Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prince Caspian: Gearing up for May 16


Walden Media's journey into the world of Narnia has been full of controversy from the beginning. However, despite the many debates on Narniaweb and other sites concerning the first movie, they were nothing compared to the controversies raging now over Prince Caspian.

So the question is- what has been changed- and is it enough that we should consider skipping the film?

My answer is a resounding "NO!"

However, there are some things that are absolutely critical for you to keep in mind in order to enjoy the film. And some of these, for die hard fans especially, is being aware ahead of time of some of the changes that are being made.

That is the point of this blog post- in addition to giving me a chance to voice my own opinions about these films once and for all.

First of all let me say that after watching "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" I gave up all hope of seeing a faithful adaptation of this series. Granted, the characters were perfectly cast, the production was quite beautifully designed, and it followed the generally story very well. However, there were perhaps no more than two or three lines that made it unchanged from the book into the film. And that, in my mind, was inexcuseable. Jane Austen and Shakespeare- writers of far more difficult and archaic dialogue have been translated to screen with much more faithfulness to their original language.

So with that in mind, I entered the period of waiting for the next film, "Prince Caspian" with extreme skepticism. All the rumors and confirmed plot changes that have surfaced have only cemented in my mind the belief that this will not be a faithful adaptation of C.S. Lewis's book.


I think it will be a most enjoyable and well made film. And I have decided to enjoy the changes as a story of their own, and not beat them up for differing from the book.

So, with that in mind, let's discuss what those changes actually are.

First of all, there is the casting. As I said previously, the casting in LWW (particularily of the Pevensies and Mr. Tumnus) was my favorite part of the whole film. And- apart from one character, I think the production has continued to do a superb job of picking actors who match their characters perfectly.
And that one character that is rather off the mark...well, he's one of the changes that I've decided to love.
He is, of course, Prince Caspian.
In the book, we are told that Caspian is young, about the same age as Peter- most of us understand that to be about 13 or 14. Ben Barnes is 26. However, as we've been told over and over again, William (who plays Peter) is 20, therefore casting someone who looks the same as as Peter is going to require someone older than the implied book age.
Secondly, of course, is the fact that Caspian is described as having golden hair. Hmmm. Not quite matching up there. This is where the production's decision to delve into the pirate background of the Telmarines (hence the "Spanish" feel) put them in a tough spot. Caspian had to match the rest of his people...therefore the "golden hair" went out the window.
What's the good side? The reports we've gotten on Ben Barnes so far seem to be very positive. I think he is going to make quite a dashing (er...swashbuckling...) prince of Narnia- and very enjoyable to watch. And on that note- here is a lovely new interview for your enjoyment!
Next up, of course, is the plot itself. Most fans of Narnia agree that the plot structure of Prince Caspian is almost impossible to translate to screen. As Mr. Gresham (Lewis's step-son) put it, it wouldn't exactly work to have the Pevensies sitting around a campfire for half of the film! (my paraphrase).
We're not exactly sure what all of the changes are. Some pictures seem to indicate that Caspian may join the Pevensies at the ruins of Cair Paravel (In the book, he doesn't meet any of them until they reach Aslan's How- and then only the boys). We do know for certain that the story begins in Narnia, with the birth of Caspian's cousin- an event which causes him to flee for his life.
Other changes include a "night raid" on Miraz's castle- the purpose of, again, we aren't sure. It seems that Lucy opposes this raid, and then goes on a "search" for Aslan. We also know that Aslan himself does not appear until quite close to the end of the film.
Another, more minor change that most people have been confused by in the trailer, is the appearance of the White Witch in the cavern of Aslan's How. As reader's of the book know, the hag and the werewolf offer to call her up, saying that witches can never really die. However, that is as far as they get- in the book. The film, it seems, chooses to show a bit more than this, requireing Edmund to break the enchantment- which, all in all, seems quite fitting. A film, after all, needs to show more than tell, and I'm anticipating that the emotional impact of actually seeing the White Witch will be much greater than just hearing of the possibility. (Clarification- it's not really her, it's merely a ghost-image)
And then there is the most controversial rumor of all....
This is one of the first bits of photographic evidence that we have of there being a flirtation/slight romance between Caspian and Susan. However, there's a lot more than this behind this particular rumor.
It all started a couple of years ago, when, as an April Fool's Day joke, the moderators at Narniaweb played a prank on all of us by posting a "rumored romance" between Caspian and Susan as a news item. The next day they admitted that it was a joke and took it down- in addition to several other news items that were also pranks. This is a yearly tradition at Narniaweb and a source of immense amusement to us all. now seems that the mods were righter than they knew...
In the Ben Barnes video production blog that was released online several months ago, there was a shot of Susan assisting Caspian with his archery aim- a shot that seemed to hint of "something more" between the two. This provoked enough fan discussion that we asked Mr. Gresham about it in an interview. He told us that there were more important things (like global warming) to worry about, but he did not deny it.
Then, much more recently, rumors of a pre-showing began to surface and several comments were posted to the effect that there was indeed a very subtle romance between Caspian and Susan. Something to the effect of "they flirt, he saves her, they kiss at the end."
Needless to say, since such an occurace as kissing never appears in the Narnian books (nor any hints of a romance between Susan and Caspian) this provoked quite a storm of outrage. Many theories on why this could have been invented by the filmmakers, and how it could add to the story (and Susan's eventual disbelief in Narnia) can be found on the Narniaweb forums. The general opinion remains that this romance (and certainly a kiss) has no place in Narnia.
However, some fans, like myself, who have decided to embrace the changes, find this all highly amusing and are delighted to have a bit of romance thrown into the mix. Since we gave up on a literal adaptation, there is simply no need waste our breath protesting it. And, I admit, that if May 16 comes and there is not even the slightest hint of a romance between those two, I'm going to feel slightly cheated.
After all, I think a lot of viewers not familiar with the books would find it rather odd to have a beautiful girl and a handsome guy in a film and not have some sort of romantic attraction. Again, this is a consequence of playing around with the ages.
But perhaps, not such a bad one after all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things to check out

With illness, birthdays and deadlines for two college classes and one costume for Mr. Bill Sikes looming large, I've been too busy to post as often as I'd like. Most notably on my opinions of the Oscars, which my siblings and I watched and vastly enjoyed.

However, Jeffrey Overstreet did a fairly decent job setting the high points down, and though I don't agree with everything he says, if you didn't get a chance to watch the ceremony, check out his post here.

And click here to see some AMAZING new high resolution pictures from Prince Caspian. I'd post some here, but I'm afraid they might be a bit spoilerish...for an instance, if you haven't heard anything about the Susan/Caspian rumors, then don't click the link. However, if you don't mind slight spoilers like that, do click the link immediatly! These are the sort that are too good to be left up and I'm sure we're all worried that Disney is going to order them taken down...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

O for a Time Machine... that I could venture back to the 1520's and meet this intriguing woman for myself. Well, actually, I wish I could discover what she actually believed about her faith, because pretty much no one today knows for sure. Why does it matter? Because the truth behind her character and actions lies in what she believed. Was she a true Christain? Was she a power-grabber? Was she something in between? Was she really Protestant, or actually Catholic?

One author claims that she was a better Catholic than most of her family, which makes no sense because she was obviously in favor of Henry's separation from Rome. Furthermore, she in good conscience (as a good Catholic) could not have married an excommunicate! (If my understanding is correct.)

So, at the moment, I'm inclined to believe she really was Lutheran. But will we ever really know? Probably not. Which makes my task examining this in a research paper rather annoying. I want to know for certain!

I console myself with thoughts of writing a novel, based on the premise that she was an Evangelical Protestant. Because the best way to truely examine the motives of a historical character is to put yourself in their shoes as much as possible. And I think one of the best ways to do this is to write fiction. Because you have freedom to explore the truth.

All this is actually quite radical for me, because until fairly recently I was very pro-Catherine of Aragon/Princess Mary. Anne was always the villianess. But my recent reading has been testing and changing those beliefs and what I'm finding is the fascinating woman that has intrigued historians for years.

And, for the record, the new movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" is based on a supposedly interesting but woefully inaccurate book of the same title. I have not yet decided whether I shall be seeing it or not. On the one hand, I would love to see Natalie Portman portray Anne, but on the other hand I think the inaccuracies would send me screaming from the theatre.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In honor of my birthday...

(oops! spelling!)

...I am putting up a few of my favorite graphic art creations to share with all of you. Please leave a comment to let me know if you take or really like one of them.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A new record!

This is just to announce that I just accomplished the remarkable feat of typing 10,000 coherant words in one day. In other words, I wrote a complete 22-page short story based on the characters and events of a mystery party a friend of mine held a couple of weeks ago. I am sure there is some editing left to do, but this is without a doubt the most writing I have ever done in a single day. I'm not even sure that I've done this much in TWO days!

And it's past Midnight now...

Saturday, February 16, 2008


He's perfect! Just how I always imagined him!

Becoming Jane

I have been asked by several members on the Fairy Tale Forum (which I administer) to post a review of "Becoming Jane" now that it has been released to DVD and I have been able to see it with subtitles.

Well, first of all, I will say that if you would like a complete list of anything that might be objectionable, please check out the Plugged In Online review. I will discuss objectionable elements in my reviews, but because my level of sensetivity may not be the same as my readers, my advice will always be to get the complete listing from if that is something that concerns you.

Also, be forwared. The following review may contain spoilers.

Becoming Jane, this year's film addition to our growing choices of Austen-related movies, focuses on the early years of Jane herself.

It is important to be aware from the first that this is a young Jane. Many people have been appalled by some "themetic" elements that have been included that they feel is an affront to the author. While there are two very short scenes that have some dialogue/images I wish had not been included (so that I might share this film with my younger sister), I must say that I do not think they are completely a disgrace to Jane.

Why? Firstly because Jane does respond to this kind of material in the proper, moral way that we would expect her to. Secondly- because such topics did exist in those days, as they do now. Furthermore, England had not yet reached the restrictive stage of the Victorian era- a fact that I think many "Janettes" tend to forget. Jane was a well brought up pastor's daughter, but that does NOT mean that she was never exposed to immoral ideals. In fact, what truely makes a person moral is the knowledge that immorality does exist, but remaining moral despite that. Without temptation, how could we ever claim victory?

The second charge brought against this film is that Jane's relationship with Tom Lefroy is completely fictionous and imagined.

Well, the answer to that is both "yes" and "no."

For three interesting articles on what we know concerning their relationship, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. The first three articles are the ones to read.

The answer is "no" because we have hardly any evidence that there was every any romantic relationship between Jane and Tom.

Yet the answer is also "yes" because a) we do not have all the letters Jane sent to Cassandra (a fact the movie deals with by Jane asking Cassandra to burn the letter in which she reveals her feelings for Tom) and b) because there is evidence in the letters to suggest, at least, that Jane liked Tom very much.

The third answer is that it doesn't really matter. The filmmakers were playing around with an "what-if" theory, rather than doing a straight "bi0-pic." And as long as they represent Jane's character faithfully, I have no problem supporting this film. I think my biggest question would be...would Jane ever really begin an elopement with anyone? Well, she was a very independant-minded lady and she was young (only twenty).

Now- how does the film itself hold up- simply as a film? (And leaving all questions of historical accuracy out of the picture.)

The answer is- fairly well. It still lacks some of the sweetness and grace that made 2005's Pride and Prejudice such a delight to watch, but it is a fairly well-made film. When I saw it in the theatres, I thought the cinematography was rather shaky and "in-your-face" but it was much more enjoyable on a small screen and I was better able to appreciate the shots.

It also has a more realistic feel- if that is possible. It does decide to deal with some very earthy issues- besides the moral ones already confronted, Jane's brother has a mental illness, her family is forced to dig their own potatoes and feed their own pigs, and (Spoiler) Jane's almost-brother-in-law dies overseas, leaving her sister completely devestated.

Yet there is also humor, and family devotion. And, without any doubt, there are frequent mentions of characters and ideas that end up in Jane's later books.

For an instance- an elderly dowager mentions a "pretty wildness" by Jane's house- upon which Jane immediatly rushes to her writing tablet and jots the words down- which will later be spoken by Lady Catherine in P&P.

Jane suffers her own Mr.Collins/Mr. Elton proposal from her brother's friend Mr. Warren.

And- though some may find the sight of Jane Austen playing cricket a bit too "feminist" for their liking, a former Jane Austen Society president points out on the special features that one of Jane's heroines, Catherine Morland (of Northanger Abbey) was quite fond of cricket.

She also finds the same sort of disgust towards Tom Lefroy that Elizabeth Bennet has towards Mr. Darcy. But although her relationship with Tom serves as a catalyst for the beginning of her most fameous novel, Tom is a great deal more human (read "flawed") than Mr. Darcy, and also a great deal more interesting (read "funny") to watch. (And he is, after all, played by rising star James MacAvoy.)

But the connection that I saw come through most strongly was the relationship between Jane and her sister Cassandra. If Jane is Lizzy Bennet, than Cassandra is Jane Bennet. Their hair colors even match the colors given to those heroines in both the 1995 and 2005 versions of the film! (Brown and gold). The bond between these sisters is so sweet, strong and loving. One cannot help but see Lizzy and Jane Bennet in them- a parallel which Jane herself draws when she tells her sisters of the marvelous marriages she is giving them- though both she and Cassandra have recently seen their hopes for marriage dashed.

Artistically the film is also lovely. Very real- nothing fancy or gilded about it. There is definetly earth and mud aplenty. But there are also fountains and gardens and beautiful forests. Not to mention lovely scenes of Jane writing...(why don't we encourage that kind of handwriting any more?)

The costuming is also well-done. Like 2005's P&P the transition period of the late 1700's is clearly shown. Some characters (such as Jane) wear the new, high-waisted dresses, but many of them also wear the traditional lower waists and longer sleeves of the colonial era. Furthermore, though I was originally annoyed by the darker, richer colors that Jane wears at home, the filmmakers explained that lighter colors were a sign of wealth, since they showed dirt and were impractical for household chores. Since Jane's family is poor, it makes perfect sense that she would wear darker more practical colors while at home.

And I must admit that I have a certain weakness for the long, elegant coats that the men dashing!!!

And that, in short, is my very long, very opinionated review of "Becoming Jane." No doubt there shall be several die-hard Janettes that disagree with me, but we are all entitled to our own opinions in this world, are we not?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In Honor of St. Valentine's Day...

...and all things Romantic, I have decided to share some of my favorite quotes from one of the most romantic books of all time...Pride and Prejudice.

(And yes, these are from the book, not any of the film adaptations.)

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in posession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

However much that truth may be denied in these modern times...

"And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading."

Thank you Mr. Darcy! It is important to be a good reader to be a well-rounded person. (Something that I feel most people tragically forget when they enter college.)

"My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them- by which means my letters sometimes convay no meaning at all to my correspondants."

Dear Mr. Bingley! I think he needs a typewriter, so that he can get his words out quicker...

"How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than a book! When I have a house of my own I shall be miserable if I do not have an excellent library."

This is probably the only statement you shall ever utter, Caroline Bingley, that I shall agree with wholeheartedly.

"I have often observed how little young ladies are interested in books of a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I must confess, for, certainly, there can be nothing so advantageous as instruction."

I might agree with you, Mr. Collins, were I not convinced that the books you should consider useful for instruction are completely differant than the ones I would choose.

"That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate! Do not wish me such an evil!"

Oh Lizzy! But it's Mr. Darcy! How can you say that?

"Oh Mr. Bennet, you are wanted immediatly, we are all in an uproar. You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr. Collins, for she vows she will not have him, and if you do not make haste, he will change his mind and not have her."

Indeed, Mrs. Bennet! And if it's all so shaky as that, why bother?

"An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do."

Thank you, Papa! And what lovely dry humor you utter it in...

"My dear Jane! You are too good. Your sweetness and disinterestness are really angelic. I do not know what to say to you. I feel as if I had never done you justice, or loved you as you deserved."

I am so thankful for the Janes God has put in my life. For there truly are friends whom I could say this to with all honesty.

"Upon my word!" said her ladyship. "You give your opinion very decidely for so young a person. Pray, what is your age?"

"With three younger sisters grown up," replied Elizabeth, smiling, "your ladyship can hardly expect me to own it."

Bravo, Lizzy!

"My dear Eliza, he must be in love with you, or he would never have called on us in this familiar way."

Charlotte, you have uncannily clear sight in all cases but your own. But I must say congratulations to you for being the first to notice...(besides Caroline, of course.)

"In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."

Talk about Romantic! Is it any wonder that we all love Mr. Darcy?

Anyhow, that is only a smattering of why I adore Pride and Prejudice, and indeed, Austen's other works as well. I could try and find some lovely quotes from Emma, Sense and Sensibilty and Northanger Abbey as well, but my mother would throw a fit if I waited any longer to get my lunch.

However, I will say with pride that my younger sister is finally reading and enjoying a work of Austen's- the Gothic parody of Northanger Abbey. She seems quite taken with both Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney so far. (But they are so funny, how can you not?)

And I hope that you all will have a very good Valentine's day...even if you're celebrating "Single Awareness Day" instead.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Writer's Strike is OVER!

This is just a quick post to celebrate the fact that the WRITER'S STRIKE IS OFFICIALLY OVER! Hurrah!

Now Hollywood can get back on it's feet, the movie scripts can start churning out again, and we can all plan our evening of February 24th around the Academy Awards ceremony.

At the same time, this is an excellent point to stop and reflect on the fact that the people in the strike are actually just ordinary workers, not multi-millionaire stars. Furthermore, the strike affected many people beyond the writers themselves. Here is a really interesting article I found on Christianity today...

I bring this up because it is SO easy for those not involved in the entertainment business to label and judge those who are. We forget that they are real people like ourselves, trying to make their way in the world. They just happen to have career paths that require more publicity than ours.

And it's also really cool to see the Christains who are involved behind the scenes! Anyhow, check it out...

EDIT: If this post is rather loosely organized, it's because I'm getting sick, and I'm not sure that my brain is working quite right. But this was important news to post, so I went ahead and wrote this up...

Monday, February 11, 2008

There and...NOT back again?

I'm beginning to think that the Hobbit is simply not intended to be made into a film. Honestly, to get even to the point of giving the film the greenlight took much longer than I think anyone expected...especially in a franchise of this size. With these new legal developments it could be a long time before this project ever gets to Middle Earth.

I am, to be quite frank, all right with this. Sure it would be cool to see The Hobbit on screen, but I have always seriously doubted the ability of the filmmakers to give it the exact touch that it needs. After the seriousness of LOTR, how can they ever give the Hobbit the lightness it needs?

Especially when certain other filmmakers seem determined to "mature" Narnia as much as they can. *sigh* my favorite scene in all of LWW was Lucy's first entrance into Narnia, a scene exploring the wonder and innocence of childhood.

Oh well, enough on this topic. I left Ewan and Theia in a rather interesting place and I'm curious to see what they intend to do back to book revisions!

Night at the Museum 2

Night at the Museum #1 is just the sort of movie that could have an entertaining sequel. Why? Because the first one never took itself seriously. The second one would have to be completely weird not to be at least as good. Plus, studios are getting better and better at cranking out sequeals that surpass the originals. Granted, NT2 was a bit of a disappointment, but it was still fun to watch. And NatM2 doesn't have nearly the same kind of expectation riding on it. I, for one, am looking forwards to it.

So anyhow, here's an article mentioning an up and coming actress (Amy Adams from Enchanted) that is being cast in an interesting part. There's some other hints as to the plot of #2 as well. Check it out!

And here is the link to the Wikipedia write up...which hints at a possible casting of Reese Witherspoon as well! Hurrah!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Night of Enchantment

Tonight was our church's first "Dads and Daughters Gala." One of the few occasions that we modern day girls have to don lovely gowns, walk red carpets, and recieve corsages from our fathers.

It truely was an "enchanted" evening- at least as much as a 21st century girl can hope for. The church was decorated beautifully- even with lamps and lights illumenating the outside entrance. We had a valet service, a real red carpet, sceanery, live Italian music, beautiful table decorations, and a one-man-show from one of the "Triple Expresso" members. Nearly all of my friends were there, accompanied by their wonderful dads-

And I, of course, was escorted by my dear father, who is the most wonderful man I know. (There's only one man that he'll ever relinquish that spot to, and God hasn't revealed that one yet.)

Plus, of I said...this is one of the few nights of the year when I can wear a gorgeous dress and feel as though I'm really dressed properly. And I've found, over and over again, that at the end of these nights I'm always delaying taking my dress off.

Why? Why is it that some of us girls have this wiring in us that practically screams to wear long beautiful dresses? Why is it that we watch heroines like Elizabeth Bennet, Eowyn, Elizabeth Swann, and Padme Amidala and we find ourselves dying to wear clothing like theirs? Why is it that we find today's closest thing to a ball, the "Prom", so exciting? (Even though the dancing these days is hardly dancing at all.)

Ahha! The reflective thoughts are is a quote from one of my favorite books...

"If Fish likes you, let him do the work. You're doing too much for him. You always have." [Kateri] ran a hand through her tangled hair. "You're learning ballroom dancing with Paul too, right?"


"In that kind of dancing, does the woman dance forward or backwards?"


"When she goes backwards, what does the guy do?"

"He dances forward."

"Get the picture?"

"Yes," Rose said, suddenly ashamed. "Yes, I think so."

~Waking Rose

My point? Dancing says something about it's culture. In our 21st century culture, we hardly have any dances, and the ones we do have barely qualify for the name, since they're hardly more than swinging about in time to the music. In fact, the best part of dances these days are the dresses! And the dresses we wear today aren't even hardly anything compared to the dresses they used to have!

Historically, dances were social functions held on pretty regular basises in middle and upper class society. One of their main functions was to give young people a chance to meet each other- hopefully encouraging matches between compatable men and women. We have NOTHING to equal this these days! No wonder there are so many people waiting until they are 25, 26, 27 or even 30 to start their families! No wonder there are so many young ladies feeling unworthy because they've never had a male persuing them- because men are not taught to persue a young lady properly! I wonder if the fact that we don't do Kateri's type of dancing has anything to do with all this...

Plus, of course, if we still had dances regularily, I'd actually have a chance to wear a dress a lot. And that would be cool.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A Mouse's Influence

Recently I've started rereading one of my favorite book series from my early teens. And I've been surprised to realize how much they'ved affected my writing over the years.

Surprised, because I tend to think that it's the literary giants like Tolkien and Lewis that have had the most effect on my writing style.

But really, that's not true. Almost everything that I've read in depth has affected my writing at some level. And while now my (living) literary role models are writers like the Thoenes, Liz Curtis Higgs and Regina Doman, the development of my skills was probably considerably helped by the works of Brian Jacques.

First of all, background for those of you who are unfamiliar with his works. The Redwall series are based around a large, redstone Abbey in the middle of a large forest called Mossflower. The Abbey is populated by all kinds of small woodland creatures native to the British Isles. Mice, Otters, Hares, Squirrels, Hedgeholes, Moles and the like. In every book there is a hero (who usually becomes the warrior or the abbot/abbess of the abbey) who must go on a quest, usually following some sort of riddle to reach their end. There is also some danger to the abbey, usually in the form of a "vermin" villian such as a rat, stoat, weasel, ferret, wildcat or pine martin.

Though the animals live in an Abbey, they are not "religious" the only thing close to any form of a religion is the guiding spirit of the Abbey's founder, Martin the Warrior, who often appears in dreams to give guidence to the Abbey creatures. However, Christian morality is upheld throughout the books. Family, honor, trust, honesty, bravery, faithfulness and respect are all held in highest esteem. Considering that these are animals in a differant (fantasy) world, I don't think there is any problem with this. (Most non-Christains would view the Narnian books as exactly the same thing. In fact, even though Jacques has stated that he tries to keep the books religiously neutral, there are definetly very Christain seeming scenarios in several places.) what exactly did I learn from the writing style of Brian Jacques?

#1. Description.
Jacques originally wrote the first Redwall book for young friends of his at a school for the blind. This means that he has wonderful descriptions- especially of all the food! I know that I am not the only reader to find themselves scrounging in the kitchen after a particularily delicious sounding feast at the Abbey.

#2. A Love of Riddles
One of my favorite Redwall books is Pearls of Lutra which probably contains more riddles than any other two combined. And it was definetely the riddles that made the book so endearing to me. I loved trying to match my wits against the characters in hopes of figuring out the answers before they did. Though you probably won't find too many riddles in my writing yet, the idea of mystery within my books has probably been influenced by this.

#3. Pacing and Suspense
One thing that Jacques is a master of is knowing the exact place in his narrative break away from the action. It's almost infuriating at times, and yet this makes it nearly impossible to put the book down. I definetely learned about constructing good cliff-hangers from him. (No, it WASN'T from that annoying segment on "Between the Lions" where my sister learned about cliffhangers...)

#4. A love of Action and Adventure
I certainly wouldn't say that it was only Redwall that contributed to this. It's something that I've developed in my writing for a long time, because I know it's needed to balance the natural tendancies of females to avoid conflict and list names of children and the house decorations. A true classic naturally appeals to both genders, but in order for it to do so, it has to contain elements that both genders enjoy. (For an instance- in Pride and Prejudice we girls enjoy the romance, whereas many male readers/viewers enjoy the comedy.) However I think this balanced approach was developed in my through what I read- and though I've read a lot of other books that would appeal to both (or even more of a male) audiences, I think Redwall probably played pretty well into this.

Because the fact is that I started my latest book, Thistles in a Haze, to be more of a mystery/quest and it ended up being waaaaay too much like an action/adventure novel, leading to far too many edit notes from my more espionage-saavy father.

At any rate, I thought this was an interesting thought to explore. And I intend to do more thinking about which authors have most influenced my work. I'm sure there will be more posts soon on this subject...

So, reader, what authors have most influenced your writing, or the way you view other works of literature, and why do you think they affected you in that way?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In the Beginning by Alistar McGrath

I've never been extremly fond of the KJV. Its archaic languages is hard to understand and I've been quite put off by those who claim that it is the only acceptable translation of the Bible.

However...I just read this book...and...

I never dreamed that this translation had so much influence over the formation of the English language! I was shocked to learn that the "thees" and "thous" of the KJV were actually dying out by the time the translation was made, and were actually perpetuated because of the translation! Moreover, I was intrigued by the fact that many common English idioms actually come from Hebrew or Greek idioms that were translated word for word, rather than thought for though. 17th-century Englishmen would have found those idioms (expressions) confusing, but today they make perfect sense to us!

For example...

"Fall flat on his face"
"A man after his own heart"
"the land of the living"
"sour grapes"
"From time to time"
"like a lamb to the slaughter"
"Rise and Shine"
"A fly in the ointment"
"A drop in the bucket"
"To give up the ghost"
"the powers that be"
(Taken from McGrath 263 and 264)

Talk about crazy!

I also didn't know that the KJV was disliked by the Puritains, and it wasn't until after the fall of the Puritan Commonwealth that this version was commonly accepted among the English.

Nor did I know that, even today, King James Bibles marketed towards Protestants do not contain the Apocrypha, but those marketed towards Catholics do.

It's fascinating what one actually manages to learn in college courses...(although if I were not given an extension in this class, I probably would never have taken the time to read this book in full.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

August Rush

If you asked me to name three movies worth watching simply because of their beautiful cinematography, I'd say Pride and Prejudice (2005), Miss Potter, and August Rush.

Ever since close-captioning in theatres became advailable, I've been taking advantage of that accomodation and avoiding non-captioned showings. However, August Rush was at the cheap theatre, and all my friends were going, plus I really wanted to see it, so I went along for the ride. And I was very glad I did.

It helped that I had read reviews ahead of time and knew the plotline. This certainly wasn't a Pirates of the Caribbean or National Treasure where dialogue is crucial. No, the most important part of the movie were the visuals and the music. And the visuals of the music were amazing.

I'd say there were four things that really stuck out to me (And
this is the film student talking here).

#1- The blended images. By this I mean the shots of August's mom intercut with August's dad- both creating music but in differant locations. However, as another reviewer pointed out (either CT Today or Pluggedin) the sound and images were woven together as though both performers were really creating the same music.

#2- The colors. August's mom was usually shown wearing white, and against a warm colored background. August's dad was usually shown wearing black and against a cool colored background. Not exclusively, but certainly during the performances.

#3- the way the camera focused on the objects making the sounds. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but to a hard-of-hearing person, it was simply amazing to be able to completely understand what was being heard, by what was seen! August is hearing music in every day life, and since I have heard those kinds of everyday sounds, even if I couldn't quite distinguish them in the theatre, I know what they should have sounded like.

The fourth thing is really the reason why every musician should see this film. This film loves music. You can tell that the filmmakers really find a deep joy in creating and listening to music. The beautiful shots of the cello, the simple joy of hearing music in everyday objects, it's a celebration of music, even when the plot seems a bit implausible.

And, quite frankly, this movie does require a suspension of belief. If you don't settle into your seat fully prepared to believe what the filmmakers put in front of your, your skepticism could ruin the experience. But I'll say this- all film requires a suspension of belief. None of it is real. So it's not asking a lot to hold back a little on the comments when our young music prodigy learns how to read musical notes a tad too fast.

An added bonus is, of course, the film's connections to Oliver Twist. Fans of Dickens will enjoy spotting familiar characters and plot twists- most particularily Robin William's connections to Fagin.

My favorite thread, however, was the longing of a mother for her lost son. Perhaps it's because I'm getting older and more aware of that bond, but it seemed to be by far the most powerful part of the story.

Unfortunately, it is too closely connected to the one fly in this jam. While I would recommend this film to families, it should be noted that August's parent's are not married when he is concieved. However I think the film does a good job of portraying how this act causes years of pain and harship for all three main characters and is not a path to be emulated. (Note: nothing beyond a kiss and waking up together the next morning fully clothed is shown.)

All in all, it was an enjoyable film, celebrating both the importance of family ties and music, and combined with beautiful cinematography, is one I intend to buy and enjoy for years to come.


...come on in and have a cup of tea!

I've been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time now, although it was my original intention to wait until my books started getting published and I actually had a readership.

However I find myself with a great deal of interesting thoughts these days that I would like to take the time to write about...and my hope is simply that this blog will help encourage that kind of writing from me.

Plus- I greatly enjoy reading the blogs of others. I find it is an easy way to learn a lot about people, as well as interacting and growing one's own beliefs. So I do hope that some of my friends and family members will find this a good way to learn more about me. And if any of you have, or start a blog, please let me know! I'm a pretty faithful reader. =)