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Old News director's blog

Some people have asked me why windmills play such a scenic role at the beginning of Old News and again, later, as a background for its credits. If you travel U.S. 287 through southeastern Colorado, there's not much to break the monotony of the windswept landscape. But on a ridge between Lamar and Springfield is a monstrous, modern wind farm for generating electricity. It wasn't even on the drawing boards in the mid-1980s when I filmed an earlier documentary, History on the Rocks, but even then I had entertained the idea of including scenes of an old fashioned, water-pump windmill to underscore the hardships and remoteness of life on the high, desolate plains.
Artistically, comparative scenes of the new and the old windmills form a nice introductory contrast of our pervasive high-technology lifestyle to the low-tech culture of our ancestors whose imaginations, arguably, made a vital difference in their lives. The less dependent one is on advanced gadgetry, the more solution-based resourcefulness and personal ingenuity is required to adapt and survive. That their tools were cruder than ours only serves to impress us more in what they did achieve and how far their explorations took them from home. As Gloria Farley exclaims in our epilogue, "Why do we think that people who were ancient, were primitive?" In the 21st century we truly do stand on the shoulders of giants.
My chosen windmill motif was intended to convey a number of more subtle themes, some of which can be grasped in the mystical lyrics of "The Windmills of Your Mind," written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman & Michel Legrand, published by EMI U Catalog Inc., (ASCAP), an instrumental version of which scores our closing credits.
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes on its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream.
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever spinning wheel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
The legendary dreamer Don Quixote tilted at windmills, questioned authority, challenged the very perception of reality, as does What The #$*! Do We (K)now!? (2004). Don Quixote's tenacity is the sort of persistence needed by anyone who suggests an alternate theory not welcomed by the establishment. William Adams' haunting baroque oboe rendition of "The Windmills of Your Mind" sets a perfect tone for an idealistic quest to rewrite history.