Full Metal Jacket (Tõnis)

Rationale

Anti-Vietnam War protest in Auckland (source image)

I chose this picture to show that there were also protests against the Vietnam War that happened in other countries. This particular protest was led by the Band of the Royal New Zealand Artillery and accompanied by soldiers from the New Zealand Special Air Service and the 161 Battery. They used fire-crackers and red paint bombs to attract attention. The paint was supposed to symbolise the meaningless bloodshed that was going on in Vietnam. It was believed by 1971, this event has had 35,000 citizens taking part in these civilian outrages towards the war. When things got too out of hand, the police showed up to disperse the crowds. Later on, there were debates on this topic, whether New Zealand should even take part in a “civil war” that was already going on in America.

Notions

Iron Curtain

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The Iron Curtain was a term used by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to describe the barrier between the West and Soviet Union. His exact phrase was: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.” It symbolised the isolation of communist countries from the Western capitalist countries. During the Yalta Conference in 1945, there was a demand that all Soviet citizens would return back to their home countries. Migration from East to West fully ended in 1950. After the death of  Joseph Stalin in 1953, restrictions on the border were starting to be removed. However, they were quickly restored in the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. This lasted for around 30 years until the collapse of the U.S.S.R in 1991.

Truman Doctrine, policy of containment, arms race

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The Truman Doctrine was, in a way, a “declaration” of the Cold War. On March 12, 1947, President Truman held a joint meeting with Congress to request for Turkey and Greece both to be given financial and medical aid from the US. Both of those countries had rivalled with the Soviet Union on their territories. This was also another way to stop communism from spreading further into Western Europe. He wanted 400 million dollars to be used for this purpose. Two months later, that amount was accepted by Congress. Even though both countries became severely right-winged, but it set the terms for a “fight” with the Soviet Union.

A State Department diplomat named George Kennan proposed a Policy of Containment in 1947. This was sort of a prototype version of the Truman Doctrine. It was at first an anonymous article written on the journal Foreign Affairs, aptly named “X-Articles”. Kennan wrote, “must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” To that end, he called for countering “Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the Western world” through the “adroit and vigilant application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy.” With this, he believed that it would help halt or even diminish the Soviet powers.

In general, an arms race is a competition between two countries to show who has the more powerful arsenal of weaponry to combat their opponent. One such prominent arms race was between the US and the Soviet Union. After America acquired the use of nuclear weapons, the U.S.S.R wanted to gain such weapons themselves. They conducted their first nuclear experiment in 1949. In just 8 years, the US had over 2,000 warheads while the Soviets had 84. But during the mid-’60s, the Soviet Union had gone through one of the fastest passive military growth in history, which led to the US backing down, but not until coming back in 1979. The whole arms race created a lot of anxiety among countries and somehow ended so abruptly.

McCarthy era

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Joseph Raymond McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. He and President Truman had political conflicts between each other, calling their rival a communist, which was a very offensive term used in America. McCarthy was also the one who brought in fears of communist infiltration within US politics, different industries and other major parts. He was so extreme with his accusations that the US Senate had to censure him. His beliefs gave way to something called “McCarthyism” which was used in anti-communist propaganda. In 1950, he claimed in a speech that he had 205 names of members of the Communist Party in the State Department, who were “shaping policies with the intention of ruining the United States.” He had many supporters, however, in 1954, McCarthy had suspicions that communist infiltrated the armed ranks. His interrogation was filmed and became known as the Army-McCarthy hearings. People started to realise what kind of a person McCarthy really was. With his evasive answers for questions and intimidation tactics, the Army’s chief counsel said “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” after attacking an Army lawyer. The Senate responded to this event, saying that his actions were inexcusable. McCarthy kept his job but lost the power he once had.

The Korean War

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On June 25, 1950, the Korean War began when 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. The invasion caused the United States to quickly come to aid their ally. To them, this was not just an invasion of another country. It was an attack on democracy and the officials felt threatened of the spread of communism to other countries. President Truman exclaimed: “If we let Korea down, the Soviets will keep right on going and swallow up one after another.” General MacArthur commanded an assault, showing that the Allies are now on the offensive. It was an amphibian assault on the North, with plans to “liberate” the country from communism. It was successful in taking Seoul. The soldiers advanced until they reached the Yalu River, which The People’s Republic of China fiercely demanded to not move in on. They would see it as an attack on their country and sent forces on the riverside. After that, the war reached a stalemate, with a few skirmishes going on near their border. An armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, redrawing the new borders, including 1,500 miles of land for South Korea and a 2-kilometre demilitarized zone between the neighbouring countries.

The role of J. F. Kennedy

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He was born on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. His family was one of the wealthiest in America, giving Kennedy an elite education and career choice. He attended private schools such as Choate and Canterbury. In 1937, he became a US ambassador in Great Britain, where he wrote a book on the unpreparedness of England during WWII called “Why England Slept”. John joined the US Navy in 1941 but abandoned it in 1944 for a career as a journalist. In 1952, he ran for the Senate, and successfully beat the popular Republican Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. In his political career, he was nominated by the Democratic Party as their candidate for Vice President in 1957. And in 1960, announced his campaign for the presidency, which he won. During his presidency, he was one of the establishers of the Peace Corps, a corporation which sent members to underdeveloped countries. He also was endorsing the March on Washington and sent federal troops to desegregate the University of Mississippi. It helped him try to reach one of his two goals as a president: The Civil Rights Bill.

Bay of Pigs and the Cuba Crisis

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The Bay of Pigs invasion was an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro’s recently acquired power in Cuba. The CIA had sent 1,400 American-trained Cubans to provoke an anti-Castro uprising among the civilians. It was supposed to be clandestine, although the government had somehow known about this operation. The invasion started on the southern side of the island to take over the Cuban airports. A lot of problems occurred in the operation, with paratroopers landing in the wrong area and boats getting stuck in coral reefs. The Cubans had broadcast towers that broadcasted every detail about the invasion to all of the Cuban people. In just under 24 hours, 114 exiles were killed and 1,100 were taken as prisoners.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was an event in 1962, which could have ended with the declaration of World War III. Soviets were stationing their nuclear warheads in Cuba in secret. It was made as a deal between Khrushchev and Castro to help in any future US invasion attempts. This aroused the attention of Kennedy, who quickly discovered this. As America was just 100 miles away from Cuba, Kennedy demanded Khrushchev that they would remove their WOMDs from the island. He put up a “quarantine” around Cuba, so long as this issue was resolved. Khrushchev responded to this, saying that it was an “act of aggression” towards the Soviet Union. US reconnaissance planes found out that that the missiles were ready to fire, the US was getting ready for another war until a Soviet agent in the White House suggested that the Soviet Union was ready for an agreement. Khrushchev agrees to remove the missiles on one condition: that the US removed their Jupiter missiles from Turkey. After a few months of back-and-forth messages between Kennedy and Khrushchev, Kennedy ordered the removal of the missiles in April of 1963.

Space Race

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On October 4, 1957, a Soviet R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile launched, named Sputnik (Russian for “traveller”), the world’s first artificial satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth’s orbit. This whole endeavour was seen by Americans as another challenge from the Soviets. Just one year later, the US launched their first satellite: Explorer I. This was also designed by the German leading rocket scientist Wernher von Braun with the support of the US Army. Developments in a new field of science led to the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA). The first probe to land on the moon was Luna 2, made by the Soviets in 1959. Two years later in March, Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space orbiting the Earth in his spacecraft Vostok 1. Alan Shepard became the second man and first American to be in space. Because of the Soviet advancements in space engineering, Kennedy set out a bold claim. He said that Americans will be the first people to step on the moon. This project was dubbed Project Apollo. They started to advance quicker than the Soviet Union, partly due to the death of their chief engineer in the space program, Sergey Korolyov. The biggest achievement NASA has ever done was the launch of the Apollo 11, where Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins were sent off to the moon in 1969. This ultimately showed that the US had won the Space Race. In 1975, the Apollo-Soyuz mission was a plan to dock the American Apollo spacecraft with the Soviet Soyuz in orbit. Their “handshakes in space” became an event signifying the lowering tensions between both sides.

Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences)

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The war started in 1954, with Ho Chi Minh’s communist views and the anti-communist politician Ngo Dinh Diem’s declared Government Republic of Vietnam (GVN) being on completel opposite sides on their views. With the support of the US by sending weaponry and other resources, Ngo cracked down on Minh supporters. He caught around 100,000 Viet Cong (Vietnam Communists), most of whom were either tortured or killed. The National Liberation Front (NLF) was created to fight back against Diem’s regime. Members were both communist and anti-communist. They fought many bloody conflicts against the soldiers between 1959-1961. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s term “Domino theory” suggested that if one South-Asian country falls into communism, others would follow the same steps. Kennedy, believing in this as well, sent out 9,000 American troops to Vietnam in 1962 for securing the peace. On November 1963, Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother were murdered by a coup. This was just three weeks after Kennedy’s assassination. Lyndon B. Johnson, J. F. K.’s successor, wanted to deal with the ever-growing political instability in Vietnam. And an attack in 1964 on two US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin allowed him to retaliate. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution gave him the power to regularly bomb North Vietnam with air bombers. This was codenamed Operation Rolling Thunder.

The outcome of the war was a protest by the American people to stop war. Around 500,000 soldiers deserted due to mistrust towards the capital. The peace treaty was written down on January 1973, although the war raged on between the North and South until 1975. The South Vietnam capital, Saigon was captured on April 30 1975, and renamed as Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in 1982 in Washington D.C. It had 58,200 names of the Americans who died in the war, including civilians.

Consequences of the war were quite enormous. The view of the Americans as “always strong” and “that nothing could stop them” was diminishing after the loss of the war. A lot of veterans suffered under PTSD. This caused alcohol poisoning, divorce and suicide rates to increase drastically. The nation spent 120 billion dollars on the war, leading to inflation. Especially in the oil crisis of 1973, when oil went to monumental heights in terms of price.

Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair

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Richard Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He is believed to be one of the most disliked presidents in America. This is because of a scandal involving the President and five burglars. In 1971, he orders a secret taping system which records all of the conversations in the White House offices. The New York Times found the Pentagon Papers, harbouring secret history involving the Vietnam War. Nixon, hearing about this leak, sent in “Plumbers” (were ex CIA and FBI operatives) to deal with the situation. They tried to sneak into Daniel Ellsberg’s office, the man who leaked the Papers, in an attempt to smear his reputation. This was unfortunately unsuccessful. In 1972, five of the Plumbers were sent to wiretap phones and steal documents. This was also unsuccessful, but now they were actually caught. The Plumbers had the number for the reelection committee written down. This gave speculation as to whether Nixon was involved. He later addressed in a speech that this was not the case. On the same year, he was re-elected as President. However, later on, it was discovered that Nixon was giving the burglars’ hush money to cover up his tracks. For that whole scandal, he instructed the CIA to stop the FBI’s investigation. This was a much more serious crime than the burglary. A White House counsel named John Dean testified against Nixon, saying that he had secret tapes of conversations. Archibald Cox, an independent special prosecutor demanded that he hand over the tapes. Nixon threatened to fire him, leading many of the Justice Department officials to resign. In July of 1974, the Supreme Court told Nixon to give them the tapes. The House of Representatives quickly decided to vote for Nixon’s impeachment. Before that, Nixon managed to resign by himself.

The role of Henry Kissinger

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Diplomat Henry Kissinger was U.S. secretary of state under Richard Nixon. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping resolve the Vietnam War and keep relationships between the two countries on their good sides. Kissinger combined diplomatic initiatives and troop withdrawals with devastating bombing campaigns on North Vietnam, designed to improve the American bargaining position and maintain the country’s credibility with its international allies and enemies. However, his ways of dealing with the war were highly controversial. His strategy called “peace with honour” helped prolong the war to four years, increasing the fatality rates among soldiers and civilians. He negotiated the creation of SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, helping to ease relations between the two superpowers of the world. Kissinger founded the international consulting firm Kissinger Associates in 1982, and he serves as a board member and trustee to numerous companies and foundations. Additionally, he has authored several books and countless articles on American foreign policy and diplomatic history.

Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock

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The Counterculture movement began in the ’60s as a way to be different from the norm, leaving behind their studies. Many other movements by college and high school students, such as the civil rights movements helped boost the creation of other similar movements. The New Left was created to appeal to left-winged middle-class students. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), founded at the University of Michigan in 1960, was the organisational base for the New Left. The term “New Left” was coined in the group’s 1962 Port Huron Statement, which criticised the lack of individual freedom and the power of the bureaucracy in government, universities, and corporations and called for participatory democracy. Topics such as school dress codes, discrimination and segregation were the hot topics within these campuses.

The Summer of Love is a phrase given to the summer of 1967 to try to describe the feeling of being in San Francisco that summer when the so-called “hippie movement” came to full fruition. The Human Be-In rally in San Francisco on 14 January is considered the starting point. The event itself was the first time hippie culture was given exposure by the media. In that way, the viewpoints of hippies started to spread throughout America and even towards Europe. The Haight-Ashbury district, where disaffected student groups gathered, became the focal point of hippy counterculture, and 100,000 young people arrived there over the summer. After a power shortage, the band Jefferson Airplane played and LSD was being distributed among the students to “enhance” the experience. In Autumn, the whole scene deteriorated, with teenage drug abuse, violence and rape cases increasing within the area. A mock funeral named “The Death of a Hippy” was made to memorialise the culture that was so vibrant in that district. People had to get jobs and live on with their lives after the Summer.

The Woodstock Music Festival began on August 15, 1969, as half a million people waited on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for the three-day music festival to start. John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld and Michael Lang were the four men behind the planning of this event. The initial plan for Woodstock called for the event to be held at Howard Mills Industrial Park in Wallkill, New York. Officials did not like the whole outlook of the event and passed a law to ban all concerts within that area. But luckily, just a month ahead of the concert, 49-year-old dairy farmer Max Yasgur offered to rent them part of his land in the White Lake area of Bethel, New York, surrounded by the verdant Catskill Mountains. The event was supposed to have tickets but due to large unaccounted for masses arriving at the scene, they changed it to be a free event. Shows by rock bands were performed, while most of the people took drugs, it was an event that defined the hippie culture.

Critical Response

The movie I will be reviewing is directed by legendary director Stanley Kubrick and was made in 1987. It is called “Full Metal Jacket”. The movie is divided into two parts: one takes place in Boot Camp and the other in Vietnam. It follows the experiences of J. T. Davis, nicknamed “Joker” by Gunnery Sergeant Hartman during their first meeting.

Now onto the good parts of the movie. The cinematography in every single scene is crafted to perfection. As expected of Stanley Kubrick’s obsession about even the most minuscule details. Watching each part feels more like looking at a moving painting than a movie. The acting was impeccable, with a statement made by Richard Propes reading as follows: “Kubrick maintains an “A” range film primarily based upon his vision in the film, and upon the simply outstanding performance of Ermey along with Matthew Modine as a war reporter longing for action, Adam Baldwin as the almost equally psychotic Animal Mother, Vince D’Onofrio as the chubby recruit Gomer Pyle, and the likes of Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Howard and Arliss Howard.” I agree with this statement, as all of the actors were chosen to play the perfect roles for them. The way this movie showed the cruelty of the Americans towards the local Vietnamese people helped paint a picture of how the war wasn’t just “good guys versus bad guys”. With them being called “gooks” and treated like garbage, the superiority complex of the American people was clearly seen throughout different scenes. Also, all of the scenes were actually not filmed in a Vietnamese jungle, but in England, the amount of work trying to carve a tropical climate war-zone from the British plains was astounding. I would have never thought that all of the palm trees were imported to make the scenery more believable.

There were only a few bits here and there which I find not that well executed. The story felt a bit off. Part one, or as I refer to it as “The Boot Camp Part”, was somewhat detached from the other half of the movie. If someone were to watch the movie without seeing the introduction to all of the Privates’ first-hand experiences with Sergeant Hartman and how Pyle lost his mind, then that wouldn’t have affected anything within the story. It felt like filler, although quite enjoyable filler to the upcoming Vietnam War part. The ending to the movie seemed like a weird way to bring it to a closure. As Stanley Kauffman said in his review of this movie: “It’s a last-ditch attempt to claim a bitter-satire badge for the film.” I sort of agree with this statement, but I don’t think it was a “last-ditch attempt.”

All in all, a very good movie, even one of Stanley Kubrick’s best to ever come to the cinema. If people were to be interested in looking into what was going on in the Vietnam War, especially on the American side, then this movie gives a good explanation about it. It’s extremely well-shot scenes and very good acting helps bring out the good and bad sides of the war.

Review sources

Full Metal Jacket (Kask)

Visual

The cover page of The Huntsville Times in April 12, 1961. (1)

This visual is the cover page of The Huntsville Times, in Huntsville, Alabama, in April 12 1961. The impactful title of the newspaper is “Man Enters Space”. The day before, the Soviets had launched the first man, Yuri Gagarin, on orbit around the Earth. His flight had lasted for 108 minutes and he successfully landed on Earth. This was a very tragic blow to the US, as they had also prepared to send Alan Shepherd to space, but the launch was delayed several months, meaning that the Soviets could get the achievement. This visual is very relevant to the era, as the two superpowers of the world competed in technology and who could be the first to send a man in space. This era was also called the Space Race and eventually, the US claimed a landmark progress as the first to send a man to the Moon in 1969.


Notions

Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain was an ideological border in Europe between the communist countries and the democratic nations. It was first used by Winston Churchill, who used the term to describe the political situation of Europe in 1946. During the Cold War, the two ideologies ruled across the world – democracy, represented by the US, and communism, the superpower being USSR. This term was used, that it would be easier to control satellite states and prevent the spread of democracy. The Curtain lied in Central and East Europe, separating Germany to 2 parts: the pro-Moscow East-Germany and democratic West-Germany. The border lasted until the end of the Soviet Union at the end of the 20th century.

The Iron Curtain, described by Winston Churchill. (2)

Truman doctrine, policy of containment, arms race

After the Second World War, European countries Greece and Turkey were financed by the UK. However, in 1947, the government informed USA that it could not support the nations anymore. President Harry S. Truman was certain, that the countries are susceptible to communism and he wanted to prevent such instance. He then declared, that the United States must provide aid, both financial and military, to protect countries from communist influence. Eventually, he proposed to give 400 million dollars to both Greece and Turkey to help these countries in the fight against communism. The proclamation is considered to be the declaration of the Cold War and President Truman convinced the general public, that the Soviet Union had influenced the international affairs between Greece and Turkey with the US. Surprisingly, it was later discovered that Turkey and Greece were influenced by Yugoslavia.

The policy of containment was the foreign policy of the US in the 1940s and 50s. It was proposed by President Truman. A diplomat George Kennan proposed a “long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies” until the union collapses. As the two superpowers established allies, both countries knew the importance of a large and dominant military force. USA and USSR began the arms race. The newest superweapon at that time was the atomic bomb, which the US had already used in WWII. At its peak, the US had over 30,000 atomic bombs at its disposal in the 60s, but the Soviet Union is believed to have about 40,000 nuclear warheads for using in the 80s.

Graph showing the amount of nuclear warheads in the Cold War, owned by USA and USSR. (3)

McCarthy era

After the Second World War, the public was scared of the Soviets. The government began investigating, whether Communist spies live in the US. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was founded to inquire on the problem and detect pro-communists in the country. Joseph McCarthy was a Senator of Wisconsin and he attracted attention, when in a speech in 1950 he claimed to own the list of some 200 communists working in the State Department. However, an investigation concluded that no pro-communist activity was detected. But McCarthy was determined to find anti-Americans in the union. He began interviewing members of labour unions and teachers-lecturers in universities. During his interviews with suspects, he violated the basic rights of the interviewees. It is estimated that over 50,000 people lost their jobs in the State Department during the investigation conducted by McCarthy. He also accused the Army of spies infiltrating the armed forces. Eventually, the Congress imposed a censure on McCarthy in 1954. His legacy of fear politics continued through to the 70s and this era is considered to be one of the most embarrassing moments in American politics.

A portrait of Joseph McCarthy. (4)

Korean War

The Korean War was the first military action in the Cold War and it started in 1950, when Soviet-backed North Korean troops marched over the border between the Koreas, also known as the 38th parallel. The USA declared war against North Korea, fearing that communism will spread around if South Korea had been conquered, because the local government was a puppet government. The communists had an advantage at first over the US troops, as they were more trained and determined. As the skirmish progressed, the war came to a standstill and many casualties were as a result. The Allies changed their war strategy to liberating the North from communism and an invasion near Seoul pushed the communists back to the 38th parallel. The democratic states moved forward, but China began to deploy troops to its border with North Korea, warning the US to not come closer. The war ended in 1953, where a ‘demilitarised zone’ (DMZ) was created between the Koreas, but nearly 5 million people died in the conflict between ideologies. The war saw the first action for UN soldiers.

Role of J. F.  Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 to 1963. Being the youngest president to ever be elected, he ordered anti-communist Cubans to spark a revolution against Fidel Castro, known as the Bay of Pigs. He met with Khrushchev in June to discuss the situation of Germany and to build a wall, separating Berlin. He went to West Berlin to deliver one of his most famous speeches, supporting the locals. In 1962 he once again met the Soviet leader during the Cuban missile crisis. After he resolved the conflict, he got the US, USSR and the UK to sign a nuclear test ban treaty. His main view of foreign politics was to stop the growth of communism, which escalated in Vietnam. Many Americans thought of him as a very popular president. He promoted the civil rights movement and physical fitness, and he was opposed to the tension between the leader countries. He was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.

A portrait of John F. Kennedy. (5)

Bay of Pigs and the Cuban crisis

In 1959, a communist Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba. The CIA tried to infiltrate and weaken the regime, but to no avail. Eventually, the US sent over 1,000 trained Cuban exiles to Cuba to start a revolution against Castro. However, the invasion was a total fiasco: many things went wrong, most of the exiles were killed by numerous Cuban soldiers and fighting cessated in 24 hours. Kennedy wanted to have good relations with Cuba, he believed, that it was the key to winning the Cold War. But tensions grew even further in the Cuban missile crisis. Cuba had received economical aid from the Soviet Union and the Soviets eventually placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, as a response to US missiles in Italy and Turkey. This escalated to a 13-day period, when America could have been obliterated by nuclear missiles and World War III would have started. The US imposed a naval embargo on Cuba and in October 26, 1963, the Soviet leader sent a letter to Kennedy, offering to dismantle rockets on Cuba, if the US will not invade Cuba. This letter ended the tense 13-day period, where nuclear rockets were only 90 miles away from the US.

A photograph showing a Soviet missile outpost in Cuba. (6)

Space Race

During the Cold War, both superpowers (USA and USSR) wanted to assert dominance in militaristic and technological capabilities. Another competing theater was in space exploration and the Soviets got a hefty head start, when on October 4, 1957, the first man-made object Sputnik was sent to space on an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), modifies to hold the satellite. The US wanted to catch up with the communists, as satellites could survey the US mainland. President Kennedy addressed the nation in 1961, that the US will go to the Moon in that decade. The US sent up their first satellite Explorer I on January 31, 1958. It was designed by a captured German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. The Soviets were working with Korolev, a renowned rocket scientist, who was the father of Soviet rocketry. When he passed away, the US had the upper hand and conquered the Moon in 1969. These achievements were mostly as propaganda, to show the technological capabilities of the countries.

MilestoneUSAUSSR
First man-made object in spaceExplorer I (1958)Sputnik I (1957)
First animal in orbitEnos (1961)Laika (1957)
First man in spaceShepard (1961)Gagarin (1961)
First full orbit around EarthGlenn (1962)Gagarin (1961)
First woman in spaceRide (1983)Tereshkova (1963)
First space walkWhite (1965)Leonov (1965)
First space stationSkylab (1973)Salyut (1971)
First man on MoonArmstrong (1969)

Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences)

In the Cold War, Vietnam was divided to 2 parts, communist North Vietnam, supported by the USSR and China, and South Vietnam, supported by the US. President Johnson ordered many thousand troops to be sent to Vietnam in June 1965. However, amid an anti-war movement, many advisors had doubts against joining the war. In Vietnam, many soldiers did not trust the decision of the government and in 1967, nearly 500,000 troops deserted in the US from the army. Many protests against the war ensued, fueled by the actions of soldiers in Vietnam, such as the My Lai massacre, where over 400 innocent locals were killed by US troops. The US finally pulled out of the war in 1973, where over 57,000 American troops were killed. The war in Vietnam continued and in 1975, North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam. Even today, Agent Orange, which was used by the US as a nerve agent, has poisoned the local rice crops in Vietnam.

Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair

Early in the morning of June 17, 1972, several burglars were arrested inside the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. This was no ordinary robbery: The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign,and they had been caught while attempting to wiretap phones and steal secret documents. While historians are not sure whether Nixon, a republican, knew about the Watergate espionage operation before it happened, he took steps to cover it up afterwards, raising “hush money” for the burglars, trying to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime, destroying evidence and firing uncooperative staff members. In August 1974, after his role in the Watergate conspiracy had finally come to light, the President resigned. His successor, Gerald Ford, immediately pardoned Nixon for all the crimes he “committed or may have committed” while in office. Although Nixon was never prosecuted, the Watergate scandal changed American politics forever, leading many Americans to question their leadership and think more critically about the presidency.

A portrait of Richard Nixon. (7)

The role of Henry Kissinger

Henry Alfred Kissinger was an American diplomat and politician, who served as the United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He became the National Security Advisor in 1969 and later the United States Secretary of State in 1973. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. Kissinger later returned the prize after the ceasefire failed.

A portrait of Henry Kissinger. (8)

Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock

The counterculture of the 1960s refers to an anti-establishment cultural phenomenon that developed first in the United Kingdom and the United States and then spread throughout much of the Western world between the early 1960s and the 1970s. The movement gained popularity as the African-American Civil Rights Movement continued to grow, and would later expand to the U.S. government’s extensive military intervention in Vietnam. It took the form of protests on the street against the government. Woodstock was a music and art festival in 1969, which attracted over 400 000 people from all over the world on a farmland. The period was commonly associated with the Hippie lifestyle, which supported pacifism and was overall relaxed.


Historical accuracy

The film “Full Metal Jacket” is a Stanley Kubrick-directed program depicting the conditions and lifestyle of Marines in a training camp and in war in Vietnam. Firstly the movie shows us the brutal workouts in a bootcamp, where the drill instructor tries to dehumanise the recruits to become killing machines. Private Joker, who graduated camp, is sent to Vietnam as a journalist to report on news. The film focuses mainly on ‘the duality of man’ and it is thought that the movie successfully conveyed its message.

The movie itself is based on the novel “The Short-Timers”, written by co-director Gustav Hasford, who actually was a correspondent in Vietnam. It is believed that he plays the role of Joker in the book. This made the movie even more authentic, even in training camp. The introduction showed the recruits with no emotions and as in a real Corps, the instructor tries to mold them into soldiers. A critic comments on the process: “He presents the gradual and deliberate assault on individuality and privacy that is basic training; the connections between sex and aggression; the combat soldier’s ultimate and even stirring realization that he has left his better nature far behind him.” (1) Many people agree with this opinion, that these Marines had to lose their sense of independence and individuality.

The second part of the film was depicting the Tet Offensive, where the North Vietnamese soldiers invaded many southern bases. The movie accurately depicted the situation of the war in Vietnam and the invasion of communist troops. The movie references an event during the offensive, where the US embassy was attacked and many American troops were killed. The main goal for journalists was to only boost morale in the troops, as a journalist depicts it:  “As the film correctly shows, reporting from Vietnam had been tightly controlled.” (2) The movie also showed, how lies were fabricated, for example the kill count, in order to encourage the soldiers in Vietnam.

To conclude, the film was very accurate concerning the historical side. The conditions and mental abuse at training were as authentic as it could have been and the war was fairly precisely portrayed and how the news were broadcast to the mainland were censored. Many critics praised the film for its main message, being the duality of a person between ideals and values.

References

Visual sources

(1) The cover page of The Huntsville Times in April 12, 1961. Source: worldhistory.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/gagarin-and-shepard-man-enters-space.jpg

(2) The Iron Curtain, described by Winston Churchill. Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/The_Iron_Curtain_as_described_by_Churchill.png

(3)Graph showing the amount of nuclear warheads in the Cold War, owned by USA and USSR. Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bb/US_and_USSR_nuclear_stockpiles.svg/1200px-US_and_USSR_nuclear_stockpiles.svg.png

(4) A portrait of Joseph McCarthy. Source: www.biography.com/.image/t_share/MTE5NDg0MDU1MDQ3NzM0Nzk5/joseph-mccarthy-9390801-1-402.jpg

(5) A portrait of John F. Kennedy. Source: snworksceo.imgix.net/upb/7c7afbda-ca81-492d-ac6a-296c0eefe795.sized-1000×1000.jpg?w=1000

(6) A photograph showing a Soviet missile outpost in Cuba. Source: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Cuban_missiles.jpg

(7) A portrait of Richard Nixon. Source: www.biography.com/.image/t_share/MTE5NTU2MzE2MzMxMjc5ODgz/richard-nixon-9424076-1-402.jpg

(8) A portrait of Henry Kissinger. Source: www.americanacademy.de/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Kissinger.jpg

Used reviews

(1) Maslin, J. (1987) ‘Inside the ‘Jacket’: All Kubrick’, The New York Times, July 5. Available at: archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/library/film/070587kubrick-jacket.html [Accessed 3.06.2019]

(2) von Tunzelmann, A. (2010) ‘Full Metal Jacket: history unzipped’, The Guardian, June 24. Available at: www.theguardian.com/film/2010/jun/24/full-metal-jacket-stanley-kubrick [Accessed 3.06.2019]

Full Metal Jacket

The 20th century propaganda is legendary, but I chose this poster because of its clarity when it comes to the message and also because I liked the little allusions and “sub-messages”. The aim of this propaganda poster is to warn Americans of the dangers of USSR. The first thing people probably notice is the fact that the ship is heading towards the iceberg which by itself is already a threat but the allusion to Titanic only enhances it – Soviet Union is a threat to otherwise invincible US. Uncle Sam – the personification of the United States or its government – also helps to bring it closer to the audience and press on their patriotism. And finally the gravestones on the red iceberg, representing the countries that have already fallen victims of the USSR hinting, that when the USA fails to withstand the Soviet Union, their grave will be next one there.

Notions

Iron Curtain – the non-physical boundary that divided Europe into two (Soviet Union in east and neutral or USA’s allies in the west) from the end of WWII (1945) to the end of Cold War (1991). Soviet Union tried to block itself and its satellite-states from the West.

The events that were going to demolish it began in Poland and later gained ground in other SU states of which Romania was the only communist country in Europe that overthrew its government with violence.

The name as a metaphor dates back to 19th century and originally meant fireproof curtains in theatres and became the symbol of the Cold War thanks to a speech given by W. Churchill and the usage as a reference to SU by J. Goebbels from Nazi Germany.

Truman doctrine, policy of containment, arms race – president Harry Truman established (1947) that the US would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations reorienting the US’s foreign policy away from its usual attitude of not interfering with foreign conflicts. The main cause was the British withdrawal from providing help for Greece and Turkey. The aim for the USA was preventing the spread of Communism.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/postwarera/postwar-era/a/start-of-the-cold-war-part-2

The arms race was a competition for supremacy in nuclear warfare between the US and the Soviet Union with their allies. They were trying to increase the quantity and quality of their warfare during peacetime to show the superiority and be ready for imminent attacks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_arms_race

McCarthy era – an era marked by dramatic accusations that communists had infiltrated into the highest level of American society. The global conspiracy was created by a Wisconsin senator, Joseph McCarthy, who, in 1950, created a frenzy in the press, claiming that hundreds of communists were spread among several Truman administrations. Though he wasn’t responsible for the widespread fear of communism, he was the one to cause the suspicion.

As consequences, anyone’s loyalty could be doubted or accused of being communist sympathizers, governments resources were diverted and the political discourse was coarsened.

https://www.wsws.org/es/articles/2017/11/27/maca-n27.html

Korean War – began on June 25, 1950, about 75 000 North Korean People’s Army’s soldiers crossed the border between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south (North Korea vs. South Korea). It was the first military action of the Cold War.

By July, America had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf because they believed it was a war against the forces of international communism itself. The American officials were trying hard though to fashion an armistice with North Korea in fears of a wider war with Russia and China or even WW3.

The war came to an end in July, 1953, with 5 million soldiers and civilians having lost their lives. The armistice finally divided Korea into two official part and granted the return of prisoners.

http://time.com/3915803/korean-war-1950-history/

Role of J. F. Kennedy – an American politician and 35th president (from 1961 to 1963 when he was assassinated – the height of the Cold War). During World War II, he commanded a series of PT boats in the Pacific theater and earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his service. After the war, Kennedy represented the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953. He was subsequently elected to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 to 1960. While in the Senate, he published his book  Profiles in Courage, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography. He was the second-youngest and first ever president to have served in the US Navy. As president, Kennedy confronted mounting Cold War tensions in Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere. He also led a renewed drive for public service and eventually provided federal support for the growing civil rights movement. His assassination on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, sent shockwaves around the world and turned the all-too-human Kennedy into a larger-than-life heroic figure. To this day, historians continue to rank him among the best-loved presidents in American history.

https://www.eligiblemagazine.com/2013/11/22/7-reasons-women-love-jfk/ (- 7 reasons women love JFK)

Bay of Pigs and the Cuban crisis – a failed invasion of Cuba in April, 1961, undertaken by Brigade 2506, a rebel group  of Cuban exiles sponsored by the CIA. The aim was to overthrow Fidel Castro and his increasingly communist government in order to replace it with non-communist and USA friendly one.

Some 1400 exiles landed at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. As the US involvement became apparent to the world, and with the initiative turning against the invasion, Kennedy decided against providing further air cover. As a result, the operation only had half the forces the CIA had deemed necessary. The original plan devised during Eisenhower’s presidency had required both air and naval support. The entire force was within three days defeated and either killed or captured (Kennedy, who had approved the mission took full responsibility for the failure).

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day political and military standoff in October, 1962, over Soviet Union’s installation of the nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba. The nuclear war was prevented with the US agreement with Soviet leader’s offer to remove the missiles from Cuba in exchange of USA’s promise not to invade Cuba and to remove its missiles from Turkey.

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/postwarera/1960s-america/v/bay-of-pigs-invasion

Space Race – Again, a competition between the US and Soviet Union for dominance in spaceflight capability represented in efforts to launch artificial satellites, uncrewed space probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. It began in August, 1955, with Soviet Union’s announcement to launch and artificial satellite in the near future, a response to a similar announcement by the USA made 4 days earlier. Soviet Union eventually “won” this one and was also the first to send humans in Earth orbit, but the race peaked with the US to be the first to send humans on the moon in 1969.

It’s hard to pinpoint the ending but it was over by 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

https://www.reddit.com/r/memes/comments/9kpiop/winner_of_space_race/

Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences) –  an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to 30 April 1975. Originally between North and South Vietnam – North supported by communist Russia and China and South by the USA and other non-communist countries.

The causes revolve around American belief and fear that communism would expand all over Asia.

The US gradually started withdrawing its forces from Vietnam as a part of Vietnamization, leaving the fighting to South Vietnam itself. Soon after North captured Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam and the two parts were reunified as one communist state the following year. Estimates of the number of Vietnameses being killed vary from 1 million to 3.8 million.

As the consequences, the end of the war and resumption of the Third Indochina War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the bigger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw an estimated 250,000 people perish at sea. Within the US the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with Watergate contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s.

https://www.pbshawaii.org/the-vietnam-war-the-weight-of-memory/

Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair – an American politic and the 37th president of the USA from 1969 to 1974, being the first ever American president to resign from office.

The term Watergate has come to refer to the clandestine and and often illegal activities undertaken by the members of Nixon’s administration. Those activities included bugging the offices of political opponents and harrassing activist groups and political figures.

These were brought to light after five men were caught breaking into the Democratic party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. At first Nixon downplayed the scandal but a series of revelations made it clear that the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon, and later the White House, was involved in attempts to sabotage the Democrats. In total 48 official were convicted of wrongdoing.

https://whittiermuseum.org/research/richard-milhous-nixon/

The role of Henry Kissinger – an American political scientist, diplomat, and geopolitical consultant who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. For his actions negotiating a ceasefire in Vietnam, Kissinger received the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize under controversial circumstances, with two members of the committee resigning in protest. Kissinger later sought, unsuccessfully, to return the prize after the ceasefire failed.

After leaving government, he formed Kissinger Associates, an international geopolitical consulting firm. Kissinger has written over one dozen books on diplomatic history and international relations. According to a 2014 survey by Foreign Policy magazine 32.21% of “America’s top International Relations scholars” considered Henry Kissinger the most effective U.S. Secretary of State since 1965.

Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock – a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores.

Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the summer of 1967, when about 100 000 hippies, mostly young people, gathered together with San Francisco being the most publicized location.

Most of them were suspicious of the government, rejected consumerist values or opposed the Vietnam War.

Woodstock was a music festival held in 1969, on August 15-18. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation. Joni Mitchell said, “Woodstock was a spark of beauty” where half-a-million kids “saw that they were part of a greater organism”

Pildiotsingu woodstock original tulemus
https://www.dazeddigital.com/life-culture/article/42839/1/woodstock-festival-2019-original-organiser-michael-lang-returns

500 words

I can’t think of any film with more original approach or effect right now. And of all the movies we have watched I definitely had more opinions about it than any other. I could write an even longer essay.

“In Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick’s pre-filmmaking endeavors as a professional photographer and competition-level chess player are all too evident — scenes are so overly composed they seem contrived and artsy.”

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/american-princess-review-1215001

(Thank you, the Hollywood reporter, I finally understand.) I didn’t know he used to be a photographer but now, that I come to think of it, it explains how the film managed to have amazing scenes and yet not work as a whole. Making movies is like writing a book – you won’t get a perfect book when you write perfect sentences but never read them together to see if they even fit. The director and screenwriter Stanley Kubrick had so much potential but he was too occupied with taking the perfect photos that he left the story in the background.

“The well-arranged characters are merely mouthpieces for differing points of views — pawns.”

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/american-princess-review-1215001

Another reason why the movie was so confusing, were the characters. The real events, the ones we have learned about and are used to think of as real life, didn’t match with the over-the-top, surrealistic characters. None of them had a real personality, just one trait that had been stretched too far so it became just unreal and didn’t fit to the honest historical frame. Pyle was crazy enough to be fit for a horror movie, and Joker – we have no idea who he really is. A guy who jokes around and doesn’t take things seriously. In the “first movie” he is kind and helpful – he remains patient with Pyle and is good to him (excluding the beating, but even then we can see it comes hard for him). In the “second film” he is seemingly the same, but then he says, with full seriousness, “I wanted to see exotic Vietnam… the crown jewel of Southeast Asia. I wanted to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture… and kill them. I wanted to be the first kid on my block to get a confirmed kill.” like a sadistic monster. Changing characters are fine, but the movie is supposed to develop them, not jump from one extreme to the other.

“Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” is more like a book of short stories than a novel.”

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/full-metal-jacket-1987

And we get back to it. I could bring several similes myself – pieces of many different jigsaw puzzles pressed together, a game where one person starts to tell a story that’s made up on spot and then all the others take over one by one, making up the rest of it. The problem is that this is not how you make a movie (or put together a puzzle). I don’t support the most classic and boring structure but a film needs to have something that unites the pieces or at least one style, genre or principles it follows throughout it. Maybe the problem is just in me.

I can’t deny the “Full Metal Jacket” had something. For some reason it kept my attention throughout the full movie and I couldn’t get my mind off of it even later and yet it lacked something (maybe it was the incoherency or non-existence of real and believable characters) to make it a good movie. But it’s not a bad one either because then I would have forgotten about it. The best word for it is “mystery”.

“Full Metal Jacket” – Krister Põder

Notions

  • The Iron Curtain – A political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union after World War II to seal off itself and its dependent eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other non communist areas. It was popularised by winston Churchill in 1946 in his speech. The blockade loosened after stalin’s death 1953, but in 1961 the berlin wall harshened it again.The soviets even jammed the west’s radio waves.the curtain was largely destroyed in 1990 when the soviet union broke up. The function of the curtain was to act as a buffer between the soviets and the west, since they feared another invasion like operation barbarossa by the nazis. The formation of the Berlin wall heightened west’s fears of soviet aggression so they formed a defensive military alliance called nato, with the basis that an attack on one of the allied countries would mean an attack on all of them. The soviets retaliated with the warsaw pact, also a military alliance.
  • The Truman Doctrine, policy of containment, arms race – With the Truman Doctrine, President Harry S. Truman established that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces. The Truman Doctrine effectively reoriented US foreign policy, away from its usual stance of withdrawal from regional conflicts not directly involving the United States, to one of possible intervention in far away conflicts. It started when, in 1947 britain announced that they will not support military or economic aid to greece in its fight against communism. Truman urged congress to send aid to greece and also turkey because they were also fighting communism. Other factors also played a role in enforcing the doctrine like the soviets rejecting the Baruch plan for international control over nuclear energy and weapons in June 1946 and soviet attempts to pressure the Iranian Government into granting them oil concessions.
  • McCarthy era – Senator Joseph McCarthy was a senator who, with the House Committee on Un-American Activities led a witch hunt for communist sympathizers during the cold war. McCarthy took advantage of the nation’s wave of fanatic terror against communism, and emerged on February 9, 1950, claiming he had a list of 205 people in the State Department who were known members of the American Communist Party. The American public went crazy with the thought of communists living within the United States, and roared for the investigation of the underground agitators. McCarthy was considered one of the least qualified and corrupt politicians in history. He basically went on a manhunt and the accused had 2 choices. Either to give out other names as russian spies to go free or to stay silent and deny, which would mean losing friends and jobs. The witch hunt accused many prominent figures such as oppenheimer and einstein. The era came to an end when mccarthy went too far by investigating the military, at which point the president, eisenhower understood that he must be stopped. The army fired back with critical accusations about abusing congressional privileges. The public soon turned on mccarthy along with critics and the media. the nation grew to realize that McCarthy was “evil and unmatched in malice.” He lost his position as chairman on the operations of the senate, and all his power in the media. He died 3 years later because of drinking.This era was allowed to happen because of the fear of communism.
  • Korean War – The Korean War lasted from 1950 to 1953. The Korean War was actually called a police action by the United States since war was not officially declared by the Congress. In 1949 the Chinese communists won their civil war against the Chinese nationalists. They began to support armed communist conflicts near their borders as they considered the United States and all of its allies to be a threat to their security and political views. After World War II, North Korea was under Soviet rule and South Korea was under the rule of the US. Tensions grew between the two territories. On the 25th of June, 1950, North Korea, with Chinese help, invaded South Korea. Initially, the attack was powerful enough to drive back the unprepared forces of South Korea. In time, though, the US was able to repel the North Korean forces by employing air, naval and amphibian counter-attacks. Along with UN forces, the US marched onto North Korean territory where they were met with an army organized by China. The US forces were then pushed back onto South Korean territory. The US, however, was able to, once again, gain some more ground and fought its way to the 38th parallel. Here a front line was established. The two sides fought and were not able to gain any advantage over each other. An armistice was negotiated over and a demilitarized zone was established. This demilitarized zone serves as a border region for the two nations of North Korea and South Korea to this day.
  • Role of J. F. Kennedy – He was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until he was assassinated in November 1963. He started the Peace Corps and gave NASA the job of getting to the Moon.
  • Bay of Pigs and the Cuba crisis – US paratroopers descended upon a region on the coastline of Cuba called the Bay of Pigs. They were there to interfere with Fidel Castro’s rise to power (because he was communist and was organizing an uprising) but the attack failed and the American soldiers were imprisoned in Cuban prisons. The USSR saw how Cuba was being harassed and to deter Cuba from further harassment they put missiles there (because Fidel Castro was communist-minded, which the USSR supported). The US opposed that, since they considered missiles 90 miles away from US soil to be a slight safety hazard. So a (this is the closest the two sides ever got to having a direct conflict during the Cold War) negotiation was held between US and USSR and they agreed that all the missiles would be disassembled and returned to USSR and in return the US would get rid of their ballistic presence in Italy and Turkey (which the public didn’t know about, but was a threat to the USSR). The Bay of Pigs was largely lead by Minister McNamara.
  • Space Race – The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability. It had its origins in the missile-based nuclear arms race between the two nations that occurred following World War II, enabled by captured German rocket technology and personnel. The technological superiority required for such supremacy was seen as necessary for national security, and symbolic of ideological superiority. The Space Race spawned pioneering efforts to launch artificial satellites, unmanned space probes of the Moon, Venus, and Mars, and human spaceflight in low Earth orbit and to the Moon. The competition began on August 2, 1955, when the Soviet Union responded to the US announcement four days earlier of intent to launch artificial satellites for the International Geophysical Year, by declaring they would also launch a satellite “in the near future”. The Soviet Union beat the US to this, with the October 4, 1957 orbiting of Sputnik 1, and later beat the US to the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, on April 12, 1961. The race peaked with the July 20, 1969 US landing of the first humans on the Moon with Apollo 11. The USSR tried but failed manned lunar missions, and eventually cancelled them and concentrated on Earth orbital space stations. A period of détente followed with the April 1972 agreement on a co-operative Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, resulting in the July 1975 rendezvous in Earth orbit of a US astronaut crew with a Soviet cosmonaut crew. The end of the Space Race is harder to pinpoint than its beginning, but it was over by the December, 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union, after which true spaceflight cooperation between the US and Russia began. The Space Race has left a legacy of Earth communications and weather satellites, and continuing human space presence on the International Space Station. It has also sparked increases in spending on education and research and development, which led to beneficial spin-off technologies.
  • Vietnam War (causes, outcome and consequences) – At the time, Vietnam was a French colony. However, a communist rebellion started to emerge in the country and it repelled the French from Vietnam territory. The US, fearing communism’s rising control in the region, aids France’s effort to reclaim the region. However, the communist side is able to claim control over the conflict. A treaty between France and Vietnam is established: there is to be a northern (communist) region of Vietnam and a southern (western alignment) region of Vietnam. In 1964, missiles are fired at a US ship in the Gulf of Tonkin by Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson got congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which stated that military force could be used in Vietnam – initially only limited to bombings. At home, US citizens were mixed on the topic of the Vietnam war. Some believed that it did not make sense to be expending US lives and fighting for a foreign cause. Eventually the war was lost by the US The loss was obviously a detriment to the image of the US’s government, both at home and abroad. President Lyndon Johnson did not even rerun for president due to the controversy over the Vietnam War.
  • Richard Nixon and the Watergate Affair – Watergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. and President Richard Nixon’s administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. When the conspiracy was discovered and investigated by the US Congress, the Nixon administration’s resistance to its probes led to a constitutional crisis. The term Watergate has come to encompass an array of clandestine and often illegal activities undertaken by members of the Nixon administration. Those activities included such “dirty tricks” as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • The role of Henry Kissinger – An American diplomat and political scientist (national security advisor). Most of all, Henry Kissinger appeared throughout the global media as a genius, villain, and consummate manipulator who wielded power at the most important points in recent history. Henry Kissinger was Richard Nixon’s key foreign policy adviser. He was influential in negotiating the Paris Peace Accords which ended American involvement in the Vietnam War. Still to this day a very controversial figure in politics.
  • Counterculture, Summer of Love and Woodstock – Counterculture is a subculture whose values and norms of behavior differ substantially from those of mainstream society, often in opposition to mainstream cultural mores. Rebellion against the establishment appeared in many forms in the United States during the 1960s. Caught up in the rising frustration circling around America’s increased involvement in Vietnam, the racial unrest in many urban areas, and the pressure to conform, a growing number of the younger generation rejected the American way of life. The resulting movement, termed the counterculture, embraced an alternative lifestyle characterized by long hair, brightly colored clothes, communal living, free sex, and rampant drug use. Summer of Love is a phrase given to the summer of 1967 to try to describe the feeling of being in San Francisco that summer, when the so-called “hippie movement” came to full fruition.

Visual

The picture represents the very peak of space race. It was snapped by Neil Armstrong in 1969 when the first man landed on the Moon. On the picture, you can see Buzz Aldrin – the second man on the Moon. The space race was one of the most critical technological eras in our time. During the nearly 40 years of competing for supremacy by the United States and the Soviet Union, our technology advanced at an incredible pace. Without the space race, no one can know how long it would have taken us to advance our technology that far. I consider the moon landing and the space race to be one of the pillars of our modern day technology.

Critical response

“Full Metal Jacket” is one of many-many movies that are based on the Vietnam War. Although they all challenge the topics based on the same war, it feels as if “Full Metal Jacket” is completely different from the rest. FMJ particularly focuses on the Tet Offensive in 1968. Many Americans believed that the Vietcongs and the North Vietnamese would never attack during Tet which is what made the offensive that much more powerful.

The first part of the movie focuses on the training of the marines. I don’t think I am the only one who particularly enjoyed the boot camp part of the movie. It was not only brilliant because of the comedic elements to it but because of the emphasizing of the fact that they are there to become killers. That when they leave the camp, they will be absolute machines of war. It was, in my opinion, that brilliant because it upholds the harshness and the brutality of the American soldiers in the Vietnam War. The boot camp part of the movie also brings out the extreme training of the marines very well. WarMovieBuff shares the same opinion as me on the reality of the boot camp: “The boot camp segment is realistic as to Marine boot camp in 1967. If anything, the movie underplays the physical abuse.”

The same reviewer also shared his opinion on the technical parts of the movie: “The movie is technically brilliant. /…/ He (Kubrick) took years to make it and the care is on the screen.  The cinematography is masterful. /…/ The score is used very sparingly, but effectively.” With his thoughts, I absolutely agree. The cinematography in Vietnam was sensational and very beautiful to watch, even by today’s standards. The music during the search for the sniper was incredibly eerie which fit perfectly to the situation. In me, it created a compelling feeling of dread and worry that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. And I watch a lot of horror/war movies.

The movie was perfectly balanced in terms of showing the horrors of war and displaying the feelings of the soldiers. Zane Phipps describes the balance and view on the film in his review as such: “Full Metal jacket presents a vision of the U.S. war in Vietnam that is stunningly realistic while at the same time suggestively surrealistic. By encompassing many stories, by making them one rather than cutting from one to another, /…/ The reality of Full Metal Jacket is its surreality.  The U.S. war in Vietnam is a surreal story–metaphorical, metaphysical, temporally and spatially suspect–baffling and horrifying.”

Although the movie was not based entirely on true events, it is a brilliant film demonstrating the horrors of the Vietnam War; both technical and plot wise. It’s a dramatical, yet hilarious, terrifying, yet powerful roller coaster ride of emotions that you didn’t even know you can feel.

WarMovieBuff, The War Movie Buff – https://warmoviebuff.blogspot.com/2013/06/16-full-metal-jacket.html
Zane Phipps, for his website – http://mason.gmu.edu/~zphipps/fmjpaper.html

“Help”

Notions

Civil Rights Movements

The Civil Rights Movement encompasses social movements in the United States whose goals were to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans and to secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights enumerated in the Constitution and federal law. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1954 and 1968, particularly in the South. The leadership was African-American, and much of the political and financial support came from labor unions (led by Walter Reuther), major religious denominations, and prominent white Democratic Party politicians such as Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Brown vs. Topeka

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9–0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the decision’s fourteen pages did not spell out any sort of method for ending racial segregation in schools, and the Court’s second decision in Brown II only ordered states to desegregate “with all deliberate speed”.

Little rock nine

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the school board agreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.

The role of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks was a political activist and a black woman. One day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, a long standing tradition in the south, which triggered     huge chain of events that ultimately helped start the civil rights movement. After she was arrested for not giving up the seat a boycott of black people riding buses in Montgommery, Alabama ensued, that lasted for a year and inspired many to rise up and demand equal rights.One of them was Martin Luther King.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisemen

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 by Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington and W. E. B. Du Bois. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees, and questions of economic development. Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people. The NAACP bestows annual awards to African Americans in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and the Spingarn Medals are for outstanding positive achievement of any kind, frequently political. Its headquarters are now located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era in the United States of America was based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices in the South that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote and voting. These measures were enacted by the former Confederate states at the turn of the 20th century, and by Oklahoma when it gained statehood in 1907, although not by the former border slave states. Their actions were designed to frustrate the objective of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which sought to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.

March of Washington, The role of Martin Luther King

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington, was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat.The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King, soon followed. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.Among many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”

Loving vs Virginia case

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a woman of color, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “colored”.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party

The Black Power movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for African-American people in the United States.The movement grew out of the Civil rights movement, as black activists experimented with forms of self-advocacy ranging from political lobbying to armed struggle. The Black Power movement served as a focal point for the view that reformist and pacifist elements of the Civil Rights Movement were not effective in changing race relations.

The Black Panther Party, originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California.

Visual piece

https://sophiedaveyphoto.wordpress.com/2012/11/06/photographs-that-tell-a-story-elliot-erwitts-segregated-water-fountains/

During the 60s racism in America was so widespread colored people had to use different equipment than whites. For example drinking fountains and toilets. People of color were often thought to be dirty and riddled with disease and this is well illustrated in the movie “The Help”. Being a person of color was very tough back then, as whites often had more possibilities in terms of making a career, therefore poverty was widespread among people of color.

Movie analysis

Overall I found “ The Help” to be a pretty good movie. In the beginning it seemed to me that this was just a boring soap opera type of movie, but as time went on I was happy to see that the movie gave a good overview of what it was like being a person of color back then and I started to enjoy the movie more and more. But how do the critics think of this movie?

One review I found goes as follows :”It tackles a challenging, inflammatory subject in the corniest, safest way possible.” I definitely agree with this review. The movie most definitely felt corny at times and just a bit off (for a lack of a better term). However, in the end “The Help” still illustrates a serious problem that America had in the 60s. I feel because of this “The Help” would suit a younger audience better than me.

Another review I found is this :” Wants to have a say about some serious subjects while at the same time appealing to the masses.” Once again I have to agree with the review. The movie is very safely made, which makes it suitable for all audiences, but I would have preferred that the movie had a certain target age group. I feel like then the movie could have been quite a bit better than it was. However, seeing as this decision would have likely drawn fewer people to go see the movie, I can see why the director made the Movie the way it was made.

All in all I saw a lot of reviews that found this movie to be good, but not amazing. The main reason for this being that the movie was made to attract a wide range of audience members, however, this held the movie back from being a great movie as apposed to a mediocre one. In the end however the movie depicts life in America in the 60s well and that in itself is already an achievement.

Reviews

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_help

Help (by Maian)

Notions

Civil Rights Movements:

The civil rights movement was a struggle for social justice for blacks to gain equal rights under the law that took place during the 1950s and 1960s in the US. The Civil War had officially abolished slavery, but it didn’t abolish discrimination against blacks. By the mid-20th century, African Americans, who had had more than enough of prejudice and violence against them, and many whites mobilized and began to fight for equality. After the Civil War blacks took on leadership roles like never before. They held public office and sought legislative changes for equality and the right to vote. In 1868, the 14th Amendment gave blacks equal protection under the law. In 1870, the 15th Amendment gave blacks franchise.
(In the South blacks couldn’t use the same public facilities as whites, live in many of the same towns or go to the same schools. Interracial marriage was illegal, and most blacks couldn’t vote because they were unable to pass voter literacy tests. In the North, blacks were discriminated at their jobs or when they tried to buy a house or get an education.)

Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka:

In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racially segregated public facilities were legal, so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a 1954 Supreme Court case that decided that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. It helped to establish the “separate-but-equal” education and other services (that weren’t actually equal). For the next six decades, Afro-Americans couldn’t share the same buses, schools and other public facilities with whites. Oliver Brown sued the Board of Education of Topeka because his daughter was banned to enter Topeka’s all-white elementary schools.

Little Rock Nine:

The Little Rock Nine were a group of nine black students who enrolled at formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in September 1957. On September 4, 1957, the first day of classes at Central High, Governor Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard to block the black students’ entry into the high school. Later that month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the Little Rock Nine into the school. Because the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case received a widespread resistance, the court issued a second decision in 1955, known as Brown II. It ordered school districts to integrate “with all deliberate speed.” Because being under pressure, the Little Rock school board adopted a plan for gradual integration of its schools. Despite the virulent opposition, nine students (Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls) registered to be the first African Americans to attend Central High School. The group was carefully vetted and determined they all possessed the strength and determination to face the resistance they would encounter. Few weeks before the beginning of the school year, the Little Rock Nine participated in intensive counselling sessions.


One of the “Little Rock Nine” braves a jeering crowd. 

The role of Rosa Parks:

Rosa Parks got famous by refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus in 1955. With that she helped to initiate the Civil Rights Movement. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was taking a bus home. The white part of the bus was full so the driver asked 4 blacks to give up their seats in order to create one new row for whites. Parks refused to give up her seat and she got arrested (was arrested for over a year). She said: “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I wasn’t tired physically… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” Parks and Nixon came up with an idea that the blacks of Montgomery would boycott the buses on the day of Parks’ trial. On December 5, Parks was found guilty of violating segregation laws. In December 1943 she joined the Montgomery chapter of NAACP and became the chapter’s secretary.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement:

NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization and was established in 1909. It was formed in New York City by white and black activists, partially in response to the ongoing violence against African Americans around the country. During the civil rights era, the group won major legal victories. In 1917, 10 000 people in New York City participated in an NAACP-organized silent march to protest lynchings and other violence against blacks. The march was one of the first mass demonstrations in America against racial violence. By 1919, the NAACP had 90 000 members and more than 300 branches. Nowadays the NAACP has more than 2200 branches and some half a million members worldwide.
Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. They were named after an insulting song lyric regarding African Americans and were established (in the South) to marginalize blacks, keep them separate from whites and erase the progress they’d made. Blacks couldn’t use the same public facilities as whites, live in many of the same towns or go to the same schools. Interracial marriage was illegal, and most blacks couldn’t vote because they were unable to pass voter literacy tests. Jim Crow laws weren’t adopted in northern states, but they were still discriminated at their jobs or when they tried to buy a house or get an education. The laws existed for about 100 years (from the post-Civil War era until 1968) and were supposed to return Southern states the before war class structure. Blacks that attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often met with violence and death.
Disenfranchisement was based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices in the South that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from voting.

March on Washington, the role of Martin Luther King:

March on Washington (for Jobs and Freedom) was a massive protest march that occurred in August 1963, when 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. The event’s purpose was to (event aimed to) draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation. With Randolph (head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and an elder statesman of the civil rights movement) planning a march for jobs, and King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) planning one for freedom, the two groups decided to merge their efforts into one mass protest. President John F. Kennedy was afraid that the event would end in violence and was reluctantly endorsing it. The March helped to bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Martin Luther King was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement. King sought equality and human rights for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protest. He was the Montgomery Bus Boycott’s leader and official spokesman. He was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group committed to achieving full equality for African Americans through nonviolent protest. On the March on Washington, he gave his most famous “I have a dream” speech. The speech was a spirited call for peace and equality and many consider it a masterpiece of rhetoric. He improvised his most famous line “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” In 1962, at the age of 35, he was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. On the evening of April 4, 1968, he was shot while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Loving vs Virginia case:

Loving v. Virginia was a Supreme Court case that annulled state laws that banned interracial marriage. The plaintiffs were Richard and Mildred Loving, a white man and black woman whose marriage was deemed illegal according to Virginia state law. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Lovings appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that so-called “anti-miscegenation” statutes were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The decision is often cited as a watershed moment in the dismantling of “Jim Crow” race laws.

Mildred and Richard Loving

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965:

Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex or national origin. It’s considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. It was first proposed by President John F. Kennedy, but because it got strong opposition from southern members of Congress, it was signed into law by Kennedy’s successor Lyndon B. Johnson.
Voting Rights Act of 1965 aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented blacks from using their franchise, which was guaranteed to them by the 15th Amendment. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. and it aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented blacks from voting. (Blacks attempting to vote often were told by election officials that they had gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or that they had filled out an application incorrectly. Blacks, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, often would be forced to take literacy tests, which they sometimes failed. Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in Southern states, had been known to force black voters to “recite the entire Constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws,” a task most white voters would have been able to accomplish. In some cases, even blacks with college degrees were turned away from the polls.)

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party:

Black Power movement occurred in the 1960s to 1970s and emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions. It grew out from the Civil Rights movement. Black Power activists founded black-owned bookstores, food cooperatives, farms, media, printing presses, schools, clinics and ambulance services.
Black Panther Party was a political organization founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale to challenge police brutality against the African American community. The Black Panthers dressed up in black berets and black leather jackets and organized armed citizen patrols of Oakland and other cities. In 1968 the organization had 2000 members. The organization’s philosophical views and political objectives were outlined into a Ten-Point Program that called for an immediate end to police brutality; employment for African Americans; and land, housing and justice for all. It declined as a result of internal tensions, deadly shootouts and FBI counterintelligence activities aimed at weakening the organization.

Black Panthers- Huey Newton and Bobby Seale

Visual

I chose this political cartoon of Jim Crows laws for the Civil Rights Movement. It depicts two white men giving literacy tests to blacks. As we know, during the Civil Rights era, blacks needed to take these complicated literacy test which were part of the Jim Crow laws to prove that they’re worthy of voting. Due to the tests, huge amount of black people in the South couldn’t vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 improved the situation a little because it guaranteed that no legal barriers would impede blacks from voting. The text “BY TH’ WAY, WHAT’S THAT BIG WORD?” shows that uneducated and shortsighted whites could vote, without having to take these literacy tests.
The cartoon is another example of racism and discrimination in the history of the United States.

Review

Skimming through the reviews of this film I was quite surprised to find out that “The Help” needed some help itself with improving its historical aspects.

“At its core the film is a small domestic drama that sketches in the society surrounding its characters but avoids looking into the shadows just outside the frame.” (1)

This was the best review concluding that the film was not very dependent on historical facts. A more harsh review (2) has said: “It traffics in stereotypes and fails to present the complexity of race relations. It downplays both the institutionalized violence (including sexual violence) of southern culture and the Civil Rights movement’s collective resistance to that violence, centering instead on a white heroine and celebrating her limited rebellion against entrenched racism.” I partly agree and think that whilst there is much focus on Hilly and her group, the film majorly lacks mentioning of any reference to the mass struggles that shattered the Jim Crow structure in the South at the time or the assassination of prominent NAACP leader Medgar Evers in Jackson in June 1963 by a white racist, an earth-shattering event in the region. I also found that the film could have pictured the sense of physical danger that occurred during the civil rights movement more clearly. By setting the main focus on the heroic white individual (Skeeter) and her personal response to racism, I think that the film fails to realistically represent the world it narrates. No one wants to create a historically inaccurate novel or film, it only happens when the focus is on other things.

Octavia Spencer (3), who plays black maid Minny, told that the movie isn’t a civil rights movie, but a movie about relationships. Much of the found criticism suggested that more characters, plot elements, and details of place and voice would make it more realistic and therefore better. But I think this could therefore cause a faze in its targeted audience or in the whole story.

It’s said that there are as many different opinions as there are voices. In this case, it is hundred percent true. You can never please everyone. The fact is, it was a great film about relationships.

References:

1. N.George, ‘Black-and-White Struggle With a Rosy Glow’, The New York Times, available at:
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/movies/black-and-white-struggle-through-hollywoods-rosy-glow.html, accessed: 02.06.19
2. T.Travis, ‘Is The Help Realistic? It depends,’ Blackpast, available at:
https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/help-realistic-it-depends/, accessed: 02.06.19
3. D.Grossman-Heinze, ‘Review: The Help Trades Historical Accuracy for a Cheery Story,’ Generation Progress, available at:
https://genprogress.org/review-the-help-trades-historical-accuracy-for-a-cheery-story/ , accessed: 02.06.19

The Help (Tõnis)

Rationale

Black Panther Party member serving food to students

A picture was taken in a school cafeteria, where Black Panther Party members are serving the children free food. (source image)

I chose this picture because it shows the Black Panther Party (BPP) as not just a radical group of black people, but caring for the next generation. The BPP had a program called Free Breakfast Program, which gave students free food out of the Party’s own expenses. Because of these efforts, political leaders felt pressured by their charity and created the School Breakfast Program in 1975. Nowadays, the program feeds 14.56 million children every day. Within their active years of the Free Breakfast Program, they managed to feed 20,000 children a full breakfast every day. However, the Head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, was against this program and waged war with them in 1969. It is said that the BPP was “a pioneer of free breakfast.” Without them, many American children who live in poverty would not be able to eat a hearty meal before heading out to school.

Notions

Civil Rights Movements

(source image)

The movement was a long and arduous fight for social justice in the 1950s and 60s. The Civil War might have abolished slavery, but discrimination against black people was still going on strong in the South. But the people had had enough; they started getting organised and planned many marches with other sympathising white people to protest against their unjust situation. This fight lasted for around two decades. The lynching of a young teenage boy named Emmett Till in Mississippi caused outrage among the activists.

Brown vs. Topeka

(source image)

This was a case of coloureds and whites going in segregated schools. In 1951, in Virginia, black students started protesting against this. The NAACP’s local leaders tried to persuade them to halt their protests. The students didn’t stop, so the NAACP joined them in support. They wrote 5 cases against the school which became known as the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka.

Little Rock Nine

(source image)

The name “Little Rock Nine” came from a situation in Little Rock Central High School, when nine black students were denied entry to the integrated school by the National Guard. The Guard itself was sent out by the Governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus. As he did not follow the Brown decision, this caused the President of the US, Dwight D. Eisenhower to deal with the situation. He was determined to enforce the choice of the Federal court onto Arkansas. He sent out the 101st Airborne Division to protect those students from any harm. All of them received harsh treatment in the school by fellow white students. Only one of them, Ernest Green, graduated from the school. After the 1957-58 year was over, Little Rock’s school system was completely closed down.

The role of Rosa Parks

(source image)

Nicknamed “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, she was arrested for not giving up her seat for a white man on the Montgomery bus, being one of the first to go against the policy. This event gave her national publicity, where even other blacks started to do what is known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They wanted to denounce the bus system for discriminating against coloured people. Around 50,000 black people took part in this, lasting for 381 days. This reduced bus revenues significantly, as they were the majority of customers.

NAACP, Jim Crow and disenfranchisement

(source image)

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People was founded in 1909. It is also the oldest and largest civil rights organisations in America. Formed by both white and black activists, in its early years, it mostly dealt with anti-lynching. But their most prominent role came during the 50’s and 60’s, when Civil Rights Movements were on an all-time high. A lot of legal cases were won by them, helping bring about equality for coloured people all around the US.

Jim Crow was a character portrayed by Thomas D. Rice in the 19th century, where he took together the white people’s views on African-American culture. During that time, Jim Crow was seen as a negative term towards black people. But later, in the mid-20th century, the South had already formed “Jim Crow” laws, which were emphasising segregation between whites and blacks.

Disenfranchisement was a part of the Reconstruction Era in America. It was a tactic used by the South as to deliberately not let black people vote. It was not something done in the former border slave states, but rather more in the South. It was created to go against the Fifteenth Amendment (Allowed all ethnicities to vote).

March on Washington, the role of Martin Luther King Jr.

(source image)

The most well-known event  in the movement, which happened on August 28, 1963. 200,000 black people came together to march into Washington as a form of non-violent protest. Its goal was to establish equal job opportunities for everyone.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association and the one who delivered the most famous speech in all of the movement’s history: the “I have a dream…” speech.

Loving vs. Virginia case

(source image)

The case touches on the choice of interracial marriage. The South was severely against this. A woman named Mildred Delores Loving had a bit of an incident. She identified herself as Indian-Rappahannock, but during her trial, by her own lawyer, she identified herself as black. And when she went to the police station, the police identified her as Indian. Later on, she and her future husband were having a child, therefore moving to Washington D.C. they did this because by Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, marriage between non-whites and whites was prohibited. So after moving back to Virginia, an anonymous tip gave them away and they were sentenced to jail for 1 year. This was suspended on condition they leave Virginia and never come back. The Lovings called a lawyer to which things escalated to the Federal court even being involved. They unanimously voted against the anti-miscegenation laws and on June 12, 1967, interracial marriage was allowed in all states.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965

(source image)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a major landmark in Civil Rights history. It prohibited all kinds of discrimination towards people of colour, race, sex and religion. Unequality was not allowed in any shape or form. It was initiated by President John F. Kennedy and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in July 2, 1964.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was, in a way, an extension of the Civil Rights Act. The new law banned all voter literacy tests and provided federal examiners in certain voting jurisdictions.

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party

(source image)

This was a movement that occurred during the 60s and 70s. It wanted to emphasise racial pride and create cultural and political institutions. During that time, people wanted more black history courses, and black culture thrived in the period.

A black people’s revolutionary party, founded in 1966 in Oakland, California. Its original purpose was to help African-Americans deal with police brutality against them. With its fast growth, it became a Marxist party, which wanted to arm every black man and free black people from prisons because of how the whites had treated them. It grew so much that the FBI declared it a “national threat of our security”. Edgar Hoover called it a communist party and ordered the elimination of the group. Major shootouts occurred and even years later, people considered the methods in use “too extreme”. Edgar Hoover later on personally apologised for the actions.

Critical Response

The movie I will be reviewing is called “The Help” which was made in 2011, directed by Tate Taylor. It was based on the bestselling novel with the same name, written by Kathryn Stockett. The main plot is about black maids and their struggle to deal with segregation in Mississippi, specifically in the year 1962.

The main thing I liked in the movie was the tone. Compared to other movies we saw, it was much more joyful and had humour in it. It felt like a change of pace, which was much needed. I thought the acting was done incredibly well, such as Aibileen (played by Viola Davis) reluctantly helping Skeeter (played by Emma Stone) with her story. I especially enjoyed the maid Minny’s (Octavia Spencer) attitude towards everyone. She was straight-forward and wasn’t afraid to do what she thought was right. The whole setting for the movie, with all of the props, clothing and other widgets, had given me a sense that I was actually looking at an event taking place in the ’60s. In my opinion, the story was decently written and didn’t feel like it stretched itself too far. It started off at a low point, with the maids doing nothing to fight for their own rights. Hannah Goodwyn, a reviewer for CBN said: “At almost 2 hours and 20 minutes, it is a long movie; however, there isn’t a moment when you’ll feel like you are waiting for the movie to end.” As the movie progressed, things started to brighten up and the maid owners got what was coming to them, more specifically, Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard). A reviewer named Manohla Dargis said: “It’s also about a vision of a divided America that while consistently insulting and sometimes even terrifying, is rarely grotesque.” I agree with her statement and I think this fits as a good description for the movie.

There aren’t many points or nit-picks about this movie. However, I must bring them out, for the sake of keeping a “balance” of sorts. The story did feel somewhat like it had placed a predictably happy ending. It was a bit too light-hearted in my opinion because there weren’t any really sad parts in the movie. Sometimes even, the humour was just pushed in just because it can or misplaced. And I agree with Manohla, who said: “But just when you think it might get too heavy, Minny starts vacuuming a stuffed bear for some laughs.”

In short, I recommend this movie to any movie enthusiast. It isn’t as in-depth as a documentary but gives a good overview of the life of a black maid in the South, all while in the ’60s. Actor for Minny, Octavia Spencer, even won an Oscar for her performance in this movie, as Best Supporting Actress.

Review sources

The Help (Erik)

Notions

The Civil Rights era

Civil Rights Movements– The Civil Rights Movement encompasses social movements in the United States whose goals were to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans and to secure legal recognition and federal protection of the citizenship rights enumerated in the Constitution and federal law. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1954 and 1968, particularly in the South. The leadership was African-American, and much of the political and financial support came from labor unions (led by Walter Reuther), major religious denominations, and prominent white Democratic Party politicians such as Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Brown vs. Topeka– Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a landmark the United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9–0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement. However, the decision’s fourteen pages did not spell out any sort of method for ending racial segregation in schools, and the Court’s second decision in Brown II only ordered states to desegregate “with all deliberate speed”.

Little rock nine– The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas. They then attended after the intervention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 347 U.S. 483, on May 17, 1954. Tied to the 14th Amendment, the decision declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for the desegregation of all schools throughout the nation. After the decision, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools in cities throughout the South. In Little Rock, Arkansas, the school board agreed to comply with the high court’s ruling. Virgil Blossom, the Superintendent of Schools, submitted a plan of gradual integration to the school board on May 24, 1955, which the board unanimously approved. The plan would be implemented during the fall of the 1957 school year, which would begin in September 1957.

The role of Rosa Parks– Rosa Parks was a political activist and a black woman. One day she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, a long-standing tradition in the south, which triggered a huge chain of events that ultimately helped start the civil rights movement. After she was arrested for not giving up the seat a boycott of black people riding buses in Montgomery, Alabama ensued, that lasted for a year and inspired many to rise up and demand equal rights. One of them was Martin Luther King.

NAACP, Jim Crow, and disenfranchisement– The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 by Moorfield Storey, Mary White Ovington, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination”. The group enlarged its mission in the late 20th century by considering such as police misconduct, the status of black foreign refugees, and questions of economic development. Its name, retained in accordance with tradition, uses the once common term colored people. The NAACP bestows annual awards to African Americans in two categories: Image Awards are for achievement in the arts and entertainment, and the Spingarn Medals are for outstanding positive achievement of any kind, frequently political. Its headquarters are now located in Baltimore, Maryland. Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era in the United States of America was based on a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices in the South that were deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote and voting. These measures were enacted by the former Confederate states at the turn of the 20th century, and by Oklahoma when it gained statehood in 1907, although not by the former border slave states. Their actions were designed to frustrate the objective of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, which sought to protect the suffrage of freedmen after the American Civil War.

March of Washington, The role of Martin Luther King- The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the March on Washington, or The Great March on Washington, was held in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. The purpose of the march was to advocate for the civil and economic rights of African Americans. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King, soon followed. The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement. Among many efforts, King headed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”

An image of the quarter-million people who participated in the March of Washinton
Image link:
https://www.naacp.org/marchonwashington/

Loving vs Virginia case– Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage as violations of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Mildred Loving (née Jeter), a woman of color, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which criminalized marriage between people classified as “white” and people classified as “colored”.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965-The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits the unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.

Black Power movement, Black Panther Party– The Black Power movement emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions for African-American people in the United States. The movement grew out of the Civil rights movement, as black activists experimented with forms of self-advocacy ranging from political lobbying to armed struggle. The Black Power movement served as a focal point for the view that reformist and pacifist elements of the Civil Rights Movement were not effective in changing race relations. The Black Panther Party, originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California.

Historical accuracy of the movie

“The Help” is a romantic drama film that aims to give a realistic overview of black housemaids and their lives during the civil rights movement. It also shows how white people treated blacks differently in the state of Mississipi and compares it to other more civilized states in the north. The movie is quite moving and puts the viewer on a rollercoaster of emotions as it draws them into the characters. Nonetheless, many viewers were outraged by the language used within the movie.

The acting done in this movie is indeed something incredible and leaves the viewer craving for more as we see the story through many perspectives. We are met with different blacks and whites who each have their own tale to tell. Even though some parts of the movie are just absurd and make you wonder why it was put in. Yes, there are many historically accurate events depicted but quite clearly happenings of blacks tricking whites into eating their feces is an exaggeration.

Not to give a negative critique of the movie but I quite frankly found it to be boring and too long. The characters are mainly fictional so I find hard to relate to them. The movie itself is outright sad but tries to add some humor to it which does play with the viewer’s emotions. The viewer feels sadness, anger, and even confusion towards different characters. Some are even left with an understanding that blacks all around the U.S. were treated this way which is false. Thus it has received a lot of critiques for its racism. However, I personally don’t agree with them as the movie intends to show great racism like it used to be.

As already stated the movie has gotten negative, positive and mixed reviews. Some people find it hard to understand the racism in the movie although this was the aim of it. “This movie’s too hard to understand….. I think that a movie should have Understandable Plot, Clear Motive, and a movie should also be entertaining. I think this movie looked more likely a documentary than a movie.” (1)This person found the movie to be more like a documentary with what I completely disagree with. On the contrary, I find it to be the polar opposite. “The Help may be a little too long for some viewers but for the ones that stay emotionally invested in its interesting storyline it more then pays off .”(2) I agree with the viewer on the point that the movie was a bit too long but I also agree that the movie creates an emotional attachment to the viewer if they make an effort to understand it.

References

(1) nashville13, 2011. Metacritic, Available at:
https://www.metacritic.com/user/nashville13

(2) filmtrashreview, 2011. Metacritic, Available at:
https://www.metacritic.com/user/filmtrashreview

A visual depiction and its relevance to the topic

The Dreamer dreams: King ends his speech with the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Washington, D.C. 1963
Image link:
https://www.colorlines.com/articles/library-congress-acquires-archive-civil-rights-movement-photos

This is a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. giving his famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. He was a civil rights activist and stood for the rights of blacks. On the same day, the March on Washington took place. It had around 250 000 participants which showed mass support for the civil rights legislation. He wanted the speech to be calm and not too provocative as it could have angered the civil disobedience. His speech was definitely a defining moment of the civil rights movement and one of the most iconic speeches in history.

The Mayflower Story-Kaia

Notions

Origin of Native Americans

Even though the exact origin of Native Americans is not known we have many theories. One of the theories that seems most valid mentions migration from Polynesia and from the northern parts of China. Another one speculates the crossing of a land bridge between Asia and America called Beringia, which is now Beringia State 30,000 years ago. But what is clear is that the migration went on for thousands of years and not in one wave.

Different tribes and their way of life

There are many tribes located in the US but some of the most well-known are the Navajo, the Pueblo, the Apache and the Iroquois.

The Navajo tribe is settled in the western part of the US. They have a semi-nomadic lifestyle and before the Spanish contact were hunter-gatherers. Their specialty is silversmithing and they are one of the oldest tribes in the US.

The Pueblo tribe share the same region as the Navajo tribe. Their villages were more compact and carved into the sides of cliffs. they are notably skilled in pottery and architecture.

The Apache were a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers. Men were in charge of hunting for food and protecting the camp and the women were in charge of the home. The name ‘Apache’ came from the Zuni word ‘apachu’ meaning “enemy”. The Apache tribe lived in the American southwest desert regions in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The Iroquois tribe similar to the Pueblo the Iroquois were with a stationary way of life. They live in permanent villages in longhouses and today, the Iroquois have formed a confederation, which unites the smaller regions of the tribe. The Iroquois live in the north-eastern region in the United States in states, such as Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania.

Legend of Pocahontas

According to the legend, Pocahontas was a native American who lived from circa 1596 to March 1617 and wished for peace between the indigenous and the colonists. She was a princess from the Powhatan tribe. She saved a colonist named John Smith, who was captured by the locals. During her visit, she converted to Christianity, adopted a new name Rebecca and married to an Englishman which whom she later had a son. Other residents of the colony dubbed Rebecca a “civilized savage”, as they wanted to increase investment on the new continent. She died mysteriously in 1617 when being 20 to 21 years old. The incident showed, that native Americans could be civilized and converted to Christianity.

Portrait engraving by Simon de Passe
1616

Northwest Ordinance of 1787

The Act was proposed by president Thomas Jefferson. It created the Northwest Territory, the first ever organized American territory. The territory included the land between rivers Ohio and Mississippi. It stated that the territory is to be divided into districts and each district is run by a governor. The territory was the first region to abolish slavery. In addition, the act stated that each new state is equal to the older states, not inferior, as it was before the ordinance.

Indian Removal Act of 1830

It was an act signed into law by US president Andrew Jackson. It granted the government to acquire the land of native tribes. As a consequence, many indigenous tribes were forced to relocate west. It is believed that over 100,000 people were moved to the Rockies for forced labour. The act also allowed the white settlers to acquire Native American land. The act has been considered genocide because it discriminated to an ethnic group leading up to many deaths.

Reservations

The central government of USA reclaimed more lands from the natives after the civil war. This action left natives with no income and poverty and famines followed suit. In 1868, president Ulysses S. Grant gave back many areas of land to the locals, in an effort to make peace between homeless natives and the government. Today there are 326 reservations which have about 1 million Native Americans living on them, some of these benefit from resources and others suffer from economic and social problems.

Indian Citizenship Act of 1924

Also known as the Snyder Act because it was proposed by a Representative from New York named Homer P. Snyder. The act granted full US citizenship to the indigenous peoples and was signed into law by US president Calvin Coolidge. Partly a recognition to the thousands of Indians who served in the First World War.

Trail of Broken Treaties of 1972

The Trail of Broken Treaties was a protest dedicated to the horrible living conditions of indigenous Americans. They wanted to bring national attention to widespread American Indian issues, such as treaty rights, living standards and inadequate housing. The protesters formed a caravan from Washington D.C to the Pacific coast. The rebels even conquered the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In the end, the protesters were heard and the government commenced negotiations to improve the situation of natives.

Present situation

Today there are approximately 9 million native Americans in the US, they have the same obligations as the US citizens as they still have to pay taxes and attend military service. However, the problems of native Americans are still apparent, mainly due to the inequality between Americans and the indigenous. These problems include lack of education for natives, living conditions and bad housing. Another issue is the emigration of natives from the reservations to big cities. As it is seen, the gap between the local tribes and the USA is still visible.

Jamestown Colony (living conditions, population, plantations, import of slaves)

Jamestown Colony was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. It was created by the Virginia Company of London in 1607. At first, 100 people were brought to the Jamestown Colony. Before the arrival of new settlers and supplies in 1610, Jamestown Colony faced a near failure because of different diseases, famine and conflicts with the locals. In fact, the Jamestown Colony actually suffered a brief abandonment in 1610. Next group of settlers came 3 years later.

The living conditions were difficult at the start. That’s also why about 80% of the settlers died by 1610. The land chosen wasn’t inhabited by the locals because it was considered too swampy and not usable for agriculture. The settlers also arrived during a drought and too late to plant down any crops. Furthermore, the settlers were mostly high-class gentlemen and their manservants and weren’t accustomed to hard labour. There were also many conflicts with the locals, though at the start the settlers were welcomed with great hospitality.

The population decreased and by 1608 two-thirds of the settlers had died due to starvation and diseases. During the “Starving Time” (1609-1610) only 60 of the 214 original settlers survived. The Third Supply brought much-needed supplies and new settlers to Jamestown. By 1699, there were 60 000 people living in the colony, including 6000 slaves.

Plantations. Initially, the Natives taught the English how to harvest corn and by 1611 the English had harvested a decent amount of corn themselves. Jamestown’s economy started to flourish when a tobacco planter named John Rolfe introduced a new type of tobacco.

The import of slaves and the long-lasting tradition of slavery began in 1619 when about 50 African men, women and children were settled in Jamestown Colony. These slaves were from a Portuguese slave ship that was captured in the West Indies. They worked in tobacco fields. This event led to the formalization of slavery in the United States in 1640.

Mayflower and Pilgrim Fathers

The Pilgrim Fathers or Pilgrims were the first English settlers of the Plymouth Colony. They held Puritan Calvinist beliefs, but unlike other Puritans, they believed that their congregations should be separated from the Church of England. They initially fled England due to persecution to Holland which was relatively secure and tolerant. As they feared that they might lose their cultural identity in Holland, they decided to emigrate to America.

Mayflower was the main ship that carried the first English Puritans (now known as the Pilgrims) to Cape Cod in 1620. There were 102 passengers and 25-30 crewmen on the ship. It was meant to be a cargo ship. The Pilgrims didn’t use a passenger ship because at that time the transportation of people by sea wasn’t really developed yet, so there was a lack of passenger ships. The captain of Mayflower was Christopher Jones who also owned one-fourth of the ship. Mayflower weighed around 180 tons and had 4 decks. The ship was most likely taken apart a year after returning from the voyage to America.

The Mayflower depicted on a 1920s U.S. postage stamp

Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact was a set of rules for self-governance established by the English settlers who travelled to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620. At first, they wanted to sail to northern Virginia, but because of storms and treacherous shoals, they landed in Massachusetts, near Cape Cod, outside of Virginia’s jurisdiction instead. Because they knew that life without laws would be catastrophic, they created the Mayflower Compact to ensure that the functioning social structure would prevail.

A painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris painted in 1899,
Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620

Puritan Colony in Plymouth, New England

Puritan Colony in Plymouth was founded by the Pilgrims in 1620 due to emigration from England and Holland known as the Brownist Emigration. It was one of the first successful English colonies in America. In 1620 over a hundred settlers arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower. More than half of them died in the first winter. Despite that, they managed to establish a permanent colony and remain in good relationship with the locals who taught them a lot in survival. Due to good relationships, the colony didn’t have to worry about defending the area. Agriculture, fishing and trading helped to make the colony self-sufficient in 5 years.

Puritan ethics and ideology

The Puritans led a simple life. They believed in hard work, thrift, efficiency, education for everyone and closeness to God. They believed that we are all equal in the eyes of God which practically meant that the Catholic church in their opinion hasn’t got any special power. The Puritans wanted the Church of England purified, reformed. In contrast, the Separatists wanted a whole new church because in their opinion the church shouldn’t be attached to the civil power, whereas the Puritans believed that it is the government’s mission to enforce moral standards and ensure that the religious worship was established and maintained. They wanted to start a new Eden in the Americas.

Thanksgiving

The celebration of Thanksgiving dates back to November 1621 when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe gathered to celebrate the autumn harvest. There were large celebrations for several days. The original event is considered a symbol of friendship, though it’s believed that the locals turned up uninvited. Thanksgiving is celebrated to this day on the 4th Thursday of November y Americans by gathering with the family and feasting.

It is very popular to have turkey for dinner during a Thanksgiving feast and pumpkin pie for dessert.

Religious issues (freedom)

During the reign of King James I of England, by law, everyone was supposed to belong in the Church of England. King James I and William Laud (the archbishop of Canterbury) opposed the Puritans and suppressed them which led to the Puritans emigrating to Holland or remaining underground.

Quakers

The Quakers are a historically religious group of Christian Protestant movements. They believe in pacifism and in the fact that God exists in every one of us. The movement was founded in England by George Fox in the 17th. First missionaries arrived in America in the 1650s. Quakers who practice pacifism played a key role in the Abolition (the official end of slavery in the US) and women’s rights movements.

Visual

For my visual, I have chosen a painting by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe called “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth”. The painting depicts the English and the native Americans gathered around the table for a feast. Nowadays Thanksgiving is a big part of the American culture and a tradition in many families. Although the first Thanksgiving feast was not actually to show gratitude towards native Americans, who helped the pilgrims settle in America, but towards God. It still plays a big role in peoples lives today. The holiday encourages people to feel thankful and to look at the world in a positive light. And even though the Pilgrims did not at the time, people nowadays also use the holiday to show appreciation to the natives who helped them survive in the wilderness.

Critical response to the movie

Considering that it’s more of a historical documentary than an entertaining movie, it was quite historically accurate. They used actual historians in the movie and it was narrated using actual texts from the colony governor, William Bradford. Despite that, it still had a few missing details.
The movie does show some of the lesser-known aspects of the journey such as sickness and diseases on the boat and politics. It also depicts very well why the Pilgrims wanted to take on the journey and the role of the native Americans.
For some reason, the movie does not mention anything about the Mayflower compact, even though it was something very important and necessary in avoiding the Pilgrims from turning against one another and keeping things in order. I think this was something definitely worth mentioning.
Another thing that I think should’ve been showed is the long cold winter that killed nearly half the colony. In the movie, they settled right in and lived a colourful joyful life. In reality, there was famine diseases and lots of death, none of which were depicted in the movie.
And just like one viewer pointed out

“The focus of the documentary is the Pilgrims and their plight but the viewer is left with a romanticized view of the ‘harvest feast’, the legendary event.”

(http://www.chappaquiddick-wampanoag.org/linksrecommendations.html)

the movie doesn’t show the effect the European colonisation had on the native American cultures. It didn’t mention anything of the war held in 1676 between the colonists and native Americans. The whole situation in sugar-coated quite heavily.

“Better than that National Geographic Lewis & Clark documentary I watched the other day, but not as good as hoped, given this one was Emmy nominated.”

(https://letterboxd.com/film/desperate-crossing-the-untold-story-of-the-mayflower/reviews/by/activity/)

were another person’s thoughts on the movie. I do agree with her, I think the movie was good, the acting was great and since many of the participants are members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, they managed to make the movie seem quite real and the characters felt like real people. I liked that the historians added some facts and context throughout the movie but constantly cutting to their faces was a bit annoying for me. Just their narration and initials would’ve been enough for me.
All in all, the movie is a true history movie and very educating. It does show more than a lot of Americans learn at school about the relations between the colony and the natives. I would’ve liked to have seen some more historical details. I would say this movie left me with mostly positive emotions.