July 18, 2012

“Trial by Movie” to Be Offered This Fall As Evergreen Forum Gears Up For New Classes

UNDERSTANDING MORALITY: Actors Daniel Day-Lewis and the late Pete Postlethwaite in a scene from “In the Name of the Father,” one of the movies that will be studied in Judy Walzer’s new Evergreen Forum course, “Trial by Movie.”

“Miscarriage of justice is as much a concern to the legal system as is the correct use of the rules,” writes instructor Judy Walzer in the description of her upcoming Evergreen Forum class, “Trial by Movie.” “On the screen, injustice inevitably makes the drama still more powerful.”

With that in mind, Ms. Walzer’s class will be reading book versions and viewing movie renditions of works like 12 Angry Men, A Civil Action, The Winslow Boy, Judgment at Nuremberg, The Reader, To Kill a Mockingbird, and In the Name of the Father.

The Evergreen Forum is a peer led, continuing education program offering daytime courses for interested adults in the Princeton area. The next round of classes will begin this fall, and although registration does not officially begin until July 20, the list of this term’s classes is already posted on the Forum’s website, www.theevergreenforum.org. Time is definitely of the essence here. Ms. Walzer is on the Forum’s Long-Term Planning Committee and she described its challenges as having to do with “the pressures of success” as more and more people want to become involved. With limited enrollments in many classes, oversubscription is likely, and a lottery will be held on August 28 to choose who gets in. Participants will be notified of their status by August 31.

“Trial by Movie” will meet for eight weeks on Wednesdays, beginning October 3, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library. Ms. Walzer describes herself as feeling “grateful and privileged” to be teaching it. Evergreen Forum instructors receive no remuneration, but are entitled to take one free class for each class they teach.

A former teacher and administrator at The New School, Ms. Walzer’s background is in English and American Literature. Her latest course offering evolved as “somewhere along the line I saw several movies that have trials, and it struck me that there are particular advantages to focusing on the drama between adversaries.” Some further research and more movie-viewing convinced her that it would be a good subject for a course.

Evergreen Forum recently celebrated its tenth anniversary under the auspices of the Princeton Senior Resource Center. The faculty is largely comprised of retired professors from area colleges. Coming from a similar demographic, the students aren’t too shabby, either, and the combination means leaving lots of time for discussion. “These are students who have something to say,” observed Ms. Walzer, whose previous classes have focused on subjects like literary connections to “film noir” and biographical treatments in books and movies.

“Hollywood has changed so much,” she said recently. Acknowledging that while “a picture is worth one thousand words,” Ms. Walzer believes that “the experience of reading literature gives you something that you can’t get from the film.

“What I like is studying the contrasts in how you respond to each medium; is it a better or poorer rendition? In the musical world this is called ‘crossover.’”