The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on this day fifty years ago. It made poll taxes illegal on the both the state and federal levels. I think it is really interesting given that the voter ID laws are exactly the same thing: a way to make voting something that must be earned instead of a right so as to disenfranchise the poor. But I feel sure that if it ever got to the Supreme Court (UPDATE: see Rick Fine’s excellent comment and links below), somehow the five conservative justices would see it in a whole different light. But you will have to forgive me. I’m sick and grumpy.
On this day in 1832, the great painter Edouard Manet was born. Although considered an impressionist, he was more the proto-impressionist. He is probably the most important artist in the move from Realism to Impressionism. I really admire his work, and I would include more details and an image if I were feeling better. Maybe I’ll update it tomorrow.
Other birthdays: big handwriting John Hancock (1737); French writer Stendhal (1783); physicist Ernst Abbe (1840); the great mathematician David Hilbert (1862); physicist Paul Langevin (1872); comedian Ernie Kovacs (1919); actor Chita Rivera (81); actor Sonny Chiba (75); actor Rutger Hauer (70); and TV’s MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson.
The day, however, belongs to the great filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein who was born on this day in 1898. After having Griffith yesterday, I hate to give Eisenstein so little attention. He is best known for Battleship Potemkin, although he made a number of other important films. I am a great admirer of October: Ten Days That Shook the World. But my admiration isn’t with regard to it as a propaganda film. To be honest, I’ve always thought that aspect of Eisenstein’s work was over-intellectual, and I don’t think anyone really understood without having it explained. But it is an immensely powerful film, even today.
Here is one of the most famous movie scenes eve, the Odessa Steps from Battleship Potemkin. It is both amazingly suspenseful and it makes its point as clearly as one could in film:
Happy birthday Sergei Eisenstein!