Monday, March 23, 2009

Anne of the Thousand Days

I posted a facebook status last night that said I had seen too many good movies lately. Which was by no means the best wording, as my friends pointed out, but it captured the rather odd mood I was in. I have seen a lot of good films lately. And not just fun films, but really deep, moving, artistically excellent films. One of the best is "Anne of the Thousand Days."

I've spent the last decade or so of my life being a Tudor England buff. Although that interest was strongest at ages 11-14, and has been quite less obsessive since then, anything associated with that period will always catch my eye.

Up until a year and a half ago, my view of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, was extremely biased. However, for my college course on the European Reformations, I decided to do my end-of-term paper on the religious beliefs of Anne Boleyn and how the truth of the matter (which we may never know) deeply affects what her motives were in becoming Queen of England. It is a fascinating story and ever since writing that paper I have been extremely interested in her. So when I saw this movie down in the Florida library (yes, I was in Florida), I picked it up immediatly. Even if it wasn't that good, it was sure to be interesting.

"Anne of the Thousand Days" is almost certainly the best Tudor England film I have ever seen (even more so than "Lady Jane" although I also adore that film). It is vibrant, it is moving, it is passionate and though it softens some portions of the story, it remains so remarkably true that at times I could not keep myself from believing that I was watching what had actually happened.

To summerize, the story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII goes like this: King Henry has watched in growing frustration as his wife, the ageing Queen Katherine, tries in vain to provide him with a living son (all that are born are dead sons and one live daughter, Mary). As it becomes evident that the Queen is too old to bear any more children, Henry begins to panic (Only thirty years before the lack of a concrete heir tore England apart in the War of the Roses). Having fallen in love with a young girl named Anne Boleyn, who refused to be his mistress (as all young girls he fell in love with became), he hit upon the idea of annulling his marriage to the barren Katherine and making Anne his queen. Far from being simple, Henry's idea resulted in an England broken off from the Church of Rome, a Queen that was loathed by the people of England, and one more princess - Elizabeth. Having spent just one thousand days married to Anne (three years), Henry tired of her, and had his Chancellor, Thomas Cromwell dig up evidence that would send Anne to the executioner's block.

Anne's story is the most romantic, the most tragic, and the most well known of all of the stories of Henry's six wives. And it is marvelously played out in "Anne of the Thousand Days."

Richard Burton's Henry and Genevieve Bujold's Anne are phenomenally acted three-dimensional sympathetic characters. Though both make mistakes, they are portrayed without spite. Burton plays Henry as a man who wants desperately to do right - but allows his own passions to cloud his judgement. And Bujold plays Anne with such passion that you can honestly believe that she captured the King of England so completely that he lost the world for her. I've rarely seen historically characters acted so well.

But there is more to endear this film than just good acting. The strength of the film also comes from a powerful and masterfully written script. Based on the stageplay of the same name, it not only tells the gripping story of the King and his Lady, but also of the King's discarded wife, Katherine, who tells her story in brief but effective scenes, and of Anne's sister Mary who, as Henry's former mistress, was also discarded by the King. As Anne is forced to the forefront by their scheming, power hungry family, Mary sits alone, her hand on her pregnant stomach. It is a bitter, merciless world for women.

The men have their day too. Thomas Cromwell rises to power as Cardinal Wosely falls (and makes one want to cry as he leaves his post that he has held so faithfully). Thomas More and Bishop Fisher go to the block for their convictions while Anne's father, uncle and mother push their family into power.

And all this is set against magificent sets and breathtaking costumes that won an Oscar.

It's a wonderful, wonderful film that I would recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in historical drama. And, though the story is adult in nature, (and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone under 16) it handles the very sexually driven politics with a delicacy you could never find in a film made today. (i.e. "The Other Boleyn Girl")

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Harry, a History

I first heard of "Harry, a History" several months ago (on John Granger's blog, I believe) and it immediatly caught my interest. Being fairly new to the HP fandom (my first reading of the books was only 18 months ago) I was on the tail end of the crowd. So many things had happened that I knew little or nothing about. I dug around on websites, but even that couldn't give me an adaquate picture of what the last ten years have been like. I could tell just from looking around at the website ( that this book was going to satisfy a lot of my curiosity.

I finally got around to placing an order on Amazon and decided to splurge and include this book in the order. I don't often buy books without reading them first (from a friend or the library). They must come very highly recommended or look exceedingly interesting and even then it's about 50-50 hit or miss.

This was definetely a hit.

"Harry, a History" is written by Melissa Anelli, webmistress of the Harry Potter fansite, The Leaky Cauldron. She has also worked as a professional journelist, and is now, of course, a published author. She has been a part of the world of Harry Potter for the last seven years and has reached the height of securing not one, but two exclusive, private interviews with J.K. Rowlings herself.

The book is an extremely accessible, engaging, informative and very well written history of everything from the conception of Harry Potter himself, to the influence of the internet on the phenomenon, and the creation of a new music genre, Wizard Rock. It details many experiences that any Potter fan would enjoy, with dozens of stories and ancedotes that make the lives of the books and their fans really come alive. This is the book that, fifty years from now, historians will read to try to understand what made Harry Potter so popular and how it all happened.

For me, the book was a way to feel that I had experienced a little bit of everything that I missed. I'll never be able to attend a midnight book release, but in Melissa's descriptions I feel like I have. Wizard Rock sounds intimidating, but with Melissa explaining how it all started, it really becomes intriguing and inspiring. I'll never engage in a shipping debate, (who will Hermione end up with, Ron or Harry?) but Melissa's stories of those intense debates makes it quite plain that I can be very glad I won't.

And for me, there's another personal connection to the book. In a way Melissa and I are very similar people. We're both writers, we both run website/forums for our favorite authors, we both find incredible meaning, inspiration, and joy in being "big players" in our respective fandoms. This winter has not been an easy one for me and Melissa's story encouraged me to continue on, be bold, and dream big.

So if you're a Potter fan, go ahead and pick up a copy. You won't regret it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Sunny Update

Elenatintil here, reporting from...somewhere warm and sunny. A nice change from the below freezing temperatures and overcast skies we've been having up north. Although sunny days with below freezing temperatures always seem rather cruel to me. The sun is like a mocking finger, pointed at our shivering misery...

Anyhow. It's spring break and I've been walking down on the beach and soaking up sun in an effort to get my health back together so I can get moving on the next leg of SOTB. So it's rather more than a vacation, lest any of you are envious.

Other vacation notables...

I got up at eight yesterday to go swimming down at the pool. With my ill health and time changes and time zones, that's a good six hours earlier than I've gotten up for several months. And I haven't gone swimming before breakfast for years. So I was quite pleased with myself.

I've been reading a really fascinating book called "A Royal Duty" by Paul Burrell. Paul Burrell was a footman to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and then household butler and good friend to Diana, Princess of Wales. So far (and I'm over halfway) I'm finding it an intriguing read, that tells the story very straightforwards in a sensitive and compassionate manner.

On what most of you will find a much less positive note, I watched "The Da Vinci Code" last night. There's absolutely no need for me to comment on the hogwash of the premise, all I need say is that it was an entertaining if somewhat blasphemous film. For the record, we didn't rent it. We borrowed it from the library.

And then again on the positive, tonight our family enjoyed the film "Sahara" which was a delightful adventure story with plenty of laughs. I was pleasantly surprised by the twistings of the plot and am interested to pick up some of Cussler's novels, of which my father has long been a fan.

And lastly I got a solid...oh, two hours, I'd say, of writing in. It was rather frustrating because I was reworking a chapter that had been causing me a lot of trouble. But I think I got it into a form that will let me move onwards.

And that's all for now, folks. Goodnight and God Bless!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A film to consider...

Thank goodness Christianity Today reviews the little films as well as the big films. Because even though I usually shy away from anything even close to "Alice in Wonderland" I am quite intrigued by the review of "Phoebe in Wonderland."

I like the fact that it deals with psychological labels because it's an issue I've been exposed to quite a bit in the last year. I'm quite curious to see how the film handles it. I'll have to wait for it to come out on DVD, of course, but then again, I do that with almost everything, so no biggie.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

LOTR Schoolroom

Last fall, when I was doing extensive blogging on my visit to Regina Doman's home, I mentioned that several of us girls helped paint a LOTR mural in the schoolroom.

Well, the room is finally done and Regina has some pictures up in which you can sort of see the mural up by the ceiling.

I think the room turned out awesome and I can't wait to go back and see it in person!

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Little More on the New Moon Front

So I was doing some browsing last night and I discovered a couple more tidbits about the upcoming film adaptation of New Moon.

#1 - The script was actually written before Twilight even came out in theatres. This is a major piece and it boosts my confidence in the chances of the filmmakers making the November release date.


#2 - apparently shooting is not starting until nearly the end of March. This, of course, lowers my expectations back down again.

The main problem with being able to film New Moon quickly is that everything is seen from Bella's perspective, meaning that there is little that can be filmed without Kristen Stewart. Why is this a problem?

Most films have two filming units. This means, of course, that they can film twice as fast. With LOTR they had enough story lines (and limited enough time) that they were using four or five units at one point.

But they can't do that with Twilight because apart from maybe some aerial shots, exterior location shots and stunt routines, they're going to need Kristen for every single scene.

So. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

VotDT release date

Well apparently The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has an official release date now. December 10th, 2010. Narniaweb has more info here.

I have to laugh at the quote about Fox and Walden deciding that Narnia is a winter franchise. That's pretty much what the fans have been saying forever - since before Prince Caspian came out.

I think it's sad that things go so messed up, but at the same time I'm interested to see Georgie Henley and Skander Keynes play an older Lucy and Edmund than they would if filming had begun last fall as planned.

So we'll see how this franchise pans out. It's certainly been pretty rocky so far.

St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

I was going to post this soon anyways, but I got a request for it today, so I thought I'd hurry it up.

This is what I pray before writing.

St. Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit
that my thoughts may all be holy

Act in me, O Holy Spirit
that my work, too, may be holy

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit
that I love but what is holy

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit
to defend all that is holy

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit
that I always may be holy.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Coming soon...New Moon?

So am I the only person who is slightly worried by the fact that New Moon is due to be released this November?

Because, honestly, unless someone already had a script ready before Twilight was released, that gives them one year. One. Year. One year to write a script, cast a bunch of new actors, scout locations, film in Washington, AND film in Italy, get the whole thing edited with many more complicated effects shots than round one, publicize the whole thing, compose a score, and get the whole thing printed and shipped to the right theatres!

Is there any record of this being done before? No wonder Catherine Hardwicke turned the offer down! I would too! No, I'd probably drop my jaw, stare at the studio executives and say "Are. You. CRAZY?"

And if I were Stephanie Meyer I would throw a hissy fit. Because I would have absolutely no confidence that anyone could get any sort of film- much less an effects heavy fantasy one done in any sort of halfway decent manner in a year.

Most scripts take at least a few months to write. At least. Even if they have half a dozen writers working on it. And I pity those writers.

What's more disturbing is that it is March already and we haven't heard of any casting being confirmed for the new characters, although there are definetely rumors.

But even if they can get the whole thing filmed between now and say...July...I don't know how they can get the film edited in four months. Not with the werewolf special effects they have to do.

I don't know. I'm just shaking my head here. Twilight was an okay film, but it wasn't amazing, and I was hoping for a step-up on New Moon when they would have a higher budget. With such constraining time limits I'm really afraid that this next installment is going to be a step down.

What do you think? Should we keep staring at that '09 and keep hoping that it will change to a '10?

Monday, March 2, 2009


So I finally saw Fireproof.

Here I have to balance three differant review hats. Personal preferance, Christain Film, Movie Critic. And it's a tricky movie for me to do that with because there's a of differant elements at play in this story.

The weakest part of the production was undeniably the script. Not from a plot or character perspective - there were just some parts/lines that were cheesy and poorly written. And I do think it was the script, not the actors, although I could be wrong.

Plot was pretty strong. So were the characters. Although the sense of this being a "Christain" film was definetely there (and in more than just the obvious ways), it was one of the stronger works in this field that I've seen. Part of that comes from unusually high production values. I was quite impressed by the cinematography and acting. No one's going to win any Oscars, but this was all a big step up from most work in this field.

I had to wrestle with the obvious message in the film, though. Usually I detest anything that smells of preachyness, and this film is nothing if not trying to push a message.

Fireproof is a film against divorce. But it is more than a film that says "Divorce is bad", it says, "Divorce is bad, here's why, and here's what you can do to fight against it, even when you don't feel that you're in love with your spouse anymore. But you can't do it on your own. You need Christ to help you." It's a strong message. But you know what? It works. Why? Well, it's done within a well told and engaging story. But there's more to it than that.

Fireproof is sucessful because the message it is trying to say is not only true, it is needed. Moreover it is complete. I would unhesitantly give this movie to any Christain couple that was struggling with marriage problems. And I think it would probably be a good film for engaged couples to watch as well.

Why did I say "Christain" couples? Well, because this is really a film made for a Christain audience. That doesn't mean it's preaching to the choir- Christain divorce rates show that Christains need to hear this message just as much as the secular world does. The differance is the secular world is likely to be turned off by the explicit Christain message.

It's not a perfect film - no film ever is (although some manage better than others) but it's a pretty good one. I wouldn't want every Christain film to have such an obvious message that they were trying to pound out, but I feel that this issue is so critical that there is definetely a place for Fireproof on the movie store shelves.

Waiting for Spring

I can't believe it's March already. Does that seem strange to you? Wasn't it just yesterday that we were starting the year and staring ahead at the long cold month of January?

And yet February has gone speeding by (leaving me another year older in its wake) and now we stand on the edge of March, craning our necks for a glimpse of spring.

I'm sure some of you are in warmer climates, but up where I am, we still have a good six inches of snow on the ground. It'll likely be another five weeks or so before we can really declare it *spring*.

I'm looking forwards to spring. It's always my favorite time of year. I love the smell of rain, of grass shooting up, flowers budding, and leaves bursting out into green canopyies.

I also love spring thunderstorms. I love just opening up the window and breathing in the power and beauty...

A journal entry from when I was still in college:

It's raining - torrents. It could hardly have been worse during the flood! I've opened my shades and my window so that the sound and the wind and the smell and a few stray drops can come in. Sprinkles fall on my hands and my dry feet. The air is cool against my arms and face. Outside people laugh and scream and shriek and giggle, running in the downpour. The circle on Freshman Hill is turning ino a lake. I suppose the stream is overflowing. Thunder is rumbling somewhere, but the rain itself is loud. White light flashes through my window. [...] I glory in storms.

Waiting for spring...