Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘film’

12 APRIL, 2012

The Brotherhood of Man: Vintage Animated Short Film Debunks the Myths of Racist Beliefs (1946)

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An animated adaptation of a WWII-era pamphlet making a scientific case against racism.

In 1946, Columbia University anthropologists Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish published a pamphlet intended for American troops, entitled The Races of Mankind, which presented in simple language and cartoon illustrations a scientific case against racism. That same year, the pamphlet was adapted in the lovely animated short film The Brotherhood of Man, which makes a humorous but articulate case for equality despite physical dissimilarity and argues for extending to all people “an equal chance in life.”

How civilized a person is depends on the surroundings in which he grows up. The differences in the ways people behave are not inherited from their ancestors.

The pamphlet is now in the public domain and is thus available in its entirety, courtesy of The Internet Archive. It’s worth it if only for the wonderful illustrations.

UPDATE: Reader Jesse Jarnow (son of the great Al Jarnow) points out that The Brotherhood of Man is the work of legendary animator John Hubley, previously featured here.

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11 APRIL, 2012

It Started with Muybridge: Vintage Short Film by the U.S. Department of Defense, 1965

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What galloping horses have to do with nuclear reactors and supersonic missiles.

This week marked the 182nd birthday of photographer Eadweard Muybridge, who conducted some of the earliest experiments in chronophotography and whose locomotion studies shaped early animation. In 1965, more than half a century after Muybridge passed away, the U.S. Department of Defense commissioned It Started with Muybridge — a fascinating short documentary, currently in the public domain, tracing how Muybridge’s motion studies contributed to the science and technology of the Atomic Age, from testing the safety limits of nuclear reactors to measuring the speed of supersonic missiles.

Towards the beginning of the film is also a fine addition to this omnibus of famous definitions of science:

Discovery begins with observation. The scientist studies forms, movement, patterns — the commonplace with the unusual.

For some ownable Muybridge, see Eadweard Muybridge: The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs and grab a print of his most iconic work from 20×200.

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05 APRIL, 2012

The Pleasure of the Inconceivable Nature of Nature: A Feynman Remix Featuring Joan Feynman

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What the science of auroras has to do with the art of romance.

After his fantastic Sagan Series and the first installment in the Feynman Series, mashup maestro Reid Gower is back with a second Feynman Series installment, featuring Joan Feynman. At about the two-minute mark begins my second favorite love story in science. (Here is my favorite.)

It’s all really there. That’s what really gets you. But you gotta stop and think about it to really get the pleasure about the complexity, the inconceivable nature of nature.”

Much of the raw material comes from the Feynman films of documentarian Christopher Sykes, who is largely responsible for elevating Feynman from a successful scientist to a cultural hero worthy of being nicknamed The Great Explainer.

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