Monday, October 09, 2006

A Touch of Greatness

Leslie Sullivan & Catherine Gund, 2004
54 minutes + bonus material, color/b+w documentary
All ages

This portrait of progressive educator Albert Cullum offers inspiration to anyone who has ever been wearied by the education system. As a teacher in a conventional public school in 60s Rye, New York, Cullum introduced drama, spectacle and fun to his classrooms. For geography, the class went outside and hopped on one foot across a United States chalked onto blacktop, and "swam" a Mississippi River made of a long role of paper. Cullum directed student productions of Shakespeare in which his only notes, he claimed, were "I don't believe you." The results were stunning. Blends interviews and archival television broadcasts with film footage of productions of Shakespeare, Antigone and Joan of Arc shot by Robert Downey, Sr. My son said, "If all teachers were like that, I'd want to go to school." (If you're sending your child to a stultifying place for indoctrination, beware...they may not want to go back after watching this.)

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