As if the Prelinger Collection

As if the Prelinger Collection isnít remarkable enough, it turns out almost the whole thing is available online. Itís a collection of educational, industrial, military and propaganda films, as well as newsreels and commercials. (via boingboing) Truly transfixing. I wasted the whole morning here. Some highlights:

  • Robert Altmanís (!) The Magic Bond (watch parts One and Two), a promotional film about the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Especially after watching some sociologically-interesting-but-filmmakingwise-mediocre films, Altmanís talent is obvious. There are ensemble shots of soldiers in combat that are both persuasive and prescient of his later work. Unfortunately, none of his industrial films are included in the collection.
  • Up In Smoke (watch it here), a remarkably sarcastic, farcical look into The Old Virginny Tobacco Company, and the sinister-but-buffoonish executives who are determined to get everyone to smoke Humbar cigarettes. The voice of conscience turns out to be the..well, I wonít give it away. Why is this so remarkable, exactly? Because it was produced by Brigham Young University and the Education Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (emphasis mine).
  • Watching the mini-documentary about the music on the second DVD for Moulin Rouge, there are several close-ups of one of the grips wearing a Terence and Philip t-shirt.
  • Re-watching Hirokazu Kore-edaís wonderful film, After Life, I didnít realize how much Iíd borrowed, stylistically and structurally, from him. While Iíd mentioned the use of natural light and low-tech, documentary-style production, itís only after re-editing Souvenir (November 2001) that I noticed Kore-edaís skilful combination of narrative and documentary technique. The appearance of handheld camera in Act III is pretty dramatic, for instance. Itís definitely a film worth watching again.
    [buy DVD's for Moulin Rouge and After Life from Amazon]

  • Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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    first published: July 23, 2002.

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