Free Films by Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergei Eisenstein & Other Russian Greats

During the past two years, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky have quietly come online, giving viewers the chance to encounter the Soviet director's great body of work. If you're not familiar with Tarkovsky, it's worth mentioning that Ingmar Bergman considered him his favorite director, and Akira Kurosawa once said, "Every cut from his films is a marvelous image in itself.” The list of available films now includes:

(Note: If you access the films via YouTube, be sure to click “CC” at the bottom of the videos to access the subtitles.)

You can thank Mosfilm, the oldest film studio in Russia, if not Europe, for bringing these films to the web. If you head to Mosfilm's YouTube Channel, you can watch more than 50 Russian classics, including Sergei Bondarchuk's 1969 adaptation of Tolstoy's War & Peace, a film that Roger Ebert called "the definitive epic of all time." In a concession to Western capitalism, each film is preceded by a short commercial, proving yet again that there's no such thing as a truly free lunch.

Finally, don't miss our collection of 1100 Free Movies Online, which features six films by Sergei Eisenstein, Russia's pioneering filmmaker and film theorist: Strike, Battleship PotemkinRomance Sentimentale, October: Ten Days That Shook the World, Old and New and Alexander Nevsky. They're all there.

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Dave Grohl Rocks the White House, Plays Band on the Run

Random thoughts: Has the White House (save last summer's earthquake) ever been rocked this hard? And has a rock 'n roll crowd ever been this restrained? Let's face it, the rebelliousness of rock and the formality of high government make for a funny fit. But that doesn't take anything away from Grohl's little gig, and don't miss my favorite performance from that night: Elvis Costello singing Penny Lane with a member of the United States Marine band on the piccolo trumpet.

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Terry Gilliam Explains The Difference Between Kubrick (Great Filmmaker) and Spielberg (Less So)

Terry Gilliam has never tried to hide his feelings about Hollywood. "It's an abominable place," he told The New York Times in 2005. "If there was an Old Testamental God, he would do his job and wipe the place out. The only bad thing is that some really good restaurants would go up as well."

One thing that bothers Gilliam about Hollywood is the pressure it exerts on filmmakers to resolve their stories into happy endings. In this interesting clip from an interview he did a few years ago with Turner Classic Movies, Gilliam makes his point by comparing the work of Steven Spielberg--perhaps the quintessential Hollywood director--with that of Stanley Kubrick, who, like Gilliam, steered clear of Hollywood and lived a life of exile in England. Kubrick refused to pander to our desire for emotional reassurance. "The great filmmakers," says Gilliam, "make you go home and think about it."

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600 Free Movies Online

Mankind’s First Steps on the Moon: The Ultra High Res Photos

In 1961, John F. Kennedy asked a lot of the U.S. space program when he declared: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." NASA hit that ambitious target with a few months to spare. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their famous first steps on the desolate lunar surface. The original video is grainy, hard to see. But the photos taken during the mission are anything but. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing (back in 2009), the folks at SpaceRip stitched together a collection of high resolution photos from the Apollo 11 mission, then set the slideshow to Chopin's Trois nouvelles études, 2nd in A flat major. You can find this clip housed in our collection of Great Science Videos.

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Werner Herzog Gets Shot During Interview, Doesn’t Miss a Beat


Fast forward to the 47 second mark if you want to cut straight to the action.

Werner Herzog moved to the United States in the mid 1990s. He tried living in San Francisco, but found it "too chic and leisurely." He gave thought to New York, but realized it is "only a place to go [to] if you're into finances." Looking for "a place of cultural substance," he ended up in Los Angeles. The city is "raw, uncouth and bizarre," but it's a place of substance," he concluded.

By 2006, Herzog discovered that L.A. also has a little danger going for it. During an interview with BBC critic Mark Kermode, the filmmaker took a shot from an unknown gunman armed with an air rifle. No matter. Kermode and Herzog quickly relocated and continued the interview. The unflappable Herzog shrugged off the shooting, simply saying "It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid."

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter 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. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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The Thanksgiving Math Lecture: Real Meets Virtual

Matthew Weathers teaches computer science and mathematics courses at Biola University in southern California, and, while wrapping up a lecture last week, the talk turned to Thanksgiving and, well, you can watch the rest.

On a more serious note, don't miss our collection of 400 Free Online Courses.

Seeing Double: The Lake Twins Meet the Cholmondeley Ladies

Phoebe and Lydia Lake are artists. They're also identical twins, which means they know a thing or two about symmetry. So last year, when they were 20 years old, the Tate Britain decided to film their first encounter with one of the museum's most famous holdings, The Cholmondeley Ladies, painted sometime around 1600-1610 by an unknown artist. An inscription describes the ladies as members of the Cholmondeley family (pronounced "Chumley") who were born on the same day, married on the same day and "brought to bed" (gave birth) on the same day. The sharply defined, rigidly symmetric composition depicts two very similar but not identical women (perhaps fraternal twins) dressed in exquisite Jacobean finery, holding their babies. In his essay, "The Perception of Symmetry," arts writer Michael Bird describes his own first reaction to the painting when he was a boy:

The two wintry revenants, propped elbow to elbow in bed with their glowing babies, made a deep impression. The blanched gorgeousness of their outfits, blooded by the hot royal red of the christening gowns, was part of it. So was the spooky incongruity of vivid faces looking out from the picture's steam-ironed one-dimensionality, as though two people were standing behind it, sticking their heads through holes in the board. Mainly, though, it was their doubleness.

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