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Canadian-born McLuhan is most famous for either originating or at least popularizing two statememts: "the medium is the message," meaning that the means or medium of communication one uses to say something are just as important as what one is trying to say, and the "global village," meaning that electronic communication (telephone, radio, television, and now internet) is bringing everyone into communication with everyone else.
The two main themes brought out by this documentary are:
1) from a paper McLuhan wrote in 1947 at age 36, fairly early in his career as a professor of English literature, about a poem from Edgar Allan Poe entitled the "Maelstrom" which describes a sailor caught in a giant whirlpool who eventually saves himself from drowning through detached observation of the vortex; modern electronic media have become the vortex from which McLuhan would like to show us how to rise above,
and 2) a theme from the work in McLuhan's last decade of life in the 1970s, when he was in his 60s, called the "tetrad" of the "Laws of Media." The four questions or tetrad of questions that can be asked about any media or artifact of man is what does it enhance, what does it make obsolete, what does it retrieve, and what does it reverse or flip into?Read more ›
I've watched it twice now and I'd have to say it's flawed. For me, there are two main problems with it: one, the visual images don't always tie in with the ideas that they're supposed to be expressing. A lot of the footage is quite generic and could be about almost anything given the context, although I suspect much of this may be down to financial limitations (it being an independent production). Two, the sound track is mixed quite badly. The interviews are really the backbone of the film and they've often chosen to fade them in and out, which means you lose the end of sentences. Frustrating! Also, the mix leaves something to be desired. The voices don't always sit at the same level and the music is generally too loud.
Having said all that, it's great to have. There are loads of extras: a couple of hours of footage from the original interviews, hours and hours of audio (including two lengthy examples of McLuhan himself talking), and "hundreds of pages" of documents that include the Director's notes, McLuhan biog, shooting script, and--joy of joys--a study guide.Read more ›
Marshall McLuhan is the most important, pivotal, and still rewarding philosopher of communication, technology, and social organization that we have. While scholars enjoyed, for a time, coupling his theories with Walter Ong, S.J., or looking at the autonomous individual through his lens, McLuhan's insights do not end at this. His philosophy is a versatile set of observations and questions, albeit dyspeptic ones, that crack open the meaning of invention itself and what it is to use. However, his work is quite, quite dense, and McLuhan's writing can be impenetrable. This DVD does the best job I have ever encountered of explaining the man's thought even as it offers a biography.
"McLuhan's Wake" is a wake, in that it is a celebration, a reawakening of the dead man's philosophy, and an elegy, and this DVD must be seen.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Every chaos is a false appearance." Discriminate the pattern before it's complete...Published 5 months ago by J Rankin
thanks for the quickness.Allow myself to drop only 4 stars because the doc is not really what i expected.The first half is extremely boring.Published on September 7, 2011 by Marc Bascougnano
As other reviewers have commented, McLuhan had several key theories that laid important groundwork for later ages. This video doesn't really do any of them justice. Read morePublished on April 8, 2008 by Jerika