Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

Revision. Ahem.

I am not a happy bunny!

Over here in the sunny world of the A-level student, exam month has arrived! And so has a craving for a good film I haven't felt for an age. You have no idea how much I want to rewatch The Godfather. And Guns of Navarone. I'm starting to get distinctly twitchy towards Legend of 1900 too. Even The Two Towers has wobbled back onto my must see list, after all the excitement about the Hobbit movie. I've resorted to mourfully listening to the Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown soundtracks while reviewing contempary opinions on Philip II's financial policy within mainland Spain - it's like last year all over again!

Ah, Reservoir Dogs. I'd forgotten quite how much I love you. The music alone is making my brain dribble out my ears.

This is all one long way to say, don't come here expecting a post for the next few weeks. For though I will undoubtedly give in and write a 32 page article on the use of music in QT movies, or the use of 70s guitar twangs in modern cinema, or try and argue that something blatantly offensive is still valid cinema (see: Song of the South, SS Experiment Camp), theoretically I'm far too busy to do anything of the sort.

I've started thinking about "1567 Revolt of the Nethelands: the movie". The hero is William of Orange, the Dutch noble who (single handedly, they'd have you believe) liberated about half of his country from Spanish dominion and religious persecution. He was a brilliant politician who I wrote my history coursework on, his particular skills being successfully uniting the disparate groups behind a single leader. He needs to be someone with gravitas, but not too beefy. He was really quite a sensitive noble guy at heart - I'm thinking maybe David Wenham, who cinched the gentle-but-heroic Faramir in Lord of the Rings.

The immediate villain of the piece is the nasty Duke of Alva, sent by King Philip II to sort the rebels out with an army, painted by generations of protestant historians and propagandists as a one-note Lord of Darkness. Who better than Christopher Ecclestone? Well, lots of people probably, but I couldn't help noticing the facial similarity between he and the much maligned Duke.

And who for Philip II himself? Like the Duke of Alva, Philip II was the bogeyman under the stairs for generations of protestants. In my Entirely Historically Accurate movie, which will utilise my fair and based-on-available-evidence knowledge,

I want him to be the evil cackling pantomime villain he's been until the revisionist historians got ahold of him. In an ideal world where he's not dead, I'd get Antony Ainley, who played the Master on Doctor Who in the 70s. The Master and Philip II shared several traits - an awful beard, a penchant for black velvet, the habit of chuckling evilly to himself, the desire for WOOOORLD DOMINATION! Yes, it's going to be one of those historical epics where the producer hires a quorum of historical experts on the period, and then ignores most of what they say. Might make a better movie...

I've yet to see Elizabeth: the Golden Age. I'm told Philip II is played very much in this vein, as a villainous religious maniac:

What else am I studying? Well, Branagh's Hamlet is perfect enough for me; Branagh's Frankenstein leaves much to be desired. But it does contain the phrase "maybe if I reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", so it ain't all bad.

My two english modules are one on Hamlet and Chaucer (The Merchants Tale, all lying and "thronging". It'd make a tedious film, unless you made it into an all-out shamelessly bawdy comedy, in which case I still wouldn't be interested. Unless it was filmed it in the original Chaucerian English. The story is all about bad wives - the word wife is spelt wyf, and pronounced "wiff!", and its hilarious...) and the other on the gothic.
I'm not sure Frankenstein could ever make a good movie, because frankly I don't think its a great book. I also agree with those who see it as more science fiction than gothic - it's built on a "what if" premise, it's all about what it means to be human, and it all starts with man meddling with science. Doctor Who remade it as "Brain of Morbius"; Ridley Scott remade it as Blade Runner, hell, even King Kong and Edward Scissorhands can be seen as its distant cousins. The other book I'm studying is The Monk, a good ole story of a saintly friar who gets involved in pretty much every depravity the 17th Century author could get away with. Brilliant book! It'd make a distastefully nasty film though...
Our other history module is on Ireland - specifically 120 years of it, from Wolfe Tone's uprising in 1789 to the Anglo-Irish treaty in 1921. What a bloodbath. Two friends and I considered making a movie of the entire topic, with three of us, changing hats along the way; but frankly, even though it's fascinating, I wouldn't know where to start with filming it. I'd be far too terrified of offending someone, and films why try to be inoffensive normally end up watery and muddled.
Parnell was an Irish nationalist leader, and a pretty darn good one. He was a skilled politician, who had wide reaching links from Westminster, where he was an MP, and more radical nationalist organisations such as the Fenians. At one point, the Times attempted to blacken his reputation by connecting him with open acts of violence - that would be an interesting event for the movie. Another is he deliberately(ish) getting himself thrown into jail to avoid committing to either side of an issue to retain universal support, a smart bit of political manouvering.
So far, so ordinary. The bit which'll make the producers ears prick up was his long running and romantic affair with the married Kitty O'Shea, the biggest open secret in London. They lived together, had three children and refered to each other as husband and wife; Captain O'Shea even bailed Parnell out of prison. Then, at the height of his political career, the Captain decides to divorce her and Parnell's adultery is cited in the divorce case. And it explodes - despite the fact everyone knew, Victorian hypocracy strikes. Parnell's party is split into Parnellites and anti-Parnellites - Parnell loses the support of Gladstone and the Liberal party (note on Irish politics: in this period, the Irish Parliamentry Party were too small to make a difference. They wedded their support to either the Conservatives or Liberals, effectively determining who would get in, in exchange for Irish reforms). And naturally, as this is my movie, play up a sub-buddy relationship between he and Gladstone who knew very well about the affair, but has to play to public opinion. Parnell loses all his credibility; though he does marry Kitty and dies a few years later in her arms.
Hollywood would LOVE it - a big, sweeping historical story, yet with a powerful love story set at the front. From the first gangster movies, cinema has always loved the rise and fall story. I can see the trailer now - "In a land of man will risk everything...for the woman he loves..."

...and d'ya know what? A little investigation reveals that Clark Gable played Parnell in the movie of the same name in the 30s. It flopped. But at least it proves my idea was a good one. Time for a remake? I'd go see it, he's one of my favourite characters in this topic (as far as you can have favourites in history. My favourite Brit politician is Peel, because he's smart and pragmatic, willing to deal with problems because they are problems, not because he's committed to this or that policy. And his smile was compared to "the gleam on a coffin lid", which is cool. The other person I really admire is Daniel O'Connell, who organised large "monster meetings" to show support for repeal of the union. The Brit government finally threatened to forcibly shut one down at Clontarff. What did he do? Decided not to hold it. Now that might seem like a pretty useless action, and indeed it was - that was the end of his repeal association - but that's not the point. It would have been easy to just take a stand and watch the slaughter, but giving in was far braver. It's also nice to have someone in this topic 100% opposed to violence. Just don't get me started on Carson, who's still a baddie as far as I'm concerned...)

If anyone knows where to find a copy of this movie (and I mean literally anywhere), I want to see it! You can even post it to me and I'll promise to post it back.

Sod that. I'm watching Reservoir Dogs. Philip's twin foreign policy of concervacion and messianic imperialism will have to wait...


Catherine said...

Hah, I wouldn't mind watching that Parnell film either. Funnily enough, one of MY history topics is pretty much the same as yours, Ireland from the start of the Parliamentary Party up until the mid 20th century.

My History teacher has a total crush on him and so on our last day we got printed out a picture of him, put it in a frame and wrote "To my dearest Ita, all my love, Charles xxx".

I find all that period really interesting. It's weird hearing that a non-Irish student is studying it!

Ninquelosse said...

In our class he's known as "beard". We've got two history teachers - the first always refers to our history textbooks by the author's name - Walsh, Davies e.t.c. - and the second by what picture they have on the front - "train" and, as our other book has a pic of Parnell, "beard".

It is bizzare - we always do England-centric topics in history, from the Blitz to the civil war, the English reformation - and then out of the blue this year we're stdying Irish history for one module and Spanish for the other. It's a very interesting chunk of history - we're studying from further back than you, I think, from Wolfe Tone's uprising in 1798.

Catherine said...

Ah, Wolfe Tone. We did that period in 3rd year, I'm quite fond it of. I love his death! (Okay, that didn't come across exactly how I meant it - it's very cinematic though, don't you agree?)

Ninquelosse said...

I know what you mean - I'm a sucker for a heroic death, and history (although especially this topic...) is jampacked with people doing daft things in wonderful ways for very good reasons. My heart always bleeds for Patrick Pearce - there's a quote which maybe you've read when he recognises before the Easter rising that the only result will be their deaths. Feel especially sorry for his brother.

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