The Michigan Daily Wednesday, December 9, 1987
By Jennifer Kohn
Charles Dickens is alive and well
and living in Ann Arbor. This up-
coming Friday and Saturday, he will
read from his Christmas Carol at
the University Art Museum. I was
granted an exclusive interview with
Dickens (AKA Professor Bert Horn-
back) and discussed with h i m
Scrooge, theduniversal Christmas
spiritand his 150 years of popular-
Dickens first began reading from
A Vhristmas Carol in 1853. Those
fir.V readings would last as long as
thiqe hours. He then shortened them
tovtwo hours, but now, because of
thenlimited attention span of the
modern audience, his readings are
about an hour long.
1s asked Dickens why he chooses
to-read this story each year; his re-
sponse was multifarious. He ex-
plained, "It remains timely year after
year. For over 150 years it's been
oimof the most popular stories in
tlamvorld and I'm pleased with the
There is wisdom to be gained
fr A Christmas Carol. There is
no need for a Christmas season. If
there were Christmas spirit all year
round the world would be a different
place. The Christmas season does
not belong to Christians. The idea is
much older than Christianity and
much nearer to the age of humanity
It is this universal theme that
makes this book his favorite to re-
cite. "It is the story of a selfish man
who learns to be otherwise; a greedy
man who learns to be ungreedy,"
said Dickens before going on to
discuss the definition of greed in
modern America. "Greed is an aw-
fully nasty word... one of the few
that has the same potency today it
has had throughout history.
"I recently heard greed described as
legitimate hunger, " Dickens con-
tinued. "If that were so, the poor
would gobble us all up." A Christ-
mas Carol is a warning against ig-
norance and want.
It is also a story of conversion,
and Charles Dickens hopes to make
good the name of Ebenezer Scrooge.
"In the end of the story Scrooge
is as good a man as any good old
city ever knew. It is Scrooge's con-
version that is important because he
is a man who has learned the impor-
tance of good, no matter how bad he
may have once seemed."
Charles Dickens will be reading
this year at 22 locations including
Jackson Prison, Mott Childrens'
Hospital, Syracuse University, and a
number of civics groups and
I asked him about his specific
goals in reading to young people,
and he relayed a story of a Bums
Park Elementary School reading
several years ago,
"The teacher told me that her
sixth grade class had a collective
attention span of about two minutes,
literally. But, those 40 kids were
quiet as mice for my 45 minute
reading. They sat and discussed the
reading for an hour, and they didn't
miss a fact of what I read."
He is proud of the attention that
his readings receive because of what
is to be learned from them.
Of all his readings Dickens most
prefers those at the University Art
Museum. "These are my favorites
because the people know what
they're coming to see. They know
the story, they anticipate the
caroling (with the Men's and
Women's Glee Clubs), and they are
the donation they're mak-
Admission to the readings is free,
but donations are suggested. All
proceeds from the event go to char-
ity. In previous years the two
evening performances have raised as
much as $2000 for Oxfam Interna-
tional to fight world hunger. This
year donations will be divided be-
tween Oxfam and UNICEF.
Dickens told me that in other
years brass and string musicians
have accompanied him, and one year
a student even composed his own
musical piece entitled "A. Christmas
Carol," inspired by the parable-like
The University Performance is
organized by the Dickens Fellowship
secretary, Ms. Shirley Smith. This
year, as a prelude, Herm Steiner will
perform Christmas .carols on the,
bagpipes. Immediately following the,
reading there will be caroling and re-
Professor Bert Hornback will be-
come CHARLES DICKENS for two.
readings at the Museum of Art, this,,
Friday and Saturday at 7:45 p.m.,.
Admission is free, but donations are
University English Professor Bert Hornback IS Charles Dickens.
The Stranger Stranger
'- Quality student-made ilm
°imothy Naylor finished gulping
dawn his coffee at Jason's Cafd. It
Wasabout a year ago that Naylor had
sat in the same caf6, gulping down
coffee with his friend David Saltz-
mrai, thinking about a project they
could do together for a Communica-
tions film class.
SThis Friday, they will show the
final product on campus.
The Stranger Stranger is a 27-
minute short-feature that served as
Naylor and Saltzman's final project
in their course of study (the two
gnaluated from the University this
pt, May). Saltzman wrote and di-
rected the film; Naylor was the
director of photography and the
"We were drinking coffee (at Ja-
son's) and bouncing around a few
ideas," says Naylor, "and Dave came
up with this one. I thought it was
Set in the living room of a sub-
urban home, The Stranger Stranger
opens with a woman being trapped
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in her own home by an intruder who
claims he only needs to use the
phone to call a tow truck. The
woman is understandably nervous, as
there have been a series of sexually
motivated killings in the neighbor-
hood, and the intruder makes himself
She settles down, however and -
in an odd twist - she sits down and
debates the nature of these murders
with the intruder. One proposes that
a perverted psychopath is on the
loose; the other contends the mur-
derer is an overzealous feminist.
W What follows is a tense,
Despite occasionally being a little
too self-conscious - especially in
the opening montage - T h e
Stranger Stranger is uncharacteristi-
cally self-assured for a student-made
film. Instead of indulging in special
effects and bizarre camera angles,
Saltzman and Naylor recognize the
strength of the script and keep their
attention focused solely on the story.
Shot in black and white, the film is
stylish without being slick. And the
slow, steady pace is sustained by the
strong script and two riveting per-
formances by Kara Miller as the
woman and Tom Mahard as the in-
Besides the film's showing on
campus this Friday, Naylor and
Saltzman will be entering it in some
of the most prestigious film festi-
vals in the country: the American
Film Institute Festival in Los
budget has since reached about"
The two filmmakers were also
aided by getting the crew to donate
their time. According to Naylor,
Mahard (who runs the Ann ArborM
Repertory Theatre and is a member'.
of the Screen Actor's Guild) also"
worked on the project for free be-'
cause he liked the script so much.
Now consider the following. Sel-
dom will one find, when discussing"
outstanding film schools in the
country, the name "Michigan" ut-,
tered in the same breath with USC,'
UCLA, and NYU; a lack of funding,
and archaic equipment have sent as-
piring Hitchcocks, Hustons, and Al-
lens fleeing to either coast. But there
is talent here, good talent, and per-
haps it is best personified through
Naylor and Saltzman.
"My advice to undergraduates'
studying film is to not waste the
opportunity they have," says Naylor.
"Instead of making avant-garde'
films, they should be-making things,
with real substance that can get them;
jobs after they graduate."
Saltzman is currently in Taiwan,
teaching English to children and, ac-
cording to Naylor, collecting some
material for future projects ("He3
should come back with some excit-
ing stuff, if he comes back"). Naylor
is doing free-lance work in Detroit
and contemplating graduate school.
He is applying to USC, UCLA, and
n "My short-term goal," Naylor
r says, "is to produce a 90-minute
film for under $200,000 that will,
e kick-ass at the box-office and with
e the critics."
Spoken like true filmmaker.
THE STRANGER STRANGER-
g is showing at the Modern Language
e Building, Auditorium #3, this Friday
i at 6:30 p.m: Admission is $1.50,
St with the proceeds going to help pay
to for exhibiting and festi val fees.
Daily Photo by DAVID LUBLINER
University alumnus Timothy N
with his friend David Saltzin
winter. The independent projec
will be shown this Friday nigh
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aylor created 'The Stranger Stranger'
an for a communications project last
cT by the two University graduates
ht at the MLB.
Angeles, the Golden Gate Festival i
San Francisco, and the Ann Arbo
16mm Film Festival are just a few.
Most impressive, considering th
original budget of $4500. "We wer
raising money all along," says Nay
They received funds from, amon
other sources, the Dean's office, th
Vice President's office and donation
from private businesses. The res,
came from their own pockets. Th
The Michigan Daily
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