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Recently I had a discussion with several other Americans of
various ethnicities about the treatment of the people that were living
throughout North and South America during the time that the first American
colonies were established.
I find that people are generally ignorant when it comes to
the colonists of the Americas, North America in particular, as that is what I
am most familiar with; English settlers to be more specific.
People are usually far more to one side than the other:
Either they think that the settlers were terrible people and should not have
been on the land in the first place, or they feel that the natives were
insolent savages and nothing more. I fall somewhere in the middle, seeing
obvious failings on both sides.
The people with whom I was having this discussion with all
fell to the side of thinking that all settlers were terrible people, taking
land that didn’t belong to them, and that the natives were apparently perfect
in everything that they did. No matter what, they felt that the Christian
settlers were in the wrong.
Sadly most of them had no clue what actually happened during
the first colonies and the Jamestown massacre until I either informed them or
refreshed their foggy memories:
Jamestown was the earliest lasting English colony in the new
world. It was founded by the Virginia
Company of London on May 14th, 1607, which was chartered by James I
a year earlier along with its sister company the Virginia Company of Plymouth.
Life in Jamestown was in no way easy. The land that was
initially settled was less than ideal and the Powhatan Indians were on the
attack almost immediately after the settlers made landfall. That is a fact: There
is clear historical evidence that the Powhatan made the first move in attacking
the English settlers just a week after they arrived.
Attacks from the Powhatan Indians were the least of the settlers’
problems: They had far worse to deal with, namely what is known as the Starving
Time during the winter of 1609-1610, when their supply convoy ran into a
hurricane, crops failed, and trade was cut off by the Powhatan Indians.
The Starving Time ended with the deaths of the vast majority
of settlers living in Jamestown and nearly brought the colony to an end. The
cause is clearly convoluted, but there is no doubt that the Powhatan played
their role in the deaths of a great many settlers that horrible winter.
Then in 1611 and 1612 John Rolfe planted and began exporting
tobacco from the colony. This breakthrough in trade firmly established the
colony and allowed it to thrive in comparison to the first few years of
Issues with the Powhatan Indians continued into the
following years, as more and more land was used up the river to cultivate their
new crop, thus growing the colony and using more of the land that was formerly
occupied by the Powhatan.
After the succession and death of Wahunsunacock, the leader
of the Powhatan Indians and a seemingly level-headed fellow compared to those
that came after him, likely thanks to the marriage of his daughter Pocahontas
to John Rolfe 1614; relations with the Powhatan once again became a major issue
for the colonists to deal with.
Sometime after Wahunsunacock was succeeded his brother Opechancanough
ended up with power over the Powhatan. Opechancanough was by all accounts an
ignorant and hateful individual that showed extreme disdain and prejudice
towards the settlers from the very beginnings of the colony.
The Powhatan’s animosity and hatred towards the settlers
came to a head with an attack that was planned and led by Opechancanough in 1622;
this attack is known as the Jamestown massacre.
Even with much better relations between the settlers and the
Powhatan in the years following the marriage between Pocahontas and John Rolfe,
Opechancanough continued to carry his hatred for the settlers and the contempt
that he must have felt for his previous failings against the settlers.
Plotting and planning to destroy the settlers for years, Opechancanough
finally had his chance to launch his attack on every settlement along the James
The sneak attack that Opechancanough planned resulted in the
deaths of approximately half of the settlers, huge amounts of destruction which
lead to the complete abandonment of many of their settlements, as well as the
enslavement of a great number of female settlers that were captured during the
After the attack by the Powhatan under the command and
leadership of Opechancanough the colonists of course retaliated, which I
believe to be a completely valid reaction to such a heinously planned and
A couple of years after the Jamestown massacre the Virginia
colony was turned into a royal, or crown colony; thus removing the Virginia
Company of London from their previous involvement with the colony. This also
gave the English much more power in the new world, which in turn helped lead to
all future misdeeds towards innocent natives.
The decisions and actions of the Powhatan Indians,
culminating with the Jamestown Massacre, without a doubt deserve much of the
blame for the misdeeds directed towards those that were native to North America
during the time of the first English colonies, to the end of them and into the
creation of the United States of America.
Since we know that Opechancanough was entirely behind the
Jamestown Massacre, as well as many other hostilities between the settlers and
the natives, we can and should thusly blame him for the actions of the settlers
from then on.
The reaction after the Jamestown massacre by the settlers
was due to the actions of Opechancanough and those that followed him. They
carry the burden of any mistreatment that their people had to endure, as well
as the burden of the suffering of many thousands of other natives in the
future, thanks to the negativity that the Jamestown massacre allowed and
provided to current and future colonists.
Last night the American swim team won the gold medal in the
Men’s 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay in a fantastic finish that completed
without a doubt one of the greatest comebacks that I have ever personally
witnessed in a sporting event.
The win was made even sweeter due to that fact that we beat
the French team – who were amazing in their own right – after a member of the
French team named Alain Bernard decided that it would be a good idea to make
comments stating that he and his team would smash the team from the USA.
Swim Team USA was behind from the very beginning and for the
majority of the match, with Australia’s Eamon Sullivan breaking the world
record to start his team off, while Team USA’s Michael Phelps broke the
American record in the opening leg as well.
The USA briefly took the lead after Phelps finished with the
swimming of Garrett Weber-Gale, but gave it up during the third leg of the race
as the French team was simply much too fast for American swimmer Cullen Jones.
That’s when it happened: After Jones finished veteran
American swimmer Jason Lezak dove into the pool when it looked like the French
team had the gold medal all but locked going into the final leg with
world-record-holding trash-talking Frenchman Alain Bernard as their anchor
Even the American announcers seemed to think that there was little
hope for Swim Team USA, hoping that team USA could hold on to the silver at
least. Jason Lezak was simply too slow, too old to win, the amount of time that
he had to make up was just too great they said, there was little confidence in
Jason Lezak and little hope for Swim Team USA to bring the gold back home.
During the first 50 metres it didn’t seem that Lezak was
making up much ground on the speedy Bernard, but then in the last 50 metres it seemed
like Lezak was unstoppable, overcoming a nearly full length deficit with his amazing
46.06 second final leg for a .08 second win over the French team.
It was truly great to watch. The entire American team was
just fantastic and Jason Lezak is an absolute hero for his amazing anchor leg
of the race. It easily ranks as one of the greatest performances that I have
ever seen in any sport.
Five teams broke the previous world record, which was set by
the USA earlier in the day: Sweden, Italy, Australia, France, and of course the
gold medalist United States team. Every team that participated broke the
previous Olympic record, which is another amazing statistic and shows the level
of competition in the event.
Here’s a link to the video from the event on the NBC Olympic website. You’ll have to install Microsoft’s Silverlight browser plugin if you use Firefox, but it’s well worth it. The video is absolutely stunning:
was murdered on July 16th by a man that she had sexual relations
with after he found out that she was actually born a male.
The story has gotten quite a bit of coverage and I’ve
attempted to follow it as closely as possible. I agree with the vast majority
of people writing about the story, it’s very sad that Angie Zapata was murdered,
it’s a terrible thing; what I disagree with is how many people are portraying
the case, or perhaps I should say – what they are not portraying:
mocospace.com, which I can only assume is similar to myspace.com; a social
website for people to network, meet and interact in various kinds of
activities, including sexual activities.
After a very brief bout of communications through
mocospace.com; the affidavit released by Greeley police states that shortly
after meeting for the very first time and spending the day together, the day of
July 15th 2008, that Angie Zapata performed oral sex on Andrade but
would not allow him to reciprocate.
They spent the night together and in the morning Angie
Zapata left her apartment, while Allen Ray Andrade was free to peruse the
apartment at his discretion.
While alone in the apartment of Angie Zapata, Andrade
apparently discovered several pictures that lead him to either question, or if
he already had doubts from the previous night – to further question the gender
When Angie Zapata returned to her home she discovered the distraught
Andrade, who then began making demands to see the genitalia of Zapata; who
then, according to Andrade, stated that she was “all woman.”
Not taking Angie Zapata’s word for it, Andrade then began grabbing
at her genitalia, at which point he then of course made the inevitable
discovery that she was indeed a man, and that his suspicions were true.
Andrade then struck Zapata with his hands, finally the
violence escalated to Andrade grabbing a fire extinguisher and striking Zapata
in the head with it numerous times.
Thinking that his actions had lead to the death of Angie Zapata,
Andrade began his attempts at covering up his crime; shortly after Zapata began
to move and try to get off of the ground: Andrade then took the fire
extinguisher in his hands and with one final strike, ended the life of Angie
It’s an extremely sad story, and to be completely honest, it
was fairly difficult typing the above explanation out for those of you that do
not yet know the story.
I’m going to say upfront, before I allow anyone to get the
wrong idea as to what my feelings are on this case: That I am not going to
defend Allen Ray Andrade in any way. He is undoubtedly a murderer and deserves
whatever justice is forced upon him and much, much more.
Where I take issue is in the fact that Justin “Angie” Zapata
was living a lie by stating that she was a female, when in reality she wasn’t,
no matter how much she wanted to be, no matter how much she felt that she was a
female; the sad reality is that she was not a female and could never be a
I certainly don’t mean to judge her. She was who she was and
I respect that on every level.
What I do not respect is the level of deception involved, as
well as the questionable decision making on her part.
Case in point, here is a (large) picture of Allen Ray
understand that meeting some 31 year old man from the internet for a random
sexual encounter is actually perfectly sound judgment on Angie Zapata’s part.
Looking at it logically though, meeting a person that looks
like the person pictured above (Allen Ray Andrade) for random sex acts, after
lying to him about your gender, possibly your age, and who knows what else;
well, let’s just say that it doesn’t seem like a wise choice for a person, any
person, to make.
Yet for some reason I haven’t seen this mentioned on one
single blog or website. Nobody seems to care that this 18 year old girl was
meeting a 31 year old man, whom she met through the internet, for a random
This is only compounded by the fact that transgendered
people are looked at through the eyes of bigotry and hate.
What does a person have to be thinking to do something like
this, to make a decision as unsound, as thoughtless as this? I can’t even bring
myself to that level of understanding; it’s an impossibility for me, no matter
how hard I try; I just don’t see myself thinking at that level.
The second issue that I mentioned was the deception involved
on the part of Angie Zapata.
I visited what I believe to be Angie Zapata’s Myspace page:
It states quite clearly that she is a female and that she is heterosexual. There
is absolutely no mention of being transgendered, transsexual, bisexual, male,
born a male, nothing of that sort.
I understand that many transgendered people don’t feel that
they are actually of the gender of their birth; but the reality is that no
matter how badly they want to be the opposite gender, that it’s impossible for
that to happen.
Certainly that must be tough to understand and accept,
especially considering how many people view transgendered individuals in the
United States, and much of the world for that matter. But it’s something that
they have to come to accept.
Transgendered individuals should be accepting of what and who
they are. No matter how they feel, they should be free to express their
feelings in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, not in a way that
they think will be accepted by others.
I have no doubt that many people would have accepted Angie
Zapata as a transgendered person, just as her family and her friends appear to
have done. Anyone that wanted to judge her based on her sexual feelings, rather
than what she was like as a person, as a fellow human being, isn’t someone that
she should have worried about looking for acceptance from in the first place.
Angie Zapata should have accepted what she was and dealt
with it. Those people that didn’t accept her for how she felt, people who
judged her for her sexual feelings, aren’t people whose opinions should be
respected or sought after.
In closing, it’s a very sad thing that should not have ever
R.I.P. Angie Zapata, I don’t doubt that you will be
remembered by a great many people.
Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow died early
yesterday morning (Saturday, July 12th, 2008).
While this is not a particularly huge event in the broad
scope of history; it is most certainly worthy of a bit of discussion,
especially due to the fact that this man is being disrespected all over by the
ignorant, mainly here on the internet.
These commentators seem to feel that Tony Snow somehow isn’t
a good person due to their political differences.
I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised by the ignorance of
some people, considering the way they treat everyone that disagrees with them,
even on issues that are not in any way political.
Still, I find it quite saddening, as the great majority of
these people have no idea what kind of person Tony Snow was, they’re too
ignorant to do any research on him, they’re too ignorant to care.
They would rather spout their political ideologies and
demonize the man after his death. It really shows their character.
Having actually had the opportunity to speak with Tony Snow,
I can honestly say that he seemed like nothing less than a good person to me.
Not only was he a good person, but he had several
interesting political stances that differentiated him from many other people in
his political party.
Simply because of his association with the Bush
administration he has been unfairly judged and labeled. The fact is that he
disagreed with many decisions of the current administration.
Take a look at some of the articles that he has written.
While I certainly don’t agree with everything in them, some of his opinions and
beliefs are interesting, and they are quite different from the beliefs and
opinions that many of his current detractors believe he held.
Not only was he a good guy, quite different from how many
people are currently portraying him; but he was a loyal public servant, and by
all accounts a devoted family man. All of which are attributes that should be
respected in a person, sadly some have allowed politics to cloud their vision -
making such features difficult to see.
With that said: No
matter what your feelings towards him are, we should all be able to agree that any
article regarding Tony Snow deserves nothing less than a R.I.P. and wishes of
strength for the family that he leaves behind.
The number homeless people in the United States can vary
greatly at any single point in time. The vast majority of homeless Americans are
only homeless for a short period of time; and usually it is due to very specific circumstances,
after a natural disaster for example, or a long period without work after a job
loss, a death in the family, things like that.
Using the current flooding problems as a current example,
there will be a short term influx of homeless people in the United States
without a doubt, but the vast majority of those people will have a home again
The real issue is all of the people that are homeless and
have been homeless for a very long time now. These people are not going to find
a home any time soon. The majority of them suffer from mental health issues,
often times very severe mental health issues, or they have substance
abuse problems; and the help available to them is vastly inadequate for how extensive
the issue is.
Another part of the equation that needs to be taken into
account is the fact that the amount of homeless veterans is hugely out of balance with
the percentage of American veterans as a whole of the population. It clearly
shows that veterans are not receiving the level of treatment that they deserve
here in the United States. Our veterans need and deserve proper care, no matter
what their problem is.
I have currently estimated the amount of actual homeless
people in the United States at over .0333% of the population, over one
hundred thousand of our fellow Americans. As I said above, the number of homeless people in the
United States varies greatly at any point in time; but what I am concerned with here
are real homeless people that have very little chance of getting out of their homelessness.
Real homeless people are what we need to focus on. Over one
hundred thousand Americans: Men, women and children, usually with extreme
mental or substance abuse problems, problems that they have little
hope in overcoming, problems that they have little support for.
Leni Riefenstahl’s next cinematic work was very likely made
specifically for Adolf Hitler himself. The film was financed by Hitler through the
German government; it is a film version of Adolf Hitler’s favorite opera: Tiefland
by Eugen d’Albert.
Based on the great Catalan writer Àngel Guimerà’s 1896 play Terra
baixa; Eugen d’Albert’s Tiefland was his seventh and most famous Opera; though
not immediately popular, the opera would garner international acclaim shortly after
it was reworked by d’Albert in 1907.
Tiefland would be Leni Riefenstahl’s last full length feature
film. Once again she would direct, write, star, edit, and produce the film.
I’ve seen the film and it is a very high quality work, it’s a very artistic
film and I feel that Leni Riefenstahl’s vision is well supported, especially
taking into consideration that the film was created during such a hectic time
in her life, and of course a very hectic time for the entire world.
While Tiefland is not quite as much of a breakthrough as
Leni Riefenstahl’s great work done in Triumph of the Will and Olympia; Tiefland
is full of extremely high quality, beautiful shots, and I believe it to be a
fine film overall.
The one draining issue with Tiefland is that some of the
actors were taken out of concentration camps and put to work on the film. Both
Sinti and Roma gypsies were taken from concentration camps nearby wherever the
shooting location was at the time.
It’s said that the actors in the film were later put to
death at some point after returning to the concentration camps. Whether that is
true is unknown to me, but it seems that it was likely unknown to Leni Riefenstahl
if it were true, as she denied anything like that ever happening. Regardless of
the fact that many of the actors in the film were gypsies, or whether they were
being forced into doing the work or not, or whether they were killed by the
Nazi’s at some point after the filming was finished; we have to realize that it
was a terrible situation for them, as well as many other people during World
War II, but it is a fact of Germany from that period in time, one that we have
to accept and deal with.
It’s unknown to me how Leni Riefenstahl treated her actors,
but I can’t see it as having been too bad, certainly not as bad as what was
happening to them inside of their concentration camps; taking into account the
fact that she was acting right there along with them. Who can say how they were
treated while in her presence and working with her though.
Leni Riefenstahl’s next film was another work for Hitler and
the Nazi party, filmed and released the same year that Triumph of the Will was
released, 1935. It is another documentary / propaganda piece filmed at the
annual Nazi rally held in Nuremburg, entitled Tag der Freiheit! — Unsere
Wehrmacht! (Day of Freedom! — Our Armed Forces!). It’s a short film glorifying
the German army. It is not quite up to the artistic merits of her previous
works, especially Triumph of the Will, but it is a quality work for what it is;
basically it’s a showcase of the German army and how they operate.
The film was created due to the German army’s lack of
exposure in the brilliant Triumph of the Will. As such they were upset and
wanted a film of their own, they went to Hitler with their concerns and Hitler
accepted their idea and put it through to Riefenstahl.
Sadly the 1935 Nazi party rally in Nuremburg was the point
in which the Nazi ideologies on the Jewish people would begin to further come
to light and be implemented. Known as the Nuremberg Laws, they are one of the
first of many black marks on the history of Leni Riefenstahl and her work,
Adolf Hitler, the Nazi party, and much of the German population. The Nuremberg
Laws were of course some of the first official discrimination laws against the
Jewish people by the Nazi party.
Riefenstahl’s next film was Olympia, in which she
brilliantly documents the 1936 Summer Olympics. It is Leni Riefenstahl’s last
groundbreaking work in film (though not her last film). It is another
masterwork, along with Triumph of the Will, Olympia is her greatest work in
film; I can’t quite say for sure which one I enjoy more or which was more of a
breakthrough, both are cinematic masterpieces.
Olympia is a truly brilliant work. Known for its technical
achievements, Leni uses advanced techniques in the process of creating the
film, such as; tracking shots, everyone is aware of tracking shots today, but
they certainly weren’t as aware of them before Leni Riefenstahl; extreme
close-ups, everyone knows what an extreme close-up is now, but very few knew what
it was in 1936; smash-cut editing, which is now commonly used to give the
viewer a quick snap, a wakeup call if you will, they weren’t happening before
Olympia; as well as cleverly angled and designed shots and lighting techniques;
slow-motion techniques; and much more. The film showcases her absolute brilliance
as a director in film and as an artist in general.
Before Olympia the vast majority of shots in cinema were
done from stationary positions, little camera movement was involved and little
variation on top of that. Certainly there were plenty of other great filmmakers
both before and during the time of Leni Riefenstahl’s classic directing works
and I do not mean to discredit them at all. But the fact is that Leni
Riefenstahl truly was a great artist and a cinematic visionary; Leni Riefenstahl
was a pioneer and she should be seen and respected as such.
During the filming of Das Blaue Licht, Leni read Adolf
Hitler’s Mein Kampf, and in 1932 she attended a Nazi (National Socialist German
Workers’ Party) rally, as a great number of Germans did; and as with a great
number of her fellow Germans, she was enthralled by Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric.
Shortly after she had a meeting with Hitler, who told Leni that he enjoyed her
work in Das Blaue Licht and elsewhere and would like her to film the upcoming fifth Nazi
party rally, in Nuremberg.
Whether she wanted to create the film for herself, or had
some sort of incentive or other motive behind its creation is unknown to me.
Certainly she must have known that it would be used as a propaganda piece for
the Nazi party and for her country; this isn’t something that we should be
upset over though, many great artists have created pieces for their countries
that are seen as propaganda.
Through the opposition of much of the Nazi party and with
the support of Hitler she was able to document the rally. The film that
Riefenstahl created out of the 1933 Nazi rally in Nuremberg was Der Sieg des
Glaubens (Victory of the Faith); which is a film that I haven’t seen personally,
but a film that I plan on seeing at some point in the future.
Shortly after its release the film was hidden away due to
Hitler’s orders to execute Ernst Röhm, the leader of the Sturmabteilung (the SA
or the brownshirts); as well as many of his lieutenants and other people
involved in the initial rise of Nazi power, and the rise of Hitler himself for
that matter. The incident is known as the Night of the Long Knives; during
which, over several days 90 people were murdered by the Schutzstaffel (the SS)
and the Geheime Staatspolizei (the Gestapo). Leni Riefenstahl’s feelings on the
situation are unknown to me, I’m not aware of her speaking a word about it
myself, but I can’t imagine that she was too happy over her work being hidden
away at the time.
Although the film had to be shelved, Adolf Hitler thought
positively of her and her work on Der Sieg des Glaubens and asked Riefenstahl to create another
film for the upcoming 1934 Nazi party rally in Nuremburg.
The film that Leni Riefenstahl created from the 1934 rally
was another breakthrough, this time both a cinematic breakthrough and an
artistic breakthrough. That film is Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will). Riefenstahl shows her masterful control of
the camera here; thanks to her tremendous artistic vision, Leni was able to
create shots that had never been seen or even dreamed of with a camera. The
sheer technical detail and effort that went into making the film is incredible;
Leni used 30 cameras and had 120 technicians at her disposal; she had bridges
and posts built in the center of Nuremburg; all of the camera placements, the movements, the lighting gantries, everything was specifically set up to Leni Riefenstahl’s
Triumph des Willens is truly a great work, one that Leni
Riefenstahl worked painstakingly to create to the absolute best of her ability,
to fully meet her vision in every possible way. She recorded just over 66 and ½
hours of footage of the rally. Of those sixty-six and one-half hours of footage
she edited the film into the brilliant 2 hour long documentary that we know
today. The film received many awards, including the 1935 Venice International
Film Festival Coppa dell’Istituto Nazionale LUCE award, the National Film Prize for 1934-1935, and the Medaille d’Or &
Grand Prix de France in 1937.
The film was lauded at the time of its creation around the
world and it has been highly praised by film enthusiasts, it is to this day praised by authorities of the cinematic and artistic realm, as it has from
its very first showing. It truly is a masterpiece in documentary and visual
filmmaking; no matter if it is considered propaganda or not, no matter if Leni
Riefenstahl meant for it to be a propaganda piece or not. The facts remain: The artwork and the mastery of Leni Riefenstahl’s work speaks for itself.
Leni Riefenstahl has been a very controversial figure for many years now. In
this series of articles, I will go over my thoughts and feelings on her life
and her work. This is part. 1, covering her early life and first foray into
Born Helene Bertha Amalie
Riefenstahl in Berlin, Germany on the 22nd of August, 1902; she
began her professional and artistic career as a dancer, her dancing style was
uniquely her own and widely popular at the time. She continued to express
herself through interpretive dance until she injured her knee in her early
20′s, at which point she began her acting career.
Her acting career began shortly
after the injury to her knee brought her career as a dancer to an end. She had
a couple of undocumented and minor rolls, until 1925 when she was finally given
the lead role in Arnold Fanck’s new mountain film: Der Heilige Berg (The Holy
Mountain) as the dancer Diotima.
The role of Diotima was written by
Fanck specifically for Leni Riefenstahl. It is the first film that I watched in
which Leni Riefenstahl was in front of the camera rather than behind it; it’s a
quality work with a great many interesting shots and scenes, Fanck does a great
job filming the environment. At the time of my first viewing I was not familiar
with Leni Riefenstahl’s acting, as I said; nor was I familiar with Arnold
Fanck’s directing; and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by both
aspects of the film.
Riefenstahl gives a lovely
performance as Diotima; the film also allows us a bit of insight as to what her
dancing style and abilities were, which is wonderfully interesting, and I can
only imagine that she was an even better dancer before her knee injury.
Leni went on to star in many other
mountain films that were also directed by Arnold Fanck, of which I have now seen
several. Generally she played an outgoing young girl, a very entertaining part
and one that she did very well, which perhaps gives us a bit of insight as to
what he personality was like in her youthful days.
Then Leni began her career as a
director when the offer was made to her. Her first attempt at directing
resulted in the breakthrough film Das Blaue Licht (The Blue Light) in 1932.
With the support of Arnold Fanck, Béla Balázs, the production team at Henry R.
Sokal-Film of Berlin, and many others; Riefenstahl was not only able to direct
her first film, but she also starred in the leading role of the film as Junta;
and not only that, but Leni also co-wrote the film, edited the film, and helped
to produce the film.
The work was an absolute
breakthrough for Riefenstahl. The film launched her new career as a complicated
director. One that would lead her to be both praised and criticized, one that
was undoubtedly one of the most influential in the history of cinema and film