How Zombie Films Reveal the True Dangers of COVID-19

Like the Living Dead, a Virus Can Overwhelm Powerful States, Ruin Economies—and Reveal Our Best and Worst Selves


On any given day at the University of Sydney in Australia, Chinese visitors spill out of tour buses to make their way up the hill to the main Quadrangle, an elegant Gothic Revival structure of sandstone, leaded glass windows, and whimsical gargoyles. Enamored with Harry Potter, the tourists hold smart phones aloft to capture images of the building their guides claim to have inspired Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. No one bothers to correct them.

Now the Quad is a ghost town, depopulated by the novel coronavirus, making it easy to spot …

Hollywood Park’s Last Photo Finish | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Hollywood Park’s Last Photo Finish

The People of a Vanished Track, As Viewed From the Clubhouse Turn

On December 22, 2013, the world-famous Hollywood Park Race Track in Inglewood, California, shut down forever. In 2014, demolition began, closing the stable door on 75 years of history, while …

The Horrifying Hollywood Movie About Thermonuclear War That Determined U.S. | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Horrifying Hollywood Movie That Determined U.S. Nuclear Policy

Operation Ivy Provoked Such Controversy That Future Nuclear Test Films Were Kept Secret From the Public

On a hot June day in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sat down in the cool confines of a White House screening room to watch a horrifying movie. Produced by …

When Silent Films Were a Force for World Peace | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When Silent Films Were a Force for World Peace

In the 1920s, Moguls Pitched the Technology as a ‘Universal Language’ That Was More Than Mere Entertainment

By the 1920s, the standard-bearers of the Hollywood film industry had taken to speaking about movies in the loftiest terms—as saviors of humanity. Leading star and producer Douglas Fairbanks declared, …

When San Francisco Kicked Hollywood to the Curb

Angered by Negative Depictions of Their City, in the Early 1970s Civic Leaders Regulated Filmmakers Out of Town

Canada’s motion picture industry earned the nickname “Hollywood North” because the country so often serves as a center of location production for American films. But in the early 1970s, this …

How Jewish Was Stanley Kubrick?

The Director of 2001 and Eyes Wide Shut Had the 'Aura of a Talmudic Scholar' and Favored Plots Dealing With Cultural Outsiders

Many people are surprised to discover that legendary director Stanley Kubrick—whose masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey is 50 years old this year—was Jewish. He rarely spoke of it, his films …