Thursday, November 27, 2014

'The Historian' Theatrical Release: Publish Does Not Always Preclude Perish


[Editor's Note: Unreal TV has posted an article on an interview with "The Historian" star John Cullum of the classic TV series "Northern Exposure."]

The terrific instincts regarding the Historia Films production "The Historian" extend well beyond screening this dramedy about the trials and tribulations of college professors at the aptly selected The Quad movie theater in Manhattan beginning November 28, 2014.

"Historian" has the same amusingly warped view of academic life as a classic John Irving novel or one of the better efforts by fellow author Michael Chabon. Like the primary characters in those works, the educators in "The Historian" manage to impart knowledge to the leaders of tomorrow before experiencing the inevitable breakdowns associated with their damaged psyches.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a promo. for "Historian" awesomely conveys this vibe of the true nature of collegiate life.


This film divides its focus between silver child "Rhodes" scholar Dr. Ben Rhodes and tarnished former academic star Dr. Valerian Hadley; Hadley chairs the classic department that hires Rhodes for a one-year visiting-scholar position. William Sadler of "The Shawshank Redemption" and numerous other classics plays Hadley; "Historian" director and real-life historian Miles Doleac portrays Rhodes.

A hilarious early scene that expertly sets the tone for the rest of the film has an exasperated Hadley providing a not-so-bright unmotivated student a graphic lesson on crucifixion only to be crucified for his efforts.

Another example of students complaining after essentially having their feelings hurt include Rhodes being criticized for giving students what they allege is too much homework and otherwise attempting to actually provide a genuine academic challenge.

On a more personal level, the arrival of Rhodes painfully reminds Hadley that his personal glory days are over. Living and caring for his senile father, wonderfully played by John Cullum of "Northern Exposure," adds to stress that ultimately causes Hadley to crack.

For his part, Rhodes is leaving a walk-in closet full of emotional baggage behind related to his recently failed marriage. Moving his physical baggage into a corporate apartment complex that is identical to such properties across the country does not help his mood.

Further conflict between the men comes in the form of Anna Densmore; her worship of Hadley diminishes as she gets to know neighbor Rhodes better and Hadley consequently becomes increasingly rough on her.

Background characters include the dean who runs a fairly tight ship but knows when to back off, the wacky popular professor who is an expert at academic politics, and the unfocused student who needs proper guidance.

Former and current college students, professors, and administrators will see themselves and those with whom they interacted while on campus in these characters and the situations in which they find themselves.

"The Historian" additionally provides accurate commentary on the reduced standards that plague many campuses. The overall message seems to be that students have gone from being individuals who sign up for four years of having their minds molded to customers who may take their business elsewhere if not essentially entertained during that period and then given a piece of paper that alleges that they are qualified to be productive participants in their chosen professions.

"The Historian" is consistent with the message described above in providing the audience roughly 90 minutes of entertainment with a few dashes of substantive knowledge.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "The Historian" is welcome to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.