Bernardo Bertolucci’s recent death left us with an unsolvable problem. Over the course of a fifty-year career, he wrestled with ideas both grand and small, from the tragically human to the sublimely divine. His focuses were on sex and growing old, politics and youth, and the ways in which we define ourselves and how systems inevitably try to break those selves. He examined relationships – those between men and women, people and politics, parents and children, and the seemingly unbridgeable gap of class. As is the tendency with art, especially when it’s at its best, it’s never quite clear how we’re supposed to interpret Bertolucci, how we’re supposed to “figure it all out.” His films were critical of oppressive regimes and systems, and yet those regimes and systems were filled with people who were beautifully, messily, sympathetically human. His style was maximalist and loud, and he reveled in the visceral and the glorious and the taboo. His work screamed from the screen even when his characters whispered. His films were always beautiful, even when their subjects weren’t.
In the Media
- Dallas Morning News’ Robert Wilonsky wrote a great piece on the work that we are doing with our social media push. That article can be found here.
- WFAA’s Chris Sadeghi aired a story on Grand Prairie as part of a long term collaboration with the Jones Collection. That story can be found here. here.
- The Fort Worth Star Telegram ran a story on MayFest using footage from the Jones Collection, which can be found here.
Greetings. My name is Jeremy Spracklen, and I am the moving image curator of the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive inside the Hamon Arts Library. One of my current projects is the digitization of the Library’s WFAA Newsfilm footage spanning from 1960 to 1977. Every other week I’m going to share a set of clips that I’ve found while working on the collection. They may not all be significant about the history of Dallas, but I still find them each fascinating for what they reveal about life in Dallas-Fort Worth 40-50 years ago. Continue reading “WFAA Newsfilm Collection: Look what I found this week!”
Kino Lorber recently released Pioneers of African-American Cinema, a five DVD set with extensive film notes. An announcement of the collection’s release appeared in The New York Times (August 10, 2016), in which the film critic, J. Hoberman, stated that “there has never been a more significant video release” in cinema history. This set includes films discovered and collected by the late SMU professor G. William Jones, which are part of the Tyler, Texas “race films” in the collection. It includes approximately 20 hours of feature films, shorts, interviews, trailers, and fragments. Many of these films have only been circulated and seen in 16mm versions of inferior quality or have never been available for home video. Each film has been digitally restored and reflects a wide-range of subject matter and styles. Accompanying the set is an 80-page booklet with contributions from scholars.
The Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection is one of the signature collections of the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection. This collection of race films from the 1930s and 1940s were discovered in an East Texas warehouse in 1983 on miraculously well-preserved nitrate stock and transferred to safety film in 1985. With the advent of digital technology, this important collection of film history has been digitally restored and made available in the SMU Digital Collections. We’ve written before about the travels of the collection’s most well-know title, The Blood of Jesus. Here are three lesser-known gems of the collection with clips.
Jeremy Spracklen is the Film Preservation Technician for the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection at the Hamon Arts Library. He received his undergraduate degrees in History and Philosophy and recently earned his MA in History – all from the University of Texas at Arlington. Additionally, Jeremy is the Projectionist at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth as well as the Traverse City and Telluride Film Festivals. Furthermore, he has served as the Technical Director for the USA Film Festival since 2002. In addition to his technical duties for film festivals, Jeremy has also put together commissioned tributes for visiting actors and directors, including Rob Reiner, Ed Harris, Carol Kane, Wes Anderson and Malcolm McDowell. Spracklen also recently presented his thesis Cinema I & II: A History of the Movies in Dallas as Seen through NorthPark’s Iconic Theater at this year’s Dallas VideoFest and also recently worked with 70mm Ultra Panavision format in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film The Hateful Eight. Continue reading “Meet Jeremy Spracklen, Film Preservation Technician”
One of the most significant of the Tyler Race Films is The Blood of Jesus, written by and starring Spencer Williams. As with many of Williams’ films, this is a study of the continuing conflict between good and evil, holiness and godlessness, church and juke joint. Williams filmed it with a largely amateur cast and with a minimal budget in 1941 for distribution to the 1200 or so movie houses that catered to all-black audiences at that time. Despite the limitations imposed by its restrictively small budget, “The Blood of Jesus” was a financial success. Continue reading “The travels of The Blood of Jesus”
Does Fondren have ghosts? Some say yes. As far as we know, the only entities haunting Hamon late at night are SMU students. Let’s get on with the second installment of Collecting the macabre. Continue reading “Pictorial: Collecting the macabre, Part 2”
In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve gathered here some of the most macabre items from Central University Libraries’ special collections.
Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, who died July 10th, was best known for his roles in films such as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Funny Girl,” and “Doctor Zhivago.” But Sharif also made a name for himself in Dallas as a bridge player over the last half of the 20th century, joining his group the Omar Sharif Bridge Circus with the Dallas Aces in 1970 for a bridge tournament. Continue reading “The late Omar Sharif’s time in Dallas”