In what might be the most fascinating and unusual promotional film ever made for an institution of higher learning, director John Barnes delivers what is essentially a 32 minute pan shot pastiche of life at an eastern college. St John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, is the subject. Reminiscent of Barnes' museum pans filmed in England and Italy, he moves horizontally through classrooms and laboratories, capturing abstract philosophical discussions, Euclidian mathematical constructions, astronomy clubs, theatrical rehearsals, and compositional analyses. It's a time piece bridging the Eisenhower and Vietnam years: male students are dressed in shirts and ties, many of them smoking cigarettes and pipes, ashtrays liberally scattered within reach. Barnes pans through dorm rooms, more discussions, jazz on the phonograph, Euripides tossed over a stairwell, to be caught at the landing below. The 12-tone musical score, written by harpsichordist David Allanbrook with flautist David Gilbert, adds a cacophonic feel to what is, to a large extent, a pedagogical poem.
Recognizing that Barnes, during this era, was making films on classical Greece, it's understandable that he took what must have been an extraordinary amount of time creating this film. He never attended a four year college. One senses that this film encapsulates something of a dream for him, to compress into a half-hour of time the knowledge that anyone fortunate enough to attend a school such as St. John's might acquire in eight semesters of learning. The film never achieved distribution, and the reason for and purpose of the creation of this beautiful and elegantly constructed film can only be conjectured. For more on director Barnes, visit http://www.afana.org/barnesbio.htm
November 9, 2017 Subject:
Holy cats. Thank you so much for putting this up. I've been asking since 1999 when i took over the SJC SF film society for this to be digitized or for the college to give me permission to do so. It's legend, and it's so hard to explain to people who didn't attend SJC and didn't see it. I am sooo excited.