A wonderful document of our times.
J. Kocan | Brooklyn, NY | 02/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are few American public figures more fascinating than Norman Mailer. This program, originally produced for PBS, is a parallel examination of Mailer's major works and the cultural events that inspired them. Instead of the usual biographic material (early life, upbringing, etc.), we dive right in - namely, to World War II and 'The Naked and the Dead.' From there, historical footage and dramatized passages guide us through 'Armies of the Night,' 'The Executioner's Song' and numerous other Mailer landmarks, ending with some brief thoughts on the Clinton presidency. 'Mailer on Mailer' does skip over a few interesting tangents (like Muhammad Ali and 'The Fight' or Mailer's work on Picasso), but it would be practically impossible to squeeze the author's entire body of work into one 90-minute film. The material represented on this disc is simply so fascinating, it leaves you wanting more. It could have been twice as long. (One complaint: some footage of Mailer and Gore Vidal shouting at each other would have been a dream come true; but still....) This is required viewing for any aspiring writers. Despite your personal feelings about Mailer, there is no question that he is one of the most vital interpreters - and agitators - of American culture. Let's hope his stormy 'marriage' to this country lasts another 50 years."
Mailer talks about America
Peter V. Tamas | New Brunswick area, NJ United States | 11/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The cover of this DVD describes Norman Mailer as:
- provocateurI'm not entirely certain if this DVD is really about any of these four Norman Mailers. While you are certainly left with the impression that Mailer did well in all of these fields, in the end, he does not spend much time describing himself in any of these areas. Instead, he talks about how he felt about America and American events from WWII through the Clinton presidency. If you're hoping for some profound insights on being a novelist, you will get a few. If you teach high school social studies and want to provoke discussion amongst your students, you will get that from this DVD. Mailer comments that we should permit the public to watch executions because either people will grow tired of it or we will learn something about human nature. That should keep a bunch of teenagers busy for an hour or so. There are many other similarly provocative comments.I enjoyed Mailer's descriptions of the Ali-Forman fight in "When we Were Kings." Clearly, Mailer is capable of an equally insightful and interesting discussion of what made him tick as a writer. But in this DVD you will only see bits of that. I venture to guess that either Mailer or the makers of documentaries about Mailer not quite ready to make such a film."