Sunday, April 5, 2009

Inherit the Wind - The Monkey Trial on Film

I continue to be amazed by sites like Hulu!

The cinematography is carried out brilliantly in this film. The plot follows quite accurately the proceedings surrounding the famous Scopes trial of 1925 where John Scopes, a high school biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was imprisoned for teaching the theory of evolution. He had violated the state mandate forbidding teachers from informing students of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible."

Two titans of American history came to battle this case out. William Jennings Bryan and Clarance Darrow brought this case to the attention of the world through their arguments. The film you see above debuted in 1960 after it was adapted for screen from a Broadway play that premiered in 1955. The character names are changed but there is particular attention paid to the physical portrayal of the them, especially William Jennings Bryan.

Like other art of the time, such as Arthur Miller's the Crucible, this story was put on screen as a reaction the the McCarthy era. It has long been upheld as a work of art that lifted our nation from the plight of anti-intellectualism. The periodic nature of that anti-intellectual attitude in this country requires that we look back at the record of our recent history and remind ourselves that there is hope.

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