Columbus day has long been 👏🏿👏🏻👏🏼celebrated👏👏🏾👏🏽 in the 🇺🇸 United States, 🇪🇸 Spain and throughout Latin America.🇳🇮🇲🇽🇭🇳🇬🇹🇩🇴🇪🇨🇸🇻🇩🇲🇨🇼🇦🇷🇸🇷🇻🇨🇱🇨🇵🇷🇺🇾🇻🇪🇻🇮🇹🇹
🇨🇦Canada celebrates Discovery Day, which is the same in principal. 🇧🇷
While Columbus Day was not made “official” until President Roosevelt made a proclamation in the late 1930s, its history goes back centuries.
Although the Renaissance and the age of Exploration were well underway before Columbus set sail, historians proclaim the year 1492 to be the end of the middle ages and the start of modern times. His voyage symbolically took Europe out of isolation and brought forth a new, global age. Continue reading Columbus Day
As the second Monday in May starts mental health awareness week, we thought he’d find six films that show what Hollywood thinks about mental illness. This list may expand as time goes on, but we feel these are most representative of the way society changes its views. Continue reading 6 films about Mental Illness
You may have heard of Beaumarchais. He was a watchmaker, publisher of Voltaire’s works, gun runner for the rebels in the American Revolution, but most notably a playwright of works such as The Barber of Seville (which Mozart adapted into an opera.)
In Beaumarchais’s time, writers were not well paid. The theatres of Paris held a kind of monopoly, or cartel. They colluded together to keep writers fees down.
The Barber of Seville was one of the hits of 1775, and continued bringing in audiences after that. But, despite the money that the theatres got from Beaumarchais’s popular play, his remuneration wasn’t very high.
So, in 1777, Beaumarchais led the other French writers in a strike. If they didn’t get paid more for their successful plays, they wouldn’t write at all.
This led to a scarcity of plays, and forced theatre owners into negotiations.
Theatre owners now paid royalties, instead of just a flat fee for plays.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” — adapted from the memoirs of Hiram Withington, in The Iron Lady screenplay by Abi Morgan. Continue reading The Iron Lady – thoughts
Amazing Grace (dir. Michael Apted, written by Steven Knight) seems to be the first major film to depict the life and activism of Wilfred Wilberforce. I was reluctant to write any review because I’m not sure of the historical accuracy of Wilberforce’s life. However, from a creative point of view, I find the use of flashback interesting.
Many biopics, from made for tv movies to big budget blockbusters, use flashback as a creative device. At one extreme you have The Iron Lady, where almost every other scene is the elderly Thatcher remembering her rise and fall. Then there’s the TV movie like Coco Chanel, where flashbacks are used intermittently to show a character still in her prime remembering how she got where she was while preparing a show.
The classic, however is a film like Gandhi (Dir: David Attenborough, writer: John Briley, 1982), where we start at the death of the main character, then tell the story in sequence, introducing the protagonist just before that fateful first decision is made. But, all these devices open a story toward the end of the story, not in the middle. Continue reading The use of Flashback in Amazing Grace
2 years ago, I witnessed the re-enactment of the battle of Waterloo. Thousands of talented volunteers from around the world walked through the footsteps of Napoleon, Wellington, and Blücher, and their allies and armies.
Although we didn’t have the best seats on the field, it was wonderful that so many dedicated re-enactors, or living historians, brought history to life for us. If you missed it, you should have been there. Continue reading It takes more than 100 days
At times, it looked as if the election of 1812 would be a close one. At any rate, its outcome was more important than remembered. Even as late as July 3 1813, the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser in Australian was speculating on who the winner was. Their information, which came from across the sea on the 12th January of that year, supposed that they could have been wrong about a DeWitt Clinton victory, but “The electors of Vermont are said to be in favor of Mr. Clinton.” Continue reading The re-election of James Madison
At the start of 1812, insurgents were big news in the French media.
“We learn from Valencia that the small fortress that Marshall Sechet has left in his rear, blockaded by various corps of the army, have successively surrendered, and the siege of Valencia has been seriously prosecuted by General Harispe, who commands under the orders of the Marshall. The Spanish General Blake is attempting to collect a force, in order to make a second attempt to relieve the place, but the uniform terror spread by the armies of France, is sufficient to impede his design; and the insurgents have, by the last account, been driven from the right bank of Guadilaviar. The Polish division has particularly distinguished itself in the late encounters with the enemy.”
One thing I notice in looking at old documents is the use of the word “terror” in war, as if it were a good thing. The French weren’t alone is using “terror” as an instrument. Even in the US Navy, ships carried the name “USS Terror” as late as World War II. (The Terror was a minelayer, a ship whose primary purpose was to lay sea mines in the water.)
Like many of today’s historical films, Mysteries of Lisbon is long (very long). Before investing four and a half hours in a movie, it might be an idea to read a review or two. After I invested my four and a half hours, ideas for reviews kept invading my head. But there are so many things to talk about, the director’s style, the actors, the camera work that one observer called “unobtrusive”, the level of history, it was hard to settle on something.
Sure, I could write a PhD thesis, researching the director’s life and speculating how that influenced the production, but I’m not interested in that. Instead, I’ll answer the two questions I think every reviewer should answer. Did I like the movie? And, how do my readers know if they’ll like it? Continue reading Mysteries of Lisbon: A historical film.