FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 2, 2004
Contact: Joshua Hollis
MUW International Series
complements `The Glory of Baroque Dresden' exhibit
By Joshua Hollis
Critic for The Spectator, MUW campus newspaper
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Opening in Jackson March 1, “The Glory of Baroque
Dresden” exhibition contains paintings from such masters as Rembrandt,
Vermeer and Rubens, as well as ceremonial arms and armor, rare drawings,
sculptures and the 41-carat Dresden Green Diamond.
“The Glory of Baroque Dresden” exhibition is the first North American
exhibition from Dresden since the reunion of East and West Germany.
Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange Executive
Director Jack Kyle said the Commission chose to bring the Dresden
exhibition to Mississippi after seeing many other possible exhibitions.
“Dresden spoke to me most.”
Kyle said he hopes viewing this exhibition will educate people and
enrich their lives. “Education is the utmost objective of the mission
statement of the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural
This exhibition is important because Mississippi does not contain any
major collections of art, Kyle said. He pointed out that many
Mississippians cannot easily travel to Dresden or Washington, D.C., but,
through the Commission’s efforts, can “experience these great art
Opportunities for Mississippians to learn more about German culture are
not limited to the Dresden exhibition. In Columbus, Mississippi
University for Women’s 2003-2004 International Series focuses on
Germany’s cultural achievements. MUW designed its efforts to complement
the Dresden exhibition.
International Series Director Thomas Velek, also MUW associate professor
of history, said, “The International Series at MUW is of great
importance. It makes a significant contribution to fostering
international education and global understanding for the campus and the
community. It is a vital part of the educational mission of the
The International Series consists of a series of Lunchtime Lectures and
a Foreign Film Series.
MUW communication instructor Van Roberts kicked off the spring section
of the Lunchtime Lecture Series in January with a lecture on the Golden
Age of German cinema.
According to Roberts, contemporary American cinema owes a great deal to
early German film. This is especially true, Roberts noted, of the horror
and science fiction genres. Movies associated with the serial killer and
criminal mastermind genres actually got their start in 1920s-era German
cinema, he said
In his introduction to Roberts’ lecture, Velek, who was director of the
2000-2001 International Series, said, “I was a never a big German film
fan, [but] in a very short time—two conversations and half a dozen
e-mails—Van has convinced me to re-evaluate my entire idea of German
Roberts focused on the period between the end of World War I and
Hitler’s rise to power generally referred to as the Weimar Era. During
this period, Roberts said, many techniques prevalent in present-day
Hollywood filmmaking were developed.
He said that German films of this era are amazing because the time in
which they were made was a difficult financial period. “[The people]
went from bad, with the fall of the Kaiser, to worse, with the rise of
Hitler,” he said.
“Many of the people and films that came out of Hollywood after the Nazis
took control of German cinema, are German or were influenced by
Germans,” said Roberts.
The first major film produced during the Weimar era was the silent
classic “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” which relied heavily on striking
visual and psychological elements.
“‘Dr. Caligari’ epitomized Expressionism as we would come to know it,”
said Roberts, referring to the surrealistic imagery prevalent in the
film. “Expressionists distorted the appearance of an object to
reveal the hyper-psychological essence of the human element that created
Roberts cited F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu,” the first real film adapted
from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” as another indispensable film, though one,
which had a rocky start. Murnau was forced to change the name of the
title character in the film because he could not acquire rights to
Stoker’s novel. The film’s story line closely parallels Dracula,
however. “By all rights,” Roberts said, chuckling, “ ‘Nosferatu’
shouldn’t exist, because it represents plagiarism.”
Roberts described how “Nosferatu” was the first vampire film to use
sunlight to kill the vampire, a technique that became a staple of
He concluded his lecture with a discussion of director Fritz Lang. “If
any director symbolizes the changing influences of German cinema, he is
[it],” said Roberts.
Lang directed such classic films as “Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler,” the
original criminal mastermind film; “Die Nibelungen,” the original
fantasy epic; and “Metropolis,” the original science fiction epic.
Roberts has taught film and video production classes in the Division of
Business and Communication at MUW since 1988. He writes movie reviews
for The Commercial Dispatch in Columbus and The Planet Weekly in
Currently, he is working on his doctorate in 20th century American
history at Mississippi State University. Roberts plans to write his
dissertation about propaganda movies made during World War II by Warner
Brothers and how this major film studio conformed its films to fit the
dictates of the U.S. Government.
Dr. Martin L. Hatton, assistant professor of communication, said, “I
think it’s important The W offers more interdisciplinary programs like
this, and Van’s expertise in film makes him a perfect candidate in
presenting for the International Series.”
MUW’s International Series continues in February with Dr. Richard
Pacholski, a visiting Holocaust scholar. Pacholski will present a
Lunchtime Lecture titled “The Holocaust and Christian Anti-Semitism in
Germany. Pacholski will present “The Longest Hatred,” part of the
Foreign Film Series. He also will participate in an Honor’s Seminar
discussion on the topic of “Why the Holocaust is Unique.”
Pacholski’s visit is financially assisted by the National Endowment for
the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council.
MUW will sponsor a trip to “The Glory of Baroque Dresden” exhibition
later in the semester.
For more information about the International Series, contact Velek at