Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Alarmed at The City Lit

I knew what to do when the fire alarm sounded at the City Lit last night: scarper. I've been in plenty of evacuations in 30 years of teaching, much of it during the IRA years in London. The worst place  for 'prank' alarms was Richmond College in Twickenham, a vast site with a couple of thousand students.  The most memorable include Debenhams in Oxford Street, Crystal Palace Swimming Pool and a hotel on the Costa del Sol in December down a smoke-filled stairwell. Nothing to do with the IRA, that one.

Quite apart from the delay while fellow students disentangled themselves from chairs with trays that swing over your knees, I was halted when the lecturer calling me back. The slowness of the progress down the stairs would have put the Spanish pensioners to shame. However, we were all out and back in again in fifteen minutes, so at least we didn't lose much tuition time.

On the bright side, I collected next year's amazing prospectus. The prices must be the cheapest in London.

Sadly, the scope of the one-off Film and Censorship session was far too wide for the time available - three hours - but I enjoyed the film clips, ranging from back and white Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931) through Dirk Bogarde playing a gay barrister in Victim (1960) to a rape scene in Clockwork Orange (1973)

The final clip was a very graphic and unpleasant episode from Polanski's Salo, only released uncensored in 2008. The lecturer, John Wisby, gave fair notice that the film content was pretty shocking and said students might want to wait in the corridor. So I was surprised when  two of them complained at the end. What did they expect?' Maybe it was delayed shock from the earlier evacuation.

1 comment:

Heather Hahn said...

Dear Sheila Cornelius,

My name is Heather Hahn and I am a Master student in Chinese studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. I was reading your book 'New Chinese Cinema' and I came across a section in Chapter 1 titled A Western gaze. In this section you stated that the Chinese government sent official representatives to Hollywood in an attempt to change the portrayal of Chinese people in Hollywood films. You also mentioned that the US Foreign Trade commission and the Studios themselves helped change the representation of Chinese in Hollywood films by making cuts and asking for technical advisers with a Chinese background.

I am currently working on my dissertation, and I hope to explore how the Chinese government has actively pursued redefining the image of Chinese people in Hollywood films. I have been unable to find much information on this subject and was wondering if you could point me in the right direction. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time,
Heather Hahn