SHADOWS OF THE PAST
The well-known Yale spirit of adventure, which has more than once led to important undertakings, has once again shown itself. This time it is the field of the "movies" which Yale has undertaken to explore, and the precise purpose of the "fillum" is to depict, accurately and vividly, the whole panorama of American history from Columbus to the Conference. One hundred reels is the present program; and for want of more suitable direction, the work will be in charge of the University Press.
The great value of the motion picture as an educational medium has long been recognized but very little used. There are very few reels in existence which are of true educational value and yet sufficiently interesting so as not to bore the audience to tears. The Yale authorities, however, have decided to go into competition with the "vamp", and not allow the great possibilities of the cinema to any longer go to waste.
The prospect of a hundred reels of pagentry may seem a little appalling to the jazz-fed younger generation. The historical problem of whether Washington's coat had three or four buttons on it will fade into insignificance beside the question whether Major Andre was betrayed into the hands of the Americans by a woman. "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" will find it hard to compete with "You tell 'em, kid". Washington crossing the Delaware huddled in the stern-sheets of a Chesapeake sharpy, hardly cuts as magnificent a figure as he does in the famous painting of that name, nor can we help suspecting that John Smith discovered by a jealous red skin in the wigwam (if it was a wigwam) of Pocahontias will produce far more excitement than the surrender at Appamaiox.
In view of these facts, the Yale historians face a problem whose solution will be eagerly awaited by all educators. If the producers should find it necessary to cover each historical incident with a sugar coating of story (with hero, heroine, 'u' everything) and label it "drama", many would not be surprised. Be that as it may, the use of the motion picture in schools as part of the regular instruction, is bound ere long to become widespread. Yet who would have predicted, a few years ago, that boys and girls would soon be sitting before the silver sheet as unwillingly as they now start at their "'rithmetics" and "'gografies"!