The Century Project

                    The Twentieth Century Through the Lens of a Camera



As centuries go, this has been one of the most amazing: inspiring, at times horrifying, and fascinating. Let's take stock for a moment. To name just a few random things we did in a hundred years: we split the atom, invented jazz and rock, launched airplanes and landed on the moon, concocted a general theory of relativity, devised the transistor and figured out how to etch millions of them on tiny microchips, discovered penicillin and the structure of DNA, fought down fascism and communism, developed cinema and television, built highways and wired the world. Not to mention the peripherals these produced, such as sitcoms and cable channels, "800" numbers and Websites, shopping malls and leisure time, existentialism and modernism, Oprah and Imus. And against all odds, we avoided blowing ourselves up. All this produced some memorable players. Look around. There's Louis Armstrong with his horn, Charlie Chaplin with his cane, Rosa Parks staying seated on her bus, Einstein is in his study, and the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show~ WALTER ISAACSON


Each team will produce a trailer for a documentary film debut that will be showcased during the AP Independent Film Festival in June 2016. The trailer will explore the evolution of popular culture in the 20th century. Production teams, which will be composed of 2-3 students, will research significant events that shaped an era, identify icons, music, sports and entertainment, and the arts, by locating and storing primary and secondary resources, archived still imagery, film, and audio clips, to contribute to the production of the ?Decades Project? documentary.

Production Studio is responsible for

      a. Written Summary and Storyboard 

      b. Trailers

      c.  Movie Poster


Directors and Producers

Research Team (collection and storage of media files)  

    Archived film and images
    Audio files
    Research narratives
    Movie Poster

Production Team   (layout, design, and production)

    Final script, production, and editing of trailer


Assignment dates and schedule

Studio formed and responsibilities delegated 

Storyboard, summary, and research


Movie Poster


AP Indie Film Festival Finals Day

The Decades Project

Significant Events           
           Significant events that shaped the era

          The Famous and the Infamous

        Musicians and Songwriters

Sports and Entertainment
        Spectator Sports
        Fads and Games
        Social Crazes

The Arts
        Film and Photography           
        Design and Fashion

1920s The Jazz Age
American Cultural History 1920 ? 1929

The 1920s ushered in an era of great social change, general prosperity, Prohibition and what historians refer to as the Jazz Age. The popular image of the 1920s, as a decade of prosperity and riotous living and of bootleggers and gangsters, flappers and hot jazz, flagpole sitters, and marathon dancers, is indelibly etched in the American psyche. But this image is also profoundly misleading. The 1920s was a decade of deep cultural conflicts, pitting a more cosmopolitan, modernist, urban culture against a more provincial, traditionalist, rural culture. An energetic postwar mentality emerges and old traditions are challenged during the roaring ?20s. Women take bold steps toward equality and an artistic explosion occurs within the African American community that produced a wealth of music, literature poetry, dance, social discourse and visual art.

1930s The Great Depression
American Cultural History 1930 ? 1939

The stock market crash of 1929 ushered in the greatest period of economic malaise in America's history. The Great Depression shaped the atmosphere for a decade; the most prosperous country on earth could not feed its own citizens. The popular culture of the 1930s was fraught with contradictions. It was, simultaneously, a decade of traditionalism and of modernist experimentation; of sentimentality and "hard-boiled" toughness; of longings for a simpler past and fantastic dreams of the future. It was a decade in which many Americans grew increasingly interested in tradition and folk culture. Beset by deep anxieties and insecurities, many Americans in the 1930s hungered for heroes. Popular culture offered many: superheroes like Superman and Batman, who appeared in the new comic books of the '30s; tough, hard-b
oiled detectives in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler; and radio heroes like "The Lone Ranger" or "The Shadow". The Depression was, in certain respects, a powerful unifying experience. A new phrase, "the American way of life," entered the American vernacular. The new photojournalism that appeared in magazines like Life helped to create a common frame of reference.

1940s The Home front
American Cultural History 1940 ? 1949

When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, America was a country steeped in isolationist policies and ill prepared for war. Within a matter of weeks, the country made an amazing turnover from a peacetime nation suffering the final throes of a depression to the most efficient and productive nation in the world. World War II produced important changes in American life, some trivial, others profound. One striking change involved fashion. To conserve wool and cotton, dresses became shorter and vests and cuffs disappeared, as did double-breasted suits, pleats, and ruffles. Women also substituted for men on the home front. For the first time in history, married working women outnumbered single-working women as 6.3 million women entered the work force during the war. The war challenged the conventional image of female behavior, as "Rosie the Riveter" became the popular symbol of women who abandoned traditional female occupations to work in defense industries. After the initial jubilation at the end of World War II, America faced severe domestic demographic problems and the international specter of communism and the Cold War. In response to the serious housing shortages exacerbated by the high marriage rates and subsequent baby boom of returning soldiers and the girls they left behind, the Truman administration created the GI Bill, which enabled veterans to secure low interest mortgages and college educations. But the post war peace could not alleviate the growing fears of the new atomic age and the emerging Cold War.

1950s Happy Days
American Cultural History 1950 ? 1959

The end of World War II brought thousands of young servicemen back to America to pick up their lives and start new families in new homes with new jobs. With energy never before experienced, American industry expanded to meet peacetime needs. Americans began buying goods not available during the war, which created corporate expansion and jobs. The baby boom was underway. The election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 ushered in one of the most prosperous eras in American history. The shortages of the war were a distant memory as consumers rushed to spend their wartime savings on the new homes, cars and appliances that were now abundant. During the 1950s, a sense of uniformity pervaded American society. Conformity was common, as young and old alike followed group norms rather than striking out on their own. Men expected to be the breadwinners; women, even when they worked, assumed their proper place was at home. The nuclear family as the haven from political and atomic anxiety depended on rigid gender roles and consumption, and television provided the images of themselves that Americans wanted to see. Television contributed to the homogenizing trend by providing young and old with a shared experience reflecting accepted social patterns. But the expanding economy and domestic bliss could not alleviate the growing hysteria of the new atomic age, and a demagogue from Wisconsin, Senator Joseph McCarthy, harnessed this hysteria for his personal political success. Beneath the complacency of the era lurked the indicators of a society waiting to rebel, and the realties of a nation divided by racial and class conflicts. A number of writers, members of the so-called "beat generation," rebelled against conventional values. Stressing spontaneity and spirituality, they asserted intuition over reason, Eastern mysticism over Western institutionalized religion. The "beats" went out of their way to challenge the patterns of respectability and shock the rest of the culture.

1960s Poisoned Dreams
American Cultural History 1960 ? 1969

Some call the 1960?s the era of peace and love while others view it as the decade of discontent. The "Psychedelic Sixties" broke the rules in every conceivable way from music to fashion, to manners and mores. Boundaries were challenged and crossed in literature and art; the government was confronted head-on for its policies in Vietnam; the young embraced the cause of civil rights. The first few years of the 1960s promised a greater, stronger and more unified America than ever. The United States, as the undisputed leader of the free world, straddled the globe like Colossus. But within a few years the optimism of the first years of the decade would vanish, only to be replaced by the uncertainty of a new and unfamiliar world, and the national mourning of a fallen leader. In the years that followed the assassination of John F. Kennedy the United States stood on the brink of domestic conflict and entrenched in the quagmire of the Vietnam War. The years 1963 through 1968 remain some of the most violent and destructive years of American history. Major events of those turbulent years, including the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964, Freedom Summer, student protest and the Students for a Democratic Society, Lyndon Baines Johnson's Great Society, the counterculture, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and the 1968 Democratic convention.

Decades Project Rubric