Fresh from winning at Cannes, here’s the trailer for what might be one of the movies of the year.
Before Germany’s history would become to be a real-life horror stories, the Germans, and not the English were considered the masters of horror. Don’t believe me? Read up on the origins of the Gothic novel, hehehe.
One of the German masters of the Gothic, that is, if we don’t count Schiller and Goethe themselves, is a woman, not as prolific, but arguably comparable to Anne Radcliffe in her importance for the genre: Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.
Her most famous poem, Der Knabe im Moor, ranks among the best outings of German Gothic poetry. It’s as important to German Romanticism as the Mariner is for the English part of the movement, as far as I see it.
Before I present you the text, dear reader, let’s look further than just on the lyrical side of things: Let’s look at the images that the poem conjures… With this masterful student movie.
You don’t know what “Der Knabe im Moor” means in English? – You will soon be able to guess. Mwahaha.
Autumn is the gloomy season, indeed.
As sort of a follow-up on the recent, lengthy post on the Poe-ish anniversary and my six degrees of frustration with “The Following” here, a fairly brilliant lecture on Poe’s Eureka, his treatise on, well, the rules of everything.
See, this is why I love Poe so much: He is not just a contract writer. He is, quite simply, good at everything. I find it endlessly annoying that Eureka is almost a Phantom Text in our time, given that most of the usual, cheap one-volume “complete” (which really means “in-complete”) editions of Poe do not include it.
Why? – Because I am inclined to say, if you don’t know (and understand!) Eureka, you don’t know Poe. Seriously.
A few months ago I complained about one of the most misplaced recitals of 19th century poetry in James Bond’s Skyfall. The movie itself, pretty good, but the Tennyson quote – worse than when they hammered Thomas Gray into Bull Durham.
Now, one of the very few examples in modern movie culture when quoting such a text actually fits is The Mentalist, a rather lighthearted sleuth series with a rather sinister core. Red John, the faceless and diabolic antagonist of the story, has a trademark line:
Creepy, huh? – As it should be.
The Mentalist hasn’t concluded yet, so we have yet to see how the writers further use the motif. (I know that Blake again pops up over the course of the series, but I will not comment on that yet, in order to evade spoilers.)
However, the premise looks promising so far; on a personal note, I like this duality in The Mentalist – at the same time, we have a fine comedy, and then, moments of almost Poe-ish madness. Let’s hope the series does not, no pun intended, burn out, but preserves this symmetrical approach up to its eventual conclusion.
Well, by this point, you, my dear readers, might guess already that my main interest in reading Coleridge’s work focuses on his Rime, and the literary trope of “The Wandering Jew”, or, in more modern (and politically correct) terms, “The Eternal Wanderer”.
(If you think I am making racist remarks, please read up over here; far from it, actually. It’s simply the established term.)
So, well, outside of the blog, my focus is quite obviously not on Coleridge’s cursed Mariner alone; so this is why I often take detours into other times and genres, to find new expressions of this trope.
Tonight I stumbled over a particularly mesmerizing one, which I repost here, for your pleasure:
The abstract story about a lone survivor lost in a dying world. A man struggles to connect pieces from his daily scavenging routine and bits from his repressed memory. When a woman appears in his desolate forest world, she’s intent on making him face his past and consequent fate.
Found it over here:
A mesmerizing, deeply haunting movie. Enjoy!
From a Hollywood perspective – and that’s probably the only one that counts these days – 2012 was a pretty good year. 2013 promises more superheroes, more sci-fi, and more epic stories, in general.
For the adult movie-goer, though, the possibilities seem quite trim. I have put together a few links to movies that I want to watch this year, out of one reason, or another. Probably, the trailer show below will inspire to go to the theaters yourselves. – I know little enough of these movies as of yet, so I won’t comment on them in any other form.
If you like one of those trailers, feel free to do your own research. – And feel free to tell me your opinion about the movies, once you have watched them. I live in Germany right now, and some of these might start later over here than elsewhere.
18th century contexts, Bounty Mutiny, Garrow's Law, Horatio Hornblower, Le Chevallier d'Eon, Mildred Pierce, Parade's End, Richard Sharpe, The Bolitho novels, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Video, William Garrow
You guys must think I spend all day watching TV.
Well, I am not.
Still, it’s kind of the topic of the month for me to find movies about the 18th and the 19th century that aren’t outright annoying.
Annoying, as in “the upteenth Jane Austen movie”; or, on the other side, annoying as in “promising British officer with heart of gold does [insert heroic deed]”.
Because, and I might be completely wrong about this, but the mediatic treatment of the era that spans Coleridge’s life is usually one-dimensional, to say the least: When The Scarlet Pimpernel and the Japanese Chevallier d’Eon are about as unconventional as things get, then, well, that means that the general treatment is maybe just very conventional.
Not to criticize the Hornblowers or Bolithos of the literary universe, but between all the repetitive miltary fiction and the (dude that I am) unbearable novels of manners, it’s very hard not to get bored. I am as excited about any new Richard Sharpe TV movie as just anybody else, but the period needs varation in its fiction, plain and simple.
Now, gladly, TV producers are equally aware of the problem, and great efforts are taken to provide the audiences with, quite plainly, more sophisticated approaches to historical fiction. (For example, just look at the recent Parade’s End, or last year’s Mildred Pierce.)
One of the most recent results of those efforts was Garrow’s Law, breaking conventions and strolling into new territory as a period piece court room drama.
For us Coleridgeans, it’s an almost an ideal TV series, given that it provides us with a plethora of social contexts about COleridge’s England that we usually would not be exposed to.
I wanted to like this series. A lot. The thematic background is extremely intriguing, and, in my never-ending quest to understand Coleridge’s life and times better, I maintain the theory that movies – or, organic learning in general – are a viable way to get closer to that goal.
But, really, for that, Garrow’s Law, proved to be of nearly no use to me personally. I can’t say that the series is bad, and I detest the over-the-top, kiss-kiss-bang-bang that modern TV productions seem to favor, but the pace for this one is just too slow. Whatever kind of dramatic incentive the writers try to create, the spark does not reach me.
Garrow’s Law, I concur, while blessed with a stellar cast, and treating with overall interesting topics, is terribly boring. It might serve the purpose of exposing the 18th century in a detail seldomly seen on TV, but the stories, they are just not all that gripping.
That said, if you like it, good for you. The series seems to have been highly successful, which might prompt the BBC to orchestrate similar productions in the future. I for my part tend to think I’ll stick to less immersing, yet more conventionally exciting television. …Even if that means to watch a variation of the Bounty Mutiny for the uptenth time.
…And sometimes, one sticks to the era, just for fun.
I have to confess, I have never delved too deep into the works and oh-so-exciting life of Lord Byron. I have read his letters, I have read a play I considered profoundly boring (Cain), but outside of some stanzas about getting either hanged or knighted, I was just not interested.
However, this DVD I picked up by mere chance, I expect to be just as much a historical rendition of his life, as I would expect, to, say, the next Superman movie display realistic use of physics. But it is darn entertaining! – If you find it cheap, enjoy!
Also, Mr Johnny Lee Miller, please do more stuff like this, and stop raping Sherlock Holmes. Awww goodness, I watched a few episodes of this new “Elementarily”, and it is SO bad. Mr Miller, who starred in one of my favorite movies, Plunkett & Macleane, please do other stuff, and leave my Conan Doyle alone!
19th century contexts, Alain Boublil, Bille August, Bourbon Restoration, Claude-Michel Schönberg, Geoffrey Rush, Grognard, July Revolution of 1830, Les Miserables, Liam Neeson, Moulin Rouge, Occupy Wall Street, Uma Thurman, Victor Hugo, Video
So, for… I guess, Grognards, this year ends on sort of a high note:
“Les Miserables”, brings the Napoleonic age to the big screen, or, well, at least 19th century France – the movie, based on the musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, which in turn is based on the novel by Victor Hugo.
Critically acclaimed, and likely a favorite in next year’s award season, the movie tells the story of Jean Valjean, his adopted daughter Cossette, and their nemesis Javert in song and shiny, overstylized pictures, universally hailed as the newest extravaganza since 2001’s Moulin Rouge.
And that’s where I am not sure if I should be angry with the public, the movie director, the critics, or the people who wrote the musical in the first place, or if it is really that I am misreading the book in some fundamental manner:
Let’s see – Les Miserables, “The Miserable Ones”, is an overly sentimental, yet stinging portrait of the poverty and desperation that the people of France suffer in the years of the Bourbon Restoration up to the July Revolution of 1830. Perhaps the story lends itself to an epic treatment, with the larger-than-life characters, and the side romance, but it’s not Disney material. (For that matter, The Hunchback of Notre Dame really wasn’t, either.)
More than that, we are living in a time when social injustice on an everyday basis is becoming a issue in First World countries again. And, no, I don’t have to be one of the Occupy kids to duly register that development.
And that’s why I cannot but frown at the new movie, because the topics that drive the story of Les Miserables are incredibly relevant for us today. They deserve to be discussed in a way more serious fashion than this new dramatization does, even when it is at its best.
See, I am not necessarily a political person; but I am a Spaniard. Poverty, legislative tyranny, and social unrest are things that I witness every day. Crap like this offends me, because, when I think of beaten and abused women, of street fights between young idealists and a brutal police force, of people having to spend the winter on the streets and experiencing hunger, I don’t have to think of the 19th century, and to think of a Broadway musical. I simply turn on the TV to watch the news, and it kills me every time.
So, in sum, little surprise I favor a way less fancy approach to a book like Les Miserables, and, while I think the musical is pretty sweet per se, I would have loved to see a movie production that was more aware of its own times. Granted, the production’s goal was to bring the musical to the cinemas, but even so; this is a story of darkness and desperation, and of, however much you struggle, you always end up abandoned, and on the bottom. Why people are trying to cheapen it this way, turning it into a flashy sentimental drama, it quite simply escapes me.
– Rather than the new movie, I am tempted to recommend an older dramatization, produced in 1998, directed by Bille August, and starring Liam Neeson, Uma Thurman, and, brilliant, but limited through bad lines, Geoffrey Rush. That movie, while really a fairly free interpretation of the original novel, at least manages to point the viewer what I understand to be the core of the story – how miserable the lifes and times of all the people in the story really are.
For what it’s worth, here is one of the core moments of the movie from the 1998 version; I for my part think it really stands out as an example for the good acting you find everywhere in August’s otherwise fairly convoluted script: