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October 02, 1968 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1968-10-02

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, (

i

cinema.
N. Y. Festial
Some enigmas
By I. ALAN SMOKLER
Bernardo Bertolucci Before the Revolution announced at
a pre-screening press conference at the N. Y. Film Festival
that his second film, Partners, was 'so obscure that he didn't
understand it. Everyone smiled knowingly-silently thinking
how some directors love to anticipate the nits' questions
about 'meaning', etc. Surprise-Bertolucci was right. No one
had a chance. Parts of this film were so arcane that a dozen
viewings might reveal more fine points but it seems that one's
quest for coherence is doomed. Surprise again-it didn't
matter.
Loosely based (very) on Dostoyevsy's The Double, Part-
ners recounts the meeting of a timid drama teacher with his
alter ego, a fiery revolutionary (both played by Pierre Cle-
menti). Again and again, the revolutionary humiliates the
hero by proving successful in every endeavor, each of which
is precisely what the inhibited ego had only dared to phanta-
size. The ego "is shattered and prepares to destroy itself.
The entire film follows a pattern ofinsanity intercut with'
phantasy, phantasy which phantisizes with the phantisizer,
and carefully contrived irrelevance. Shot in color, Partners is
pictorially beautiful in parts, dreadfully hammy in others and
uses what appears 1o be the thread of the film to strangle the
viewer who chokes pleasantly. Actually, the film is more
properly an experience.
Bertolucci's rhythm, cutting, and timing cannot help but
remind one of Godard (which comparison is denied). It seems
however that Bertolucci suffers here by comparison for while
Godard's technique always has the undercurrent of direction,
Partners oftens seems aimless, at other times overdirected or
not aimless enough. These are minor points, however, for
Partners carries through the miasma with cinematic excel-
lence.
Pierre Clementi again displays tremendous virtuousity
and there is one scene with a door to door dptergent saleslady
which becomes an orgy of sex, suds and satire that is worth
the price of admission.
Tropics, the audience was told by director Gianni Amico
(who helped Bertolucci with the screenplay of Partners) is
a study about the 'third world', the world of underdevelop-
ment and poverty. It is filmed as a fictional documentary;
Man, Wife' and two children of Brazil's impoverished North-
east drift from city to city looking for work. Intercut are var-
ious historical narratives of the Northeast, almanac-type
comparisons of per capita income and readings from con-
temporary newspapers designed to heighten the characters'
plight by focusing on trivia taken, seriously.
Capitalism has glibly been assigned the role of culprit for
nearly every woe of the peasants: Constantly the viewer is
subjected to shots of signs announcing the presence of some
large American company whose wealth we must assume goes
to the wrong places. This gimmick was so frequent and so
oppressive that the mind boggled when it was discovered that
the final irony of the film used the very same one. Hero fin-
ally finds work under a large sign of the Hilton Hotels.
Tropics drifts as aimlessly as its peasants who always
seem to be going somewhere which is always nowhere. The
single theme is handled with the sledge hammer delicacy
presumably necessary to awaken one from'the periodic stupor
induced by tedium and cinematic vacuum.

BEST IN THE FIELD
NET calls Ann Arbor home

NEW YAROOUEHI
"I am convinced that there
is moeereal masic in

RoseverantZ and
Guilen stern live

By MIKE WILLIS
Ten years ago, when the plain
states farmer or the Applachian
miner were asked to name their
favorite play, the most probable
answer w a s "The Grand Ole
Opry."
But ten years ago there were
few Broadway productions that
played Cairo, Ill. or Williams-
burg, Penn.
Today those same towns can
boast of local productions from
Othello to West Side Story, sym-
phonies conducted by Fiedler
and Bernstein and other vari-
eties of cultural arts, because of
the efforts of a group of men
w h o began a small television
tape warehouse in Ann Arbor 16
years ago.
The television tape distribut-
ing house has since grown into
the world's largest educational
mass medium - the National
Educational Television network
(NET).
The NET, originally funded by
a 1952 Ford Foundation grant
as the Elucational Television
and Radio Center (ETRC), lo-
cated its headquarters in Anne
Arbor "in order to keep the net-
work in an intellectualtatmos-
phere," according to its first
president, Harry Newbern.
Though t h e headquarters
have since moved to New York,
a vital part of the NET opera-
tion still remains here.-
The departments of duplica-
tion and distribution of pro-
grams remained at 2715 Pack-
ard because Ann Arbor is con-
sidered to have a central loca-
tion, good transportation acces-
ses, and a pool of engineering
talent.
The Ann Arbor branch hous-
es the country's most modern
machines for checking and dup-
licating master video tapes of
programs sent in from affiliat-
ed stations.
This duplicating operation, the
largest in the world, takes up
the majority of NFT's space in
its offices. But besides duplicat-
ing the tapes, this office branch
is NET's central command for
reshipping the new video repro-
ductions to its stations across
the country.
The-videotape library in the
Ann Arbor offices is also the
largest of any television network
in the world. The library lends
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video tapes of NET programs to
stations that request them. In
the past, NET videotapes have
been seen in Australia, Japan
and Germany, as w e 11 as
through the facilities of the
British Broadcasting Company.
Originally funded as a net-.
work simply for the exchange of
programs, ETRC developed in a
time when many new educa-
tional television stations needed
programs, and thus soon be-
came deeply involved in produc-
ing its own. One of its first pro-
ductions was a concert by the
Minneapolis Symphony.
However, though the network
worked diligently to produce
quality programs, a 'lack of at-
tention to the technical aspects
of production led to poor quality.
According to Howard Town,
NET vice-president and Director
of Engineering in Ann Arbor,
this neglect of the technical
aspects of production resulted
in programs that were "ama-
teur, childish," from a teach-
ing standpoint. As a result, NET
gained a reputation for dull
shows-something that persists
even today.
After Newbern's resignation
in 1958, an attempt to rid the
network of its dull reputation
began and ETRC was substan-
tially reorganized under the
leadership of the new president,
John P. White.
NET moved its programming
department to New York and
since 1959 it has expanded
greatly. In 1960, it had 45 affil-
iated stations; in March, 1968,
it had 140 and is now growing
at the rate of two new stations
per month,
The Ann Arbor technical
branch has experienced a cor-
responding growth: in 1959 it
employed six persons; now, it
employs 50.
Though NET"s expansion has
been rapid, the network still,
faces challenges. The main
technical objective at the Ann
Arbor branch for' the next few
years, according to Town, is to
build up a system of cables like
commercial networks that will
enable NET to transmit pro-
grams live to their affiliates.
NET would then not have to
rely exclusively on the slower
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process of mailing videotape
copies to its stations. Steps have
already been taken in this di-
rection: in January, 1967, NET
carried a live broadcast of the
State of the Union address and
a following commentary by po-
litical experts.
The network is now pioneer-
ing what NET officials consider
one of the most ambitious at-
tempts to harness television for
the public good. Based on sta-
tistics which indicate that pre-
school children three to six
years old watch television 26
hours a week, "Children's TV
Workshop" hopes to channel
their interest in TV to interests
in learning. The one-hour pro-
grams, to be about twice a day,
will cost eight million dollars,
and are targeted for fall, 1969.

Glenn 's natural voice
than in any composition
I've ever ated."

.ROD McKUEN

S
4

Name
Address

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"With every ,age 'Hamlet' takes
on a new perspective," according
to APA artistic director Ellis Ralb
who is directing a startling new
version of the play for the seventh
Fall Festival of the APA Reper-
tory Company here. Rabb's unor-
thodox approach to the Shake.
spearean 'work opened a two-week
run last night at Lydia Mendels-
sohn Theatre, under the spon-
sorship of the University's Pro.
fessional Theatre Program.
Commenting on Rabb's "Ham-
let," which APA may present on
Broadway later this season, on
Los Angeles critic termed it "a
savage and youthful ferment
straight out ofa university sit-in
or protest march. I found it .a
c9mpelling and powerful experi
ence." The New York Times also
reviewed the new concept With
bravos.
"In 1968, Hamlet remains a
man astonished with the corrupt
ed world in which he lives, ternr-
fled and amazed by the complex-

s ity of values which he has in-
herited," Rabb says.
, "'Hamlet' the play, like Hamlet
V the man, remains as contemporary
as the day in which it was writ-
ten. Like a prism, the play reveals
new aspects of itself as the chang-
ing light of time alters the world,
and its events reshape the lives
we lead."
Rabbis creating the new "Ham-
let" with three leading players
alternating the title role.
The unconventional Hamlet will
-be portrayed alternately by Marco
s St. John, Richard Easton, and
e Rabb himself.
"Hamlet is subject to many
shades of interpretation," Rabb
comments. "Different theatrical
- values will, of course, be evident
with the different artists playing
the role."
This is merely an extension of
ithe 'alternate cast' system that
APA has 'been using for years.
Just as opera company would not
have only one Faust or Madame
Butterfly, an experienced repertory
theater company should be able
to provide more than one artist
worthy of, playing Hamlet."
"Dressing the production in a
mixture of modern and period
clothing is a simple device through
whicheve hope to suggest a world
for the play that is as modern as
it is ancient, specific as it is uni-
versal, surprising as it is familiar.
Shakespeare costumed his pro-
ductions in the clothes of his own
day, adding to them- only those
theatrical elements which would
help the audiences define the so-
cial position; and emotional cli-
mate of the characters.
Tickets for "Hamlet" and for
third APA production, Sean
O'Casey's "Cock-A-Doodle Dandy"
(Oct. 15-27), are available at the
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre box
office.
(Review tomorrow)

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THIS WEEK
Thursday and Friday
LA TERA
TREMA
dir, Luchino Visconti, 1948
Listed as one of the
all time ten best by
Sight and Sound J1962).
Saturday and Sunday
PATHS QF.
GLORY
dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1957
Starring KIRK DOUGLAS
From the director of
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& 2001
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Signs of Life, directed by Wern-
er Herzog, is a mysterious parable
of our people (three Germans and
one Greek) stationed on a Greek
island during World War II. The
four are assigned the lonely and
boring task of guarding unusable
but dangerous ammunition in an
abandoned fort - Gradually their
leader (Peter Brogle) goes insane
and the film culminates in his
final and obscure act of defiance.
Ierzog's camera has captured
light and shadow so effectively
that the lethargy of the Greek
isles permeates the entire film.
But odd and obviously allegorical
things continually happen: a
gypsy''king' seeks admission to the
fort for a night's rest 'after
searching for his people for four-
teen years', Stroszek (Brogle)
wanders into town and discovers a
soldier playing the piano which
somehow unnerves him, children
torture a hen.
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