Mondo Cane Article NY Times (12/14)

 
Old 12-15-03, 09:57 PM
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Mondo Cane Article NY Times (12/14)

There is an interesting article in Sunday's New York Times. It talked about the history of the Mondo Cane series of films.

Worth a quick read.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/14/movies/14HABE.html
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Old 12-16-03, 12:04 AM
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Cool--thanks!
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Old 12-16-03, 04:05 AM
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To combat the charge of racism after "Addio," Mr. Jacopetti and Mr. Prosperi had the idea to make a "historical documentary" about the American slave trade, and to shoot it in Haiti under auspices of Françoise Duvalier, known as Papa Doc. The subtly named "Goodbye, Uncle Tom," was released in 1971 to near collective revulsion from audiences and critics. ("Prurience and voyeuristic hypocrisy," said Kael, who also referred to the film's "porno fantasies.")
one of the most astonishing films i've ever seen. to dismiss it like it was simple minded, exploitation hacked out for the common denominator crowd, really does the film a disservice.
this is high brow, cold blooded satire of Swiftian proportions.
i don't know how any American can not watch that film and feel afterrwards that whatever unpleasantness might be in store for us in the future, we don't somehow Kharmically deserve.
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Old 12-16-03, 08:26 AM
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Hey ctyankee, the next time you link a story to a Newspaper weblink article, how about cut and pasting it into the forum as well, cause the link is now unaccessible.
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Old 12-16-03, 08:43 AM
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Originally posted by Giles
Hey ctyankee, the next time you link a story to a Newspaper weblink article, how about cut and pasting it into the forum as well, cause the link is now unaccessible.
Hey Giles,

The link is still working for me. My guess is you didn't read the message that came up asking you to sign in or join the New York Times Website as a free member. Couple questions and you are in. If that is not the problem, try again.

As for your suggestion:

When it is that much copyrighted material (two pages) I think it is fairer to share the link of the host. If it were a DTD Talk review etc. I'm sure Geoff would feel the same way.
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Old 12-16-03, 08:58 AM
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Originally posted by ctyankee
Hey Giles,

The link is still working for me. My guess is you didn't read the message that came up asking you to sign in or join the New York Times Website as a free member. Couple questions and you are in. If that is not the problem, try again.

As for your suggestion:

When it is that much copyrighted material (two pages) I think it is fairer to share the link of the host. If it were a DTD Talk review etc. I'm sure Geoff would feel the same way.


In terms of the article being two pages I can see why you wouldn't want to add it in it's complete form. In terms of copyrighted material: If it's a shorter article I have in the past both listed both the link and highlighted the story, is this wrong to do?
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Old 12-16-03, 09:13 AM
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"one of the most astonishing films i've ever seen. to dismiss it like it was simple minded, exploitation hacked out for the common denominator crowd, really does the film a disservice.
this is high brow, cold blooded satire of Swiftian proportions.
i don't know how any American can not watch that film and feel afterrwards that whatever unpleasantness might be in store for us in the future, we don't somehow Kharmically deserve."

Since I don't hate America, I can wasily watch the film and feel no guilt. If you feel that you deserve unpleasantness in your life because someone once owned slaves, you have problems best addressed through therapy.
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Old 12-16-03, 09:29 AM
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Originally posted by Giles


In terms of the article being two pages I can see why you wouldn't want to add it in it's complete form. In terms of copyrighted material: If it's a shorter article I have in the past both listed both the link and highlighted the story, is this wrong to do?
To me it seems more a matter of personal choice versus some right or wrong. I have done the same thing you are describing.

Enjoy.
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Old 12-16-03, 09:36 AM
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EPKJ,

There is no need to get personal. Let the clarity and intelligence of your arguments be enough.
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Old 12-16-03, 10:23 AM
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Originally posted by ckolchak
i don't know how any American can not watch that film and feel afterrwards that whatever unpleasantness might be in store for us in the future, we don't somehow Kharmically deserve.
Which Americans did you have in mind: (1) all citizens of the United States including descendants of slaves, and racial and ethnic groups not present in the United States when slavery was legal; (2) white citizens of the United States regardless of whether their ancestors owned slaves; (3) white descendants of slave owners; or (4) some other group?

Originally posted by EPKJ
Since I don't hate America, I can wasily watch the film and feel no guilt. If you feel that you deserve unpleasantness in your life because someone once owned slaves, you have problems best addressed through therapy.
Can you ever express a point without making it a personal attack?

Last edited by Yakuza Bengoshi; 12-16-03 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 12-16-03, 10:48 AM
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Regardless of what is happening now in this thread that was an interesting read and thanks for posting ctyankee.
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Old 12-16-03, 11:42 AM
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Which Americans did you have in mind: (1) all citizens of the United States including descendants of slaves, and racial and ethnic groups not present in the United States when slavery was legal; (2) white citizens of the United States regardless of whether their ancestors owned slaves; (3) white descendants of slave owners; or (4) some other group?
in St Catherines Ont. there was a guy who, along with his wife, kidnapped 2 teen girls, and raped, brutalized, and murdered them.
he dismembered one of the girls bodies and encased the parts in concrete and dumped them in the river.

the community decided that the events that went on in their house were so horrific, that the house shouldn't be left standing as a reminder, and they bulldozed it to the ground and made a small open area there.

of course, none of the events that transpired in that house actually affected the structral integrity of the building.
it didn't need to be razed on saftey grounds.
it had just become a symbol of ugliness and evil.

the freedoms, the culture, the technology etc, that i enjoy today is in some part, a decension from what this country was.
for 90 of the 230 odd years this country has been in existence (what amounts to a blip in recorded human history)- a segment of the population was classified and treated as sub-human- with the full sanction of the state.
in a sense, the country was founded on those principles just as much as it was on the ones contained in the constitution and its amendments.

i'm not saying the changes in this society since then haven't been positive or unworthy of praise, just that the house was erected over unholy ground, and if you believe in Kharma-what goes around comes around-and you imaginatively apply that concept to the collective state and not just the individual...

Since I don't hate America, I can wasily watch the film and feel no guilt. If you feel that you deserve unpleasantness in your life because someone once owned slaves, you have problems best addressed through therapy.
well, i proably do need therepy, but there is a saying about the sins of the fathers being passed on to the sons.
the son could be innocent but hes the one who ends up paying for his fathers transgressions...because his fathers blood flows thru him. thats basically what i was getting at.

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Old 12-16-03, 02:03 PM
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"There is no need to get personal. Let the clarity and intelligence of your arguments be enough."

Spare me! Your original comment was personal. You got the same in return. Stop whining.
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Old 12-16-03, 02:45 PM
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Originally posted by EPKJ
Spare me! Your original comment was personal. You got the same in return. Stop whining.
Are you confusing ctyankee and ckolchak?


ckolchak, I don't believe in karma whatsoever, but I find the notion of karma operating on a multi-generation basis as completely abhorrent. It leads logically to the conclusion that those people and nations which seem to enjoy the "good life" may have such because of good deeds done by their predecessors, and those that have a miserable life may have such because of misdeeds by their predecessors. The notion that the wretched are suffering the sins of their ancestors has no appeal to me.

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Old 12-16-03, 03:15 PM
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For those who don't wish to register...and to get this thread somewhat back on topic

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/14/movies/14HABE.html

Dispatches From a World Gone Wonderfully Wrong
By MATT HABER

Published: December 14, 2003


THE film opens with a mutt being dragged past a kennel full of barking dogs. Above the barking and yelping, a somber narrator intones: "All the scenes you are about to see are real and were shot as they were taking place. If sometimes they seem cruel, it's only because cruelty abounds on this planet." And then, with a bit of sarcasm: "And anyway, the duty of the reporter is not to make the truth seem sweeter, but to show things as they really are." With that, the man kicks the dog into the kennel and the mutt screams in terror.

And now, we enter "Mondo Cane" — "a dog's world" — a world gone to the dogs.

Released in 1963, the Italian film "Mondo Cane" was the progenitor of a new genre, the shockumentary. Created by Gualtiero Jacopetti, a journalist by training and provocateur by inclination, and his partners Franco Prosperi and Paolo Cavara, "Mondo Cane" presented bizarre, humorous, frightening and downright dubious dispatches from the farthest corners of the world: Italians in the village of Calabria slicing themselves with glass in celebration of Good Friday, the French painter Yves Klein painting with his naked "human paintbrushes," a woman in New Guinea suckling a pig and swanky New Yorkers dining on insects in a restaurant. As seen by Mr. Jacopetti, the world was a truly strange and frightening place.

"All we had to do was face reality," says Benito Frattari, the film's cinematographer, in a 90-minute documentary called "The Godfathers of Mondo." "Because all that we filmed was true, real."

"Mondo Cane" was a scurrilous look at the world's cultures, back when this truly was a lonely planet. And when there were no model release forms, A.S.P.C.A. safety guidelines and political correctness, not to mention scruples about objectivity and deception. The film was edited with a playful touch by Mr. Jacopetti, set to a swinging score by Nino Oliviero and Riz Ortolani, and accompanied by a voiceover alternating between serious and mocking. With a keen eye for the sensational and a startling lack of tact, Mr. Jacopetti et al. knew that like that little dog, viewers of "Mondo Cane" had no idea what they were being thrown into.

Now, 40 years and a thousand bootlegs later, "Mondo Cane" along with its increasingly controversial (and increasingly violent and pornographic) sequels, including "Mondo Cane 2" (1964), a k a, "Mondo Pazzo" ("Crazy World"), has made it to DVD in a limited-edition, eight-disc box set from Blue Underground, a Los Angeles-based company that specializes in the respectful remastering of some highly unrespectable B-movies. The "Mondo Cane" box — which includes the "Godfathers of Mondo" documentary — is the sort of lavish production you'd expect from a company like Criterion for a film like "Citizen Kane." Yet here are the strange fruits of Mr. Jacopetti's labors — from the ridiculous ("Women of the World," a pre-feminist jiggle-fest masquerading as women's lib) to the sublimely ridiculous ("Goodbye, Uncle Tom," a grotesque "documentary" about slavery).

Conceived as an "antidocumentary," "Mondo Cane" became an international hit, riding the wave of foreign films' popularity at that time. It went on to be nominated for an Oscar for its theme song, "More," which was covered by Frank Sinatra, Nat (King) Cole and Judy Garland. It also rode in on the craze for exotica, expressed in the popularity of anything from Tiki bars to Margaret Mead. "We took advantage of the little knowledge the public had of the world at large back then," Franco Prosperi says in "The Godfathers of Mondo."

The film, and its sequel, inspired spin-offs, loosely structured documentaries (or vérité-style fakes) like "Mondo Freudo," "Mondo Magic" and "Shocking Asia," until the genre found its nadir with "Faces of Death" in 1978. What these films lacked in joie de vivre they more than made up for in violence and sex.

"Mondo Cane" had those things, too (all those itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny Kennedy-era bikinis) but at least it had the pretense of reality.

Not all viewers, of course, were persuaded. Pauline Kael, for one, wrote "Audiences that enjoy shocks and falsifications, the brutal series of titillations of a `Mondo Cane,' one thrill after another, don't care any longer about the conventions of the past, and are too restless and apathetic to pay attention to motivations and complications, cause and effect."

Fakery charges followed Mr. Jacopetti his entire career. In "The Godfathers of Mondo," he admits to only one re-enactment in "Mondo Cane 2" (1964): a scene based on the self-immolation of Vietnamese monk Thich Qang Duc in 1963, seen everywhere in a shocking Associated Press photograph.

Accusations of a different sort met "Africa Addio" ("Goodbye, Africa") in 1966. A three-year shoot beset with challenges including plane crashes and a firing squad ("A very funny episode," Mr. Jacopetti says in the documentary), "Addio" claimed to show the turbulent end of the colonial era in Africa, a time Mr. Jacopetti calls an "abrupt, brutal transition for the whole continent." The film was condemned on its European release as featuring unrelenting violence and racist views; the Italian newspaper L'Espresso went so far as to accuse Mr. Jacopetti of having Africans killed for the film. Mr. Jacopetti and his crew were nearly brought up on war crimes charges until, to avoid prosecution, they admitted that they faked the grisly scenes.

To combat the charge of racism after "Addio," Mr. Jacopetti and Mr. Prosperi had the idea to make a "historical documentary" about the American slave trade, and to shoot it in Haiti under auspices of Françoise Duvalier, known as Papa Doc. The subtly named "Goodbye, Uncle Tom," was released in 1971 to near collective revulsion from audiences and critics. ("Prurience and voyeuristic hypocrisy," said Kael, who also referred to the film's "porno fantasies.")

Mr. Jacopetti and Mr. Prosperi parted ways after "Uncle Tom." Mr. Jacopetti flopped with his dream project, a soft-core telling of "Candide." ("I'm 'Candide,' " he has said.) Mr. Prosperi made some "Mondo" knock-offs like "This Violent World." While their films have been forgotten by all but midnight movie devotees, their influence lives on.

Russ Meyer and John Waters paid tribute to "Mondo" with their films, "Mondo Topless" (1966) and "Mondo Trasho" (1969). Errol Morris's first film, "Gates of Heaven" (1978), explored a California pet cemetery like the one depicted in "Mondo Cane." Even Orson Welles made his own sort of "Mondo film" with his last directorial feature, "F for Fake" (1976), the so-called true story of the forged Howard Hughes memoir.

And the movie's jiggles-and-giggles formula even lives on in the E! channel's "Wild On," which presents tropical locales purely in terms of their kinky thrills. David Gregory, a producer for Blue Underground, sees echoes of "Mondo" in such disparate enterprises as Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" and the frat-house staple "Girls Gone Wild" video collection.

"Mondo's" influence can also be seen in reality television. In "The Godfathers of Mondo," Jeffrey Sconce, a professor in the School of Communication at Northwestern University suggests "the whole documentary wing at Fox, I think, uses the 'Mondo' films as their playbook." (The same could be said for "Fear Factor," which revels in the eating of insects and offal.)

All of these "Mondo" derivatives manage to water down and at the same time tart up the original "Mondo Cane" formula. Today, the scenes that made "Mondo Cane" so shocking in 1963 are about as quaint as the photos of bare-breasted natives in the National Geographics once hidden under the mattresses of teenage boys. "Mondo Cane" on DVD is all camp, safely displayed as a form of nostalgia. "After the advent of TV, everything is consumed in a different way," Mr. Jacopetti has said. "Today nothing is unknown anymore; with TV, everything is known."


Matt Haber writes for www.lowculture.com.
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