Revisiting favorites | WarGames and research, Dec. 31, 2014

Continuing along my “Summer of Nostalgia” blog tour and revisiting past favorites on this blog… next up is a post from the last day of 2014, “WarGames and research,” in which I delve deep into the brief research scene that takes place about a half-hour into the classic 1983 film, WarGames.

I’ll pause while you browse the original post… 🙂

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'WarGames and research' post

Why this post?

This is not only one of my personal favorites posts, I think it is also one of my best posts, both in terms of writing and analysis. And writing this post surprised me, as I stated at the end of the post:

The research scene is only a few minutes long, and the reel librarian portrayal only a few seconds long. I wasn’t expecting to get so much from so little. But there are so many layers to this scene, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated, with a lot of useful information relayed to the audience.

I had always like the classic film WarGames, but when rewatching it in terms of analyzing for reel librarians and research, I gained even more appreciation for the care in which the concept of research was handled in the film. There are valuable lessons to be learned about research by watching WarGames, including:

  • That you will probably search more than once — that’s why it’s called REsearch! Where you end up is probably not going to be where you began.
  • Put effort into your research and get creative in exploring different types of research materials. The research montage features peer-reviewed journal articles, newspaper articles, a thesis, plus a documentary video.
  • Explore different methods of approaching research, because not everything useful can be found through a computer.
  • There’s never just one way. There’s always a back door to research. (Just like with computer systems.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a librarian for help!

Also, this movie has some of the best fake research materials and library catalog cards I’ve ever seen onscreen!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'WarGames and research' post

New thoughts?

This post is another example of how I can do a LOT with a little. The research scene in the film is only a few minutes long, and the reel librarian is onscreen for only a few seconds, and yet this scene (and the librarian’s help!) is critical to advancing the plot of the film. And rereading this post made me realize just how much I enjoy analyzing reel librarian films that have secondary reel librarian characters.

Sometimes, people ask me why I don’t have a post yet that analyzes such-and-such film, usually one of the major reel librarian films, like The Music Man. The answer? Probably because it’s, well, harder to do and takes a lot more time. (I have written about major librarian characters, just not as frequently. See my Class I and Class II pages and look for film titles that are hyperlinks — they’ll take you to my film analysis posts about those specific films.) There’s just a lot more to analyze and wrap my head around and write about in a seminal reel librarian movie like, for example, The Music Man. That’s why I did a narrower focus when analyzing the 2004 TV movie, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear; in that post, “Quest for the ‘Liberated Librarian’,” I focused only on how the first 15 minutes set up the quintessential “Liberated Librarian” character type, rather than going into exhaustive detail about EVERY scene and reel librarian character in that TV movie.

When I set out to watch a film that I know has a secondary reel librarian character or a brief library scene, I think of it as a fun kind of challenge. Like, how many stereotypical traits can they pack into this brief glimpse of a reel librarian? Let’s see! Or, how many layers of meaning or significance can I detect in this brief library scene? Let’s see! Or, will this secondary reel librarian character be pivotal to the plot? Let’s see! (More often than not, they are.)

And even then, films like WarGames can surprise me by how significant they really turn out to be. When that happens, it’s refreshing and heartening. 🙂


I’ll be back next week to revisit another Reel Librarians favorite… just two more favorites to go before my 5th blog anniversary and GIVEAWAY!

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2 comments on “Revisiting favorites | WarGames and research, Dec. 31, 2014

  1. Marco Digges says:

    So cool!! 😬
    Can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I left that comment about WARGAMES. Great to see that your blog is going strong!

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