the film premiered at the 2013 SXSW film festival and took home the Jury Award. Now, a year later, it’s free online. And even better, it comes accompanied by a behind-the-scenes film that takes you inside the filmmakers’ artistic process, showing how they hand-animated the film with markers on recycled paper. Enjoy both.

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

The Cahiers du Cinéma Names the 10 Best Films of the Year, from 1951 to 2014



It’s hard to overstate the impact of Cahiers du cinéma on film history.

In the early ‘50s, the great critic André Bazin led a small coterie of film fanatics – guys with names like Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette — who hung out at the Cinémathèque française. Theaters were flooded with Hollywood movies, really for the first time since the beginning of World War II, and this group took the opportunity to watch anything they could get their hands on, from high brow art films to cut rate Westerns. They would watch anything.

In 1951, Bazin founded Cahiers and this band of cinematic outsiders became famously brutal and uncompromising iconoclasts. They praised lowly genre films – film noir especially – as masterpieces while slamming the middlebrow flicks the French film industry was cranking out at the time. Truffaut was famous for being particularly harsh, earning the moniker “The Gravedigger of French Cinema.” His reviews were so acerbic that he was the only French film critic not invited to cover the 1958 Cannes Film Festival. (The fact that he then turned around and won the fest’s top prize the next year for his masterpiece 400 Blows might be one of the greatest feats of badassery in cinema history.)

Perhaps the Cahiers’ greatest contribution was an article, written by Truffaut in 1954, called “A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema,” which was a manifesto for what would later be called auteur theory – an idea that certain directors have such a command of the medium that they impress their individual vision on a film, in the same way an author does to a book. This idea has been so completely absorbed into popular consciousness that it’s hard to see just how revolutionary it was at the time. Before Cahiers, people generally thought about movies in terms of the stars, not the director. Most would refer to Rear Window, say, as a Jimmy Stewart movie, not an Alfred Hitchcock film. The concept resulted in a basic reordering in the way filmmakers thought about their art.

Truffaut and company obsessed with filmmakers they considered auteurs. Their top 10 list for 1955, the year after “A Certain Tendency” was published, shows who in particular they considered auteurs – art house icons (Carl Dreyer and Roberto Rossellini), Hollywood renegades (Robert Aldrich and Nicholas Ray) and, of course, Hitchcock.

1. Voyage To Italy (Roberto Rossellini)
2. Ordet (Carl Dreyer)
3. The Big Knife (Robert Aldrich)
4. Lola Montes (Max Ophuls)
5. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock)
6. Les Mauvais Recontres (Alexandre Astruc)
7. La Strada (Federico Fellini)
8. The Barefoot Contessa (Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
9. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray)
10. Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich)

1960 was the year that seemingly the entire editorial staff at Cahiers du cinéma took camera in hand and became filmmakers, launching the French New Wave. Truffaut’s 400 Blows in 1959 was followed up by Chabrol’s Les Bonnes Femmes and Godard’s groundbreaking assault on cinematic form, Breathless. Yet for their top 10 list, Cahiers put Japanese master Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sansho the Bailiff at the top. Hitchcock also makes the list, number 9, with a little film called Psycho.

1. Sansho The Bailiff (Kenji Mizoguchi)
2. L’avventura (Michaelangelo Antonioni)
3. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard)
4. Shoot The Piano Player (François Truffaut)
5. Poem Of The Sea (Alexander Dovzhenko/Julia Solntesva)
6. Les Bonnes Femmes (Claude Chabrol)
7. Nazarin (Luis Buñuel)
8. Moonfleet (Fritz Lang)
9. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
10. Le Trou (Jacques Becker)

Starting from 1968 until the late-70s, the journal became a Maoist collective and renounced bourgeois concepts like “best of” lists, narrative cinema and, y’know, fun. But in the early ‘80s, Cahiers shifted its editorial focus back to the world of commercial film. They lauded movies by Nouvelle Vague veterans like Godard and Rohmer, film festival darlings like Hou Hsiao Hsien and, to a perverse degree, Clint Eastwood. You can see all of Cahiers du cinéma’s top 10 lists here, including the most recent list for 2014 here.

Related content:

Alfred Hitchcock on the Filmmaker’s Essential Tool: ‘The Kuleshov Effect’

Jean-Luc Godard Gives a Dramatic Reading of Hannah Arendt’s “On the Nature of Totalitarianism”

Jefferson Airplane Wakes Up New York; Jean-Luc Godard Captures It (1968)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring lots of pictures of badgers and even more pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads.  The Veeptopus store is here.