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Thursday, April 14, 2011

World Civilization Film Series

     This semester, the History Department at the University of Southern Mississippi has put on a film series.  Every Wednesday at 6:30 in room 108 of the Liberal Arts Building, a history-related film has been shown for several weeks.  All of the films this semester deal with the theme of technology.
     Throughout most of the first film, Agora, the female protagonist Hypatia acts and is treated as an equal among men.  She works as a highly respected philosopher in the library of Alexandria, and she is very close to her students, at times referring to them as her brothers.  She even serves as an advisor and friend to a politically powerful former student, who she once rejected as a suitor.  She is a free thinker and dares to reject well-established theories and substitute her own.  She even has male slaves who wait on her and assist her.  Additionally, she refuses to conform to the standards of her society; she does not convert to Christianity, and she does not marry or feel compelled to marry and bear children.  Her presence throughout the film serves as an overt reminder of the powerful capabilities of woman.
     Another notable film was Kingdom of Heaven. Although the opening scene of Kingdom of Heaven involves the burial of a woman, there is a noticeable absence of other female characters throughout the rest of the film, with the exceptions of the Princess of Jerusalem, Sibylla, and the sister of Saladin, the Muslim leader.  The fact that the film focuses primarily on male characters illustrates the male dominance and prominence during the Crusades. 
     Finally, the Japanese film Gojira, set in 1954, portrays the fear of nuclear radiation as a physical monster.  Following the atomic bombing of Japan, Gojira provided an outlet for expressing fear and coping with nuclear disaster for the Japanese people.  Throughout the film, the main female character is portrayed as an obedient daughter and submissive women to all of the men in her life.
     All of the movies shown so far have provided valuable insight into the lives of those in the past, especially women, and how technology has shaped each person.

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