In the early 1900s, Seattle-based photographer Edward S. Curtis embarked on a project of epic scale, to travel the western United States and document the lives of Native Americans still untouched by Western society. Curtis secured funding from J.P. Morgan, and visited more than 80 tribes over the next 20 years, taking more than 40,000 photographs, 10,000 wax cylinder recordings, and huge volumes of notes and sketches. The end result was a 20-volume set of books illustrated with nearly 2,000 photographs, titled “The North American Indian.” In the hundred-plus years since the first volume was published, Curtis’s depictions have been both praised and criticized. The sheer documentary value of such a huge and thorough project has been celebrated, while critics of the photography have objected to a perpetuation of the myth of the “noble savage” in stage-managed portraits. Step back now, into the early 20th century, and let Edward Curtis show you just a few of the thousands of faces he viewed through his lens.
See more. [Images: Library of Congress/Edward S. Curtis]
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr., who died on this day in 1968.
Photo: MLK at a press conference (Library of Congress).
“Why do people go to the cinema? What takes them into a darkened room where, for two hours, they watch the play of shadows on a sheet? The search for entertainment? The need for a kind of drug? All over the world there are, indeed, entertainment firms and organizations which exploit cinema and television and spectacles of many other kinds. Our starting point, however, should not be there, but in the essential principles of cinema, which have to do with the human need to master and know the world. I think that what a person normally goes to the cinema for is time: for time lost or spent or not yet had. He goes there for living experience; for cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer. That is the power of cinema: ‘stars’, story-lines and entertainment have nothing to do with it.”
“I see it as my duty to stimulate reflection on what is essentially human and eternal in each individual soul, and which all too often a person will pass by, even though his fate lies in his hands. He is too busy chasing after phantoms and bowing down to idols. In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love. That element can grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determines the meaning of a person’s life. My function is to make whoever sees my films aware of his need to love and to give his love, and aware that beauty is summoning him.”
April 4, 1932 — December 29, 1986
In the fall of 1962, whilst “The Birds” was in post-production, François Truffaut carried out extensive interviews with Alfred Hitchcock at his offices at Universal Studios. The interviews were recorded to audio tape and the content eventually edited down into the “Hitchcock/Truffaut” book. Although Truffaut could speak a little English, he hired Helen Scott (of the French Film Office in New York) to act as the translator for the interviews. Truffaut had intended to quickly publish the book of the interviews, but the first edition wasn’t published until several years later (1966 in France and 1967 in America). To bring the book up-to-date, Truffaut conducted further interviews to discuss “Marnie” and “Torn Curtain”. In 1984, Patricia Hitchcock donated a set of the interview tapes to the Margaret Herrick Library, where they are now part of the Hitchcock Collection. Although Truffaut claimed that the recordings lasted 50 hours, the surviving tapes — which cover the 1962 interviews — last for less than 26 hours. The audio tapes of the interviews have not been released commercially. However, portions of the tapes were used for a French radio broadcast. You can listen them here.