The Films of Charles Krauel
by Richard L. Cohen, M.S.
Nationally Certified Deaf Interpreter
American Sign Language Instructor
The Films of Charles Krauel
Produced by David H. Pierce and Jerry Strom
VHS 68 minutes, film transferred to video, no audio, no captions
Historical /Deaf Studies Rating: A+ General Interest: B
Recommended for public and academic libraries. Of most interest to students of history, sign language and Deaf culture.
Watching "The Films of Charles Krauel" is akin to looking at old vacation movies spanning a period of 1925 to 1940. There is no pretense by Krauel to anything else - yet, as a stream-of-consciousness set of "reality takes" from times past, we have in this video a tremendous gift - clear evidence of the enduring and socially satisfying strengths of the Deaf community. Serious students of ASL and the Deaf community will glimpse some precious footage. Unless interested in viewing Americana in general, though, one is tempted to fast forward through many scenes to experience the visual delights of Deaf institutions and people of the early to mid 1900's. This film would make an excellent companion to the 30-minute Dawn Sign Press video title, "Charles Krauel, A Profile of a Deaf Filmmaker," which includes some of the key ASL and Deaf community excerpts, supplemented with ASL commentary. While the DAVIDEO Productions title is a completely visual experience (there is no audio), the Dawn Sign Press video includes both voice-over and open captions, making it accessible to a wider audience. Each of these videos featuring Krauel's films has lasting value and delivers strong messages. Watching "The Films of Charles Krauel" makes two of these messages abundantly clear. Deaf people are full of life. Sign language is the expression of that full life.
With appropriate background knowledge, the viewer will get the sense that "the more things change, the more they remain the same." Deaf audiences will especially appreciate this affirmation. Mainstream (non-Deaf) people will come away feeling convinced that the Deaf community actually exists, although not necessarily at a fixed geographical location. Further, the films demonstrate that Deaf people, no matter how scattered, will find each other. No one watching "The Films of Charles Krauel" could ever think of Deaf people as isolated! Rather, one sees Deaf individuals enjoying life to the fullest, as part of a vibrant community. Therein lies the reason Charles Krauel filmed ... so that Deaf people could share what they experienced during the various gatherings of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf and other celebrations of Deaf fellowship. After scanning scene after scene of this kind of community, courtesy of Charles Krauel, one comes away feeling that life is good.