Notes From The Program Director | Week of March 23rd, 2023

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Notes From The Program Director

Week of March 23rd, 2023

Melissa Tamminga

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Hello, friends!

This week, Inside (which has turned out to be interestingly divisive!) and The Quiet Girl close out their final days with us, and they are joined by a wonderful new documentary: Turn Every Page.

We also have two very special film events this week: the last film in our March Tanaka Kinuyo series, The Wandering Princess, Wednesday, March 29, and the next film in our Rocket Sci Fi series, The Creature Walks Among Us, Sunday, March 26.

The Wandering Princess, a historical epic and Tanaka’s first film in color and in Cinemascope, will be introduced to us by Dr. Emi Bushelle, Associate Professor in the Department of History at WWU, and I am eager to hear her insights as we engage with the film. Her research focuses on early modern Japanese religion and thought, with a special interest in the seventeenth-to-nineteenth-century intellectual movement known as Kokugaku, or National Learning, and she is currently working on a book project, Worldly Language, Sacred Texts: Buddhist Philology and the Rise of National Learning in Early Modern Japan. It has been a rich month, celebrating Tanaka’s extraordinary achievements in cinema, and while I am sorry it’s coming to a close, I could not be more grateful for this opportunity we’ve had to see these films on the big screen. And my most heartfelt thanks goes to Jeff Purdue for programming the series in the first place, as well as for introducing several films and arranging for the guest speakers we’ve had.

The Creature Walks Among Us, introduced for us by our intrepid Rocket Sci Fi programmer, Steve Meyers, is the final film of three “creature” films, which began with Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s the film, for some, that features the most sympathetic iteration of the Gill-man. Here, we again have our team of scientists hunting the creature, and, after a fire burns him, they try an experimental medical procedure, which makes the creature a bit more human, but also less at home in his natural habitat. As Lang Thompson for TCM points out, the change results in a “trapped-between-two-worlds alienation since he's no longer able to breathe underwater” and this “makes him a much more clearly sympathetic character than previously.” The best Universal monster movies often play with the tension between what is monstrous and what is sympathetic, leading to reflections on what it means to be human, and so it’s a pleasure to have just such a monster movie on our screens this week. 

 See you at the movies, friends! 


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Pickford Film Center

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Bellingham, WA 98225

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