Skip Navigation
Falvey Library
Advanced
You are exploring: Home > Blogs

Recently digitized materials shed light on lost silent film

Tod Browning‘s (1880-1962) 1927 silent horror film London After Midnight has been considered lost to history since 1965, when a fire at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Vault 7 destroyed the final known copy of the movie, along with numerous other titles stored on highly flammable nitrate film reels. London After Midnight starred Leonidas Frank “Lon” Chaney (1883-1930) as Edward C. Burke, a Scotland Yard inspector who is eventually revealed to be the villainous Man in the Beaver Hat. While various stills and ephemera survive, London After Midnight remains the most sought-after lost film of the silent era. The film’s lost status has not detracted from its significant cultural impact, as is evinced in films like The Babadook (2014), whose eponymous monster is based on the villain in Browning’s film.

Poster for "London after Midnight"

Poster for “London after Midnight”. Via Wikimedia Commons. Image in the Public Domain.

Materials recently added to the Villanova Digital Library offer insight into the presentation and reception of this film in our area. A review was published on Tuesday, February 7, 1928, in the Public Ledger, Philadelphia’s premier daily newspaper in the early twentieth century. The newspaper issue, along with other titles published in 1928, entered the public domain at the beginning of 2024. A microfilm copy has been preserved on the Villanova Digital Library. The article reads thus:

 

STANLEY—The realm of the unnatural, with its objects unreal—spooks, ghosts, goblins, bats and vampires—rules supreme here in dusty, cobwebbed domains and eerie, mysterious moonlight. Everything is spooky, witches are around every corner, from the comedy in which the dusky Farina battles with the departed spirits to the murder mystery of the main feature.

Those old reliables, Lon Chaney and Tod Browning, the director, are at it again with one of their spookiest and spine-twitching melodramas, “London After Midnight.” It shows the solution of a murder, with Lon Chaney in the part of Burke, a Scotland Yard detective. But it is no ordinary solution, for few of the material forces are called in to solve the clews. Instead, there is the moon-eyed man, an old, tottering reminder of Phantom of the Opera, gruesome and weird, with a chattering smile upon its distorted features—and yes, it may be Lon Chaney, that black bat there in the corner with the luminous eyes—but we’re not telling. Chaney taps a new character as a detective, with very little make-up—but a perfect portrayal. So excellent, is his work, that one almost regrets that he was not cast in a strongly molded, logical detective yarn of the caliber of the famous Sherlock Holmes. In the supporting cast are Conrad Nagel, Marceline Day and Henry B. Walthall to add surprise.

An offering which will doubtless draw many theatre fans is presented by Donal [sic] Brian, a famous musical comedy star in his first appearance in a picture theatre. His ingratiating personality, and smooth, easy manner register nicely in the all-too-brief period assigned to him and he leaves some twinkling tunes, culled in most part from former successes, and just a few stories. Mention should be made of the dance offering done in splendid spook style to introduce the picture. It is “Dance Macabre,” by Saint-Saens.

It seems that London After Midnight played during the week of February 6, 1928, at Philadelphia’s Stanley Theatre. This theater, which existed from 1921 to 1970 on 1902-10 Market Street, showed silent films accompanied by a 55-piece orchestra. It was a popular venue that attracted celebrities of the day, such as Frank Sinatra and Abbott & Costello. (Al Capone was even arrested there the year after the premiere of London After Midnight.) It was one of two major venues in Philadelphia to show horror films, including Browning’s most famous work: Dracula (1931) starring Bela Lugosi (1882-1956), which is available in DVD format at Falvey Library. According to the 1928 Public Ledger article, as well as this article published on the same day in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the screening of London After Midnight at the Stanley Theatre was introduced by Broadway star Donald Brian (1877-1948), who performed excerpts from his previous roles.

The following month, the film would be shown at another local theater. An advertisement in The Suburban and Wayne Times, published on March 23, 1928, informs us that London After Midnight played at Bryn Mawr’s Seville Theatre from March 26 to March 28. Decades later, the Seville Theatre would become the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, which still operates in the same historic building that has stood since 1926. As numerous advertisements in The Suburban and Wayne Times attest, the Seville Theatre regularly showed films starring Lon Chaney during the 1920s, including The Phantom of the Opera (1925), which is compared to London After Midnight in the aforementioned Public Ledger article.

Browning eventually remade London After Midnight as a “talkie” starring Lugosi, titled Mark of the Vampire (1935). In 2003, Turner Classic Movies released a reconstruction of the 1927 film using extant stills as part of the Lon Chaney Collection, available through inter-library loan. Nonetheless, decades after the MGM Vault 7 fire, Browning’s original film remains lost. It was screened in at least two theaters in our area, and one of these showings included a live performance by a major Broadway star of the day. London After Midnight was commercially successful and remains culturally significant, but that did not stop it from disappearing. The afterlife of this film demonstrates how easily cultural production can become lost to history. It speaks to a larger need for preservation, especially preservation of media whose storage and access are dependent on ever-evolving technologies like film.


Like

Libraries Go to Hollywood: Matilda

Famous Hollywood Hills in California, USA. Hollywood Sign. California Photo Collection.


By Annie Stockmal

This summer Falvey Library is going to the movies! Well, we’re using our beloved Library’s resources to research the coolest film scenes set in libraries. So grab a seat and a box of popcorn because the we’re going to look at when libraries go to Hollywood.

Although movies like It might try to give librarians a bad rap, the beloved 1996 classic Matilda, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection, contains one of the most heartwarming (and my personal favorite) depictions of libraries in film.

Based on the children’s book by Roald Dahl, Matilda is an ode to the power of books and education. Now, going to Falvey and reading books (probably) won’t give you telekinetic powers, but the film demonstrates how reading has the capacity to change our lives for the better, whether that’s furthering our pursuit of knowledge or escaping the stresses of everyday life. That’s something we at Falvey wholeheartedly agree with.

Before Matilda meets Miss Honey and the horrid Miss Trunchbull at Crunchem Hall Primary School, she begins her love of learning at her local library. With the help of a nice, grandma-coded librarian, Matilda is able to read her very first book and learns to find solace from her comically awful family through reading.

Photo courtesy of EEJCC on Wikimedia Commons

Matilda doesn’t just pay a service to kind librarians and the importance of reading. Director Danny DeVito and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky also capture its structural beauty. Although it’s branded as a public library in the movie, the majority of the library scenes were filmed in University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library.

It’s not hard to make this massive library, adorned with high ceilings, stained glass, and beautiful stonework, look good. Yet, DeVito and Czapsky are able to use Doheny to make Matilda look even smaller (kind of like you might feel staring up at the tall windows in our own Dugan Polk Reading Room). It’s a memorable scene that sets up Matilda’s character and her aspirations.

Matilda isn’t the only film to appreciate Doheny’s beauty. You can also see the library featured in some pretty recognizable films, like Forrest Gump and The Graduate, both available in Falvey’s DVD Collection.


Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Like

Weekend Recs: The Bechdel Test

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Happy Friday and Happy Women’s History Month, Wildcats! Over the past century, Hollywood has earned some well-warranted criticisms for its portrayals of women (among a host of other minority groups with lackluster representations, to put it incredibly lightly). While some films are outright sexist and misogynistic, others, whether intentional or not, center women’s stories around male characters and story arcs.

The Bechdel test, named after comic artist and writer Alison Bechdel, is a way to assess movies, on a pass-fail basis, for their bare-minimum portrayal of women. Passing the Bechdel test only has 3 rules: the film must feature (1) two named female characters (2) that talk with each other (3) about anything other than a man/men. These exchanges between female characters do not have to be long (or even positive).

With such a low-bar, it would seem nearly impossible to not pass the Bechdel test, and yet, movies, new and old, still manage to fail. In celebration of Women’s History Month, this weekend’s recs dive into the Bechdel test and shares some of my personal favorite Bechdel-passing content.

If you have 12 seconds…and need some humor in your day, watch the TikTok poking fun at how easy passing the Bechdel test is.

If you have 1 minute and 30 seconds…and want a surprising list of stereotypical “film bro” movies that pass the test (and why they pass), watch this TikTok.

If you have 1 minute and 45 seconds…and want a first-hand look at how silly the test can sometimes get, especially when filmmakers are purposely adding in dialogue simply to pass the test, watch this Rick and Morty clip.

If you have 12 minutes…and don’t know much about the Bechdel test, read this Backstage article. This article gives the basic rundown of the Bechdel Test and its limitations (and even explains some similar tests to score your favorite films on).

If you have 16 minuteswatch this video essay on why the Bechdel Test isn’t solving sexism in film.

If you have 1 hour and 38 minutes…and need to decompress from midterms with a good laugh, go see 80 for Brady in theaters. The film is a surprisingly funny film about a group of four women in their 80s (composed of some of the most iconic women in Hollywood, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, and Lily Tomlin), who embark on a journey to get tickets to the Super Bowl. Although it features some pretty heavy Tom-Brady-centric conversations, at its core, it is a heartwarming narrative about female friendships and growing older.

If you have 1 hour and 54 minutes…and like campy, colorful action flicks, watch Gunpowder Milkshake. Featuring actresses such as Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett, Gunpowder Milkshake is a visually stunning, female-led film perfect for those who like ridiculous action.

Photo by cottonbro studio

Bonus: If you prefer more traditional action movies, watch Black Widow. Although it is an MCU film, Black Widow can act as a stand-alone film that centers the story of two sisters who set out to topple an empire of corrupt men in power.

If you have 2 hours and 5 minutes…and want to watch a biopic about one of the bravest women in American history, watch Harriet. A perfect bridge from Black History Month to Women’s History Month, as she was absolutely pivotal to both, this film follows Harriet Tubman’s fight for her freedom and the freedom of hundreds of other Black people in the South. Harriet boasts an amazing performance from Cynthia Erivo (and, as with every film she’s in, Janelle Monae) and beautiful cinematography.

Bonus: If historical action-dramas are your thing, watch The Woman King. Starring the astounding Viola Davis, this based-on-a-true-story film follows General Nanisca, leader of the Agojie, an all-female group of warriors in the West African kingdom of Dahomey.

If you have 2 hours and 8 minutes…and haven’t seen this absolute classic yet, watch A League of Their Own, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection. Set during World War II, this film follows a team of female baseball players as they set out to boost morale during the war through an American past time while combating sexism.

If you have 11 hours…and prefer books to movies (and love period pieces), read Little Women, available at Falvey. Written by Louisa May Alcott, this absolute coming-of-age classic follows the story of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth, living during the Civil War. Although the novel contains its fair share of romance, at its heart, the story is of the March sisters and their (sometimes very chaotic) love for each other.

Bonus: If you haven’t already seen it, watch Greta Gerwig’s Little Women adaptation, a film that centers complex (albeit white) female characters that feel real. (Plus, it features some outstanding women in Hollywood including Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen, Meryl Streep, and Emma Watson).


Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.

 


Like

Dig Deeper: Sidney Poitier

Falvey Memorial Library’s Dig Deeper series explores topics of importance in our society and the news. It connects these subjects with resources available through the Library, so our faculty, students, and staff can explore and learn more, potentially sparking new research and scholarship.

Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Sidney Poitier, the first ever African American actor to win an Oscar for Best Actor (lead), was an iconic figure in both film history and Black history, which is celebrated each year in February.

Sidney Poitier’s story is still one that has been revered as a success-story of hard work and exceptionalism against the constraints of a Hollywood landscape that was by no means welcoming to Black actors. As detailed in Goudsouzian’s biography Sidney Poitier: Man, Actor, Icon, after moving to America, Poitier was mocked at his first theater audition in Harlem for his strong Bahamanian accent and difficulty reading. Fueled by this reaction, he reportedly picked up a few newspapers that day and taught himself to read and speak without his accent.

His determination, hard work, and new Americanized self-made persona landed him several successful auditions, and eventually, after securing his first lead role in Blackboard Jungle, Poitier was one of the most notable Black actors working in Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s, a time when Black film-making and acting in Hollywood reached a particular low point.

Poitier received his first Academy Award nomination for his role in 1958’s The Defiant Ones. His historic Academy Award victory came a few years later for his role in Lilies of the Field (1963). By 1967, he proved to have the biggest box office draw in Hollywood, with his films In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, and To Sir, With Love.

Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Nicknamed the “Ebony Saint,” the majority of his roles were double-edged swords, depictions of Black exceptionalism to the extreme, leading to his persona facing criticisms. Namely, Black critics argued that his roles did not represent the social reality of Black people in America, as detailed by Arthur Knight.

Ultimately, with the coinciding rise of Black power politics and the Blaxploitation film cycle in the early 1970s, the pendulum swung the other way, and Black actors began to play action-hero roles rife with vengeful masculinity and overt sexuality.

Some saw Poitier for his individual exceptionalism and self-made success, an image of hope that the American Dream was real and integration was possible. Others saw him in relation to what he was up against, a Black star at the whims of white Hollywood elites, a man tasked with being one of the sole representations of Blackness in Hollywood.

Yet, Poitier’s dramatic talent is something that fans and critics alike largely agree upon. Sidney Poitier was an actor by trade and talent, and he was able to masterfully portray the characters he was given. And, as Knight argues, despite the restrictiveness of his roles, Poitier was even able to subtly rebel in his acting, adding in glimpses of pleasure.

Thus, even a year after his death, Poitier is still revered by many for his work. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, one of Poitier’s famous films, even just got its third iteration, with You People starring, among others, Eddie Murphy and Jonah Hill.

Dig deeper and explore the links below for more on Sidney Poitier.

Find resources on Sidney Poitier at Falvey:

Other resources on Poitier:


Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library.

 


Like
1 People Like This Post

Cat in the Stax: Sometimes we all need a little space…

By Ethan Shea

On Monday, Aug. 29, NASA was scheduled to launch the unmanned spacecraft Artemis I. The goal of this Artemis mission is essentially to rehearse and ensure the safety of future missions, including Artemis II and III, the latter of which is scheduled for 2025 and intends to land the first woman on the moon.

"Artemis I Mission Patch"

Artemis I Mission Patch (Photo Courtesy of NASA)

At liftoff, Artemis I will weigh 5.75 million pounds and generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust to launch itself 500 feet directly upward in only seven seconds. After traveling 1.3 million miles, out past the Moon and back to Earth, Artemis I will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at higher speeds than ever before, 24,500 miles per hour (Mach 32), and eventually splash down safely.

Unfortunately, Monday’s launch was scrubbed due to engine issues and unfavorable weather, but to make up for the lack of anticipated celestial expeditions, this week’s “Cat in the Stax” will point to some stellar resources here at Falvey because sometimes we all need a little space.

For one, Falvey has a robust collection of films, available on DVD and online, related to space exploration. You may want to watch something fictional, such as Gravity or 2001: A Space Odyssey, both available on DVD at Falvey’s West Stacks, or you may prefer something like Apollo 13, a documentary about the “successfully failed” Apollo 13 mission, which did not accomplish its goal but managed to bring its crew back to Earth unharmed despite all odds.

"The Telescopic Tourist's Guide to the Moon"Of course, there are also plenty of books on space available too. If you have access to a telescope, you should check out The Telescopic Tourist’s Guide to the Moon. It’s just like any other tour guide, except it’s designed for another celestial body. This book will guide stargazers through famous locations on the moon, such as where the Apollo missions landed and where well-known movie scenes take place.

If you lean more in the direction of science-fiction, space is a common setting for such literature. One such novel, Duneis currently available in Falvey’s stacks, and it was also recently adapted into a film for the second time. Although this new movie has not yet arrived at Falvey, the original film, released in 1986, is available as a DVD in the stacks.

As of now, there is still a chance that Artemis I will launch on Friday, Sept. 2, but it is not guaranteed. I guess this blog will have to satisfy our astronomical cravings for now.

If you’d like to learn more about the specifics of Artemis I and the planned missions of the Artemis Program, check out NASA’s website here.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


Like

Cat in the Stax: Crying in the Stax

By Ethan Shea

"tear falling from eye"

In this New York Times article by Wesley Morris, the many implications of crying, from tears shed in courtrooms to movie theaters, are thoroughly analyzed. I figured this text would give me a solid opportunity to point out some books and movies at Falvey that, for better or worse, could encourage everyone to shed a few tears. Depending on how your Valentine’s Day went, that may or may not be easy to do.

The scope of the aforementioned article is far too broad to sum up in a sentence or two, but a couple particular points stuck with me. For one, the piece recognizes that crying is a uniquely human experience. Tears are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, which makes crying all the more necessary. A good cry can help us learn things about ourselves that we never could have known otherwise because, in spite of the humanity of crying, it “arouses the animal in us” (Morris).

If you feel inclined to take part in the humanizing experience of shedding tears, here are a few books and movies you can find at Falvey that encourage a bit of crying.

"Flowers for Algernon Book Cover"Flowers for Algernon

This novel by Daniel Keyes is widely known as one of the most tear-inducing stories of any library’s stacks. The story follows a man who undergoes a science experiment with the goal of increasing his intelligence, but he soon realizes that the operation is not as glorious as he had imagined. The experiment had recently been performed on a lab mouse named Algernon, which the protagonist becomes attached to. In spite of the heavy topics the book covers, it is sure to be a powerful read that can definitely make you cry.

 

"Call Me By Your Name Book Cover"Call Me By Your Name

Both the book and the cinematic adaptation of this story by André Aciman are housed here at Falvey. The movie is even available to stream on our website whenever you please. This love story taking place by the beach in Italy has become incredibly popular over the past few years, and especially since Timothée Chalamet made waves with the big screen version of the book, almost everyone knows about this story and its ability to bring its viewers to tears.

 

 

"Moonlight Film Cover"Moonlight

This Academy Award winning film is extremely heavy, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at once. Moonlight actually beat my favorite film, La La Land, for Best Picture (in a very memorable announcement blunder), but I can’t even be mad about it. A story like Moonlight deserves all the praise it has received, and anyone with a heart would be moved by it. Not to mention that it is one of the most stunningly shot movies I’ve ever seen with cinematography that is simply unmatched.

 

 

"Toy Story 3 Film Cover"Toy Story 3

On a lighter note, don’t ask me why this movie absolutely guts me, but it just does. Having grown up watching the Toy Story films and aging with Andy, seeing him mature and leave for college around the same time I did was more than I could handle. The ending is not even terribly sad, but that almost makes it harder to stomach. You just have to accept the changes maturity brings and continue living. This film doesn’t say growing up is bad, but realizing you’ll never be a kid again is painful. Toy Story 3 forced me to accept it.

 


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 


Like
1 People Like This Post

Cat in the Stax: Hayao Miyazaki’s (Un)retirement

By Ethan Shea

For this week’s “Cat in the Stax” I want to take a brief break from the holiday season and discuss some other big news, Hayao Miyazaki’s (un)retirement.

It was recently announced that Hayao Miyazaki, internationally acclaimed film animator and co-founder of Studio Ghibli, will be coming out of retirement to create one last film. This is not the first time Miyazaki has gone back to work. In fact, he mentioned retiring from filmmaking as long ago as 1997 but did not formally “retire” until 2013.  In 2017, Miyazaki ended his retirement to create one last film, and now in 2021, he’s doing it again.

If you’re expecting to see Miyazaki’s new film sometime soon, you’re out of luck. Studio Ghibli animates its films with very little help from computer-generated imagery (CGI), so 12 minutes of film usually takes about a year to make.  Luckily, as of 2021, this new film, How Do You Live?, has already been in the works for a few years, so it has a tentative  release date of 2023.

The New York Times recently scored an interview with Miyazaki, his first interview with an English-language outlet since 2014, so if you’d like to read more about the man himself, I recommend checking it out here. As a Villanova student, staff, or faculty member, you have free access to the New York Times, so make use of it!

"Book Cover of 'Miyazaki World: A Life in Art' by Susan Napier"

“Miyazaki World: A Life in Art” by Susan Napier

I have to admit that I haven’t seen every Studio Ghibli film, but I hope to watch all of them during the upcoming winter break. The ongoing Studio Ghibli Fest at AMC theaters, which screens past Ghibli films on a monthly basis, has helped me watch some of these films. AMC will be screening My Neighbor Totoro this month, so if you haven’t already seen it, or even if you have, I’d recommend seeing it in theaters soon!

My personal favorite Miyazaki film is Laputa: Castle in the Sky.  This was one of Studio Ghibli’s very first productions, and I was lucky enough to experience it for the first time in theaters recently. I’ll stop myself from spoiling any of the plot, but everything about this film, from the score (which I love to listen to while studying) to the emphasis on the essentiality of nature through intimate visuals of greenery, is beautiful.

You can watch some Studio Ghibli films with the help of Falvey Library. Grave of the Fireflies is currently on the shelves of our stacks, and several other films, such as Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo, are available through interlibrary loan.

We even have several texts on the life and career of Miyazaki living in our stacks. For example, you could check out Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art or Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man: 15 Years at Studio Ghibli to learn more about the famous storyteller.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


Like

Cat in the Stax: Defining Meta

By Ethan Shea

On Thursday, Oct. 28, Mark Zuckerberg made a big announcement. As part of a massive rebranding project, his multibillion dollar company, Facebook, has replaced its ubiquitous name with a new corporate title, Meta. As significant as this may seem, to be honest, I’m not very concerned about the odd names billionaires like Zuckerberg come up with (I’m looking at you too Mr. Musk).

Rather, for this week’s “Cat in the Stax,” I’m going to talk about something just as meta but, in my humble opinion, much more interesting. Today I want to define what it means to be meta by exploring some markedly meta books and movies.

With regard to storytelling, in most cases, audiences are meant to be immersed in the book, movie, or song they’re enjoying. But when something is meta, audiences become aware of the fact that they’re watching or listening to something, and the world of the page or screen reveals itself to be separate from the audience’s world. In summation, art that’s meta is self-referential and examines its own meaning as a work of art.

"The Lost Children Archive"Lost Children Archive

I’m actually in the middle of reading this novel by Valeria Luiselli right now, and I can’t help but notice the metafiction present throughout the text. The story describes the life of a family traveling from New York City to Arizona to conduct research in the midst of injustices continuously being carried out against child refugees at the southern border of the United States. Throughout the journey, each family member receives a box, their own personal archive, and fills it with items gathered during the voyage or deemed important beforehand.

This is where things get meta. The book itself is separated not only into chapters but boxes. Instead of turning to chapter two as one may do in a more traditional text, readers of Lost Children Archive will encounter “Box 2.” This formative archival work leads readers to contemplate how they and the book itself construct their own archives as well as the implications of going through someone else’s belongings. Although the contents of the archives can technically be watered down to a list of items, the parallels between chapters and boxes prove there’s a lot more to be written about them than a few words.

Inception"Inception Movie Poster"

Christopher Nolan’s film Inception (2010) is a remarkably meta movie. The very premise of its story alludes to its meta status, as much of the film’s plot subtly calls attention to the fact that it’s taking place within a film. Throughout the movie, the goal of the protagonists is to complete “inception,” which is the act of planting an idea into someone’s mind through complex layers of dreams. In order to do this, a group of dream-building-experts enter the mind of their target and get to work.

The construction of the dream, the setting, actors, and events, must all be perfect so the victim doesn’t realize they’re in a dream, just as movies must be crafted so audiences forget what they’re watching isn’t real. This is why Inception is one of the most meta films in recent memory.

"We Are in a Book!"Elephant & Piggie: We Are in a Book!

For something to be meta, it doesn’t have to be as complex as Inception. In fact, the children’s story Elephant & Piggie: We Are In A Book is extremely meta because the story’s characters, Elephant and Piggie, become conscious of their existence within a book. At first Elephant doesn’t understand how they’re being “read,” but before long, the pair becomes excited about life between the pages. To entertain themselves, Elephant and Piggie make the reader say a funny word… “banana.” Before the inevitable ending of the book, Elephant starts to worry about how their story will conclude, so in a last-ditch effort to extend the time they’re being read, Piggy asks the reader to read the book again.

This children’s story is meta because its entire premise is made possible by calling attention to its form. Here, in a fun and simple way, young readers can begin to understand what it means to be meta and how stories continue to live in the present through the act of reading.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.

Like
1 People Like This Post

Cat in the Stax: Fall Films for the Faint of Heart

By Ethan Shea

It’s finally October! That means it’s time for haunted hayrides, horror movies, and pumpkin spice lattes (now available at Holy Grounds Falvey). Many people thrive in spooky environments, but if you’re anything like myself, you try to keep the ghosts and ghouls at arm’s length.

I may need some extra convincing to partake in frightening festivities, but I know I’m not the only one who prefers when houses aren’t haunted. That’s why I’ve curated a short list of fall films for the faint of heart. Just because they’re not scary doesn’t mean they’re not in season!

""Fantastic Mr. Fox

I could have added a few other Wes Anderson films to this list, but I chose Fantastic Mr. Fox simply because it’s my favorite. It’s also especially fitting because fall imagery is found everywhere in this movie. From the foliage of the tree Mr. Fox calls home to Mr. Bean’s alcoholic apple cider, Fantastic Mr. Fox is steeped in autumn.

Despite the fact that, aside from food references, there are few direct links to fall activities, Wes Anderson is not subtle with references to this nostalgic season. For example, the film is almost entirely orange. Just like Mr. Fox’s fur, the cinematography of this stop motion animated film is the color of autumn leaves.

Even the sentimental score features a twangy, acoustic sound that makes one feel like they are striding through a grass field with their feet covered in dew on a cool October morning.

The Princess Bride""

The Princess Bride is one of the most quotable films I’ve ever watched, and it’s hilarious too. This is a movie choice that will never disappoint because it has something for everyone.

As the movie’s group of lovable characters travel over cliffs and through the woods, one can’t help but feel in the mood for fall. The colorful leaves covering the forest floor and the story’s romance are perfectly fit for the season.

I’m not sure if it’s the visuals or the comfort of having a bedtime story read to you, but something about watching The Princess Bride on a calm autumn evening just feels right.

Coco""

This movie actually has something to do with the season directly. Because it’s centered around Día de los Muertos, this Pixar film is literally made for the fall season.

As Miguel attempts to return to the Land of the Living after he is cursed for stealing from the dead, he makes unlikely friends and learns about the importance of memory. The orange marigold petals that are essential to the film’s imagery are reminiscent of autumn and traditional of Día de los Muertos.

Coco is actually one of the highest-grossing films with an all Latin American principle cast, and given that it is Hispanic Heritage Month until Oct. 15, the time to watch watch this film is now!

The Goonies""

This classic story of a few kids with a treasure map and a taste for adventure is not just about pirates. The cool atmosphere of the group’s quaint Oregon setting is full of autumnal nostalgia. According to a newspaper found in the film, the events of The Goonies take place from Oct. 24 to Oct. 25, which is partially why this movie feels like sweater weather.

Although there are some suspenseful scenes, this movie is definitely not one I’d call scary. Even though I used to cringe at that one scene with the blender when I was younger (don’t worry, it’s not bad), there is not a whole lot to be afraid of. If you somehow haven’t watched this movie before, make sure you put it at the top of your list!

Fantastic Mr. FoxThe Princess Bride, and Coco are all available for viewing with subscriptions to Disney+. The Goonies is available on Hulu.


Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.


Like
2 People Like This Post

Attention Villanova Students: Join us for a Netflix Film Launch with Celebrity Guests!

You are invited to a night you will not forget! To celebrate the launch of his prank comedy film, Bad Trip, join Eric Andre and friends for a one-night-only event.

Through this event, Villanova students will be invited to an exclusive experience filled with behind-the-scenes content, chats with the stars, and special surprises. While the film may not suit every taste, this is a valuable opportunity for aspiring filmmakers, media executives, writers, and many others to gain insights into the process of content production and distribution through one of the premiere streaming platforms. Along the lines of the Borat franchise, the hidden camera comedy also creates a space for interesting social commentary.

The ACS-approved launch event will take place on Thursday, March 25, beginning at 7:10 p.m., via Zoom.

Click HERE to RSVP with your college email address as this event is exclusively for Villanova students. All attendees will need to register with their college email address and login at least 15 minutes before the start of the event to ensure entry.

Please note that this film is a little blue and carries an R-rating.

From the producer of Jackass and Bad Grandpa, Bad Trip is a hidden camera comedy that follows two best friends who go on a cross-country road trip full of hilarious, inventive pranks, pulling its real-life audience into the mayhem. The film will be led by Eric Andre (The Eric Andre Show, The Lion King), Lil Rel Howery (Uncle Drew, Get Out), and Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School). Bad Trip is directed by Kitao Sakurai (The Eric Andre Show) from the minds of Dan Curry, Kitao Sakurai, and Eric Andre. The movie is produced by Jeff Tremaine, Dave Bernad, and Ruben Fleischer.

The event is co-sponsored by the Department of Communication and Falvey Memorial Library. Space is limited so be sure to respond soon to reserve a spot!


Like
1 People Like This Post

Next Page »

 


Last Modified: March 18, 2021

Ask Us: Live Chat
Back to Top