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IU Themester Streaming and DVD Resources


Beauty is inherent in all that a university does and is: examination of the fundamental principles of science and mathematics reveals to us the striking beauty of the universe, and any form of cultural expression is always, in some crucial way, aesthetic.

Philosophy has long tried to explain the tight grip beauty has on human consciousness. More recently, cognitive science has shown us the way our neurons fire in response to stimuli that we associate with our concepts of beauty. Yet in contemporary times beauty's centrality as a serious topic of critical and intellectual engagement has been minimized—when it has not altogether been displaced—by pressing social, political, and economic matters that presumably exist outside of its domain. Beauty’s association with appreciation instead of critique, surface instead of depth, partiality instead of objectivity, and luck instead of work has meant that recent intellectual discourse has given it a wide berth, impoverishing both our understanding of beauty and its relationship(s) to the social, political, economic and scientific. In everyday discourse, too, beauty often plays the foil to the intellectual, the ethical, or the necessary, insuring its neglect as a site of generative thinking.

The goal of this Themester is to reinvigorate our considerations of beauty as a core component of the human experience across the span of time and in diverse scholarly, social and cultural settings. - Adapted from IU Themester Homepage


                            All photos courtesy of, accessed August 2021

IUB Streaming Titles

The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.

The Beauty of Anatomy, Part 1 and Part 2 (2014, 50 mins): A BBC series in which Dr Adam Rutherford investigates the close relationship between discoveries in anatomy and the works of art that illustrate them, from Greek antiquity through the European Renaissance and into the present.

CERN & The Sense of Beauty (2017, 75 mins): Reveals the secrets of the underground CERN, Europe's research laboratory operating the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Giant machines capture images with a power as mysterious as art, beauty and harmony becoming scientific models. Some at CERN believe in God, some believe in numbers. But all realize that the elusive nature of matter can only be understood with a sixth sense: the sense of beauty.

The Cult of the Beautiful Body (2006, 30 mins): Extreme body consciousness has taken youthful narcissism to new heights, making "boy meets girl" a ruthless physical selection process. This program examines the cult of the body in Western society and how it has reduced today's courtship ritual to a one-dimensional experience based primarily on physical attraction. Beginning with the pressure that men currently feel to conform to an abstract physical ideal, the role of the media is scrutinized, along with the culture that from Munich to Los Angeles excludes all who do not espouse the ideals of bodily perfection at the expense of all else.

Dance Black America: A Festival of Modern, Tap, and African Styles (1984, 22 mins): Film produced from dance productions of the Black American Dance Festival, April 21-24, 1983, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The film includes major contemporary Black dancers and dance companies in the context of a historical survey which indicates the African and Caribbean heritage upon which Black American dance is based.

Ecology: Art21 – Art in the Twenty-First Century (2007, 55 mins): How is our understanding of the natural world deeply cultural? The "Art in the Twenty-First Century" documentary “Ecology” explores this question in the work of the four artists: Ursula von Rydingsvard, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Robert Adams, and Mark Dion.

Eternal Beauty? Story of the Third Reich Through its Own Propaganda (2003, 92 mins): No other totalitarian regime is as closely associated with an artistic movement as Nazi Germany. Through art on a monumental scale, Hitler created a world--and a worldview--as enticing as it was illusory. a world of eternal beauty. This program definitively examines the history of the Third Reich through the lens of its own artistic iconography-films that promoted German superiority, demonized Jews, encouraged love of the fatherland, and hid the fact that the nation, after reverses on every front, was steadily losing the war.

The Illusionists: The Globalization of Beauty (2015, 54 mins): The Illusionists examines how global advertising firms, mass media conglomerates, and the beauty, fashion, and cosmetic surgery industries are changing the way people around the world define beauty and see themselves. Taking us from Harvard to the halls of the Louvre Museum, from a cosmetic surgeon's office in Beirut to the heart of Tokyo's Electric Town, the film explores how these industries saturate our lives with narrow, Westernized, consumer-driven images of beauty that show little to no respect for biological realities or cultural differences.

In Beauty I Walk: The Navajo Way to Harmony (2002, 28 mins): Set amid the stunning environs of Arizona's rugged Canyon de Chelly, this fascinating documentary explores traditional Navajo Indian spiritual practices and thought. The film examines Navajo art, cosmology, and culture and illustrates how the traditional way of life, called "walking in beauty," seeks to replicate the innate order and harmony of the universe within each individual.

Nature’s Orchestra: Sounds of Our Changing Planet (2015, 24 mins): Follows Bernie Krause on a soundscape expedition in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Along with animal voices, including migratory bird songs, the barking of a fox, and a grizzly's sniff, the expedition records the melting of permafrost and other evidence of climate change…Nature's Orchestra offers a unique marriage of science and art. Accompanying the visual beauty of America's Serengeti is music with sounds from the wild that Krause composed for the symphony "The Great Animal Orchestra", and also for the "Biophony" ballet…Krause's work demonstrates that the origins of music are in the world's wild places, and that nature sounds provide an important connection to the natural world, as well as to our deepest selves.

Ugly Beauty: Appreciating 21st-Century Art (2009, 60 mins): Has beauty vanished from contemporary art? Must today's painting and sculpture repel the eye in order to be taken seriously by the avant-garde? Many observers think so, but acclaimed British critic Waldemar Januszczak disagrees. In this program he argues that great art is as interested in beauty as it always was, but that perhaps the definition of beauty has changed-and we're looking for it in the wrong places.

Explore more awesome documentaries and feature films via IUCAT as well as via IUB's licensed subscriptions to Films for Education, Kanopy and SWANK at Media Services Libguide to Streaming Databases.

IUB DVD/Video Films

Be sure to check with Media Services for hours.  VHS titles are housed off-site at ALF, and can be requested via IUCAT.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (2000, 103 mins): In this two-part program, members of Ailey's dance company celebrate his memory by performing three works choreographed by Ailey himself, as well as a special ballet tribute choreographed by Ulysses Dove. Includes biography of Alvin Ailey.

Amélie (2001, 122 mins): A fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making. Shot in over 80 Parisian locations, acclaimed director Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Delicatessen"; "The City of Lost Children") invokes his incomparable visionary style to capture the exquisite charm and mystery of modern-day Paris through the eyes of a beautiful ingenue.

At Frida Kahlo’s: Mexico City (1933-1941) (2011, 52 mins): The Blue House, located in Mexico City, is the home where painter Frida Kahlo was born (1907) and would die (1954). She associated with famous people, from her husband, painter Diego Rivera, and Leon Trotsky to André Breton, Sergei Eisenstein, Pablo Neruda, Waldo Frank, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Vassily Kandinsky. This film recalls the great adventures of the house: its parties, its manifestos, its artists, its freewheeling love affairs, its betrayals, as well as its unlikely melding of art and revolution, of Surrealism and Mexico, of the Old and the New Worlds.

La Belle et la bête (1946, 92 mins): Jean Cocteau's sublime adaptation of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont's fairy-tale masterpiece, in which the pure love of a beautiful girl melts the heart of a feral but gentle beast, is a landmark of motion picture fantasy, with unforgettably romantic performances by Jean Marais and Josette Day. The spectacular visions of enchantment, desire, and death in Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) have become timeless icons of cinematic wonder.

Forever Wild: Celebrating America’s Wilderness (2009, 57 mins): Forever Wild captures the glory of undeveloped, wild places through breathtaking images and the moving tales of America’s modern wilderness heroes – from California to New Hampshire - who work to preserve a legacy of wilderness for all to enjoy. Together with Terry Tempest Williams’ moving prose, the stories of modern wilderness heroes will inspire and guide the viewer through an examination of the ecological and social values of America’s wild public lands.

Good Hair (2010, 95 mins): Comedian Chris Rock tackles the very personal issue of hair, and how attaining good hair can impact African American's activities, relationships, wallets, and self-esteem. Engages in frank, funny conversations with haircare professionals, beautyshop and barbershop patrons, as well as featuring interviews with Dr. Maya Angelou, Nia Long, Ice-T, Raven Symone, and more.

I Wanna Be a Beauty Queen (1980, 81 mins): In the early 1970s, the artist Andrew Logan had an idea for a party. It would not be about beauty, it would be about transformation. The Alternative Miss World would allow anyone to enter: men and women on equal footing: racial parity in a pre-cosmopolitan London; sexuality set free in a million guises. And everyone would be judged on the same criteria as the dogs at Crufts: poise, personality and originality. I Wanna Be a Beauty Queen is a filmed record of the 1978 Alternative Miss World pageant, starring Divine and Little Nell.

On Beauty (2015, 31 mins): Follows fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the fashion world when he grew frustrated with having to work within the restrictive parameters of the industry's standard of beauty. After a chance encounter with a young woman who had the genetic condition albinism, Rick re-focused his lens on those too often relegated to the shadows to change the way we see and experience beauty.

Phantom Thread (2018, 130 mins): Set in 1950s London, a renowned designer and dressmaker finds his fastidiously planned life disrupted by the love of a young, strong-willed woman.

Pink Narcissus (1971, 65 mins): In this surreal film a teenage beauty Bobby Kendall falls into a deep slumber of erotic reverie, entering the glorious realm of sexual fantasy--living in a dream world of fantastic colors, magnificent music, elaborate costumes and strikingly handsome men. He imagines himself as a Roman slave chosen by the emperor, as a triumphant matador vanquishing the bull, an innocent wood nymph gamboling in the woods, a harem boy in the tent of a sheik…His narcissism is marred by one great fear-- growing old and losing his looks.

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