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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25, No. 7. 1962.




Some Light on the Shadows?

Dear Sir,—The review of the film "Shadows" in your last issue contained some statements which are in need of further discussion.

Your critic found that the Aim's "biggest disadvantage" was the "total boringness" of the lives of the characters. I agree that their lives were boring to the extent that they seemed to be aimless and somewhat futile, but I do not agree that because of this their lives were uninteresting. To say, as your critic did, that the life of the common man is not interesting to others unless it is altered, in its description, by artistic manipulation, is to make far too general a statement. It also reflects an underestimation of other people.

That the camera work had shortcomings in technical manipulation is agreed; but I can't see that "artistic manipulation" of the camera would have improved this film. The "lack of artistry" (but it wasn't always lacking) in much of the camera work was entirely in harmony with the subject of the film, i.e., ordinary people and the lives they visibly lead.

The spontaneity in the film also seems to have disturbed your critic. I suspect that he felt the absence that "artistic manipulation" of the script which is carried out in most films, even those which try to deal convincingly with non-extraordinary contemporary life. To me, the spontaneity of the dialogue was the element which made the film convincing. In many respects—I have not said all—one's life is spontaneous, lacks preparation. One is often not prepared for what happens. Because of this one may have no immediate insight into the motives for someone else's behaviour. The majority of the films I have seen and that have a contemporary setting fail to portray this. Instead the characters seem to be able to cope verbally with every situation, rarely does the script show them struggling to express a thought, and motives for actions or statements are either strongly hinted at or else blatantly pronounced. This manipulation of the script saturates such a film with artificiality, but it is just one of the insidious means of "glamorising" film characters that your critic seems to find necessary.

In many instances, motives for people's behaviour in real life are not clear until some thought has been given to the matter. Why then did your critic expect to have the motives of the characters in "Shadows" (a film dealing with real life) presented to him, each with its own neat label?

If, to have been impressed by "Shadows" means to be classified by your critic as one of the weird elements of the university population, I shall have to accept it. I think he should give the film more thought; however, since he has related weirdness to being pleased by the film I shall not be surprised if he is reluctant to do this. Yours, etc.,

Peter S. Brooke.


Dear Sir,—Colonel Blimp was right! Your policy of not printing letters over nom-de-plumes is ridiculous. One does not necessarily agree with those one likes. Must one either risk one's social ease or else be silent? Must one always hesitate?—will this opinion make anyone think less of me? No sir; this is part of our freedom of speech. A man must be allowed inconsistency, occasional extreme views, violent controversy with himself under several names, without risking losing his job 20 years later.

After all, most of those controversies are over questions of fact or principle, not over personalities. A fact may be true, an argument valid, no matter who says it. Whereas if you have to sign it "Alfred Blurge" everyone will say " I know Alfred Blurge and he's a drip," and not read the thing.—Yours etc.,

J. C. Ross.

From Our Chaplain

Dear Sir,—May I use your columns, to let all Salient readers know where and when I am available to students. My name has already appeared, my existence been established and my credentials presented in an earlier issue this year but till quite recently my whereabouts have been very vague.

I have now, however, been established both in Space and Time. I am to be found in the Student Adviser's room next door to the Library on the first floor of the S.U.B. I am to be found there at the following times—in the mornings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and in the afternoons on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

People constantly ask me what is my job around here. In some ways and especially because it is a new position, it is not very easy to define it in clear-cut terms. I cannot point to anything and say —"that is it." I am not a member of the teaching staff and therefore have no ready-made clientele. I am not chaplain to E.U. or S.C.M. and therefore have no particular group to organise.

I have been appointed by all the Churches except the Roman Catholic, to be available to students, in a full-time capacity as an adviser and counsellor. Naturally as a minister of religion, I am available to talk about and explain the Christian faith and what it means, to any who wish to find out. I am also, I hope, open-minded enough to any criticism or objections you have to bring against Christianity and the Church.

But also I am here to be of any assistance I can to students who need guidance in any matter, not necessarily religious at all, or who just want to talk something over with somebody. The need for this type of service in our Universities is becoming more and more realised and the practice of appointing chaplains and counsellors is steadily growing.

My whereabouts have now been established and if you wish to talk over any matter with me, please feel perfectly free to do so. And, by the way, if I am not in my room, you will more than probably be able to find me drinking coffee in the Cafeteria.

John Murray,

N.C.C. Chaplain to Students.

Polemic Chiefs Disagree

Sir. — On reading John K. Murphy's brief survey of capitalism, the first thought that struck me was why he had bothered to write it. It says nothing new, nothing provoking—it just confirms facts that most of us know already. He falls into the same trap that do many critics today— he criticises without replacing it with something better.

One does not expect any earth-shaking remedies, but at least he could have offered a few small remedies to faults to which he draws attention. As he has not, why bother to spend half a page telling us facts we know?

Perhaps I read too much into Murphy's survey. He may only have decided it was time he had his name in print. It was not a very good way to go about it. Admittedly, there were a few stranded sentences that were of fleeting interest, but they were few.

There are some faults within his survey. Attempting to argue that the Welfare State entrenches capitalism, he gives Unilever as an example. But, it is based in the U.S., where there is certainly no welfare state. Examples should apply to the case in hand.

Further, when he decries that modern capitalism "contains within it the seed of its own destruction" he may be talking nonsense himself. He defines modern capitalism as a system dominated by great corporations. In countries where this has been taken to extremes (e.g., Texaco, Shell, United Fruit Co. in Cuba) and from the definition could be thought a purer form than New Zealand's modern capitalism, this system has led to popular revolt.

However, I hope this minor criticism of Murphy does not deter him from writing many more articles to Salient. Perhaps he might write one on Communism in which he can uncover such startling facts as state-ownership exists in the U.S.S.R.—Yours, etc.,

R. J. Bromby.