Current DVD Releases

Television: The Enchanted Mirror

Television: The Enchanted Mirror, an acclaimed 1981 documentary about the impact of television on people and social institutions, which was produced before the dawn of the computer age, has been remastered and released by Whole Earth Films. Produced by Julene Bair, and co-directed by Julene Bair and George Csicsery.

Television is a half-hour color film featuring interviews with TV directors, writers, an ABC executive in charge of standards and practices, a brain behavior scientist, an advertiser, and members of the viewing public. It explores TV's influence on the perception of reality and on moral values, and shows how the most isolated members of society depend on the medium.

Various critical approaches to television are measured against the experiences of children, their parents, and other TV viewers. TV drama directors and writers explain the forces molding commercial TV. From its 1980 vantage point, the film surveys the changing technologies of television, and ponders how these will affect Americans in the future.

Television: The Enchanted Mirror was premiered at the International Public Television (INPUT) screening conference in Venice, Italy in March 1981. It was enthusiastically received as "a concise summary of the controversies surrounding the world's most powerful communications medium." It is a valuable snapshot description of how humans and TV interacted in the United States in 1979-1980, just before the computer revolution changed everything.

  • Second Place Award, Marin County National Film Competition (August 1981)
  • Mill Valley Film Festival (August 1981)
  • United States Film Festival, Park City, Utah (forerunner of Sundance) (January 1982)
  • Palo Alto Film Festival (Honorable Mention) (May 1982)
  • "A hilariously depressing and clinical view of how TV shapes our psyche, sex, stomach, souls and political selections."
    — Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle

  • "It's not that Television: The Enchanted Mirror presents anything new, but that the docu's compactness focuses dramatically and harshly on TV's w.k. blemishes. Producer Julene Bair and codirector George Csicsery deserve a nod for the impact."

  • "Television does not permit a heightened awareness. It wants to keep you asleep. It wants to keep you dulled and somnambulistic with football, enough cleavage, and as many car wrecks as it can get away with. Because in that direction lies your compliance with what they need you for — and that's to BUY."
    — Harlan Ellison

  • "I don't think we're in trouble in this culture because of television. I think that television is a reflection of the trouble that we're in, and to some degree might help to get us out."
    — Stanley Greenberg, scriptwriter (The Defenders, The Missiles of October, Pueblo)
The new 2008 release includes two extra features on the DVD:
  • A Hidden Talent features interview subject Max Bender on the mouth harp.
  • Sherlock and Lawdog is a discussion between two Emeryville, California police officers about the challenges of living up to the image of TV cops.
Directors: George Csicsery and Julene Bair
Producer: Julene Bair
Studio: Zala Films
DVD FORMAT: NTSC, Widescreen
Region: All Regions
Language: English
Number of discs: 1
Rating: Unrated
Release date: October 1, 2008
Duration: 30 minutes

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