Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Fiction of Life Not: My Son is a Drug Addict

My son is in jail. This is no fiction. He is a drug addict and violated his parole. There I said it out loud and will say it again "My son is a drug addict." As a mother it hurts to have your son or daughter suffer. You can attend alanon, naranon or any other support group that applies, but the bottom line is that when your child suffers you feel the echoes of their pain.

I do not think my son has reached his bottom. I will not pay for an attorney to get him freed, even for him to attend a residential drug treatment facility. He has done that before and he lied the whole time he was there until the day he got out and then started the whole lifestyle all over again--many times.

I ask for prayers here in this blogosphere from my friends and colleagues as well as from strangers, who might be friends in the making, that my child will be okay. I'm not saying healed because that implies a miracle or that he can be cured. I am not sure about either. I will be happy if he could just be okay, that he could find a life that didn't include drugs, that he has friends that didn't do drugs, and that he could make money and not be compelled to spend it on drugs. He loves sports, he's a great writer, he's a great cook, he has artistic ability, he's funny, he can be so charming and nice. Whatever void that exists in him that makes him vulnerable to this terrible craving, please pray with me that it be filled.

Thank you all for listening.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Elements of Opening Scenes that Grab Our Attention

Whether we read a book or watch a film, the beginning of it can be memorable or it can be drudgery to get through, making us long for something to happen or for the plot to grab our attention. What is it about the start of a piece that pulls us in, makes our hearts beat a little bit faster or that shocks us out of our daily complacency.

"There are great moments
in Anonymous, from its arresting
opening scene..."
And isn't this often the reason though not the only one that we go to the movies or pick up a book anyway?

This will be a topic that I will continuously address and that has been prompted by another blog post: Thursday's List: Top Ten Slow Motion Opening Scenes. In this post, Tom Biebly lists ten top slow motion opening scenes. Can you think of others to add to this list? What is it about the use of the slow motion of a shot that brings us to it more mindfully?

Next time, I will select some films to show as examples of accelerated motion/or busyness in opening sequences, beginning scenes, opening reads that may capture our pulse.

Stay tuned....and keep those comments coming. If I haven't responded yet, I will!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Back to Henry V - Film Adaptations

In today's post, I'm getting back to the discussion of the play Henry V and its film adaptations (from earlier posts on January 29 , February 11 and the 16).

The 1944 film, Henry V, based on the play by William Shakespeare, with Laurence Olivier stands apart from the 1996 Branagh version in many ways. Concentrating on the mis-en-scene--what is photographed inside the frame, working from the back forward, we have the set of the scene. It is Disney like in appearance, the green, rolling hills leading back to the pristine village buildings that are all set underneath a willowy blue sky and puffy white clouds. There are brown, tan and gray cliffs in the foreground through which we see soldiers running away from the fighting behind them. The King rides from behind the cliffs into the frame on a white stallion with red trimmings, carrying a sword. He is the only one on a horse and appears above everyone else. The props and costume are obvious with a medium shot cut to Henry with his blue, red, and yellow dress and gray silver armor surrounding his arms and his neck and up to his head. He removes his helmet in grand gesture with both arms moving up, his elbows extended out with his hands at his chin to push up the front of his face plate. He then brings the whole of it off of his head and as he does so his sword remains in his right hand swinging across his chest, so large that it moves half out of the frame. Olivier’s movement’s as the King are controlled, precise, and deliberate. He is on show, at play in the play, not in a real fight for life and death. The one time anything appears blocking him it is one of his minions carrying the flag. Enhancing these scene elements, is the orchestral score with the omission of any battle sounds and the absence of any explosions or cries from men whose flesh has been torn by blades. This film is a representation of the so called glory of war; with the noble untouchable king leading those lesser into the fight. Violence and death are hidden. It is the Poster child of the United Kingdom’s war offices to fight the good fight for mother, honor, and country. There is no realism, no blood, no suffering, so the film could be used as a marketing tool for the country’s people to join the fight against the Nazi’s and to feel good about it.

The 1989 film of Henry V directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh contains vastly more realism than Olivier's production. Again, the historical factors are significant at the time the film was made. We have defeated the Nazi’s, experienced the further atrocity of the war in Vietnam and the U.S. revolution of the 60’s where revolt against war became popular. We are at the end of the cold war and at the brink of the Eastern Bloc’s Wall come tumbling down. Smartly, Branagh still maintains his respect and admiration as the noble King Henry V, but he does so while showing the destruction that war causes. Scenes begin with all the grittiness of battle, the light of fire, dirty, bloodied faces, and chaotic raging movement leading into the sounds of massive explosion. Henry here, played by Branagh, is a tiger. His speech is guttural, fraught, and fiery. Branagh’s sword is raised straight up and then swings wildly side to side then towards us while he spews the words of once more onto the breech as if he were mad, his lips are wet and his eyes excited, it is dark and he atop a horse who becomes blocked by a mass the men’s helmet’s shining helmets so that it almost looks like Henry is carried by these men. Then there is a cut to a close up of one of these men whose intensity of concentration and arousal for king and war is clear in his eyes. Branaugh puts the violence and death right in our faces. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He’s telling us it’s a necessary evil and that to run away is to dishonor ourselves and be left to a worse condition, perhaps spared certain death, but to live in disgrace to your dying day, your dying breath.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Fiction of Film

Are you ever disappointed when you read a great book and then see a film that is in some way based upon that writing? There are several ways of looking at what is often referred to as the secondary work, the film, adaptation of a story. First, pay attention to the two words "secondary" and "adaptation." Secondary implies just that--a film based in any part on some written work is often deemed secondary, second best, a poor imitation. On the other hand, anyone who has ever worked in the art of film knows that a work of literature is an inspiration for a new work of art which may be a literal, traditional or radical translation of that piece of literature. Adaptation or translation? Isn't language, language, whether translated into words, fine art (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.), music, dance (movement), photography or film (a combination of many forms-audio-visual, including dialogue and sometimes words as in print whether in subtitle form or cuts with straight printed words).
Naoomi Rapace in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsen)
Even though I wish I could relive the great feeling I get from reading a book the first time, I know that I cannot. You can never produce the exact same experience from your first reading of a piece of literature. You can read it again and relish the flavor from your first reading of the work, but it will never exactly replicate itself. You have a built in spoiler alert.

Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
So I would suggest that when you see a film after reading it's afore-produced printed version that you consider it as an independent piece of work, whether or not it is supposed to be a literal, traditional or radical translation because film is a different medium.

Sean Connery and Christian Slater in The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
Each one is a piece of art.