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In 1903, Mark Twain defended his friend and fellow author Helen Keller against charges of plagiarism, writing in a letter: ‘The kernel, the soul – let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances – is plagiarism.’ Of course, even Twain’s screed against the concept of originality was hardly original. As the ancient Roman playwright Terence notes in his comedy The Eunuch: ‘Nothing has yet been said that’s not been said before.’ In this short firm, the US filmmaker Drew Christie turns a moviegoer’s complaint to a box-office attendant about a lack of originality in Hollywood into a madcap exploration of appropriation, adaptation and plagiarism in art and, more generally, human thought. Deploying hand-drawn animation and a stream of Wikipedia articles to droll comedic effect, the film approaches its topic in a manner you might just call ‘original’ – if you still cling to such silly notions.
Video by Drew Christie
Thinkers and theories
Henri Bergson on why the existence of things precedes their possibility
Future of technology
Is this the future of space travel? Take a luxury ‘cruise’ across the solar system
Why mathematical truths exist with or without minds to consider them
Stories and literature
A French Creole folktale nearly lost to time is given new, gorgeously animated life
Food and drink
Is a ‘gastronomic society’ dinner the height of decadence, or an act of artistry?
Ecology and environmental sciences
From helicopter flybys to trail cameras, there’s no one way to count a wolf
Mood and emotion
An Oceanic lullaby, ‘Gimme Shelter’ and more elucidate how music taps into our emotions
Why a forcefully phallic portrait of Henry VIII is a masterful work of propaganda
Sports and games
A unique project frames college football as an intricately choreographed mass ritual