Unconventional films represented in noteworthy Geneseo Alan Lutkus International Film Series

The Middle Ages are an intriguing subject, and even more enticing are the films based on this time period, which simultaneously educate and entertain. 

As college students, it may be difficult to find films that are enjoyable and full of information, and we also might require a scheduled time during our busy days to actually sit down and watch such a rare movie.

Lucky for us, the Alan Lutkus International Film Series provides students and faculty with the opportunity to watch films about the Middle Ages from all over the world on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in Newton 204—the perfect time for a free, entertaining two-hour study break after a busy day. 

The first of the three film screenings was on Thursday Feb. 8. The film shown was The Lion in Winter; host professor of English and interim director of medieval studies Graham Drake informed the audience that it was initially based off of a play by the same name. 

Drake hosted this screening because of his medieval studies focus, as the film series is based on the global middle ages. 

The Lion in Winter is a fictionalized interaction between Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, his wife whom he has locked in a prison. A political battle between the two ensues because Henry wishes for their youngest son, John, to inherit the throne. 

Eleanor, however, wants their oldest son Richard to be the future king. After much trickery and turmoil involving Henry’s mistress, Henry deems all his sons unfit for the throne, dismissing his mistress and sending his wife Eleanor back to prison.

Drake suggested that the audience pay attention to the landscape shots and film’s pageantry, as these aspects represent medievalism—a reconstruction of the Middle Ages for political or abstract purposes.

Drake is not only interested in this film series for its subject matter, but also for its impact on viewers. 

“These are really important films that show the history of film that we don’t usually get at a Cineplex,” he said. “I think this is a great resource.”

The supervisor of this film series, Jun Okada, is an associate professor of English and film studies and has kept the legacy of the series alive.

“The film series was created in the early 2000s,” Okada said. “It was named after the professor who started the film studies minor in the English Department, Alan Lutkus, who was a medievalist and film enthusiast and who passed away in 2003.”

Okada believes the purpose of the series is to show Geneseo community members compelling films they may not watch otherwise. In this way, the festival meets the global initiative present in the college’s mission statement, according to Okada. 

Okada hopes to get more faculty involved with the program on a rotating basis in the future. 

Geology major sophomore Anthony Miraglia was present for The Lion in Winter and found it intriguing. 

“I liked the movie overall,” he said. “The performances were terrific and Katharine Hepburn in particular gave an outstanding performance as Eleanor.”

Miraglia also found the Alan Lutkus International film series to be a great resource. 

“This program is beneficial because film gives us a way of experiencing things in a way that's different from just hearing about it in lecture,” he said. “Even though it's not entirely accurate, the film gives students a lot of material to discuss in a meaningful and interesting way.”

The next two films in the series will be Throne of Blood and The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc