Thursday, September 16, 2010

B16 and the Modern World

Watched a bit of the Pope's talk on the first stop of his UK visit. One of the comments he made concerned the influence of British media around the world, because of which, "the British media have a greater responsibility than most." 
The Church has been attentive to the influence of the media for a long time. I'm preparing a talk on the Church's history with media, and one of the things I noticed is that even back in the early days of "modern communications," the Church had a unique (and largely positive) stance, one that was taken up again at Vatican II. The Church's understanding of media can be grasped in part by a simple reflection  on the language Church documents use. Not "the media" or even "communications media" but "the media of social communications." Media, the Church says, is for, by, and about people.
And the Church wants us to pay attention to quality media: to familiarize ourselves with it, recommend it, praise it.
One of the media productions the Vatican has singled out for recognition is the 1927 (silent) film, Metropolis. This lengthy science-fiction piece is precisely a look at technology and people. Maybe that is why it ended up on the Vatican's 1995 list of the 45 best films of the 20th century.  A few months ago, Metropolis was in the news when a film canister in Argentina turned out to contain an almost-complete archive copy of the movie, providing long-lost footage of scenes that had been cut out to shorten the movie from its original 153 minutes to something more endurable for an audience that was not yet used to sitting in a theater for a full two hours. 
Soon the restored Metropolis will be on DVD. Meanwhile, you can watch the trailer:

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