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When we were young and still hope to be that way....
Science, Progress, Development, the underbelly of  discovery, and so....

Tales of Technopolitana

The Gladstone Jones partnership, professional & more, is thirty eight years old. or young.

(James) Francis Gladstone worked as a producer and director for the science series at the BBC and its American partner, HORIZON & NOVA.
He was a student of the late Robert Reid who believed that science journalism and film making should have journalistic teeth, eloquence and a human dimension. Robert Reid founded the HORIZON series on the BBC from which Michael Ambrosino evolved its American counterpart NOVA for the Public Television Network.

These strands on television continue after four decades although more as shop windows for exiting science than critiques of the consequences of science. The Planet Technopolitana idea is an attempt to return to roots, to make journalism and writing that try to look at the paradoxes of progress.

My films for Horizon included: Something For Our Children (made with Michael Andrews) -- an early attempt to look at environmental issues in the United Kingdom, 1968, One Liverpool or Two about the false use of science in urban planning taking that city as an example, What Kind of Doctor (made with the successful director of movies, Brian Gibson), about the neglect of general practice and preventative and community medicine in a London medical school.
I also made, as junior partner, films on the gritty subject of medical priorities in a north of England city and the exploitation and also preservation of the British coast line and wetlands. Jo Elwyn Jones worked on Horizon and closely with Jacob Bronowski on The Ascent of Man series working as his researcher and producer of the successful book of the series. She was later a film maker in her own right, editor of the NOVA series for a time and a member of the History of Science Department at Harvard.
For NOVA in the USA I produced and directed films that saw science with either a human eye or an eye to its consequences.
Strange Sleep (1973) is a dramatized account of the successful search to find pain preventers as a precursor to surgery, known now of course as 'anesthesia'. It is a period film made with close attention to historical detail and look and using amateur actors, many of them doctors. Addiction as a consequence of experimentation with ether, nitrous oxide and cocaine are strong themes.
War From the Air (1975) deals with the claims and counter-claims of aerial bombing as the winning weapon of war from early theorists, through the Guernica period, World War II and into Vietnam. Thanks to work by my partners, Elsa Rassbach and the late Patrick Griffin, it contains unusual footage, both of bombing and of propaganda against bombing -- ends with Vietcong salvaging a shot down American fighter bomber and making saucepans from its aluminum. The technologies of film (for morale raising propaganda) and airplanes to bomb the world to hell developed alongside each other. It was narrated by the late Robert Kiley.
The Woman Rebel (1977) is a dramatized account of the part played by the American feminist, Margaret Sanger, in the propagandizing the need of birth control and, later, biochemical development of the pill of which she was a spearhead if not a scientist. It is fundamentally about her view of liberation and the title role is played by Piper Laurie. An important subsidiary role is played by Paul Guilfoyle.
What Price Coal? (1976) was made in reaction to President Carter's idea that coal could provide energy independence from the Middle East. It examines health and safety issues, or their neglect and the environmental damage done by open cast mining, also some issues of failure to compensate Native American landowners by coat minding developers. As a matter of self-consciousness, I want to point out that it failed to deal with the carbon pollution issues. It is polemical in its tone and caused significant controversy with the funders Exxon Mobil.  Nearly banned, it managed to survive.
Across the Silence Barrier is about the controversy in the USA about whether deaf children should be allowed to use sign language. Time has moved on. At the time it dealt with important issues of self-regard for deaf people and advertized the eloquence and lyricism of sign language. The American Theater of the Deaf participated in it and this led to Jo Elwyn Jones and I producing a series of short films with them about signed theater, Festival of Hands.
Hitler's Secret Weapon
(made with my colleague Patrick Griffin) is about technology and war. It rests on the huge archive of German rocket films which Patrick discovered -- rocketry being Germany's way to subvert the limitations placed on it by the 1919 Versailles Treaty. It describes Hitler's giant project to win the war with these rockets, its relatively complete failure until... until both the rockets and the rocket scientists were captured by the USA and the rockets found a new role in the post-1945 era when they were the foundation for the intercontinental ballistic missile program. I made other films with Patrick on Henry Ford, the environmentalist John Muir and the struggle to steal water from California's Owens Valley to hydrate Los Angeles.

This is some of the science journalism and history experience I had. Some of these films may be available via U tube or on the BBC. In certain cases I can lend DVDs.


Contact to francis@gladstonejones.com or 44+ (0)79-4133-9122
 

 

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