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‘Under the Caribbean’ On The Big Screen, Film Night at The Grant Museum

James M Heather25 January 2012

It’s only January, and I think I’ve met my Speedo quota for the year already. I’ve not been hanging out at the Lido, but watching the latest movie aired on the Big Screen at UCL, with Dr Joe Cain and the Grant Museum of Zoology.

Cramming into a lecture theatre after hours doesn’t feel so surreal this time around, but this month’s film certainly does. Under the Caribbean (or Unternehmen Xarifa in its original German) made a splash when it aired in 1954, hooking an Oscar among other accolades, for bringing dramatic underwater footage to the silver screen for perhaps the first time.

This film follows the exploits of the handsome couple of Hans and Lotte Hass. Along with a plucky crew aboard the sturdy yacht ‘Xarifa’, the Hasses sail their way from the Caribbean to the Galapagos Islands in search of sperm whales.

All sounds well and good, except that it’s completely barmy.

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‘The Blob’ On The Big Screen, Film Night at The Grant Museum

James M Heather16 December 2011


Without a doubt, Film Night at the Grant Museum was the most entertaining event that I’ve attended at UCL. On 6 December, they screened the 1958 sci-fi/horror cult classic, The Blob.

Dr Joe Cain holds court. A senior lecturer at UCL by day, he is an avid film fan by night. And possibly by day at weekends.

This is the first ‘On The Big Screen’ event at UCL that I’ve attended, despite this being the 21st showing. However, it’s clear that the event attracts a regular following, and by the time I arrive the large Darwin Lecture Theatre is almost full. All ages are represented in the crowd, and the mood is both jovial and excited.

In what seems to be a regular feature, Dr Cain gives a short but engrossing introduction of the film we’re about to watch. He’s clearly done his homework, as he talks us through the background of the production, the foibles of the film, and gives us tips on what to look out for.

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‘War of the Worlds’ screening

Frances-Catherine Quevenco18 October 2011

On 3 October, at 6:30pm in the Darwin building of UCL, film enthusiasts, science historians, historians, scientists and a collection of many others gathered to watch the screening of Byron Haskin’s The War of the Worlds (1953).

It is an invasion film based on the popular novel written by H.G. Wells. In fact, it was apparently one of the earliest adaptations of the novel and actually won an Oscar for its special effects. That unfortunately did not stop some of the audience snickering at the killer laser beam attacks of the aliens, nor did it stop fans of the Wells novel criticising the film for making the alien machines hover rather than move in a tripod-like fashion in the novel. This was one of the many fun facts that Dr Joe Cain, Head of UCL Science and Technology Studies and Senior Lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Biology, shared with the audience before the movie.

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(Post) Yugoslav Film Festival

Robert Eagle2 June 2011

Twenty years ago, the Socialist state of Yugoslavia began to dissolve, along with its world-famous film industry and oppressive media censorship. The (Post) Yugoslav Film Festival (31 May–1 June), hosted by the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the UCL European Institute, celebrated Balkan film-makers, many of whom left their respective countries for several years, and have now returned to produce some of the most refreshing films in world cinema today.

No region of the world, in my opinion, produces films that are simultaneously so intimate, funny and emotionally draining as the Balkans. The four films shown at the (Post) Yugoslav Film Festival were no exception. But this blog post isn’t about how great the films were. What made this two-day event so unique was the attendance of the directors, who could illuminate the difficulties (and joys) of producing films across the borders of countries that two decades ago were at war with each other.

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