CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 20 . . . . June 10, 2005
The cover photo shows a bearded, snowy-haired, elderly astrophysicist, standing in front of a pastoral greenscape, the dark cosmos far above him. He could be anybody's grandfather. He is Hubert Reeves, an internationally renowned astrophysicist, honoured by scientific colleagues as the recipient of the Albert Einstein award for 2001. He is also the subject of Hubert Reeves: Star Teller, which profiles his talents, both as a scientist and a philosopher.
The cinematography of this video is visually rich, counterpointing the verdant landscapes of Malicorne, France (where he currently lives) and the Lac-St. Louis region of Quebec (where he was raised), with stunning photos of stars, planets, and galaxies. As a child, viewing the stars was "a mystical initiation" into a world that captivated his heart, soul, and mind. His fascination with the universe led him to study at Cornell University where he worked with some of the greatest scientific minds of the century. He arrived at Cornell during a critical time in history: World War II was raging, and physicists were engaged in a race against time to build the atom bomb. Reeves explores the ethical dilemmas faced by scientists, not only at that time, but also in subsequent decades. In exploring these issues of the past, he also discourses on his concerns about the present and of the future of the planet.
Reeves is animated and passionate about his beliefs; the video was originally made in French, and spoken content is provided entirely through English sub-titling. Engaging and thoughtful though his commentary is, fifty-two minutes of reminiscence and discourse is not enough to hold the interest of high school audiences. Even high school students of advanced physics would probably lack a sense of the context into which to place Reeves' perspective on the history of ideas, important though they are. Hubert Reeves: Star Teller is a beautifully-made video, and as a documentary would probably have appeal to a very select audience. However, I cannot recommend it as a selection for high school libraries.
Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.