Trips and Readings from the Split House: Melville, Stone, Moby Dick, and Platoon

In this essay, Oliver Stone’s film Platoon is compared to Herman Melville’s classic Moby Dick as stories in which two protagonists, Chris and Ishmael, leave their homeland on a perilous voyage. Ishmael joins the whaling Pequod, seeking whales in the world’s oceans, while Chris goes to combat in the Vietnam woods. The conflicts of their split homeland, the United States of America, are present in both storylines. Platoon depicts the daily battle of a small unit in a military film where fighting sequences are central. Multi-ethnic troops conducting search and destroy operations reflect socioeconomic tensions in the US. Platoon is on the lookout for a tenacious and defiant foe of American science and military might. The novel Moby Dick is a metaphorical depiction of a divided America and Captain Ahab, who is obsessed with avenging himself on the White Whale. Platoon and Pequod are destroyed by American policy in Vietnam, much like Moby Dick. Using Michel Onfray as a guide, we view both stories as journeys that begin in a library and whose heroes imitate the Greek Achilles’ gesture of fleeing a comfortable home life for the dangers of the world on their way to immortality. Whether in Pequod or Platoon, our heroes take the risk of eventually maturing with the help of a metaphorical family of brothers. Ahab and Barnes, their symbolic parents, are castrating, tyrannical, and oppressive. The heroes’ complete independence occurs when they meet and eliminate their symbolic parents, bringing an end to their round trip back to the home from which they had set out.

Author (S) Details

Jose Mauricio Saldanha-Alvarez
Cultural Studies and Media Department, Federal Fluminense University, Brazil.
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Developing Media Literacy: A Project of Cinema and Education at Viana do Castelo Polytechnic

The acceptance of cinema as a way of gaining media literacy is widely accepted. In the field of communication science teaching, the problematization of cinema as an artistic expression and the promotion of interdisciplinarity between the fields of communication, cinema, education, and artistic education in particular have been developed. In this context, the aim of this article is to explain an annual action-research project in which students are exposed to cinema, audio-visual language, still and moving image analysis, and edition production with students from an Art & Technology Higher Education Course. The results provide valuable information on the contribution visual culture research techniques make to art in general and cinema in particular, as well as how such an interdisciplinary approach offers a more critical understanding of society through projects that guarantee a free and flexible teaching-learning programme while also stimulating much debate and polemic.

Author (s) Details

Anabela Moura
School of Higher Education (ESE), Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo (IPVC), Portugal

Carlos Almeida
School of Higher Education (ESE), Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo (IPVC), Portugal

Raquel Pacheco
Center for Research in Arts and Communication (CIAC), University of Algarve, Portugal

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