I had the good fortune to find time to see two excellent films this weekend, both having a direct bearing on the literature I have been teaching in these last weeks. First there was Michael Moore's "Sicko" which gives a terrifying glimpse of the way American Imperialism is leaching the wealth of its own people: when will the corruption in high places stop! Moore is a genius film-maker who dares to tackle the issues that no one else can. This is creative film making that demonstrates that "Art" does have the power to interrogate and perhaps even change society. Shelley's "poets are the unacknowledged legislators" was ringing in my ears. Well done Michael Moore! For those of you doing work on Conrad and Coppola in second year, this film is like the next stage after "Apocalypse Now"...
Here is Michael Moore's official web site: http://www.michaelmoore.com/
Next I saw "Amazing Grace", one of the first full-length feature films on the life and times of William Wilberforce the Abolitionist who was ultimately responsible for stopping the slave trade in England in the mid-nineteenth century. This film, like Sicko, gives you a glimpse of all the conservative forces in society that are against real change for the better. In this film, the fear that the English had of the French Revolution spreading to England, made the case of the abolitionists a lost cause. The king and anyone in power immediately assumed that if you were trying to free the slaves then you were inciting revolution and trying to bring down the wealth and strength of the empire.... but Wilberforce did eventually win through... a marvelous outcome. He achieved on the political stage what William Blake -at the same time- achieved on the stage of poetry and imagination. They are truly parallel figures. Anyone doing the unit on William Blake should make this compulsory viewing... and anyone who is doing either first or second year Literature should see it also. For first years, it beautifully supports the work we have just been doing on the sources of convict-ism in Kate Grenville's "The Secret River", and second years will - now that they have finished Nineteenth Century Literature- bring a lot of understanding to the events that are depicted in this film.... enjoy.
Here is the official movie website