Three Films Featuring Marshall McLuhan Offered on the Official Marshall McLuhan Site

30Nov14

Marshall McLuhan was a leading 20th-century thinker on the impact of communications media on society.

The Marshall McLuhan Official website, which is managed by Michael McLuhan, has posted three films focused on Marshall McLuhan, that have either not been available on the Internet before or have not been readily accessible. The films are: 1. The Communications Revolution (1960),  2. This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage (1967), and Picnic in Space (1973). They can be found on the Marshall McLuhan site here: http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/films/ . Noting that the latter is available on YouTube, Michael McLuhan informs me that all of the online versions he’s aware of are conversions from VHS, whereas the one posted on his site is a direct conversion from the 16 mm film, making it much cleaner.

1. The Communications Revolution (1960) is a panel exchange between four academics at the third annual  Conference on the Humanities on October 28-29, 1960 at Ohio State University: Edgar Dale, Marshall McLuhan, Gilbert Seldes and Keith Tyler. McLuhan however, already well-known for his views on electric media, figures as the central focus of the conference, the general theme of which was Popular/Mass Culture: American Perspectives. The text of this panel discussion can be found in Understanding Me: Lectures & Interviews (2003), pp. 34-43.

2. This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage (1967) – Everyone interested in the thought of Marshall McLuhan knows about the book he collaborated on with graphic designer Quintin Fiore titled The Medium is the Massage (1967) and most are familiar with the LP that came out around the same time with the same title. But likely few are aware of the film that was distributed that same year (1967) by McGraw-Hill Education under the same title. The only public showing this 54 minute film appears to have had was on NBC TV on Sunday, March 19, 1967. There was a 16 mm film of it made that was sold to mostly academic libraries that was probably viewed (and forgotten) by some university students in a small number of higher education institutions.

The TV Guide entry for this film for March 19, 1967 describes it as follows: Marshall McLuhan discusses his controversial communications theories in this experimental documentary produced by Oscar-winner Ernest Pintoff and Guy Fraumeni.

The basic of McLuhan’s philosophy is “the medium is the message” – how we communicate is more important than what we communicate. Pintoff and Fraumeni have used McLuhan’s latest book, “he Medium is the Massage,” to provide a kaleidoscopic illustration.

The medium is the massage? McLuhan says that the title is “intended to draw attention to the fact that a medium … does something to people. It takes hold of them … it massages them.”

Newspaper and magazine headlines , TV and movie film clips, and still photographs are blended with an interview to provide insight into such McLuhan concepts as “hot” and “cool” communications media.

Actor Edward Binns narrates.

3. Picnic in Space (1973) is a rare film featuring McLuhan and his long time cohort, Harley Parker, a Canadian artist and scholar. The film features McLuhan and Parker’s ruminations on a wide variety of topics; including ‘space’ and its properties, jazz, language, and art. Shot in 1967, the film captures the experimental spirit of the time; with scenes of contemplative pastoral idyll intercut with bold, minimalist animation, pop art, pastiche, and a wonderfully strange electronic soundtrack courtesy of visionary American composer, Morton Subotnick. (http://tinyurl.com/pdpz489 )

See all three films at http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/films/

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One Response to “Three Films Featuring Marshall McLuhan Offered on the Official Marshall McLuhan Site”

  1. Excellent! I will certainly watch these.


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