Life Lessons/Amadeus

For this first blog post response, we’ll address the two artist films we’ve seen thus far.  Consider the screen durations of “Life Lessons” (1989) and Amadeus (1984).  The first is right around 35 minutes; the second is 2 hours and 40 minutes (theatrical cut).  In other words, Amadeus is almost 4 times as long.  What do you think is lost and/or gained from having these very different running times?  How do the lengths contribute to the themes of the artist film genre?  (Think of the in-class writing assignment from Tuesday.)

The Usable Past

During our reading of Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark (1915), I introduced the concept of a “usable past” to account for Thea Kronborg’s time spent in Panther Canyon–and the boost that the experience provides to the  career of the young artist.  I also mentioned that this romantic cultural construct indicates Cather’s own view of a distinctly American art tied to American soil and–by extension–American Indians.  Now that we’ve read Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu (1947), consider in what ways he also seeks a “usable past” to aid his work in the service of an American ideal.  How is it different and/or similar than Cather’s formulation?