February 2, 1970
The N. C. Essay
THE LEARNING TREE'
When I read that Gordon Parks
was writing and directing a movie,
I was excited. Though I had never
read his autobiographical novel.
The Learning Treet from which the
scenario for the movie of the same
name was written, I had read a
volume of his color photography and
poems called A Poet and his Camera.
The book would have been amazing
had it contained either just the
photographs or the poems, but by
putting them together Parks created
a harmony comparable to that of
great choreography with great music.
The poetry spoke of irony and the
death of innocence while the photo
graphy attested to Parks’ reverence
and great love for the physical beauty
of life. I expected the movie to be
a cinematic enlargement of this theme.
What I was not expecting was the
frankness with which Parks drove
his story home. He reminds us that
the beauty a film finds in a red poppy
against a glowing blue sky is the
same beauty as a sudden red splash
soaking through the back of a dead
man's shirt. With absolute taste
approaching, but never reaching
cliche, we see a town in Oklahoma
during the 20's and its most prom
inent characters: the bigoted small
town cop, the wise and open minded
judge (and his dispicable son),
Austin (Music), Ron Dortch (Drama),
Janet Hamerly (Dance), Ric Graham
(Design-Production), and Mrs. Wanda
Crouse (Writing Program).
The Committee will sponsor two
types of programs. The first of
these will consist of outside speak
ers representing industry, the com
munity, politics and the performing
arts. These will be limited in num
ber to two or three each semester.
The second type of program to be
offered will be programs drawn from
faculty and students within the
School and these programs will con
stitute £he major proportion of the
convocations. More and more it is
hoped that these programs will afford
the students an opportunity to be in
volved artistically with students and
faculty in their own areas of special
ty and with students and faculty from
other areas of specialty within the
Beginning with the new semester
this year (Spring 1970), attendance
at the convocation programs will no
longer be required. For programs of
special interest to a particular arts
area, students may be asked to attend
these by their major dean or teacher.
Everyone in the School community is
urged to support the convocations as
much as possible so that we can be
assured of having an adequate audi
ence especially for the programs in
volving visitors from the outside.
the pretty new girl, etc. The Lear-
■iyig Tree is filled with scenes we have
all seen before, but somehow comes
off as the original from which all
of the stereotypes were made.
The script is not the kind that
depends on great actors to make it
work. The plot is solid, well
written, and well executed. This is
fortunate because much of the acting
smacked of inexperience.
It was refreshing, though,to sit
through the entire show and
never see a movie stark Perhaps the
lesson is that if a movie has a
decent script and an apt director, it
doesn't need mighty performing to
make it a worthwhile picture. The
actors were not hinderances, though.
As a whole the roles were done with
the simplicity and strength that comes
from playing on your own home ground.
The story is a new one to Amer-
iCHn cinGrna., It is about a. Nfigiro
boy growing up in a technicolored
world. It contains the best and
the worst of that world, though
unbalanced towards tragedy. It
out Hamlet’s Eamlet in its ten
dency to leave a scene littered with
bodies. The language of the black-
confrontation is the language
of the time, so it is necessarily
passe and, in places, trite. The
situation is new and interesting.
Parks creates no stereotypes, but
sees everything within a scene, and
shows it and makes itr live.
The Learning Tree is a life
experience. I Wouldn't want anyone
I cared for to miss it. It carries
you far beyond the limits of the
situation it depicts. My feelings
were hurt by this movie. And I learned
something. "The Leaxming Tree.
Some of the forthcoming programs
for the new semester have already
been set. Here is a partial schedule;
students of Mr.
students in Music.
students of Mr.
Mr. Robert Schnei
der, Xerox Corp.
toire du soldat.
A program on Bar
Prof. Oubre on the
Negro in Music and
students of Mr.
(Cont. from page 2)
shuck by Jagger, played for uncool
suckers. In any case, someone laid
$500 worth of beer and a lot of
sunshine acid on them for their
(David Crosby brought up a good
point when he said that the Stones’
feeling that they needed this type of
security proved that they were living
back in 1965, completely out of touch
with the scene in this country; he
also said that Jagger had an "Easy
Rider" image of the Hell's Angels).
But what of the Stones, partic
ularly Jagger? Many say that the affair
turned into a massive, grotesque ego
trip for Mick. It is felt that he
overplayed his image to the ludicrous
point. But what's puzzlin' me is the
nature of your game.
Fights were happening all day at
Altamont. Early in the afternoon, a
fat man named "Oscar" was bloodied
because his appearance was thought
"obscene" by someone (presumably
an Angel). During Jefferson Airplane’s
set, a fight broke out near the
stage. Lead singer Marty Balin lept
into the melee in an effort to stop
it and was laid unconscious as the group
finished "Somebody To Love." (Inter
esting, that of all the people near
the stage, only Balin had the guts to
When the Stones came on, con
fusion was at a peak (as I suspect the
acid was). During "Sympathy For The
Devil", a young Black man was killed
by a group of Angels. Three versions
are offered; the man had aimed a gun
at Jagger; he had "messed up" an
Angel s bike; and he tried to mount
the stage, the area the Angels were
assigned to "protect". Jagger, aware
that something was wrong in the crowd,
tried to cool them. But he lost his
effect and couldn't control anything.
be had was his music and that
The image of it all is macabre.
Jagger, dressed in his demonic. Prince
of Darkness garb, singing his homage
to Lucifer, while twenty feet away a
man is beaten to death. A horrible,
(Cont. on page ?')
Any further suggestions will be
welcomed. Please contact the Committee
through your departmental representative.
(Cont. from page I)
Under the sponsorship of the
Cultural Presentations Program of the
U.S. State Department, she toured in
Yugoslavia, Rumania, Greece, Turkey,
the Near East, Finland, Portugal,
Spain, Italy, South America and Mex
She studied for four years at
the Juilliard Graduate School under
fellowships and taught piano there.
She made her Carnegie Hall debut in
Her program Friday will include:
Tooaata oon Fuga in F Sharp Minor by
Bach, Etudes d’Execution Transoendxxnte
by Liszt, Eight Preludes for the Piano
(1948) by Frank Martin, Sonata in B
Flat3 K. 332 by Mozart, and Poissons d’or.
Masquesj and L'isle joyeuse by Debussy.