Citizen Carlson: A Film about G.W.

Here it is: the film that our own Sam Mulberry and Chris Gehrz made in honor of GW Carlson’s retirement. Bookended by spoofs of Citizen Kane, it features clips of interviews with faculty, administrators, and students reflecting on their memories of GW.

This is the version showed at Wednesday’s reception in the Library. A shorter one was part of the annual faculty “roast and toast” that morning; a longer cut was screened for the History and Political Science departments at their year-end barbecue last Friday. (Sam promises to post that version soon; it includes more interview footage.)

Some fun facts about Citizen Carlson:

  • That’s Bethel theatre professor Brent Adams narrating the newsreel that starts at 2:38. He improvised the “silence or ignore… or silence” line.
  • In that newsreel, Bethel founding president J.A. Edgren is played by current Bethel president Jay Barnes — adopting what we can only assume is an uncanny impersonation of Edgren’s Swedish accent.
  • The “projection room” for the section starting at 6:57 is the AC 214 conference room where the History Department holds its meetings.
  • One of the stars of the interview section is our colleague AnneMarie Kooistra, who was on sabbatical this semester but contributed her memorably affectionate/exasperated thoughts about G.W. during an unrelated interview filmed last fall.
  • Dr. Gehrz is especially proud of his cinematography in the Dan Ritchie clip (starting 9:52), which inadvertently made Dan look like a character in a film noir.
  • Most people were filmed in their own offices. Exceptions: Stacey Hunter Hecht and Christian Collins Winn were both shot (from different angles) in Dr. Gehrz’s office (hence the “Honk if you’re Swedish” bumper sticker hanging behind Christian’s head at 10:19) and Diana Magnuson up in the archives.
  • The song playing under the closing credits is Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” from his 1963 Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan album. Fully one-third of this video consists of credits, but they’re well worth watching for Amy Poppinga’s amazing impersonations of GW’s “honorifics” and for the extra interview clips tucked into the last few minutes!

And if you only have time for one minute of this video, watch Deb Harless’ interview starting at 12:06, where she thinks back fondly on GW’s admonition to “go home and watch your kids play soccer.” Impossible not to get choked up…

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