The Bayeux Tapestry Animated

We had to do it. We had to bring back a won­der­ful lit­tle ani­ma­tion of The Bayeux Tapes­try — you know, the famous embroi­dery that offers a pic­to­r­i­al inter­pre­ta­tion of the Nor­man Con­quest of Eng­land (1066) and the events lead­ing up to this piv­otal moment in medieval his­to­ry. Cur­rent­ly resid­ing in France, the tapes­try mea­sures 20 inch­es by 230 feet, and you can now see an ani­mat­ed ver­sion of the sto­ry it nar­rates. The clip above starts rough­ly halfway through the his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive, with the appear­ance of Hal­ley’s Comet, and it con­cludes with the Bat­tle of Hast­ings in 1066. The video cre­at­ed by David New­ton began as a stu­dent project at Gold­smiths Col­lege.

P.S. Don’t miss the many cours­es in the His­to­ry sec­tion of our big col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es. They’re all from top flight uni­ver­si­ties.

Fol­low us on Face­bookTwit­ter and now Google Plus and share intel­li­gent media with your friends! They’ll thank you for it.

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Art in the Era of the Internet (and Why Open Education Matters)

Dur­ing the late 1990s, when the inter­net first boomed, we talked a lot about cre­ative destruc­tion — about how old busi­ness­es would col­lapse, mak­ing way for new ones to emerge. And, indeed, com­pa­nies like Ama­zon,, and eBay changed the way we buy our books, com­put­ers and every­day items. Years lat­er, we’re see­ing new inter­net tech­nolo­gies chang­ing the arts world. Kick­starter, a plat­form that uses crowd­sourc­ing to fund cre­ative projects, may even­tu­al­ly bring more fund­ing to the arts than the NEA, pro­vid­ing sup­port for count­less new artists. Cre­ative Com­mons and its lib­er­at­ing copy­right regime already lets artists dis­trib­ute their cre­ative works to the broad­est audi­ence pos­si­ble. And The Cre­ators Project, a glob­al arts ini­tia­tive cre­at­ed by Intel and Vice, is redefin­ing our con­cept of the art stu­dio and art exhi­bi­tion. That’s the sto­ry told by Art in the Era of the Inter­net, a video cre­at­ed by PBS’ Off Book web series.

Speak­ing of Cre­ative Com­mons, the Cal­i­for­nia non­prof­it (along with the U.S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and the Open Soci­ety Insti­tute) has launched the Why Open Edu­ca­tion Mat­ters Video Com­pe­ti­tion. The com­pe­ti­tion will award cash prizes for the best short videos explain­ing the use of Open Edu­ca­tion­al Resources and the oppor­tu­ni­ties these mate­ri­als cre­ate for teach­ers, stu­dents and schools. Cre­ate a great video (by June 5th) and you can win $25,000. Get more details at

via Brain­Pick­ings

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Wim Wenders and Celebrated Directors Talk About the Future of Cinema (1982)

His inter­est stoked by the sight of a majes­tic old tree beside the road to Cannes, one which lived before any­one made films and may well live after any­one makes films, Wim Wen­ders con­sult­ed fif­teen of his col­leagues for their thoughts on the future of cin­e­ma. This being the time and place of the 35th Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, he man­aged to round up cel­e­brat­ed inter­na­tion­al auteurs like Jean-Luc Godard, Wern­er Her­zog, Rain­er Wern­er Fass­binder, and Michelan­ge­lo Anto­nioni — names cinephiles now men­tion along­side Wen­ders’ own — as well as less­er-known film­mak­ers like Mike De Leon, Romain Goupil, and Ana Car­oli­na. Alone in a hotel room in front of the rolling cam­era, a tape recorder cap­tur­ing their voice to their right and a silent tele­vi­sion spout­ing images to their left, they each respond to ques­tions on a sheet that fol­low from the same prompt: “Is cin­e­ma a lan­guage about to get lost, an art about to die?” Their reac­tions make up Room 666, which you can watch free online.

You may be famil­iar with the hand-wring­ing hap­pen­ing over this ques­tion even today, 30 years on. While our cur­rent anx­i­ety has to do with whether on-demand, inter­net-based deliv­ery mech­a­nisms will ren­der movies as we know them obso­lete, sev­er­al of the film­mak­ing minds in Room 666 go straight to the then-loom­ing specter of home video. Some seem ner­vous about it; oth­ers — notably Goupil, who unhesi­tat­ing­ly denounces the incon­ve­nience of tra­di­tion­al pro­duc­tion tools, and Her­zog, who pref­aces his answer by tak­ing off his shoes and socks — seem untrou­bled. Late in the doc­u­men­tary, a cer­tain Steven Spiel­berg pops up to defend his posi­tion as “one of the last opti­mists” in cin­e­ma. Even more sur­pris­ing than his pres­ence, giv­en the con­text, is his view of the film artist’s strug­gle against the film indus­try. Hol­ly­wood, he claims, has always yearned to make that myth­i­cal, mon­ey-print­ing “movie for every­one.” He argues that, giv­en these demands, the trou­bled eco­nom­ic times, the strug­gling dol­lar, and the shaky atten­dance fig­ures — in 1982, remem­ber — film­mak­ers will just have to fight the good fight that much hard­er to tell their small, pecu­liar sto­ries in ways that seem big and broad­ly mar­ketable.

Pac­ing and ges­tic­u­lat­ing, Anto­nioni explains his con­fi­dence that mankind will adopt, adapt to, and improve upon whichev­er vari­ety of film­mak­ing tech­nol­o­gy comes its way, “mag­net­ic tape” or some­thing more futur­is­tic. But does this apply equal­ly to film­go­ers as to film­mak­ers? Anto­nioni and cer­tain oth­er of Wen­ders’ iso­lat­ed inter­vie­wees spec­u­late that, with the advent of per­son­al screen­ing tech­nolo­gies, the entire tra­di­tion­al cin­e­mat­ic view­ing infra­struc­ture — the­aters, pro­jec­tors, snack bars — will inevitably van­ish. When Two Lane Black­top direc­tor Monte Hell­man takes his seat in Room 666 and bemoans hav­ing taped hun­dreds of movies off tele­vi­sion with­out hav­ing watched a sin­gle one, he briefly comes off as more pre­scient, or at least as more of an illus­tra­tion of the future, than any­one else.

Yet in 2012’s mixed cin­e­mat­ic econ­o­my, amid an unprece­dent­ed­ly wide range of means to watch a movie, I still find myself in the­aters more often that not. In these the­aters, I often watch revivals of films by these very same film­mak­ers, or even by their elders. Since Antho­ny Lane wrote it in the New York­er, I’ve quot­ed it almost dai­ly: “There’s only one prob­lem with home cin­e­ma: it doesn’t exist. The very phrase is an oxy­moron. As you pause your film to answer the door or fetch a Coke, the expe­ri­ence ceas­es to be cin­e­ma. Even the act of choos­ing when to watch means you are no longer at the movies. Choice—preferably an exhaus­tive menu of it—pretty much defines our sta­tus as con­sumers, and has long been an unques­tioned tenet of the cap­i­tal­ist feast, but in fact carte blanche is no way to run a cul­tur­al life (or any kind of life, for that mat­ter), and one thing that has nour­ished the the­atri­cal expe­ri­ence, from the Athens of Aeschy­lus to the mul­ti­plex, is the ele­ment of com­pul­sion.” H/T Dan­ger­ous Minds

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

Monty Python’s Away From it All: A Twisted Travelogue with John Cleese

And now for some­thing com­plete­ly deli­cious: a rare gem from the Mon­ty Python vault called Away From it All, fea­tur­ing John Cleese as Nigel Far­quhar-Ben­nett, a voice-over artist bad­ly in need of a hol­i­day.

The 13-minute film is a par­o­dy of the mind-numb­ing trav­el­ogues they used to show in movie the­aters. It was pro­duced in 1979 and screened in British and Aus­tralian the­aters as a warm-up for Mon­ty Python’s Life of Bri­an.

The nar­ra­tion was writ­ten by Cleese, who Michael Palin once said was born with a sil­ver tongue in his mouth. “John loves words,” writes Palin in The Very Best of Mon­ty Python, “espe­cial­ly ‘neb­u­lous’, ‘tren­chant’ and ‘ortho­don­tic’. Though most chil­dren’s first word is ‘mama’, John’s was ‘eli­sion’. ‘Mama’ was third, after ‘hydraulics’.” Enjoy.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Cleese on the Ori­gin of Cre­ativ­i­ty

The Mon­ty Python Phi­los­o­phy Foot­ball Match Revis­it­ed

Ballet in Super Slow Motion (And More Culture Around the Web)

This does­n’t need much in the way of an intro­duc­tion, except to say that two pho­tog­ra­phers, Simon Ian­nel­li & Johannes Berg­er, caught Mari­na Kan­no and Gia­co­mo Bevilaqua, both from the Staats­bal­lett Berlin, per­form­ing sev­er­al jumps, each cap­tured in slow motion at 1000 frames per sec­ond. And it’s all set to Radio­head­’s “Every­thing In Its Right Place.” Enjoy that (h/t Kot­tke) and also …

More Cul­ture from Around the Web/Our Twit­ter Stream:

Google Doo­dle Cel­e­brates Mies Van Der Rohe’s Crown­ing Achieve­ment

Ter­ry Gross Talks With Matthew Wein­er (‘Mad Men’ Cre­ator) On What’s Next For Don Drap­er

Will One Researcher’s Dis­cov­ery in the Ama­zon Destroy Chom­sky’s The­o­ry of Lin­guis­tics?

The Mechan­i­cal Uni­verse: 52 Lec­ture Intro to Physics by Cal­tech. Added to the Physics sec­tion of our Free Cours­es List

How to be an Aca­d­e­m­ic Fail­ure: A Guide for Begin­ners

Record­ing of William Faulkn­er’s Nobel Prize Speech

From Le Monde, “Back­stage with Char­lie Chap­lin,” a Hand­ful of Very Mov­ing Stills

Kurt Von­negut: The Paris Review Inter­view (1977)

A Reject­ed & Unpub­lished Kurt Von­negut Novel­la Gets Released as a $1.99 Kin­dle Sin­gle

Advice on Advice from Lit­er­ary Greats

Why Bilin­guals Are Smarter

First High-Res­o­lu­tion Images of the Wreck of the Titan­ic

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Watch The Hitch-Hiker by Ida Lupino (the Only Female Director of a 1950s Noir Film)


In our enlight­ened times, film direct­ing has become a rea­son­ably open pro­fes­sion, admit­ting men, women, and — giv­en the plum­met­ing cost of pro­duc­tion equip­ment — chil­dren alike. But imag­ine how it would’ve been in 1949, when the Eng­lish-born actress Ida Lupino took the reins of Not Want­ed from the pro­jec­t’s ail­ing direc­tor Elmer Clifton. This would­n’t have seemed nor­mal at the time, and it would’ve seemed even less nor­mal that she went on to direct six more pic­tures. Her fifth, 1953’s The Hitch-hik­er, even entered the tra­di­tion of noir, one rarely asso­ci­at­ed with female writ­ers or direc­tors. Femmes fatales, sure — these sto­ries could scarce­ly exist with­out them — but women behind the cam­era?

To add a lay­er of irony on top of the unlike­li­ness, The Hitch-hik­er does away with any trace of overt wom­an­ly pres­ence. By the time we get to know the film’s hap­less pro­tag­o­nists, a cou­ple of bud­dies who look and act like fresh-cut slabs of all-Amer­i­can bland­ness, they’ve already told their wives they’re off to a fish­ing trip, and they’ll get back when they get back.

Bear­ing straight south down the open road, no soon­er do they reach Mex­i­co than they pick up a hitch­hik­er. By the time they come to under­stand that this black-clad, lumpy-fea­tured fel­low has killed before, may well kill again, and intends to mount a cease­less cam­paign of psy­cho­log­i­cal manip­u­la­tion in order to get a ride to his free­dom, we under­stand why hitch­hik­ing has gone out of style. You can find out how things turn out for them by watch­ing the whole thing, free on YouTube.

Lupino’s film does­n’t just remove the women from the noir for­mu­la; it leaves aside most of the dark­ness implic­it in the gen­re’s very name. Apart from a few tense night­time scenes and a cli­mac­tic chase through an after-hours ship­yard, the bulk of The Hitch-hik­er’s action takes place under a harsh Mex­i­can sun that bleach­es out near­ly every­thing but the jagged shad­ows cast by unearth­ly rock for­ma­tions along the emp­ty road. Though actu­al­ly shot on the east­ern slopes of the Sier­ra Neva­da moun­tains, the movie takes its for­eign set­ting seri­ous­ly, offer­ing sev­er­al rel­a­tive­ly extend­ed sequences and exchanges con­duct­ed entire­ly in untrans­lat­ed Span­ish. By the stan­dards of mid­cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can genre film, this near­ly counts as an act of rad­i­cal artis­tic exper­i­men­ta­tion. Yes, The Hitch-hik­er plays a bit broad­ly today and leans on a few tropes that must have seemed creaky even in 1953, but it remains an unusu­al enough entry in noir his­to­ry to mer­it atten­tion — and not just because of the sex of the direc­tor.

You can find The Hitch-hik­er and oth­er films by Ida Lupino in our col­lec­tion 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More, and in our spe­cial col­lec­tion of Free Noir Films.

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

Richard Dawkins Rallies for Reason in Washington DC

This week­end, an esti­mat­ed 20,000 agnos­tics, athe­ists and ardent sec­u­lar­ists gath­ered on the Nation­al Mall in rainy Wash­ing­ton DC. They were attend­ing the first Rea­son Ral­ly, an event intend­ed to “uni­fy, ener­gize, and embold­en sec­u­lar peo­ple nation­wide, while dis­pelling the neg­a­tive opin­ions held by so much of Amer­i­can soci­ety… and hav­ing a damn good time doing it!” Lawrence KraussMichael Sher­mer, Eddie Izzard — they all spoke to the crowd. And then came Richard Dawkins, the high priest of rea­son, the author of The Self­ish Gene, who spent decades teach­ing evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gy at Oxford. In the mid­dle of his 16 minute talk, he tells the audi­ence, “We’re here to stand up for rea­son, to stand up for sci­ence, to stand up for log­ic, to stand up for the beau­ty of real­i­ty, and the beau­ty of the fact that we can under­stand real­i­ty.” I’m with you Richard on that. But then comes the scorn we’re now so accus­tomed to (“I don’t despise reli­gious peo­ple; I despise what they stand for.”), and my guess is that chang­ing per­cep­tions of agnos­tics, athe­ists and sec­u­lar­ists will need to wait for anoth­er day.

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Newly Discovered Piece by Mozart Performed on His Own Fortepiano

A music schol­ar made an astound­ing dis­cov­ery recent­ly while going through the per­son­al belong­ings from the attic of a recent­ly deceased church musi­cian and band leader in the Lech Val­ley of the Aus­tri­an Tyrol.

Comb­ing through the dead man’s col­lec­tion of old music man­u­scripts, Hilde­gard Her­rmann-Schnei­der of the Insti­tute for Tyrolean Music Research noticed a hand-writ­ten book with the date “1780” on the cov­er. On pages 12 to 14 she found an uniden­ti­fied sonata move­ment with the tem­po mark “alle­gro molto,” Ital­ian for “very quick­ly.” On the upper right-hand side of page 12 was writ­ten “Del Sig­nore Gio­vane Wolf­gan­go Mozart,” or “The young Wolf­gan­go Mozart.”

“Wolf­gan­go” was a name Mozart’s father, Leopold, called him when he was a boy. Look­ing fur­ther into the man­u­script, Her­rmann-Schnei­der found sev­er­al pieces that were already known to have been writ­ten by Leopold Mozart. Those com­po­si­tions were respect­ful­ly marked “Sig­nore Mozart,” or “Lord Mozart.”

Although the writ­ing was clear­ly not in the hand of either the elder or the younger Mozart, the metic­u­lous­ness of the tran­scrip­tions, along with the accu­ra­cy of every ver­i­fi­able detail through­out the 160-page book, led Her­rmann-Schnei­der to sus­pect that the com­po­si­tion by “The Young Wolf­gan­go Mozart” was an authen­tic, pre­vi­ous­ly unknown piece.

On the back of the man­u­script was the copy­ist’s name: Johannes Reis­er­er. After an exten­sive inves­ti­ga­tion, Her­rmann-Schnei­der was able to learn that Reis­er­er was born in 1765 and had gone to gym­na­si­um, or high school, in Salzburg, where he was a mem­ber of the cathe­dral choir from 1778 to 1780. That would have placed him in close prox­im­i­ty to Leopold Mozart. “Researchers have thus con­clud­ed,” writes The His­to­ry Blog, “that Johannes Reis­er­er used the note­book to copy com­po­si­tions as part of a rig­or­ous pro­gram of music instruc­tion by Kapell­haus music mas­ters, per­haps Leopold him­self.”

Based on the style and the lev­el of accom­plish­ment in the piece, now known as the “Alle­gro Molto in C Major,” researchers place the date of com­po­si­tion at around 1767, when Mozart was 11 years old. A press release from the Insti­tute for Tyrolean Music Research describes the piece:

Mozart fre­quent­ly select­ed a C‑major key, and the Alle­gro molto has a sonata form with a length of 84 mea­sures. Its ambi­tus is tai­lored to the clavi­chord. The Alle­gro molto could be a first major attempt by Wolf­gang Amadé to assert him­self in the area of the sonata form. This is sug­gest­ed by the rel­a­tive­ly high lev­el of com­po­si­tion­al technique.…Throughout the Alle­gro molto, the­mat­ic for­ma­tion, com­po­si­tion­al set­ting and har­mo­ny have a num­ber of com­po­nents that are found repeat­ed in oth­er Mozart piano works. Hard­ly a com­po­si­tion­al detail points to a con­tra­dic­tion with the gen­er­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of Mozart’s com­sum­mate musi­cal com­po­si­tion. Accord­ing to cur­rent schol­ar­ly knowl­edge, it must there­fore be regard­ed as an authen­tic sonata move­ment by Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart.

Aus­tri­an musi­cian Flo­ri­an Bir­sak, who spe­cial­izes in play­ing ear­ly key­board instru­ments, gave the pre­mier per­for­mance of the piece on Mozart’s own fortepi­ano last Fri­day at the Mozart fam­i­ly home in Salzburg, which is now a muse­um of the Salzburg Mozar­teum Foun­da­tion. You can watch a video, above, which was record­ed some­time ear­li­er in the same place and on the same instru­ment. You can also read a PDF of the score, and down­load Bir­sak’s record­ing at iTunes.

The first page of Mozart’s Alle­gro Molto in C Major (above) from the 1780 note­book. Cred­it: Salzburg Mozar­teum Foun­da­tion.

via @MatthiasRascher

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