Posts Tagged ‘Documentaries’

Why the 20th Century was the Most Violent in History

June 18, 2012


The 20th Century was not the century of two World Wars and a Cold War, but the century of a single Hundred Years War.

Nationalism didn’t cause the conflicts. Empires did. It wasn’t ideologies of class or the influence of democracy or socialism that drove the century. It was race.

Though we thought the West had triumphed, the truth is that power moved towards the Eastern empires.

Those are the controversial assertions of Scottish historian Niall Ferguson in his documentary series War of the World, which is also a highly acclaimed book.  I saw three of the documentary episodes on Netflix, but there is also a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers it free.  You can check it out by clicking this link.

The Ferguson doc is not only exceptional for the creative way it is written and produced, but for a new way of understanding why the 20th Century is the most violent in history. 

One of his interesting claims is that World War III is not in the future.  It started right after World War II.  In other words, the Cold War was actually hot. The United States and the Soviet Union couldn’t fight directly because of the guaranteed mutual destruction that a nuclear exchange would engender.  They fought it through proxy countries.  A couple of good examples were Korea and Vietnam. 

The shift of empire power to the East  started in 1905 when the Japanese sank two-thirds of the Russian fleet.  Up until then the West truly dominated the world, with its empires subjugating  the East. Those empires have since been demolished.  Nations like China and India are ascending.

 And he points out that  war can cause the good guys to be bad guys as they adopt the tactics of the bad guys, using as examples the massive killing of civilians by bombardment from artillery and the air in World War II.

His findings are controversial, but he has a good case for his positions.  Watch the series and tell me what you think.   

Infantry Museum IMAX Drops Hollywood Feature Films … for Now

September 11, 2009


Joe Kleinman, Director of Attractions and IMAX Programming for the National Infantry Museum,  says the Hollywood feature films are not gone forever. In fact, he is working on a deal to play one during the  Christmas season. But, for now, the huge screen will only be playing documentaries. 

Joe Kleinman, Director of Attractions and IMAX Programming, National Infantry Museum , Columbus, GA

Joe Kleinman, Director of Attractions and IMAX Programming, National Infantry Museum , Columbus, GA

This is not unusual for a museum IMAX, he told me. The big Hollywood pictures are quite expensive, even when they are second run like those that have played at the Columbus IMAX.  Even if the museum wanted to play first-run  features, it couldn’t.  He said, “The film distributors don’t want a first-run movie to be competing against itself.”   He said the studios don’t won’t the same film running in two theaters that are less than five miles apart. Fort Benning’s Wynnsong multiplex, which is operated by Carmike Cinemas,  is closer than 5 miles away.  Also, Kleinman says the Columbus IMAX doesn’t want to tie up the theater all day to run the same feature film, which it would have to do with first-run movies.  It wants to be able to show the documentaries that are shot in the IMAX format.

Frankly, says, Kleinman, the documentaries have been making more money than the Hollywood features  for the museum.  The museum gets a better deal on them. As an example, he said the 50-minute 3-D NASCAR documentary pulled larger audiences than the Startrek movie when they recently ran.   

I pointed out that when I went to the IMAX at the naval air museum at Pensacola, it wasn’t playing any feature films. It featured an IMAX-shot documentary about the famous Blue Angels fighter jet demonstration squadron stationed at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.  Kleinman said an IMAX documentary on the U.S. Army Infantry is in the planning stage.   

The two docs now playing are Coral Reef Adventure and Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West.   I saw the Lewis and Clark one at a Florida IMAX a few years ago. It is well-suited for the huge IMAX screen.  I’ll probably go see it again.