Watch 50 Hours of Nature Soundscapes from the BBC: Scientifically Proven to Ease Stress and Promote Happiness & Awe

A recent study from BBC Earth and UC-Berke­ley has shown that watch­ing nature doc­u­men­taries can inspire “sig­nif­i­cant increas­es in feel­ings of awe, con­tent­ed­ness, joy, amuse­ment and curios­i­ty” and con­verse­ly “reduce feel­ings of tired­ness, anger and stress.” In short, they can engen­der what the authors of the study call ‘real hap­pi­ness’ – a kind of hap­pi­ness that leads to actu­al improve­ment in indi­vid­u­als’ health and well­be­ing,

With that in mind, the BBC has just released 50 hours of HD “visu­al sound­scapes” on YouTube, using left­over footage from their Plan­et Earth II TV seriesTen hours of moun­tains; ten hours of jun­gle; ten hours of islands; ten hours of desert; and ten hours of grass­lands–they’re all fea­tured in the long, sooth­ing sound­scape playlist fea­tured above. Use them well.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

New Study: Immers­ing Your­self in Art, Music & Nature Might Reduce Inflam­ma­tion & Increase Life Expectan­cy

How Walk­ing Fos­ters Cre­ativ­i­ty: Stan­ford Researchers Con­firm What Philoso­phers and Writ­ers Have Always Known

Moby Lets You Down­load 4 Hours of Ambi­ent Music to Help You Sleep, Med­i­tate, Do Yoga & Not Pan­ic

by | Permalink | Make a Comment ( 2 ) |

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Illustrated by Salvador Dalí in 1969, Finally Gets Reissued

On can­vas and paper, Sal­vador Dalí cre­at­ed appar­ent­ly non­sen­si­cal real­i­ties that nev­er­the­less oper­at­ed accord­ing to log­ic all their own; in writ­ing, Lewis Car­roll, author of Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land, did the very same. It thus only makes sense, despite their dif­fer­ences in nation­al­i­ty and sen­si­bil­i­ty as well as their bare­ly over­lap­ping life spans, that their artis­tic worlds — one with its grotesque­ly mis­shapen objects, obscure sym­bols, and haunt­ing­ly emp­ty vis­tas, the oth­er full of word­play, whim­sy, and math­e­mat­ics — would one day col­lide. It hap­pened in 1969, when an edi­tor at Ran­dom House com­mis­sioned the mas­ter sur­re­al­ist to cre­ate illus­tra­tions for an exclu­sive edi­tion of Car­rol­l’s time­less sto­ry for the house­’s book-of-the-month club.

“Dalí cre­at­ed twelve heli­ogravures — a fron­tispiece, which he signed in every copy from the edi­tion, and one illus­tra­tion for each chap­ter of the book,” writes Brain Pick­ings’ Maria Popo­va. “For more than half a cen­tu­ry, this unusu­al yet organ­ic cross-pol­li­na­tion of genius remained an almost myth­ic arti­fact, reserved for col­lec­tors and schol­ars,” until Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press saw fit to reprint it for Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land’s 150th anniver­sary (much as Taschen recent­ly reis­sued Dalí’s bizarre cook­book Les Din­ers de Gala).  Sweet­en­ing the deal still fur­ther, they’ve includ­ed essays by math­e­mati­cian and Dalí col­lab­o­ra­tor Thomas Ban­choff as well as Lewis Car­roll Soci­ety of North Amer­i­ca pres­i­dent Mark Burstein.

“Although the out­ra­geous­ness of Rev­erend Charles Lutwidge Dodg­son, who came up with the pen name Lewis Car­roll in 1856, was limned with­in a con­ven­tion­al fairy tale,” writes Burstein, “the sur­re­al­ists delib­er­ate­ly sought out­rage and provo­ca­tion in their art and lives and ques­tioned the nature of real­i­ty. For both Car­roll and the sur­re­al­ists, what some call mad­ness could be per­ceived by oth­ers as wis­dom.” He describes sur­re­al­is­m’s ini­tial objec­tive as mak­ing “acces­si­ble to art the realms of the uncon­scious, the irra­tional, and the imag­i­nary, and its influ­ence soon went far beyond the visu­al arts and lit­er­a­ture, embrac­ing music, film, the­ater, phi­los­o­phy, and pop­u­lar cul­ture. As have the Alice books.” And with so many realms of the uncon­scious, the irra­tional, and the imag­i­nary left to explore, this inter­sec­tion of Car­roll and Dalí’s dif­fer­ent yet com­pat­i­ble meth­ods of explo­ration should hold more appeal than ever.

You can find copies of the Prince­ton reis­sue of Dalí’s Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Tarot Card Deck Designed by Sal­vador Dalí

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

Sal­vador Dalí’s Avant-Garde Christ­mas Cards

Behold Lewis Carroll’s Orig­i­nal Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed Man­u­script for Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land (1864)

See Ralph Steadman’s Twist­ed Illus­tra­tions of Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land on the Story’s 150th Anniver­sary

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

People Who Swear Are More Honest Than Those Who Don’t, Finds a New University Study

I’ve heard it said many times: “I don’t trust peo­ple who don’t swear.” It’s not an empir­i­cal state­ment. Just an intu­ition, that peo­ple who shy away from salty lan­guage might also shy away from cer­tain truths—may even be, per­haps, a lit­tle delu­sion­al. Few peo­ple char­ac­ter­ize tee­to­talers of swear­ing with more bite than Stephen Fry, who believes “the sort of twee per­son who thinks swear­ing is in any way a sign of a lack of edu­ca­tion or of a lack of ver­bal inter­est is just a fuck­ing lunatic.” George Car­lin would approve. A com­i­cal­ly exag­ger­at­ed view. No, swear­ing isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a sign of men­tal ill­ness. But it does cor­re­late strong­ly with truthtelling.

It seems all the sus­pi­cious salts out there may have hap­pened upon a mea­sur­able phe­nom­e­non. A study pub­lished last year with the cheeky title “Frankly, We Do Give a Damn: The Rela­tion­ship Between Pro­fan­i­ty and Hon­esty,” notes, “the con­sis­tent find­ings across the stud­ies sug­gest that the pos­i­tive rela­tion between pro­fan­i­ty and hon­esty is robust, and that rela­tion­ship found at the indi­vid­ual lev­el indeed trans­lates to the soci­ety lev­el.” It’s true, some research shows that peo­ple who swear may be like­ly to vio­late oth­er social norms, god bless ‘em, but they are also less like­ly to lie dur­ing police inter­ro­ga­tions.

After review­ing the lit­er­a­ture, the researchers, led by Maas­tricht Uni­ver­si­ty Psy­chol­o­gist Gilad Feld­man, describe the results of their own exper­i­ments. They asked 276 peo­ple to report on their swear­ing habits (or not) in detail. Those peo­ple then took a psy­cho­log­i­cal test that mea­sured their lev­els of hon­esty. Next, the team ana­lyzed 70,000 social media inter­ac­tions, and report­ed that “pro­fan­i­ty and hon­esty were found to be sig­nif­i­cant­ly and pos­i­tive­ly cor­re­lat­ed, indi­cat­ing that those who used more pro­fan­i­ty were more hon­est in their Face­book sta­tus updates.” They did not say whether high lev­els of hon­esty on Face­book is desir­able.

Final­ly, Feld­man and his col­leagues widened their scope to 48 U.S. states, and were able to cor­re­late social media data with mea­sures of gov­ern­ment account­abil­i­ty. States with high­er lev­els of swear­ing had a high­er integri­ty score accord­ing to a 2012 index pub­lished by the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty. (Believe or not, New Jer­sey had some of the high­est scores.) All three of their stud­ies yield­ed sim­i­lar results. “At both the indi­vid­ual and soci­ety lev­el,” they con­clude, “we found that a high­er rate of pro­fan­i­ty use was asso­ci­at­ed with more hon­esty.” This does not mean, as Ephrat Livni writes at Quartz, that “peo­ple who curse like sailors” won’t “com­mit seri­ous eth­i­cal crimes—but they won’t pre­tend all’s well online.”

As to the ques­tion of whether swear­ing betrays a lack of edu­ca­tion and an impov­er­ished vocab­u­lary, we might turn to lin­guist, psy­chol­o­gist, and neu­ro­sci­en­tist Steven Pinker, who has made a learned defense of foul lan­guage, in dri­ly humor­ous talks, books, and essays. “When used judi­cious­ly,” he writes in a 2008 Har­vard Brain arti­cle, “swear­ing can be hilar­i­ous, poignant, and uncan­ni­ly descrip­tive.” His is an argu­ment that relies not only on data but on philo­soph­i­cal reflec­tion and lit­er­ary appre­ci­a­tion. “It’s a fact of life that peo­ple swear,” he says, and so, it’s a fact of art. Shake­speare invent­ed dozens of swears and was nev­er afraid to work blue. Per­haps that’s why we find his rep­re­sen­ta­tions of human­i­ty so peren­ni­al­ly hon­est.

You can read “Frankly, We Do Give a Damn: The Rela­tion­ship Between Pro­fan­i­ty and Hon­esty” here. In addi­tion to Gilad Feld­man, the research paper was also writ­ten by Hui­wen Lian (The Hong Kong Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy,) Michal Kosin­s­ki (Stan­ford), and David Still­well (Cam­bridge).

via Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry, Lan­guage Enthu­si­ast, Defends The “Unnec­es­sary” Art Of Swear­ing

Steven Pinker Explains the Neu­ro­science of Swear­ing (NSFW)

George Car­lin Per­forms His “Sev­en Dirty Words” Rou­tine: His­toric and Com­plete­ly NSFW

Free Online Psy­chol­o­gy & Neu­ro­science Cours­es 

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

Watch the Earliest Known Footage of the Jimi Hendrix Experience (February, 1967)

Note: If the video plays and you don’t hear sound, look for the vol­ume con­trol in the low­er right hand cor­ner of the video.

With­in months of mov­ing to Lon­don in autumn of 1966, Jimi Hen­drix found him­self a band, record­ed a sin­gle, got him­self a longterm girl­friend, and pro­ceed­ed to take the UK by storm. His gigs were essen­tial view­ing by rock’s then-royalty–the Who, the Bea­t­les, the Rolling Stones, Cream, all made sure they caught the Amer­i­can won­der. By the end of the year his first sin­gle “Hey Joe” land­ed him on British tele­vi­sion and in the Top 10.

The above video is the first known footage of a live Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence, though the band had been gig­ging for months. It takes place at the Chelms­ford Corn Exchange, in the City of Chelms­ford, about 50 miles north-east of Lon­don. The date is Feb­ru­ary 25, 1967, and the gig had only been adver­tised in the paper two days before (where he was list­ed as “Jimi Hen­dric”). As you can see, that’s all it took to fill this old traders build­ing-turned-rock venue to the rafters.

The footage was shot for “Telix­er: A Thing of Beat Is a Joy For­ev­er,” a doc­u­men­tary on the cur­rent British music scene made for KRO, The Nether­lands.

Hen­drix and the band launch into Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” with a few ordi­nary open­ing bars set­ting up the gui­tar mag­ic to fol­low. He then plays “Stone Free,” the b‑side of “Hey Joe.” You can see Pete Town­shend and John Entwistle to the side of the stage, very briefly. The footage is inter­cut with shots of Swing­ing Lon­don and fash­ion hub Por­to­bel­lo Road, where it is said Hen­drix bought his Hus­sars mil­i­tary jack­et.

The web­site Chelms­ford Rocks fea­tures a remem­brance of that night from Shaun Everett, who was a Mod at the time and knew he had to make his way up on the train after work to catch Hen­drix at the “Corn’ole,” as the youth called it.

Everett fills in the rest of the evening:

Hen­drix gave two sets. That was the nor­mal arrange­ment for the Corn’ole. Both sets usu­al­ly 45 min­utes to one hour each and there was absolute­ly no music to be had after 11.30pm…I have spent a long time look­ing for myself on that film clip but to no avail. I was prob­a­bly still at the rear of the venue or even more like­ly in the local pub for the break!…Hendrix, at the end of the per­for­mance, walked straight up to a few of us stand­ing just there and one of my mates lit his joint for him. They were so knocked out by that I recall. My rec­ol­lec­tion was more nasal. Rock musi­cians have this uncan­ny abil­i­ty to har­bour their own post-set aro­mas about them­selves: in this case that unmis­take­able aro­ma of cannabis…I will always remem­ber that part even if my music rec­ol­lec­tions are a bit sparse. I have also ‘dined out’ on that anec­dote for many years since. I had passed close by the ‘God’.

The Corn Exchange host­ed many acts over its time as a music venue, includ­ing David Bowie and Pink Floyd. But in 1969, the city tore down the 19th cen­tu­ry build­ing, assum­ing some­thing more accom­mo­dat­ing for live music would be built in its place. That didn’t hap­pen. On this page you can see the after­math of the bull­doz­ers, and a mod­ern shot of the city street cor­ner that added so much to rock his­to­ry.

via Gui­tar World

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jimi Hen­drix Wreaks Hav­oc on the Lulu Show, Gets Banned From the BBC (1969)

Jimi Hen­drix Plays “Sgt. Pepper’s Lone­ly Hearts Club Band” for The Bea­t­les, Just Three Days After the Album’s Release (1967)

Hear a Great 4‑Hour Radio Doc­u­men­tary on the Life & Music of Jimi Hen­drix: Fea­tures Rare Record­ings & Inter­views

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at and/or watch his films here.

James Franco Hosts Philosophy Time, a New Videos Series Created to Help Philosophy Reach a Wider Audience

How do you get ordi­nary peo­ple inter­est­ed in phi­los­o­phy? If we are to believe the accounts of Pla­to, this wasn’t so dif­fi­cult in ancient Athens. One sim­ply lounged around the Acrop­o­lis harass­ing passers­by, a tac­tic sure to fail in most city cen­ters, town squares, and strip malls today. Pod­casts and YouTube videos grab their share of eyes and ears, though many in their audi­ences also sing in the choir. For­mer Python John Cleese has done his part to pop­u­lar­ize philo­soph­i­cal think­ing. As some­one who has moved between the worlds of acad­e­mia and pop­u­lar cul­ture, Cleese has both cred­i­bil­i­ty and vis­i­bil­i­ty on his side. Some younger audi­ences (I write with apolo­gies to Cleese) may be inclined to tune him out.

How about anoth­er actor with both fame and high­er ed cred? Some­one “very appeal­ing to a younger demo­graph­ic”? Some­one like… James Franco—currently a doc­tor­al stu­dent at Yale, and for­mer­ly a lec­tur­er and/or student/graduate of UCLA, Colum­bia, NYU, Brook­lyn Col­lege, War­ren Wil­son Col­lege, and the Rhode Island School of Design? This might seem like the resume either of an aca­d­e­m­ic dilet­tante, or of a life­long stu­dent and lover of knowl­edge.

Giv­en Franco’s com­mit­ment to teach­ing, writ­ing, and devel­op­ing and star­ring in lit­er­ary films like As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, The Bro­ken Tow­er, and Howl, we might give him the ben­e­fit of the doubt. Not everyone’s a fan, but he does bring a good deal of aca­d­e­m­ic enthu­si­asm to the role of phi­los­o­phy pop­u­lar­iz­er.

Fran­co also brings along an actu­al philoso­pher, Eliot Michael­son, of King’s Col­lege, a for­mer teacher of his. He pro­posed the idea of their project, “Phi­los­o­phy Time,” while the two were at UCLA togeth­er, Michael­son as a grad stu­dent and Fran­co as an under­grad fin­ish­ing his Eng­lish degree after tak­ing a hia­tus from col­lege to become a star. “We had some­how end­ed up becom­ing friends,” writes Michael­son, “In part, prob­a­bly because I had no idea who he was.” Their long-ges­tat­ing idea—an attempt to widen philosophy’s audience—has final­ly come to fruition. In the short episodes here, you can see the two in con­ver­sa­tion with Rut­gers University’s Andy Egan, at the top (on beau­ty), Princeton’s Liz Har­mon, fur­ther up (on the fraught top­ic of abor­tion), and Rut­gers’ Liz Camp, above and below (on imag­i­na­tion and metaphor).

Michael­son is a mod­er­at­ing influ­ence. Franco’s laid back pre­sen­ta­tion will remind you of his per­for­mances in ston­er com­e­dy Pineap­ple Express, the 83rd Acad­e­my Awards cer­e­mo­ny, and the 2008 High Times Ston­er of the Year event (though he swears he doesn’t touch the stuff any­more). Squig­gly, ani­mat­ed word and thought bub­bles add anoth­er com­ic touch. But whether or not view­ers are charmed by his per­sona, they’ll find that he lets his guests do most of the talk­ing, and they each make it plain that phi­los­o­phy can be fas­ci­nat­ing and immi­nent­ly rel­e­vant to our ordi­nary mod­ern lives. The kinds of ques­tions Socrates nee­dled hap­less Athe­ni­ans with—about beau­ty, ethics, and language—are just as press­ing now as they were 2400 years ago.

You can find the emerg­ing trove of “Phi­los­o­phy Time” videos on YouTube here.

via Leit­er Reports

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Cleese Touts the Val­ue of Phi­los­o­phy in 22 Pub­lic Ser­vice Announce­ments for the Amer­i­can Philo­soph­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion

James Fran­co Reads a Dream­i­ly Ani­mat­ed Ver­sion of Allen Ginsberg’s Epic Poem ‘Howl’

James Fran­co Reads 6 Short Poems from His New Col­lec­tion

140+ Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

The Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life: A Phi­los­o­phy Pod­cast

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy With­out Any Gaps Pod­cast, Now at 239 Episodes, Expands into East­ern Phi­los­o­phy

Dis­cov­er the Cre­ative, New Phi­los­o­phy Pod­cast Hi-Phi Nation: The First Sto­ry-Dri­ven Show About Phi­los­o­phy

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

When Soviet Artists Turned Textiles (Scarves, Tablecloths & Curtains) into Beautiful Propaganda in the 1920s & 1930s

Amer­i­cans swim in pro­pa­gan­da all the time, even those of us who think the word refers to some exot­ic form of for­eign author­i­tar­i­an­ism rather than our own good ol’ home-cooked vari­ety. But the sad fact—admittedly very far down the list of rather trag­ic facts—is that U.S. pro­pa­gan­da is par­tic­u­lar­ly crude, obnox­ious, and unap­peal­ing. Con­trast, for exam­ple, the sym­bol of the pantsuit, or the casu­al racism, misog­y­ny, and homi­ci­dal fan­tasies on truck­er hats, t‑shirts, and beach tow­els with the alarm­ing pageantry of Maoist Chi­na, Stal­in­ist Rus­sia, or name-your-showy-total­i­tar­i­an-regime.

In the ear­ly days of the Sovi­et Union, state pro­pa­gan­da received a spe­cial boost from a cadre of eager and will­ing avant-garde artists, includ­ing poet, actor, direc­tor, etc. Vladimir Mayakovsky, who wrote Sovi­et children’s books, and a num­ber of Russ­ian Futur­ists who seized the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pro­mote the new order with total­ly incom­pre­hen­si­ble poet­ry and art.

In no way reg­i­ment­ed or stan­dard­ized, as were lat­er Social­ist Real­ists, ear­ly Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­dists used pol­i­tics as anoth­er mate­r­i­al in their work, rather than its pri­ma­ry rai­son d’être.

These pio­neers were joined by exper­i­men­tal com­posers, film­mak­ers, and even tex­tile design­ers, who had a brief moment under the shin­ing Sovi­et star between 1927 and 1933, when, as one pub­li­ca­tion from a wealthy col­lec­tor notes, “a fas­ci­nat­ing exper­i­ment in tex­tile mak­ing took place in the Sovi­et Union. As the new nation emerged and the Com­mu­nist par­ty strug­gled to trans­form an agrar­i­an coun­try into an indus­tri­al­ized state, a group of young design­ers began to cre­ate the­mat­ic tex­tile designs.”

Their designs—adorning table­cloths, sheets, cur­tains, and scarves and oth­er items of every­day, off-the-rack wear—showcase bold, strik­ing pat­terns, many, writes Dan­ger­ous Minds, “the­mat­ic of clas­si­cal Russ­ian art: you see lush col­or, dense scapes and even the odd Ori­en­tal­ist trope.” They are also filled with “delight­ful­ly pro­pa­gan­dist imagery,” notes Mari­na Galpe­ri­na at Fla­vor­wire, “of revving trac­tors, smoke-pump­ing fac­tor pipes, and babush­ka-clad women tak­ing a sick­le to wheat… woven in between opu­lent flo­rals and pret­ty, con­struc­tivist squig­gles.”

Fac­to­ry gears, war machines, ath­letes, and scenes of indus­try were pop­u­lar, as were the expect­ed state sym­bols and iconography—as in the Lenin linen at the top, framed at the top by Marx and Engels; Trot­sky at the bot­tom left has been purged from the tex­tile record. See many more exam­ples of ear­ly Sovi­et tex­tiles at io9, Flash­bak, and Messy Nessy.

via Eng­lish Rus­sia and @Ted­Gioia

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Every­thing You Need to Know About Mod­ern Russ­ian Art in 25 Min­utes: A Visu­al Intro­duc­tion to Futur­ism, Social­ist Real­ism & More

A Dig­i­tal Archive of Sovi­et Children’s Books Goes Online: Browse the Artis­tic, Ide­o­log­i­cal Col­lec­tion (1917–1953)

Watch the Sur­re­al­ist Glass Har­mon­i­ca, the Only Ani­mat­ed Film Ever Banned by Sovi­et Cen­sors (1968)

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

How Did Akira Kurosawa Make Such Powerful & Enduring Films? A Wealth of Video Essays Break Down His Cinematic Genius

No Japan­ese film­mak­er has received quite as much inter­na­tion­al scruti­ny, and for so long, as Aki­ra Kuro­sawa. Though now almost twen­ty years gone, the man known in his home­land as the “Emper­or” of cin­e­ma only con­tin­ues to grow in stature on the land­scape of glob­al film cul­ture. Film stu­dents still watch Rashomon, swords-and-san­dals fans still thrill to Sev­en Samu­rai and Yojim­bo, mid­cen­tu­ry crime-pic­ture buffs still turn up for screen­ings of Drunk­en Angel and Stray Dog, and many a Shake­speare buff still looks in admi­ra­tion at his inter­pre­ta­tions of Mac­beth (as Throne of Blood) and King Lear (as Ran).

How did Kuro­sawa and his col­lab­o­ra­tors imbue these and many oth­er acclaimed pic­tures with such endur­ing pow­er? An entire sub­genre of video essays has emerged to approach an answer to that ques­tion. At the top of the post we have one from Tony Zhou, cre­ator of the well-known cin­e­mat­ic video essay series Every Frame a Paint­ing, on Kuro­sawa’s “innate under­stand­ing of move­ment and how to cap­ture it onscreen.”

His stag­ing also demon­strates a high­ly devel­oped sense of space, which Zhou reveals in the short essay just above by break­ing down a scene from 1960’s cor­po­rate-cor­rup­tion dra­ma The Bad Sleep Well.

All of those film stu­dents watch­ing Sev­en Samu­rai may not con­sid­er it a true action film, at least by their ultra-mod­ern stan­dards, but the way Kuro­sawa’s best-known pic­ture tells its sto­ry through art­ful­ly ren­dered move­ment and vio­lence has stood as an exam­ple for action film­mak­ers ever since. Lewis Bond, the video essay­ist behind Chan­nel Criswell, draws out the lessons Sev­en Samu­rai still holds for action cin­e­ma today, in the essay above. But what hap­pens in the frame also gains much of its impact from the con­struc­tion of the frame itself. A video essay­ist by the name of Mr. Nerdista looks at Kuro­sawa’s unusu­al mas­tery of the art of fram­ing, as seen in Rashomon, in the essay below.

But no film, no mat­ter how skill­ful­ly made, could cross as many his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al bound­aries as Kuro­sawa’s have with aes­thet­ics alone. The strong moral sense at the dra­mat­ic core of his work — a char­ac­ter­is­tic, too, of the Shake­speare plays from which he drew inspi­ra­tion — will keep it for­ev­er rel­e­vant, not because it presents the audi­ence with sim­ple lessons about what to do and what not to do, but because it forces them to con­sid­er the most dif­fi­cult moral ques­tions. This comes most clear­ly to the fore in 1963’s mod­ern-day ran­som sto­ry High and Low, exam­ined in the Jack­’s Movie Reviews essay below.

A.O. Scott select­ed High and Low as a New York Times “Crit­ic’s Pick” back in 2012, and you can see him dis­cuss the movie’s virtues in this video. It appears as just one of a roundup of Kuro­sawa-relat­ed videos at, a selec­tion that also includes Scott on Rana Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion clip of Kuro­sawa experts on the vio­lence of Sev­en Samu­rai, a look at Kuro­sawa’s evo­lu­tion as an artist through four of his best-known movies, a two-part essay on Kuro­sawa’s influ­ences as well as those he has influ­enced. For as much as all these videos have to say about Kuro­sawa’s movies, though, few of them ref­er­ence the details of Kuro­sawa’s life. The Emper­or, who once wrote that, “there is noth­ing that says more about its cre­ator than the work itself,” would have approved.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Aki­ra Kuro­sawa Used Move­ment to Tell His Sto­ries: A Video Essay

How Aki­ra Kurosawa’s Sev­en Samu­rai Per­fect­ed the Cin­e­mat­ic Action Scene: A New Video Essay

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa Paint­ed the Sto­ry­boards For Scenes in His Epic Films: Com­pare Can­vas to Cel­lu­loid

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s Advice to Aspir­ing Film­mak­ers: Write, Write, Write and Read

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s Adap­ta­tion of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death Final­ly in Pro­duc­tion, Com­ing in 2020

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Visionary Notebooks Now Online: Browse 570 Digitized Pages

Quick, what do you know about Leonar­do da Vin­ci? He paint­ed the Mona Lisa! He wrote his notes back­wards! He designed super­cool bridges and fly­ing machines! He was a genius about, um… a lot of oth­er… things… and, um, stuff…

Okay, I’m sure you know a bit more than that, but unless you’re a Renais­sance schol­ar, you’re cer­tain to find your­self amazed and sur­prised at how much you didn’t know about the quin­tes­sen­tial Renais­sance man when you encounter a com­pi­la­tion of his note­books—Codex Arun­del—which has been dig­i­tized by the British Library and made avail­able to the pub­lic.

The note­book, writes Jonathan Jones at The Guardian, rep­re­sents “the liv­ing record of a uni­ver­sal mind.” And yet, though a “technophile” him­self, “when it came to pub­li­ca­tion, Leonar­do was a lud­dite…. He made no effort to get his notes pub­lished.”

For hun­dreds of years, the huge, secre­tive col­lec­tion of man­u­scripts remained most­ly unseen by all but the most rar­i­fied of col­lec­tors. After Leonar­do’s death in France, writes the British Library, his stu­dent Francesco Melzi “brought many of his man­u­scripts and draw­ings back to Italy. Melzi’s heirs, who had no idea of the impor­tance of the man­u­scripts, grad­u­al­ly dis­posed of them.” Nonethe­less, over 5,000 pages of notes “still exist in Leonardo’s ‘mir­ror writ­ing’, from right to left.” In the note­books, da Vin­ci drew “visions of the aero­plane, the heli­copter, the para­chute, the sub­ma­rine and the car. It was more than 300 years before many of his ideas were improved upon.”

The dig­i­tized note­books debuted in 2007 as a joint project of the British Library and Microsoft called “Turn­ing the Pages 2.0,” an inter­ac­tive fea­ture that allows view­ers to “turn” the pages of the note­books with ani­ma­tions. Onscreen gloss­es explain the con­tent of the cryp­tic notes sur­round­ing the many tech­ni­cal draw­ings, dia­grams, and schemat­ics (see a selec­tion of the note­books in this ani­mat­ed for­mat here). For an over­whelm­ing amount of Leonar­do, you can look through 570 dig­i­tized pages of Codex Arun­del here. For a slight­ly more digestible, and read­able, amount of Leonar­do, see the British Library’s brief series on his life and work, includ­ing expla­na­tions of his div­ing appa­ra­tus, para­chute, and glid­er.

And for much more on the man—including evi­dence of his sar­to­r­i­al “pref­er­ence for pink tights” and his shop­ping lists—see Jonathan Jones’ Guardian piece, which links to oth­er note­book col­lec­tions and resources. The artist and self-taught poly­math made an impres­sive effort to keep his ideas from pry­ing eyes. Now, thanks to dig­i­tized col­lec­tions like those at the British Library, “any­one can study the mind of Leonar­do.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Leonar­do Da Vinci’s To Do List (Cir­ca 1490) Is Much Cool­er Than Yours

How to Build Leonar­do da Vinci’s Inge­nious Self-Sup­port­ing Bridge: Renais­sance Inno­va­tions You Can Still Enjoy Today

Down­load the Sub­lime Anato­my Draw­ings of Leonar­do da Vin­ci: Avail­able Online, or in a Great iPad App

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

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