Werner Herzog: Movies Won’t Change the World

Wern­er Her­zog does­n’t work under any illu­sions. In this Stu­dio Q inter­view, the film­mak­er tells Jian Ghome­shi that “movies don’t change things.” “Even influ­en­tial doc­u­men­taries like Inside Job “do not real­ly change the course of our lives.” And that applies to his lat­est film, Into the Abyss, which takes a Dos­toyevskian look at a triple mur­der com­mit­ted in Texas. (See trail­er below.) Into the Abyss prob­a­bly won’t change the U.S. penal sys­tem, or how the death penal­ty gets met­ed out. But that was nev­er the point of the film, and it’s not why Her­zog threw him­self, body and soul, into what he calls the most intense film­mak­ing expe­ri­ence of his life, a project that left him feel­ing each day like he had been “hit by a truck.” The con­ver­sa­tion runs 25 min­utes. h/t @webacion

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wern­er Her­zog Reads “Go the F**k to Sleep” in NYC (NSFW)

Wern­er Her­zog Los­es a Bet to Errol Mor­ris, and Eats His Shoe (Lit­er­al­ly)

Wern­er Her­zog and Cor­mac McCarthy Talk Sci­ence and Cul­ture

Tom Waits Makes Comic Appearance on Fernwood Tonight (1977)

Here’s a time cap­sule from a par­al­lel uni­verse: Tom Waits in 1977, per­form­ing “The Piano Has Been Drink­ing” on Fer­n­wood Tonight (oth­er­wise called Fer­n­wood 2Night). The short-lived TV series, set in a fic­tion­al Fer­n­wood, Ohio, was cre­at­ed by Nor­man Lear as a spin-off of the mock soap opera Mary Hart­man, Mary Hart­man. Mar­tin Mull played Barth Gim­ble, a droll, small-town John­ny Car­son, with Fred Willard as his half-wit­ted side­kick Jer­ry Hub­bard. Most of the guests were made-up char­ac­ters, but occa­sion­al­ly the writ­ers would weave a real-life char­ac­ter like Waits into the fic­tion­al fab­ric of the show. A crit­ic might point out that Wait­s’s Bow­ery-bum per­sona from those days was more fake than Fer­n­wood, Ohio. (Ohio, at least, is a state.) But that miss­es the fun of make-believe. So drown your cyn­i­cism in nos­tal­gia and enjoy this strange lit­tle clip from a dif­fer­ent time, a decid­ed­ly dif­fer­ent place.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Cook­ie Monster/Tom Waits Mashup

Tom Waits Reads Charles Bukows­ki

Jim Jar­musch: The Art of the Music in His Films

Tom Waits Inter­viewed on NPR’s Fresh Air (10/31/11)

Jazz on a Summer’s Day

In 1958, jaz­z’s place in Amer­i­can cul­ture was chang­ing. It was climb­ing out of the smokey night­clubs and into the sun­ny embrace of the bour­geoisie. A younger force, rock and roll, was start­ing to push it aside. That sense of tran­si­tion is pre­served in Jazz on a Sum­mer’s Day, pho­tog­ra­ph­er Bert Stern’s film of the 1958 New­port Jazz Fes­ti­val.

Kei­th Richards has called Stern’s movie “a para­ble on film of the changeover of pow­er between jazz and rock and roll.” In his auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Life, Richards describes his youth­ful pil­grim­age with Mick Jag­ger to see Chuck Berry’s per­for­mance in Jazz on a Sum­mer’s Day:

The film had Jim­my Giuf­fre, Louis Arm­strong, Thelo­nious Monk, but Mick and I went to see the man. That black coat. He was brought on stage–a very bold move by someone–with Jo Jones on drums, a jazz great. Jo Jones was, among oth­ers, Count Basie’s drum­mer. I think it was Chuck­’s proud­est moment, when he got up there. It’s not a par­tic­u­lar­ly good ver­sion of “Sweet Lit­tle Six­teen,” but it was the atti­tude of the cats behind him, sol­id against the way he looked and the way he was mov­ing. They were laugh­ing at him. They were try­ing to fuck him up. Jo Jones was rais­ing his drum­stick after every few beats and grin­ning as if he were in play school. Chuck knew he was work­ing against the odds. And he was­n’t real­ly doing very well, when you lis­ten to it, but he car­ried it. He had a band behind him that want­ed to toss him, but he still car­ried the day. Jo Jones blew it, right there. Instead of a knife in the back, he could have giv­en him the shit. But Chuck forced his way through.

Lat­er gen­er­a­tions of jazz lovers have been per­plexed by the film, not because of Chuck Berry, but because of the film­mak­er’s focus on every­thing but the jazz. At one point Thelo­nious Monk is soul­ful­ly play­ing “Blue Monk” when the film sud­den­ly cuts to the Amer­i­ca’s Cup sail­boat race and the jar­ring voice of a radio announc­er describ­ing the scene. Ouch.

Just as painful, in ret­ro­spect, are the omis­sions. The film­mak­er took a pass on per­for­mances at the fes­ti­val that year by Duke Elling­ton, Dave Brubeck, Lester Young, Son­ny Rollins and the Miles Davis Sex­tet. “Yes,” writes Alan Kurtz at Jazz.com about the Davis sex­tet, “the last unit fea­tur­ing Can­non­ball Adder­ley, John Coltrane and Bill Evans was the same super­group as would eight months lat­er record Kind of Blue and of which no motion pic­ture or video footage now exists.” Ouch again.

But Jazz on a Sum­mer’s Day is still a won­der­ful film. Stern was one of the great­est adver­tis­ing and fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phers of his gen­er­a­tion. He was a 28-year-old still pho­tog­ra­ph­er when he went to New­port and basi­cal­ly invent­ed the music per­for­mance film genre. While Stern’s com­mer­cial work tends to be care­ful­ly con­trolled, Jazz on a Sum­mer’s Day exhibits the pho­tog­ra­pher’s con­sid­er­able gift for observ­ing peo­ple in their nat­ur­al set­ting. There are many doc­u­ments of the way peo­ple looked in the late 1950s, but few are this vivid. Or this visu­al­ly elo­quent.

Create iPhone/iPad Apps in iOS 5 with Free Stanford Course

Back in 2009, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty start­ed record­ing lec­tures giv­en in its iPhone Appli­ca­tion Devel­op­ment course and then plac­ing them on iTunes, mak­ing them free for any­one to view. The course hit a mil­lion down­loads in a mat­ter of weeks, and now, two years lat­er, here’s where we stand. The course remains the most pop­u­lar item on Stan­ford’s iTune­sU site, hav­ing clocked in 10 mil­lion down­loads. And the school has released a new ver­sion of the course that focus­es on iOS 5, the lat­est ver­sion of the iPhone/iPad oper­at­ing sys­tem. You can down­load the course on iTunes (in HD video or stan­dard-def­i­n­i­tion video) and start cre­at­ing apps on your own.

The iPhone Appli­ca­tion Devel­op­ment course is now list­ed in the Com­put­er Sci­ence sec­tion of our big col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es. There you will find 40+ free cours­es that will teach you to code.…

via Stan­ford News

How Many U.S. Marines Could Bring Down the Roman Empire?

It all start­ed as a thought exper­i­ment on Reddit.com when a user posed the ques­tion: “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire dur­ing the reign of Augus­tus if I trav­eled back in time with a mod­ern U.S. Marine infantry bat­tal­ion or MEU?”

Then the Red­dit user offered a more pre­cise sce­nario:

Let’s say we go back in time with a Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit (MEU) … could we destroy all 30 of Augus­tus’ legions?

We’d be up against near­ly 330,000 men since each legion was com­prised of 11,000 men. These men are typ­i­cal­ly equipped with limb and tor­so armor made of met­al, and for weapon­ry they car­ry swords, spears, bows and oth­er stab­bing imple­ments. We’d also encounter siege weapons like cat­a­pults and crude incen­di­ary weapons.

We’d be made up of about 2000 mem­bers, of which about half would be par­tic­i­pat­ing in ground attack oper­a­tions. We can use our mech­a­nized vehi­cles (60 Humvees, 16 armored vehi­cles, etc), but we can­not use our attack air sup­port, only our trans­port air­craft.

We also have medics with us, mod­ern med­ical equip­ment and drugs, and engi­neers, but we no longer have a mag­i­cal time-trav­el­ing sup­ply line (we did have but the timelords frowned upon it, sad­ly!) that pro­vides us with all the ammu­ni­tion, equip­ment and sus­te­nance we need to sur­vive. We’ll have to suc­ceed with the stuff we brought with us.

So, will we be vic­to­ri­ous?

The ques­tion touched off a fren­zy of dis­cus­sion. One user, James Erwin, wrote a short sto­ry, Rome Sweet Rome, imag­in­ing how the bat­tles might play out, and Warn­er Bros. came along and bought the movie rights to the sto­ry.

And now pro­fes­sion­al his­to­ri­ans are weigh­ing in. Inter­viewed in Pop­u­lar Mechan­ics, his­to­ri­an Adri­an Goldswor­thy, an expert on the Roman army, offered these thoughts:

Obvi­ous­ly, there is a mas­sive dif­fer­ence in fire­pow­er. Not only would Roman armor be use­less against a rifle round—let alone a grenade launch­er or a .50 cal­iber machine gun—it would prob­a­bly dis­tort the bullet’s shape and make the wound worse.

But here comes the dif­fi­cul­ty:

In the short term and in the open, mod­ern infantry could mas­sacre any ancient sol­diers at lit­tle risk to them­selves. But you could not sup­port mod­ern infantry. So all of these weapons and vehi­cles could make a brief, dra­mat­ic, and even dev­as­tat­ing appear­ance, but would very quick­ly become use­less. Prob­a­bly in a mat­ter of days.… Marines are the best war­riors ever trained. But they can’t fight an end­less wave of sol­diers. No one can.

You can find the rest of Goldswor­thy’s thoughts here, and sev­er­al good Roman his­to­ry cours­es in our big col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es.

via Andrew Sul­li­van

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. And if you want to make sure that our posts def­i­nite­ly appear in your Face­book news­feed, just fol­low these sim­ple steps.

The Always Bankable Banksy

You have to appre­ci­ate the para­dox of Banksy: A com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful anti-cap­i­tal­ist. A van­dal who adds val­ue. It’s the sort of amus­ing con­tra­dic­tion that appears often in the artist’s own work.

A case in point: In 2009 Banksy made a wall paint­ing on an indus­tri­al estate out­side Croy­don, South Lon­don, depict­ing a spike-head­ed punk rock­er puz­zling over a set of instruc­tions. Next to him is a box labeled “LARGE GRAFFITI SLOGAN,” with a jum­bled car­go of words–“SYSTEM,” “SMASH,” “POLICE”–spilling out, wait­ing to be assem­bled. The logo on the box is also dis­as­sem­bled, but eas­i­ly rec­og­niz­able: IKEA.

The guer­ril­la artist had bare­ly fin­ished his mur­al when a pair of guer­ril­la busi­ness­men swooped in, sub­vert­ing the sub­ver­sive mes­sage. It’s an inter­est­ing sto­ry, nice­ly told in this nine-minute film pro­duced for Chan­nel 4 by Mar­tyn Gre­go­ry, shot and edit­ed by Paul Bernays and nar­rat­ed by Nick Glass.

The Story of Broke: An Animated Look at US Federal Spending and Values

Back in 2008, Annie Leonard pro­duced The Sto­ry of Stuff (see below), a 20-minute ani­mat­ed film that explores the way our con­sumerist habits take a toll on the envi­ron­ment and sus­tain­abil­i­ty. The video racked up mil­lions of views on YouTube, and now Leonard returns with the sec­ond video in a longer series. It’s called the The Sto­ry of Broke (see above) and it takes a short­er, ani­mat­ed look at U.S. gov­ern­ment spend­ing — at how we pri­or­i­tize our spend­ing, and what it says about our core nation­al val­ues.

We have a lot of mon­ey float­ing around. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment col­lect­ed $2.16 tril­lion in tax rev­enue in FY 2010 (and we bor­rowed yet anoth­er $1.3 tril­lion more). Mean­while, rough­ly $705 bil­lion went to defense spend­ing, which is sev­en times (or $589 bil­lion) more than the next biggest defense spender, Chi­na. It turns out that oper­at­ing a bloat­ed empire with troops deployed across 150 coun­tries is a cost­ly nation­al pri­or­i­ty. Then, as Leonard points out, we also unthink­ing­ly fun­nel a lot of mon­ey, in the form of sub­si­dies and give­aways, to dinosaur indus­tries. And then we’re told that noth­ing is left over for Social Secu­ri­ty ($707 bil­lion), Medicare/Medicaid ($732 bil­lion), and edu­ca­tion. But we should­n’t take those claims at face val­ue. Where we spend mon­ey is a choice. It’s ide­al­ly our choice, but all too often it’s real­ly a mat­ter of what’s val­ued by our lead­ers and their finan­cial back­ers.…

A Brief, Wondrous Tour of Earth (From Outer Space)

We have seen sev­er­al time-lapse views of Earth from the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion, but this may well be the best. Record­ed from August to Octo­ber, 2011, this HD footage has been smoothed, retimed, denoised, deflick­ered, cut, etc, and then cou­pled with music by Jan Jelinek. It gives you a pret­ty splen­did view of the auro­ra bore­alis from orbit (how often have you seen that?), and if you’re won­der­ing just what pro­duces those north­ern lights, you can watch a nice expla­na­tion here (scroll down to the sec­ond video). This video is housed in our col­lec­tion of Great Sci­ence Videos.

Fol­low us on Face­bookTwit­ter and now Google Plus.

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.