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Film

They shall grow not old

Saturday, 10 November, 2018

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Laurence Binyon (1869 – 1943)

For the centenary of the First World War, Academy Award-winner Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) reveals the conflict as people have never seen it. Using state-of-the-art technology to transform audio and film archive footage that dates back more than a century, They Shall Not Grow Old brings to life the people who can best tell this story: the men who were there.

Each frame was hand-colourised by Jackson’s team and the footage 3D-digitised and transformed with modern post-production techniques, enabling the soldiers to walk and talk among us. Using only the voices of those involved, the film explores the Great War on the front lines. The veterans who survived tell their stories and recall the humility and humanity of those who represented a generation forever changed.


Un Chien Catalogne

Tuesday, 8 May, 2018 0 Comments

Classic reference in the headline there to Un Chien Andalou, a silent surrealist short film made in Paris in 1929 by the Spanish artists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.

The Catalan Dog


Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word

Monday, 16 April, 2018 0 Comments

German director Wim Wenders will be back at the Festival de Cannes (8 to 19 May) with a new documentary titled Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word. According to Wenders, it’s “a personal journey with Pope Francis rather than a traditional biographical film about him. A rare co-production with the Vatican, the pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions from death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.”

Note: Today is the 91st birthday of retired Pope Benedict XVI. Felix dies Natalis tibi!


Bob Dylan: Trouble No More

Monday, 26 March, 2018 0 Comments

Back in 1979, Bob Dylan announced to the world that he had converted to Christianity. He then became a man of The Word, touring inexorably, performing concerts only of songs that expressed his born-again message. One of the concerts was filmed but the material was never released. There was talk in recent times that it might form basis for a documentary, but Dylan intervened and demanded the commissioning of a series of “sermons” to be preached between the songs before the film could be screened. The writer Luc Sante was contracted to compose the sermons and Oscar-nominated actor Michael Shannon was cast as the Preacher. Jennifer LeBeau was tasked, as they say, with directing the “gospel service.” The result, Bob Dylan: Trouble No More, will be shown on Good Friday night on BBC Four. Praise the Lord!

“She said, ‘This man, this man, He must be a prophet’
She said, ‘This man, this man, He must be a prophet’
She said, ‘This man, this man, He must be a prophet’
‘He done told me everything I’ve ever done'”


Learning with English Prime

Thursday, 25 January, 2018 0 Comments

Sam H. Buchanan describes himself as a “UK based filmmaker. Interested in making good stuff.” His short, THE LION, shows what happens at a corporate recording session when an experienced voice-over artist is pushed over the edge. Neil McCaul, the much put-upon speaker, is superb. The scenario depicted here is not autobiographical, btw.


Master and Commander Boccherini: 5

Friday, 15 December, 2017 0 Comments

And so we come to the end of our week of interpretations of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid, which became famous through its use in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany. So far, we’ve had the original from the film, a family performance, a violin/viola duet and an orchestral version.

Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid was written around 1780 by Luigi Boccherini and he scored it for two violins, a viola and two cellos. It’s exuberant music and depicts the night life of Madrid near an 18th-century military outpost. Drums can be heard and various nocturnal sounds, including cats calling and church bells ringing, are woven into the piece. Boccherini was quoted as having said: “The piece is absolutely useless, even ridiculous, outside Spain, because the audience cannot hope to understand its significance, nor the performers to play it as it should be played.” Given that, it’s only appropriate we end with the Master and Commander segment being played by el dúo Bagatela, featuring Javier Abraldes on guitar and Plamen Velev on cello. ¡Olé!

“The newly-minted captain admits the irony between the gold on his shoulders and the lack of gold in his pockets. The newly-minted captain is told to let nothing stop him but to do nothing that would risk his ship or his crew.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander


Master and Commander Boccherini: 4

Thursday, 14 December, 2017 0 Comments

Jaesik Lim studied music at Hanyang University, one of the leading private research institutions in South Korea, and then moved to Madrid to continue his studies, saying: “I didn’t want to fly to Italy like everyone else does. I wanted something different.” Furthermore: “Both Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras are from Spain, so I thought this country must be special,” he told the Korea JoongAng Daily. There was a phase of culture shock, however, when he discovered that most Spaniards spoke Spanish instead of English. Still, he didn’t shirk the challenge of survival so he set up a stall at a flea market “for earrings and women’s underwear.”

Perseverance pays. Here, the maestro conducts the Master and Commander segment of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid performed by the Orquesta de Cámara y Grupo Vocal Millennium in Madrid’s Teatro Monumental.

“‘Are you very much attached to money?’ asked Stephen. ‘I love it passionately,’ said Jack, with truth ringing clear in his voice. ‘I have always been poor, and I long to be rich.'” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, we end our series on the Master and Commander Boccherini with an interpretation by el dúo Bagatela from Galicia.


Master and Commander Boccherini: 3

Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 0 Comments

All was well in the world of the Italian composer Luigi Boccherini when he was in service to the Spanish Court, until a succession of unfathomable tragedies occurred. The series began in 1785 with the death of his Spanish patron, and in that very same year his wife passed away. The first of their four daughters died that year as well and the remaining three died between 1802 and 1804. Boccherini remarried but his second wife died in 1805. It was all too much and he died that same year. The body of Boccherini lay buried in Madrid’s Pontifical Basilica of St. Michael until 1927, when his remains were repatriated to Italy and buried in the church of San Francesco in his native Lucca.

Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid became famous through its use in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany. Here, Sydney Rae and Stephanie Lyn give us their version.

“The pleasant thing about fighting with the Spaniards, Mr Ellis, said Jack, smiling at his great round eyes and solemn face, is not that they are shy, for they are not, but that they are never, never ready.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, the Master and Commander Boccherini gets the full orchestral treatment with Jaesik Lim conducting.


Master and Commander Boccherini: 2

Tuesday, 12 December, 2017 0 Comments

Luigi Boccherini (1743 – 1805) was an Italian composer whose music was written in a courtly style that quickly became popular in the major European musical centres of the day. His patrons included the French ambassador to Spain, Lucien Bonaparte, and King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, a talented amateur cellist and flautist. Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid (String Quintet in C major, Op. 30 No. 6, G324), became famous through its use in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany. Here, Bellai (10), Gani (12) and their father jam a family interpretation of the piece.

“Where there was no equality there was no companionship: when a man was obliged to say ‘Yes, sir,’ his agreement was of no worth even if it happened to be true.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, a duet interpretation of the Master and Commander Boccherini by Sydney Rae and Stephanie Lyn.


Master and Commander Boccherini: 1

Monday, 11 December, 2017 0 Comments

Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid is a quintettino for stringed instruments written around 1780 by Luigi Boccherini, an Italian composer who was in service to the Spanish Court at the time. The main violin theme from the work was used throughout the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and in the final scene, Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as the ship’s surgeon, Dr. Stephen Maturin, play the piece together in the captain’s quarters.

“I have had such a sickening of men in masses, and of causes, that I would not cross this room to reform parliament or prevent the union or to bring about the millennium. I speak only for myself, mind — it is my own truth alone — but man as part of a movement or a crowd is indifferent to me. He is inhuman. And I have nothing to do with nations, or nationalism. The only feelings I have — for what they are —- are for men as individuals; my loyalties, such as they may be, are to private persons alone.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, Bellai (10), Gani (12) and their father jam a family interpretation of the Master and Commander Boccherini.


Going to Dunkirk

Thursday, 27 July, 2017 0 Comments

Going to the new Christopher Nolan film, that is.

The British retreat to the coastal French town of Dunkirk in late May 1940 was a key moment of the Second World War. Several hundred thousand British and Allied troops were encircled by the Germans. Had Hitler attacked, he would have captured a quarter of a million men, stripping Britain of its army and putting enormous pressure on London to enter into peace talks with Berlin. But the Germans didn’t attack. Their nine Panzer divisions stopped outside Dunkirk. And the British were able to start their evacuation from the beaches with the result that most of the their troops got home. Some 300,000 men were rescued — two thirds British, the rest French.

As the exhausted troops were disembarking along the south-eastern coast of England, the five members of Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet met on 27 May to discuss entering into peace negotiations with Germany. Churchill was passionately against any such move, but the foreign minister, Lord Halifax, was for talks as he felt England’s negotiating position was stronger with France still in the war. He also believed that Britain’s goal should not be to fight Germany, but rather to preserve as much independence as possible in a peaceful coexistence.

During the following day’s Cabinet meeting, however, the tide turned in favour of Churchill when he declared absolutely that there would be no surrender, and that as long as he was in office, he would never negotiate with the Nazis. “If this long island story of ours is to end at last,” he declared, “let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood on the ground.”

He was thinking of the 68,111 killed, wounded or captured British troops at Dunkirk.