Report From the Aleutians

Thursday, June 13, AD 2013

If there is a forgotten theater where American troops fought in World War II, it is most definitely the Aleutians.  The Japanese took Attu and Kiska, islands in the Aleutian chain,  in June of 1942, to forestall the Aleutians being used as a base for a move on the Japanese Home Islands from the Aleutians.  Due to the rugged weather conditions, the US had never seriously entertained using the Aleutians as a staging area for future offensives.  However, Attu and Kiska were American territory, and national pride, as well as alarm from the Alaskan territorial government, made inevitable an American campaign to take back the strategically worthless islands.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

2 Responses to Report From the Aleutians

  • The film mentions that Attu and Kiska were uninhabited. This is incorrect.

    Technically Kiska was, for the only people there were the members of a U.S. Navy meteorological station. Attu, on the other hand, had about 880 residents. The Alaskan government had imposed a mandatory evacuation before the Japanese arrived, but 47 residents were still present on the day of the invasion, and 42 survived the summary executions that day. These 42 were taken to a camp in Japan, and only 26 survived to the end of the war.

    It is a real shame that we forget the suffering of these Americans, and that of the U.S. citizens of Guam. These were the two places where Americans directly faced the enemy in World War Two in their homes. Other atrocities happened in the massacre of the U.S. contractors and Marines on Wake and of course in the Philippines. We should always remember.

  • My wife’s late grandfather, Elmer Pulaski, was in the Navy during WWII and was in the Aleutians. Didn’t like talking about it.

Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell

Thursday, March 28, AD 2013

 

Continuing our series on screen portrayals of Pilate that I began in 2011 during Holy Week.    The posts on portrayals of Pilate by Rod Steiger, Richard Boone, Barry Dennen, Hristov Shopov, Telly Savalas and Frank Thring may be read here, here, here, here  here and here.

Stephen Russell portrays Pilate in The Gospel of John (2003) which is a straight forward no frills presentation of the Gospel of John.  As in the Gospel of John Pilate is shown in the film as first curious about Jesus and then sympathetic to Jesus.  He attempts to save Jesus by giving the mob a choice between Jesus and the bandit Barabbas.  When that fails he presents Jesus after He has been beaten and utters the phrase Ecce Homo, Behold the Man.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

5 Responses to Screen Pilates: Stephen Russell

  • Pingback: Holy Thursday - Big Pulpit
  • I would like to place a challenge to you — analyse the portrayal of the Procurator in the TV adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita.” It’s quite different from the Gospel standard, but well known to Russians, as it’s arguably the greatest Russian-language novel of the 20th Century. The Pilate in Vladimir Bortko’s Rossiya TV version was Kirill Lavrov, a top Russian actor (the entire cast was “A-list” of Russian TV and movie actors) A complete playlist of the TV version starts at this link, and Pilate’s first appearance in this version is at this link. It has English subtitles, and the text of those titles was cribbed from one of the leading English translations of the work.

    Anyway, it’s a unique portrayal of Pilate. Take a look at it. What do you think?

  • I read the novel the Master and Margarita when it was first translated into English. Magical Realism Russian style! A beautiful satire on Stalinist Russia, a la a combination of Faust, The Grand Inquisitor with some Thirties Slapstick tossed in. I hadn’t seen the film version before and the interplay between Christ and Pilate is interesting although it has nothing to do with the Gospels. Pilate plays the role of the Grand Inquisitor in an homage to that great section from The Brothers Karamazov. The world weariness and the cynicism I suspect is probably an accurate reflection of the historical Pilate. Mr. Lavrov did a fine job, and it is a pity that I haven’t had the time to explore Russian cinema much beyond the forties.

  • Stephen Russell’s Pilate shows reasonable wonder, and fear, accurate to the gospel account. (Now where’d the evangelists get inside info? Hard to believe a Roman governor wearing his emotions on his tunic sleeve.) This Pilate does feel very much like “us,” more so, imo, than the sneering, haughty, noxious versions. Thankfully most of “us” don’t have to worry about our families being slaughtered if we tick off our employer.

  • Thanks for sharing this information and video too.

Red Badge of Courage

Wednesday, March 20, AD 2013

He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death. He was a man.

The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane

I recently was watching The Red Badge of Courage, (1951) and I was struck yet again by what a forgotten masterpiece it is.  Filmed in stark black and white, the film has almost a documentary feel to it, as if a World War II era newsreel camera had magically transplanted itself to the Civil War.  The combat scenes are highly realistic depictions of Civil War combat, and the actors speak and act like Civil War soldiers and not like 1951 actors dressed up in Civil War costumes.

As one critic said at the time, watching the film is like watching a Matthew Brady photograph of the Civil War come to life.

It was a stroke of genius for director John Huston to have as star of his film Audie Murphy, as the youth who, in Stephen Crane’s unforgettable novel, has his first taste of combat in the Civil War.  Murphy looked like a typical Hollywood “pretty boy” but he was anything but.  From a family of 12 in Texas, Murphy had dropped out of school in the fifth grade to support his family after his father ran off.    His mother died in 1941.  In 1942 he enlisted in the Army at 16, lying about his birthday, partially to support his family and partially because he dreamed of a military career.  By the end of the war, before his 19th birthday, he was a second lieutenant and had earned in hellish combat a Medal of Honor, a Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, a Legion of Merit, a French Legion of Honor, a French Croix de Guerre, a Belgian Croix de Guerre, two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts.  He was the most decorated soldier of the US Army in World War 2.

Murphy’s co-star in the film was also an Army combat veteran, Bill Mauldin, the famed cartoonist who drew the Willie and Joe cartoons in Stars and Stripes, the Army newspaper, during World War II.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

2 Responses to Red Badge of Courage

Films While Waiting for the White Smoke

Sunday, March 3, AD 2013

This is a joint post with commenter Dr. Peter Dans.  Pete has written a fine book which I will be reviewing, Christians in the Movies, A Century of Saints and Sinners, and he has given suggestions about films to watch while we are waiting to shout Habemus Papam.  Here are the films in Chronological order of the Pope depicted:

1.  Quo Vadis (1951)-The historical spectacle film to end historical spectacle films, it brings to the screen the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz of the persecution of Christians under Nero.  The film is a great work of Art with inspired performances by Peter Ustinov as Nero, Robert Taylor as the tough Roman legate Marcus Vinicius who finds himself, very much against his will, becoming a Christian from his love of the Christian Lygia, portrayed by Deborah Kerr, and Leo Genn, as Petronius, the uncle of Vinicius and Nero’s “arbiter of taste”, who wounds Nero to the core with the following suicide note:

To Nero, Emperor of Rome, Master of the World, Divine Pontiff. I know that my death will be a disappointment to you, since you wished to render me this service yourself. To be born in your reign is a miscalculation; but to die in it is a joy. I can forgive you for murdering your wife and your mother, for burning our beloved Rome, for befouling our fair country with the stench of your crimes. But one thing I cannot forgive – the boredom of having to listen to your verses, your second-rate songs, your mediocre performances. Adhere to your special gifts, Nero – murder and arson, betrayal and terror. Mutilate your subjects if you must; but with my last breath I beg you – do not mutilate the arts. Fare well, but compose no more music. Brutalize the people, but do not bore them, as you have bored to death your friend, the late Gaius Petronius.

Peter in the movie is portrayed by Finlay Currie.  Here is the classic scene from the film that depicts Peter informed by Christ that He is going to Rome to be crucified a second time:

In the film he goes to the arena where the Christians are being murdered for the amusement of the crowds and cries out, “Here where Nero rules today, Christ shall rule forever!”  The film movingly depicts Peter’s martyrdom, crucified upside down since he had stated that he was not worthy to have the same death as Christ.

2.  Sign of the Pagan (1954) -Jack Palance, a great actor who was consistently underrated throughout his career, portrays Attila the Hun. Here we have depicted the meeting between Attila and Pope Leo the Great, portrayed by Leo Moroni, which convinces Attila to spare Rome.

3.  Becket (1964)-A masterful, albeit heavily fictionalized retelling of the life of the “holy, blessed, martyr”.  Here we have Archbishop Becket, Richard Burton,  in exile having an interview with Pope Alexander III, Paolo Stoppa:

4.  Francis of Assisi (1961)-A film biography of Saint Francis, ably acted by Bradford Dillman.  Go here to see the depiction of the interview between Saint Francis and Pope Innocent III,  the role assayed by Finlay Currie who was Peter in Quo Vadis.   Dolores Hart had the role of Saint Clare in the film.  She went on to become a nun.  Pete has some information in regard to that:

It has the extra added attraction of an interesting  backstory involving Dolores Hart, the actress who played Clare and  later became a nun.  She is now the Prioress of Regina Laudis Abbey  which itself has an interesting backstory connecting back to the 1949  film Come to the Stable.

By the way, I sent her a copy of the book and she sent me a  delightful note in 2009 saying that the documentation of the abbey’s  founding and her journey was “absolutely on target” and that it made her  want to read the whole book. Then she added “Said like a real actress.”  I  was especially touched when she said that she would keep me in her “heart and  prayers.”  I’m sure that has been a big help to me along the  way.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

7 Responses to Films While Waiting for the White Smoke

  • Thanks for finding that Leo and Attila scene; I didn’t know anything about it!

    May I commend you, also, for including Anno Domini in your dates; but will you forgive me if I suggest you put Anno Domini first? If you think about it in English, “In the year of our Lord 2013” makes more sense than “2013 in the year of our Lord.”

    Best wishes!

  • The amusing bit is that Msgr. O’Flaherty is basically “that Resistance guy that all the other Resistance guys were afraid to let in their group,” because he was so flamboyant. So the total for his group was pretty good, but the main smuggling groups (pretty much every parish and convent, coordinated by the Pope and select members of the Curia) smuggled out and hid tons more. O’Flaherty ended up being cover for everybody else, because everything got blamed on him!

    But it’s actually a good idea for not all Resistance groups to be coordinated, because if somebody important gets captured, not all the groups will be set in disarray or rolled up by the enemy.

  • Pingback: MONDAY MORNING EDITION | Big Pulpit
  • Wow! This is a very good list. Thank you for sharing this. My personal favorite is “Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II”. It was very inspiring and I also picked up a lot of life lessons in it.

  • Another goo portrayal of John XXIII is The Good Pope:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inqIAnUGdk

    It has a much different (and more accurate?) version of the rescue of Jewish children in Turkey from the one in A Man Whose Name Was John.

  • “A Man for all Seasons”. I don’t think it depicts a Pope, but the story of St. Thomas More is relevant now. Just any excuse to tell people to watch “AMfaS”.

  • It would be in the top five of my favorite movies Claire, and if it had an appearance by a pope it would have made this list a round ten. My favorite scene:

    http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/279160/Man-For-All-Seasons-A-Movie-Clip-Pray-By-All-Means-.html

Theme From Lawrence of Arabia

Saturday, February 16, AD 2013

Something for the weekend.  In the middle of winter it is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that I have chosen for our musical selection the theme song from Lawrence of Arabia (1962).  One of the last great historical epics, the film tells the tale of Colonel T.E. Lawrence’s involvement in the Arab uprising.  It is largely historically inaccurate, although a magnificent story.  One reason for the historical inaccuracy, other than the usual transmogrification of history in the hands of filmmakers, is that it relied too heavily on Lawrence’s war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  Lawrence was a brilliant writer and a talented leader of guerrilla forces, but he never let a little thing like truth stand in the way of a good yarn. 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

18 Responses to Theme From Lawrence of Arabia

  • Colonel T. E. Lawrence died in a car crash when his brakes failed two years after his return to England.

  • He died in 1935 when he was riding a motorcyle and swerved to avoid two boys riding bicycles. He lost control, crashed and died six days later from his injuries.

  • When (May 1935) he died, he was serving, under an assumed name (T. E. Shaw), as an aircraftman (enlisted man) in the RAF.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/1935/may/19/fromthearchive

  • He had actually left the RAF two months prior to his death.

  • Ah, the Arab Revolt and the subsequent screw-job. But no, all Arabs/Muslims hate the West because they hate freedom.

  • Meh, that was off-topic and deliberately provocative (not necessarily “compelling” but liable to provoke something). Delete it if you’d like.

  • Arab nationalism, such as it is, has never had much to do with Democracy. The dynasty founded by Faisal ended with his grandson Faisal II being murdered in the July 14, 1958 rebellion in Iraq. The House of Saud of course ousted the Hashemites from what became known as Saudi Arabia. The Hashemites, miraculously, still rule in Jordan. The brief period of Western rule that some parts of the Arab world experienced, after centuries of domination by the Turks, is routinely used in the Arab world as an excuse for Arab cultural pathologies and the inability of the Arabs to produce stable democratic regimes. It has as much historical validity as Hitler blaming the problems of Germany on the Jews.

  • Donald,

    I think Arabs/Muslims are wary of democracy as it is articulated in the modern West because it has become, unfortunately, conflated with liberalism of the Enlightenment variety. Muslims, much like the Church, are skeptical of modernity, and I think they have good reason to be. Rejecting democracy is (mistakenly) perceived as necessary in the rejection of liberalism and modernity, forces that will invariably lead to the destruction of traditional values and cultural norms, as they most certainly have in our country and in the West (world?) at large. The Arab would is hampered by the belief that accepting democracy means becoming like America– but indeed, they can hardly be blamed. The conflation of these terms is pretty pervasive. I think the world would be wise to remember that the originators of democracy were anything but liberals and anything but modern.

    I don’t necessarily think Sykes-Picot, the TPAJAX Project, and ongoing Western economic and cultural penetration are necessarily legitimate reasons as to why democracy hasn’t worked in the Middle East, but they are certainly are a basis for understanding why many in the Arab world have much resentment for the West. It’s obvious that Qutb was an extremist and a radical, and his prescriptions are certainly detestable, but it’s also clear that his critique of American culture was in many ways legitimate, as was his fear of the exportation of such values.

  • and I realize Iran=/=Arab. Arabs still frequently cite the Mossadeq coup as an example of Western meddling in the Middle East.

  • “I think Arabs/Muslims are wary of democracy as it is articulated in the modern West because it has become, unfortunately, conflated with liberalism of the Enlightenment variety.”

    I doubt if that argument has any currency outside of a small group of Arab intellectuals, considering the popularity of variants of fascism, communism, socialism and other authoritarian isms throughout the Arab world. Arab nationalism itself is a hot house import from the Enlightenment. I rather suspect that Arab antipathy to democracy has far more to do with the Arab world having almost no experience with the concept of a loyal opposition. As was said about the Tsars could be said about most Arab polities throughout history: despotism tempered by assassination. As for resentment of the West, it is as I indicated a handy excuse, and we are of course infidels in their eyes. The Arabs have dealt poorly with modernity, and seem to specialize in copying our vices and ignoring our virtues. Crashing demographics throughout the Arab world will give the Arabs yet another challenge they are ill-adapted to deal with.

  • Hi Donald,

    “As for resentment of the West, it is as I indicated a handy excuse, and we are of course infidels in their eyes.”

    I am not sure what you’re saying here. Are you literally saying that Western engagements in the ME, be they economic, military, cultural, or political, and the negative consequences they have induced have played NO role in the radicalization of Islam over the past century, and are simply “excuses?”

    Most Muslims consider us infidels in the same way that Catholics consider Protestants to be heretics–with indifference.

    “The Arabs have dealt poorly with modernity,”

    As certainly have we, but in a different way and, perhaps, to a worse extent. Let’s not forget what country murders 1.2 of its most innocent civilians a year, is on the brink of eliminating religion from the public square, and is the pornography capital of the world.

  • “I am not sure what you’re saying here. Are you literally saying that Western engagements in the ME, be they economic, military, cultural, or political, and the negative consequences they have induced have played NO role in the radicalization of Islam over the past century, and are simply “excuses?””

    The Arabs have hated the West since the time of Mohammed. They would hate the West if there had been no involvement by the West in the Middle East. A good example of what I am talking about is the Crusades, something that now bulks large in the Arab grievance list, but was largely forgotten in the Arab world until it became a handy stick to raise against Westerners. Bernard Lewis in his many tomes is quite convincing on the use by Arab leaders of the West as a convenient scapegoat for failures of the states they run. The Arabs only need to look in the mirror to find the cause of most of their problems, but such an examination is far harder than blaming the West and the Jews.

    “Most Muslims consider us infidels in the same way that Catholics consider Protestants to be heretics–with indifference.”

    If that were only true, or perhaps I have missed Catholic mobs howling for the blood of Protestants?

    “As certainly have we, but in a different way and, perhaps, to a worse extent. Let’s not forget what country murders 1.2 of its most innocent civilians a year, is on the brink of eliminating religion from the public square, and is the pornography capital of the world.”

    One will never confuse the West with Utopia, although we possess the freedom to critique our societies and to take political action to correct evils. Would that one could say the same about the despotisms that largely make up the Arab world. In regard to modernity one has only to examine the grinding poverty of most Arab states, along with their backwardness in regard to science and industry, not to mention their appalling records on human rights, and the fact that they almost always have hostile relations with any non-Arab states luckless enough to share a border with them, to see that the Arab world and modernity are not even on speaking terms.

  • “The Arabs have hated the West since the time of Mohammed. They would hate the West if there had been no involvement by the West in the Middle East.”

    You are either ignoring my question or I did not ask it properly. Hating someone in a detached and abstract way is one thing, but devoting your life to killing someone you hate is something entirely different. Do you deny that Western meddling in the Middle East has played a more than insignificant role in the radicalization and mobilization of Islamic terrorists? If you do, then how do you explain the fact that these types of groups (completely and utterly distinct from imperialistic or militaristic ventures) were practically non-existent prior to the past century?

    “If that were only true, or perhaps I have missed Catholic mobs howling for the blood of Protestants?”

    Oh, we’ve certainly had our fair share of that over the years. If anything, the fact that we don’t in a world of fallen men is perhaps a testament to the fact that religion isn’t taken seriously in most Western countries. Certainly not something worth fighting over.

    And by saying “if that were only true,” are you actually challenging my assertion that most Muslims don’t hate the West in a way that manifests itself meaningfully? How many Muslims do you know, Donald? How many Muslim countries have you been to?

    “One will never confuse the West with Utopia, although we possess the freedom to critique our societies and to take political action to correct evils. Would that one could say the same about the despotisms that largely make up the Arab world. In regard to modernity one has only to examine the grinding poverty of most Arab states, along with their backwardness in regard to science and industry, not to mention their appalling records on human rights, and the fact that they almost always have hostile relations with any non-Arab states luckless enough to share a border with them, to see that the Arab world and modernity are not even on speaking terms.”

    I do not condone any number of Muslim customs and practices that I find oppressive and unjust. However, there’s something to be said for resisting the temptations of pleasure and wealth that modernity offers for the sake of preserving the integrity of tradition and religious observance. If only the West had had a similar approach to modernity.

  • Donald McClarey: I read or saw what I posted. After seeing Lawrence of Arabia a half century ago, I have carried this with me and am glad to be relieved of my misinformation. T. E. Lawrence was truly a greater man than I believed him to be, in avoiding the injury to other human beings.

  • “Do you deny that Western meddling in the Middle East has played a more than insignificant role in the radicalization and mobilization of Islamic terrorists? If you do, then how do you explain the fact that these types of groups (completely and utterly distinct from imperialistic or militaristic ventures) were practically non-existent prior to the past century?”

    Yes I do think Western involvement in the Middle East is fairly insignificant in regard to Arab hatred of Westerners. In the nineteenth century the Arabs were a subject people ruled mostly by the Turks, except for the Brits in Egypt. Scapegoating of the West, and the manipulation of traditional Arab hatred of the West, became useful to Arab elites once they were jockeying for political power. The Arab elites did learn from the West the utility of grievance politics, and they have become masters of it, not only with their populations but with gullible Westerners.

    “Oh, we’ve certainly had our fair share of that over the years.”

    Please try not to be deliberately obtuse. There is nothing in Catholic and Protestant relations today to come within shouting distance of the visceral hatred of Christians and Jews that is so easily mobilized throughout the Arab world.

    “are you actually challenging my assertion that most Muslims don’t hate the West in a way that manifests itself meaningfully?”
    Public opinion polls in those nations normally reveal a fairly broad animosity to the West. Political groups manifesting a hostility to the West normally do quite well in what passes for elections in that part of the world.

    “How many Muslims do you know, Donald? How many Muslim countries have you been to?”

    Five personal acquaintances and zero countries traveled to, although I keep pretty close tabs on developments throughout the Arab world and I have read a great deal of the history of the groups that make up the Arab states today.

    “However, there’s something to be said for resisting the temptations of pleasure and wealth that modernity offers for the sake of preserving the integrity of tradition and religious observance.”

    If that was what was going on in the Arab world you might have a point. However, the Arab world for generations has been the home of a particularly virulent and degrading form of pornography, pederasty has traditionally been common throughout the Middle East, the Islamic prohibition against alcohol is routinely violated, and where the Arabs have money they seem to be eager to copy the vices of the West.

  • “Yes I do think Western involvement in the Middle East is fairly insignificant in regard to Arab hatred of Westerners.”

    Donald, that wasn’t the question, and now I am honestly beginning to believe that you are avoiding it on purpose. I am not asking about the source of “hate,” I am specifically limiting this discussion to the emergence of such groups as Al-Qaeda, such figures as Sayyid Qutb and Osama bin Laden, and such tactics as terrorism and suicide bombings. I repeat: Do you deny that Western meddling in the Middle East has played a more than insignificant role in the radicalization and mobilization of Islamic terrorists? If you do, then how do you explain the fact that these types of groups (completely and utterly distinct from imperialistic or militaristic ventures) were practically non-existent prior to the past century?”

    “The Arab elites did learn from the West the utility of grievance politics, and they have become masters of it, not only with their populations but with gullible Westerners.”

    What a truly bizarre conflation you make! How have you gone from terrorist groups to Arab elites, as if they’re the same thing? I’m not even sure how to address this…

    “Please try not to be deliberately obtuse. There is nothing in Catholic and Protestant relations today to come within shouting distance of the visceral hatred of Christians and Jews that is so easily mobilized throughout the Arab world.”

    I said over the years, Donald. That implies over the course of time. You know, centuries of religious wars, the Troubles, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, etc.

    “Public opinion polls in those nations normally reveal a fairly broad animosity to the West. Political groups manifesting a hostility to the West normally do quite well in what passes for elections in that part of the world.”

    If you flipped those same questions and asked them of Americans about the Middle East you’d probably get similar percentages. I guess that means most Americans hate Middle Easterners. And last time I watched a GOP primary debate, mentioning your plans to drop bombs on any number of countries in that part of the world earned you a pretty raucous applause.

    Your last line was the best, considering several of the ME’s most ruthless dictators and suppressors of the political process were propped up unabashedly by the US, Mubarak in particular.

    “Five personal acquaintances and zero countries traveled to, although I keep pretty close tabs on developments throughout the Arab world and I have read a great deal of the history of the groups that make up the Arab states today.”

    I’m not holding it against you, but that’s a small sample size. Anecdotal evidence is somewhat overrated, but I will share mine. I have lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East. I never encountered any manifestation of hate, at least not the kind that would cause someone to lay down his life and blow me up (the most heated exchange occurred at a McDonalds when some Egyptian teens were egging me and my friends on as the US lost to Ghana in the 2010 World Cup). Aside from the tourist trap merchants that resort to all types of deception, my experience with Arabs was that they are a hospitable and kind bunch. In fact, the Syrians of Aleppo stuck out in my mind as particularly open and inviting.

    Donald, the fact is that people are people. I imagine that many Middle Easterners do talk hatefully of the West in their coffee shops and at their dinner tables, much as Americans do of the Muslim world and many of the comboxers of this site do about our president. However, I can also say that it is patently absurd to suggest that anything but a tiny fraction of these people are motivated by this animosity to do something like throw away their lives and crash a plane into a building.

    “If that was what was going on in the Arab world you might have a point. However, the Arab world for generations has been the home of a particularly virulent and degrading form of pornography, pederasty has traditionally been common throughout the Middle East, the Islamic prohibition against alcohol is routinely violated, and where the Arabs have money they seem to be eager to copy the vices of the West.”

    No, I think it accurately conveys exactly why the Middle East is doing its strange and sloppy two-step with modernity.

  • Much of the resentment of the Arabs as a civilisation is driven by their realisation that they cannot match the material achievements of the West. Other civilisations which encountered the West, the Indians, the Chinese do not harbour the same levels of resentment as they like the Japanese have been able to climb the ladder of material progress. It has little to do with the alledged spirituality of the East. Pacific Islanders do not care to challenge the West in the domain of material progress and may therefore lead a bucolic life, but for the Arab ideologues of the measure has always been military strength which requires a technical base, in which they’ve had no success for hundreds of years now. The Arabs should spend some time to reflect that had it not been for the advances in health and agriculture pioneered in the West and brought to them by the same empire buiilders and adventurers, with the best of intentions, perhaps half of us alive today would not be around. Having said this I have to say that Arabs I knew were invariably hospitable and courteous.

    Just like the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles Doughty is a rousing read and is supposed to be a model for its writing.

  • “Much of the resentment of the Arabs as a civilisation is driven by their realisation that they cannot match the material achievements of the West. ”

    This is an interesting theory, but, again, it fails to address what I have been asking. Namely if Arabs have resented the West since the time of the Crusades, why have we only seen the type of radicalism by non-state actors, embodied by a group like AQ, over the past century? Continuing to rely on the simplistic slogan that they simply “hate us” is really disconnected from a pretty evident relationship of causes and effects.

    Furthermore, although I don’t know if you were attempting to apply your theory to the explanation of the motives of Islamist terrorists, the case is actually the opposite. These factions hate the west not because of any jealousy of our material might, but because they are resentful that Western materialism has been forced upon them. Sayyid Qutb is considered by many to be the inspiration of AQ and his thoughts are a clear indication of this. In particular, an extended trip to the US in the 50’s shaped his views on the decadence of Western culture, and gave rise to the notion that Islamists should not only attack “the near enemy” (faux-Islamic governments in the ME), but the “far enemy” as well.

    “Should I travel to America, and become flimsy, and ordinary, like those who are satisfied with idle talk and sleep. Or should I distinguish myself with values and spirit. Is there other than Islam that I should be steadfast to in its character and hold on to its instructions, in this life amidst deviant chaos, and the endless means of satisfying animalistic desires, pleasures, and awful sins? I wanted to be the latter man.”

    “The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs—and she shows all this and does not hide it.”

    “Qutb concluded that major aspects of American life were primitive and “shocking”, a people who were “numb to faith in religion, faith in art, and faith in spiritual values altogether”. His experience in the U.S. is believed to have formed in part the impetus for his rejection of Western values and his move towards Islamism upon returning to Egypt.”

    I don’t understand why people who claim to be interested in history and have a desire to understand the motives of historical actors don’t just bother to look up the books that these people write or the statements that they issue. The cause of the rise of radical Islamist terrorism directed at the West is pretty clearly articulated.

Film and Faith

Sunday, January 13, AD 2013

Film, at its best, can convey a hint of the overwhelming impact of religious faith on those who believe.  For me, the best example of this is Jesus of Nazareth (1977), as amply demonstrated I think in the video clip above.  When we read about Jesus in the Gospels it requires a leap of imagination to conjure up the scenes depicted.  Some people are better at doing this than others.  A good film can provide us with the emotional impact of the Gospels without the necessity of our providing the imagination to bring the event alive for us.  The Church has long understood this.  Hymn singing can also accomplish this, as do Passion Plays, as does the Rosary.   God appeals to our souls, our hearts and our minds, and we make a mistake if we ever forget this.

The History Channel in March will have a miniseries that dramatizes portions of the Bible.  Below is a trailer.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

16 Responses to Film and Faith

  • I watched “Jesus of Nazareth” shortly after I first came to belief. You hit the nail on the head. Nothing can be compared to this movie, although “The Passion of the Christ” certainly did, some 30 years later. Beautifully filmed, excellent acting, orthodox Christianity.

    I’m a fan of the older biblical movies but “Jesus of Nazareth” is certainly unlike all of them. What’s astonishing to me is that I can still watch it today and there’s barely a hint of ‘datedness’ to it like many movies from decades ago. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this since my first time ~ always during Lent every year.

    Thanks for the clip!

  • It’s ordained. You will reflect His light in dark places. Believe.
    God is with us.
    Your movie is in production.
    Make it count.
    Souls are depending on your faith, your virtues and your love.

  • The History channel has been known to take liberty with religious truth on occasion. We shall see. I support the Douay-Rheims Bible.

  • The Douay-Rheims is a translation of a translation. And that translation is the Latin Vulgate which has itself been revised and updated under Pope JP II as the Nova Vulgata:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/bible/nova_vulgata/documents/nova-vulgata_index_lt.html

    Late last year I ordered my hardcopy from Paxbooks (it was my Christmas gift to me – selfish, I suppose). But of course the most accurate is the original Koine Greek New Testament and the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament. I can’t do the right to left script of Semitic languages, and can manage Greek only fitfully with lots of internet help and Strong’s Concordance. Personally, for English Editions, I prefer in the following order:

    Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition
    New American Bible Revised Edition
    English Standard Version with Apocrypha
    King James Version with Apocrypha

    But I do have a hardcopy of St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate / Clementine Douay-Rheims side by side, and I do use Father George Haydock’s Douay-Rheims Catholic Study Bible of the 19th century in my apologetics classes.

    I guess we all have preferences. For prayer devotional I like the Nova Vulgata and for study the RSV CE, and I don’t so much like the Douay-Rheims because of its inaccuracies.

  • I’m liking the King James w/Apocrypha these days. After that I like the Douay Reims.

  • Pingback: 800,000 Frenchmen Protest Same-Sex "Marriage", Wow! | Big Pulpit
  • For New Testament study, I like the Catholic Comparative New Testament, which provides, in a side-by-side format, the text of the Douay-Rheims, RSV-CE, New American Bible, NRSV Catholic Bible, Jerusalem Bible, Good News Translation, New Jerusalem Bible, and Christian Community Bible.

  • The Douay is solid, but I’ll quibble with Paul’s “translation of a translation”: in the most commonly available format, it’s a translation of a translation of a translation.

    The brilliant Bishop Richard Challoner revised the Douay in the 1700s, and he was not afraid to borrow from the King James Version.

    I think every Catholic family with English as a native tongue ought to have a Douay to hand as a reminder of what English-speaking Catholics once went through.

  • Thanks for providing the link to the Catholic Comparative New Testament, Paul. I should have done so in my comment. I think it should become clear to anyone who uses it that the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition ought to be the preferred modern translation for Catholics.

  • @Jay: That’s a matter of taste, don’t you think? Personally, I don’t care for the RSV. It’s certainly a far cry better than the New American for instance, but I find it bland. Comparing various passages, the KJV’s beautiful language far surpasses the RSV, let alone that in some random passages I’ve checked, the meaning seems to be quite different. Off the top of my head, here’s a good example:

    KJV: (Genesis 11:1) “And the whole earth was of one language, and
    of ONE SPEECH.”

    RSV: (Genesis 11:1) “… one language and few words.”

    That seems striking, doesn’t it? There’s more examples I could give but this is an example.

  • Key words in my comment: “modern”. I actually prefer the older translations.

  • Elizabeth,

    Please go here for Genesis 11:1: http://interlinearbible.org/genesis/11.htm

    Verse 1 actually says: “and the same words same language earth now the whole used.”

    Sounds weird, right? We moderns certainly don’t speak that way. Even Latin that came 2000 years afterwards has odd word order and no articles. Traslating the Vulgate like this would sound equally weird. However, to get precise word for word meaning regardless of how jarring it is, go to an interlinear OT / NT: http://interlinearbible.org/.

    For approximate word-for-word meaning, the RSV CE is great and so is the ESV with Apocrypha. So are the Protestant NASB and NKJV, but they lack the Deuterocanonicals. For sense of meaning, go to the NIV (which again lacks the Deuterocanonicals) or NAB RE. Every single translation has problems. None are perfect. Only the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek are “inspired.” But the Church does authorize translations because God gave the Church such authority, a lesson Wycliffe failed to understand, much to his doom. 🙁 That said, the Protestants have done wonderful translations as well.

  • Pingback: Using Film as a Tool for Evangelization
  • My thoughts on Jesus of Nazareth mirror yours. Did you ever get a chance to read my book Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners which looks at the treament of Christians in about 200 films from 1905 to 2008? It sold out its hardback at $49.95 and is now in paperback at $24.95. I know you are a film aficianado. If you haven’t seen it, I’d be happy to send you a copy.as payback for your many intersting posts. Just let me know where to send it.

  • E-Mail sent to you Pete, and I thank you!

Thaddeus Stevens: Film Portrayals

Monday, December 10, AD 2012

 “I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator.

Inscription on the Tombstone of Thaddeus Stevens

As regular readers of this blog know, I greatly enjoyed the film Lincoln and praised it for its overall historical accuracy.  Go here to read my review.  One of the many aspects of the film that I appreciated was Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens (R.Pa.), a radical Republican who rose from poverty to become the leader of the abolitionists in the House, and one of the most powerful men in the country from 1861 to his death in 1868.  There haven’t been many screen portrayals of Stevens, but they illustrate how perceptions of Stevens have shifted based upon perceptions of Reconstruction and civil rights for blacks.

The above is an excellent video on the subject.

The 1915 film Birth of a Nation, has a barely concealed portrayal of Stevens under the name of Congressman Austin Stoneman, the white mentor of mulatto Silas Lynch, the villain of the film, who makes himself virtual dictator of South Carolina until he is toppled by heroic Klansmen.  The film was in line with the Lost Cause mythology that portrayed Reconstruction as a tragic crime that imposed governments made up of ignorant blacks and scheming Yankee carpetbaggers upon the South.  This was the predominant view of scholarly opinion at the time.  The film was attacked by both the NAACP and the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, as being untrue to history, a glorification of mob violence and racist.

By 1942 when the film Tennessee Johnson was made, we see a substantial shift in the portrayal of Stevens.  Played by veteran actor Lionel Barrymore, best know today for his portrayal of Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life, Stevens is portrayed as a fanatic out to punish the South and fearful that the too lenient, in his view, treatment of the South in Reconstruction will lead to a new Civil War.  This leads up to the climax of the film, the trial in the Senate of Johnson, with Stevens as the leader of the House delegation prosecuting Johnson, with Johnson staying in office by one vote.  The portrayal of Stevens is not one-dimensional.  Stevens is shown as basically a good, if curmudgeonly, man, consumed by fears of a new Civil War and wishing to help the newly emancipated slaves, albeit wrong in his desire to punish the South.  Like Birth of a Nation, Tennessee Johnson reflected the scholarly consensus of the day which still painted Reconstruction in a negative light, although not as negative as in  1915.  Additionally,  the issue of contemporary civil rights for blacks was beginning to emerge outside of the black community as an issue, and Stevens in the film is not attacked on his insistence for civil rights for blacks.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

6 Responses to Thaddeus Stevens: Film Portrayals

  • I saw “Lincoln” with my liberal in-laws.

    This thought kept running through my alleged mind every time Stevens was on screen, “Alinsky’s Rule 5: ridicule.”

    The movie didn’t change my opinion of Lincoln, one way or the other. I was impressed that I could sit through the whole of it: not much bang-bang, bloodshed or walking trees, etc.

  • It is one of the best films for showing the nuts and bolts of political horestrading that I have ever seen T.Shaw, and I, of course, found it fascinating for beginning to end. I have seen it twice now, something I have never done with any film while it was still in theaters.

  • T. Shaw I imagine you appreciate this line voiced by Stevens in the movie:

    “The modern travesty of Thomas Jefferson’s political organization to which you have attached yourself like a barnacle has the effrontery to call itself “Democratic”. You are a Dem-o-crat! What’s the matter with you? Are you wicked?”

  • Mac,

    That depends on how you define the word, “appreciate.”

    I think the seed of that “barnacle” was attached by Jackson. Politics and rhetoric are not my areas of expertise. I have a talent for flinging massive strings of four-letter words.

  • Historians often unconsciously reveal more about their own times than the periods they describe, Gibbon and Macaulay, being obvious examples.

  • PLOT SPOILER ALERT: I thought the bedroom scene with Stevens and his mistress/housekeeper was manipulatively gratuitous. His intimate relationship with his housekeeper was based on rumor. It would not be surprising if there was a romance going on, but rumors of one sort or another would of course fly anyway, given that he was single. What bothered me was that, by introducing this love interest, Stevens went from a man who opposed slavery on principle to one who may have been acting under the emotional influence of someone in his household.

Lincoln, a Review

Sunday, November 18, AD 2012

Well, on Saturday I went with my family to see Lincoln. Considering that the screenplay was written by Tony Kushner and the film directed by Steven Spielberg, I wasn’t expecting much. I wouldn’t have been totally surprised to see something along the lines of “Gay Illinois Lincoln and the Confederacy of Doom!’.  Instead I was pleasantly surprised by the film. It is a great film and perhaps a minor masterpiece. It is definitely one of the finest screen representations I have ever seen of Lincoln, and it is a worthy tribute to the Great Emancipator. Read below for the rest of my review, and the usual caveat regarding spoilers is in full force.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

15 Responses to Lincoln, a Review

  • Pingback: SUNDAY MORNING GOD & CAESAR EDITION | Big Pulpit
  • Why wasn’t the Vice President in the story? Wasn’t he involved in the process?

  • I don’t think either Hannibal Hamlin or Andrew Johnson, who was not yet sworn in as Veep, had much to do with the passage of the 13th Amendment in Congress.

  • Good point, Beth. No doubt Biden feels strongly about his contribution and will soon make note of this embarrassing shortcoming. Only question is whether he can beat Al Gore to the punch.

  • I fully agree. It’s a superb film. I lost track of time and was disappointed when it started to wrap up. May be the best acting I’ve ever seen at a movie. Daniel Day-Lewis = Abraham Lincoln. So many good authentic performances…

  • I enjoyed the film just as much.

    One minor detail, when Lincoln is chastising Seward towards the end of the film in a dark room or when he is talking with Alex on the riverboat (can’t remember which one), he refers to the Constitution as holding “unforeseen rights that we can’t imagine today”. Or something along those lines.

    If they could have not take a partisan shot (and I think Lincoln didn’t say that, sure that Donald will correct me if he did), the film would be ‘complete’ for me as one worthy of adding to my movie collection.

  • As memory serves Tito Lincoln was indicating in the film to Stephens that ending the right to slavery might open up rights unforeseen today. That was a truism as far as it went. We only have a fairly vague idea of what was said at the conference as no stenographic record was made and the participants differed in their accounts.

  • Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the finest actors around. I enjoyed the movie There Will Be Blood and especially in Gangs of New York.

    James Spader, it’s nice to seem him make a minor comeback in film, him, Johnny Depp, and Robert Downey Jr. have been my favorite actors since the 80s. It’s good to see them age very well in their acting careers.

  • Very excited to see this film now — thank you Don for ‘the historian’s review’. I couldn’t think of any other actor other than Daniel Day-Lewis who who would be capable of this kind of challenge. Reportedly he spent a year, and read over 100 books on Lincoln, in preparation for the role.

  • He was at the top of his game Chris and obviously looked upon this as the role of his lifetime.

  • Very happy to see this review as I had many of the same reservations as Don. Looking forward to getting to watch the movie sometime after it comes out on DVD. (What, you think me and the Mrs. actually get to go to movies anymore?)

  • Paul, when my wife and I had infants and toddlers I can count on one hand the number of movies we saw in a theater during those years!

  • I’m weighing in a little late here because DH, DD and I just went to see “Lincoln” this afternoon. In a nutshell: liked most (but not all) of the acting, but was kind of disappointed in the movie itself. For one thing, I thought the opening scene with Lincoln and the soldiers in the train station was WAY too contrived. There were also a few too many obvious efforts to generate extra drama and remind everyone that this is a Spielbergian Epic With A Capital E where I don’t think it was necessary (e.g., long, dramatic pauses during the 13th Amendment vote). And while the movie bills itself as based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” the events depicted in the movie make up just a small fraction of the book — probably because it would have taken an epic-length TV miniseries to do justice to the entire book!

    That said, I thought Daniel Day-Lewis made an excellent Lincoln and was especially good at portraying the fact that Lincoln was a skilled political player. I also like the way it showed the “horse trading” and compromising that is often a necessary (though sometimes distasteful) part of accomplishing lofty goals such as abolishing slavery. The scene in which Lincoln tells Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) that a compass can point the way to true north but doesn’t necessarily help you navigate through all the swamps and other obstacles you will run into on the way, is one I think we ought to remember when we debate issues like abortion, gay marriage, immigration, etc.

    Sally Field seemed a bit old to be playing Mary Todd Lincoln — Field is past 60 while Mrs. Lincoln was only in her 40s when she was First Lady. But she did a good job of going beyond the typical caricature of Mrs. Lincoln as a crazy harridan who made her husband’s life a living hell. She was at her best in the scenes where she expresses her entirely understandable terror of losing yet another son if Robert Lincoln were allowed to pursue his desire to enlist in the military.

    Finally, a supporting role of particular interest to us was that of Hal Holbrook as Francis Preston Blair Sr. We recently saw Holbrook’s live “Mark Twain Tonight!” show in Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Mo., and were impressed at the way Holbrook, at 87, still keeps his Twain presentation sharp, witty and relevant. In “Lincoln” Holbrook plays an elder statesman who attempts to broker a peace agreement between North and South, even though it might imperil Lincoln’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment. His role is brief but worth watching.

    I think Day-Lewis, Field and possibly Jones deserve recognition at Oscar time but I would NOT be prepared to award the movie Best Picture overall.

  • “Finally, a supporting role of particular interest to us was that of Hal Holbrook as Francis Preston Blair Sr. We recently saw Holbrook’s live “Mark Twain Tonight!” show in Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Mo., and were impressed at the way Holbrook, at 87, still keeps his Twain presentation sharp, witty and relevant. In “Lincoln” Holbrook plays an elder statesman who attempts to broker a peace agreement between North and South, even though it might imperil Lincoln’s efforts to pass the 13th Amendment. His role is brief but worth watching. ”

    Holbrook played Lincoln in 1974 miniseries Elaine that I highly recommend and which is out on DVD:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sandburgs-Lincoln-Hal-Holbrook/dp/B004Z2ECX0

  • Thanks for the tip Don!

Let There Be Light

Sunday, September 16, AD 2012

to care for him who shall have borne the battle

Abraham Lincoln

During World War II director John Huston produced three films for the US government.  Let There Be Light was shot for the Army Signal Corps.  It covers the treatment of 75 US soldiers traumatized by their combat experiences in World War II.  The film is narrated by Walter Huston, the academy award-winning actor father of John Huston.  The Army brass did not like the finished product, thinking that its focus on men who suffered psychological damage from their service could be demoralizing to the troops, and banned the film on the grounds that it invaded the privacy of the soldiers featured in the film and that the releases they signed had been lost.  (This reason was pretextual, but as a matter of law I would not place any reliance on a release signed by someone undergoing mental treatment standing up for an instant in court.)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

4 Responses to Let There Be Light

  • Let there be light to know, to love, and to serve the Lord, the Lord, Who made all persons and keeps them in existence.

    The men, even in their most disarranged mental condition, never committed a crime, never broke the law. The men stayed honest and decent. Giving these men a job would never be a risk, but an appreciative thank you for their service and their suffering.

    At 35, there is an hypnosis of a young man. Be aware that this kind of viewing can cause some of the audience to be hypnotized, or so I have heard, and may be part of the reason that the film was not immediately released. I am not any kind of doctor, and I knew the doctor would bring the patient into the present and the doctor did, all the better for it.

    Audie Murphy wrote a book: TO HELL AND BACK about his WWII experience.

    An after thought. Soldiers are known as Government Issue, G.I.s. The government commandeers the soldiers’ time and energy but the government cannot own the soldiers’ sovereignty, the soldiers’ personhood. Government can commandeer the soldiers’ time and energy in the pursuit of Justice and Freedom, but does not own the soldiers’ conscience. This film explains this and is timely when Obama is imposing martial law on the civilians, as though he owns us.

  • Mary.
    I think you will find that G I stands for General Infantry – the Ground Troops – the foot sloggers- the Grunts, as they are called in the US Army, I believe.
    Down our way, during WW II and since, our infantry were known amongst the troops as the PBI – the Poor Bloody Infantry , because of all the difficult and dangerous work they had to do on the ground.

  • I have always liked the term Poor Bloody Infantry Don, as it perfectly describes both the gripe and the pride of the average dogface.

  • Actually, its interesting that you do this post on WW II at this time. I am presently typing up for our family, my father’s diary that he kept spasmodically during his time in Italy during WW II. He was in the 27th.Machine gun Battallion, attached to the NZ Maori Battallion, and on the 6th.Sept. 1944, they had moved near to a village called Mondolfa (his writing is difficult to read after nearly 70 years.) near the Adriatic coast. At this time, they are preparing for the Battle of Rimini.

    “15th.Sept.1944. Our bombers and fighters are passing overhead constantly, have seen numbers of formations of approx. 50 bombers at a time. Went for a swim. Only 10 mins. walk from the beach. Swimming around, decided to have a spell, and came to rest on a bloody mine. Did I get moving. (I remember Dad telling us of this when I was a kid – reckoned he made a huge bow wave to the shore 🙂 )”

    “Sat. 16th.Sept. Moved up through the Gothic Line today. The towms and bridges are well bashed about. Bivvie (bivouac – pitch shelter) within 10 miles of the front line. Could see the shells landing on enemy territory. One long range enemy shell landed in the village 1/2 a mile away. Climbed some high ground after tea and watched artillery duels – could see strikes on the enemy held ridge overlooking Rimini – an attack was going in and was an unusual sight.”

    Its fascinating reading and typing what my Dad was doing this day 66 years ago and stating it in his usual understating style, and a bit emotional. Dad died on the 11th. December 2005 – the same day my youngest grand-daughter was baptised – aged 93 years. A few months after this diary entry, Dad suffered a back injury from lifting heavy ammunition cases, and was later re-patriated, and had an experimental spinal operation which left him having to take pain relief for the rest of his life.
    (This comment got a bit out of control, didn’t it. 🙂 )
    Rest in the Love of God, Arthur Hamilton Beckett.

Father Barron Reviews For Greater Glory

Monday, September 10, AD 2012

The Blu Ray and DVD releases of For Greater Glory are coming out on September 11, 2012For Greater Glory tells the story of the Cristeros who bravely fought for religious freedom and the Church in the 1920s in Mexico.  I heartily recommend this film.  The above video is Father Robert Barron’s insightful review of the film.   (I believe he is too sanguine as to the effectiveness of purely non-violent movements in the face of regimes who don’t care how many people they kill, but that is a debate for another day.)   The below video has additional remarks by Father Barron on the film.  Go here for my review of the film.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

12 Responses to Father Barron Reviews For Greater Glory

  • Thank you, Donald! I watched Fr. Barron’s first video above, but it’s now time to shower to go to “Neutrons ‘R Us” and be productive. But I just wanted to say that while I am among the first to advocate that our Second Amendment protests the First, maybe there is something to Jesus’ rebuke against the sons of thunder for wanting to call down an air strike against those unrepentant villages of yore. True – not the same situation as the Cristeros, but victory is through the Cross and always has been. I will still, however, keep my mini-14 in good working order lest, Heaven forbid, we ourselves in America face our own Plutarco Elias Calles. God bless!

  • Opps – protects, NOT protests! Darn fat fingers on iPad keyboard!

  • Christ was never interested in politics Paul, or any of the more mundane matters that must concern us. The truth is that Christianity has been effectively exterminated by force in many regions of the planet throughout history. The examples cited by Father Barron, Gandhi and King, would have been completely useless in the face of totalitarian regimes. One can imagine the short shrift that Gandhi would have received if the Nazis had ultimately conquered the British Empire for example. Traditionally the Church has understood both the need for priests and soldiers and I stand by that traditional wisdom.

    “And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,

    And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross.”

  • “One can imagine the short shrift that Gandhi would have received if the Nazis had ultimately conquered the British Empire for example.”

    Sounds like you may have read Harry Turtledove’s “The Last Article.”

    One of the grimmer short stories from his oeuvre.

  • Thought so. 🙂

    Great, insightful alternate history that rings wholly true.

    Sure, the tyrant can repent in the face of non-violence, but he has to accept the legitimacy of that tactic in the first place. He has to have a conscience, and it has to be a lot like yours.

    Speaking of grim Turtledove ruminations, I just re-read “Ready for the Fatherland” last night–my wife found it in storage. A helpful reminder that one of the greatest assets to the Allied cause in wartime was Hitler’s armchair generalship.

  • Gandhi’s advice to the Jews in Germany prior to World War 2:

    “Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Musalmans or the Hindus, though, as a matter of fact in essence, He is common to all the one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless. If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment . And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy which no number of resolutions of sympathy passed in the world outside Germany can. Indeed, even if Britain, France and America were to declare hostilities against Germany, they can bring no inner joy, no inner strength. The calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.”

    Gandhi’s belief in non-violence admitted no failure, even if all the people attempting it were massacred. I assume the Jews found this letter cold comfort indeed, as the more perceptive among them no doubt realized that a massacre on an unbelievable scale was where the Nazi anti-Semitic policies were heading.

  • Toleration, passive aggressive-resistance and non-violent resistance.

    Being sued and penalized for practicing my freedom of religion is not toleration. Government is the servant of the sovereign person. Toleration of freedom by the government is the enslavement of the sovereign person. Freedom comes from God, our “Creator”.

    Government is constituted by its constituents to celebrate the freedom of its constituents, to protect, to guard and to do combat for the freedom of its constituents. Toleration of the freedom of religion by the individuals who constitute government is totalitarianism. Non-violent resistance is labeled “passive aggressive resistance” by a government that is no longer government, but dictatorship. The dictatorship says: “I will let you…have some of your rational, immortal soul”. The dictatorship says: “You did not build that”.

    Government says: “God built that”.

    Paul W. Primavera: May your “fat fingers” continue to comment.

    Donald McClarey: “Traditionally the Church has understood both the need for priests and soldiers and I stand by that traditional wisdom.” “You shall not stand idly by while your neighbor’s life is in jeopardy.”

  • I think Fr. Barron’s priase of those who didn’t directluy participate in the fighting and writing off the combatants as merely “well intentioned” rather silly when you consider the fat that the young boy who has since been beatified was a comabatant and those who didn’t directly participate did what they did in support of the Crsteros combatants.

  • The Crusades were ordered by the reining Pope. The Crusades were not a non violent response to the Muslims. The Church gave the world the just war concept. So much for non violence.

  • In non-violence, the purpose of which is to instruct people with the reality of the human being’s immortal soul, Ghandi said: the scripture: “an eye for an eye”, will make the whole world blind. The law was written to save some of the eyes in the world. When Jesus told Peter to put down the sword, Peter was already an ordained priest, since the Last Supper, just as Father Barron is an ordained priest, who belongs to the church, first and to the people second. Lay people serve as armed forces and may, God forbid, die by the sword. Non-violence does not repudiate armed force. Armed force repudiates violence.

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

Thursday, August 2, AD 2012

 

One of my least favorite trial dramas is Twelve Angry Men (1957).  As a defense attorney with thirty years experience I find it hilarious as Henry Fonda convinces his fellow jurors that the Defendant is not really guilty.  Why do I find it hilarious?  It is such a stacked deck!  Just like a Socratic “Dialogue” the argument is tailored to make the case for the Defendant, and no contrary arguments are allowed to stand as Fonda steamrolls all opposition and saves the day for truth, justice and the American way! Or did he?  Mike D’Angelo at AV Club has a brilliant analysis of why Fonda and his fellow jurors likely let a murderer off the hook:

Here’s what has to be true in order for The Kid to be innocent of the murder:

  • He coincidentally yelled “I’m gonna kill you!” at his father a few hours before someone else killed him. How many times in your life have you screamed that at your own father? Is it a regular thing?

AND

  • The elderly man down the hall, as suggested by Juror No. 9 (Joseph Sweeney), didn’t actually see The Kid, but claimed he had, or perhaps convinced himself he had, out of a desire to feel important.

AND

  • The woman across the street saw only a blur without her glasses, yet positively identified The Kid, again, either deliberately lying or confabulating.

AND

  • The Kid really did go to the movies, but was so upset by the death of his father and his arrest that all memory of what he saw vanished from his head. (Let’s say you go see Magic Mike tomorrow, then come home to find a parent murdered. However traumatized you are, do you consider it credible that you would be able to offer no description whatsoever of the movie? Not even “male strippers”?)

AND

  • Somebody else killed The Kid’s father, for reasons completely unknown, but left behind no trace of his presence whatsoever.

AND

  • The actual murderer coincidentally used the same knife that The Kid owns.

AND

  • The Kid coincidentally happened to lose his knife within hours of his father being stabbed to death with an identical knife.

The last one alone convicts him, frankly. That’s a million-to-one shot, conservatively. In the movie, Fonda dramatically produces a duplicate switchblade that he’d bought in The Kid’s neighborhood (which, by the way, would get him disqualified if the judge learned about it, as jurors aren’t allowed to conduct their own private investigations during a trial), by way of demonstrating that it’s hardly unique. But come on. I don’t own a switchblade, but I do own a wallet, which I think I bought at Target or Ross or some similar chain—I’m sure there are thousands of other guys walking around with the same wallet. But the odds that one of those people will happen to kill my father are minute, to put it mildly. And the odds that I’ll also happen to lose my wallet the same day that a stranger leaves his own, identical wallet behind at the scene of my father’s murder (emptied of all identification, I guess, for this analogy to work; cut me some slack, you get the idea) are essentially zero. Coincidences that wild do happen—there’s a recorded case of two brothers who were killed a year apart on the same street, each at age 17, each while riding the same bike, each run over by the same cab driver, carrying the same passenger—but they don’t happen frequently enough for us to seriously consider them as exculpatory evidence. If something that insanely freakish implicates you, you’re just screwed, really.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

21 Responses to Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

  • You may have heard of Sir Patrick Hastings. He was one of the greatest lawyers in Britain in the twentieth century, and especially famous as a cross-examiner. In his memoirs, he tells the following story: Once, a client came to him and started by saying, you are not going to believe a word I say. And he proceeded to tell a tale of misfortune and villainy (by his former business partner and plaintiff in the case) so incredible that Hastings, indeed, could not believe it. But he went to court and did his best for his client anyway. And so it happened that, cross-questioning the plaintiff, he noticed a tiny, tiny contradiction. He became interested. He started hammering at it. Bit by bit the truth was forced out of the unwilling plaintiff. Hastings’ unbelievable client had told him the exact truth.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote

    “although there is, and should be, a vast difference between actual guilt, and what the State has to prove at trial to obtain a conviction”

    My favourite example of this is a case we had here in Scotland, namely Creasey v Creasey [1931 S.C. 9.]

    This was, in fact, a civil action. Mr Creasey raised an action for divorce against his wife, on the grounds of her adultery with a co-defender, against whom he concluded for expenses. At that time, the criminal standard of proof obtained in consistorial cases, proof beyond reasonable doubt and on corroborated evidence.

    At the proof, the evidence led against the defender consisted of certain extra-judicial admissions, corroborated by evidence of clandestine association. On this, the Lord Ordinary found that the defender had committed adultery with the co-defender. However, there was no evidence that the co-defender had authorised or adopted the defender’s admissions: as against him, they were mere hearsay. Moreover, the evidence of clandestine association was uncorroborated and, in any event, insufficient, on its own, to prove adultery. Accordingly, the Lord Ordinary could not be satisfied that the co-defender had committed adultery with the defender and he assoilzied him from the action and decerned for his expenses against the pursuer.

    On appeal, the Inner House adhered.

  • I had a similar case Fabio. Unfortunately in that case the Judge accepted the testimony of the witness who perjured himself. The case did not involve serious consequences for my client, but it rankled. Years later I represented the witness in another matter and he told me that he had lied. Although there was nothing that could be done about it at that late date, I did advise the Judge off the record, not mentioning the names of the parties. He said that he truly wished that along with a black robe they gave new judges mind reading ability or the charism of peering into the souls of men!

  • Another reason I stay away from legal dramas, whther TV or film. It’s just so unrealistic how often key evidence falls into place, the right witness shows up at thelast second, not to mention the total shenanigans that lawyers get away with in court that in the real court would land you in the clink before you could say hearsay. Besides, after dealing with the law world all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and watch it on TV.

    I’ve often wondered if medical professionals/law enforcement feel the same way about medical /law enforcement dramas.

  • c matt: Regarding realism, my husband is a fireman, and he won’t even watch movies on that subject because they are so unrealistic. “Backdraft”, to firefighters, is best viewed as a comedy, not a drama.

    I think it’s interesting that Henry Fonda appeared in Angry Men AND Grapes of Wrath–another “drama” that purported to tell a “larger truth about the system,” but which was just propaganda.

    Which makes it not at all surprising that Jane’s political views were so far left.

  • Seeing this film again many years after its release, it struck me as another sanctimonious and pretentious Henry Fonda performance. Sadly, it is used in many schools to teach “justice’. We are close to the point where it is hard to find someone guilty because of either obfuscation (the OJ defense) or pleading mitigating circumstances. This doesn’t even cover instances where prosecutors drop the case deciding that the evidence, though overwhelming, is not sufficient to gain a conviction. I saw this on my stint on the State medical board. It was demonstrated most outrageously in the Black Panther case. It also doesn’t cover where the adjudication of the obviously guilty is inexplicably delayed and drops off the radar as in the Fort Hood case.
    One legal drama that I cover in my book Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners is the profane , violent, and manipulative “Primal Fear” which makes a travesty of the legal system and trashes the Catholic Church to boot.

  • “it struck me as another sanctimonious and pretentious Henry Fonda performance. ”

    Fonda did tend to lean towards those roles, especially as he got older. Two of my favorite Henry Fonda films were from his early career, Young Mr. Lincoln and Drums Along the Mohawk.

  • My favorite movie (sadly NOT included in the recent “greatest movies” list) is Once Upon a Time in the West, the only time I know of that Fonda played a bad guy.

    As for 12 Angry Men — where was The Kid’s defense counsel? He should have made all the points Fonda did.

    To D’Angelo, I’d say, why ruin a perfectly good movie? Besides, a lot of Fonda’s points are valid. We can throw out the neighbor and the guy down the hall and especially the woman across the street. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable but juries put more stock in them than almost any other evidence.
    No alibi? No naming the movie? Meh, bad but not enough to convict.
    The knife. When I was a kid we all had jackknives or folding Buck knives. So if switchblades we standard gear in The Kids neighborhood, not conclusive.

    Of course, nowadays the DA might offer The Kid life with possibility of parole (or even manslaughter) if he’d plead — unless he could offer “truthful testimony” wink, wink against somebody else he wants to nail.
    Maybe you can explain how offering something of value (a shorter sentence or no sentence at all) =/= subornation.

  • I have not seen the above movie. So, herewith are my thoughts on it: “beyond a reasonable doubt”. God knows who committed the murder. The murderer knows who committed the murder. Before I go any further, let me say that crimes of passion are not considered capital one murder, deserving the death penalty. Passion is the wrong word as hatred, jealousy, anger, and the like is not a passion but a vice and addiction to the vice precludes aforethought. Capital one homicide consist in planning, (afore thought), plotting and executing the crime in cold blood. Everything else may be murder I or II or even manslaughter. Two witnesses establish a judicial fact. A preponderance of credible evidence is only admissible in a civil trial, where one’s life is not in the balance. Nevermind that the witness had eyeglass marks on her nose, the fact that the witness needed eyeglasses was an indictment of her ability to see and witness. There were no witnesses to the deed and also in the Simpson trial, and two witnesses are required to indict a capital one murderer to the death penalty. “beyond a reasonable doubt” was not established. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is not established in the capital one death penalty of 54 million unborn constitutional posterity.

  • Juries are quite unfathomable. I recall a case once, where a jeweller was accused of resetting a large number of items of jewellery, part of the proceeds of a number of thefts.

    After some three hours of deliberation, the jury announced a verdict (by a majority) of guilty of resetting “some of the items libelled” Naturally, the judge asked them to specify which items. It then transpired that five of them thought he had resetted the proceeds of one theft, four that he had restted the proceeds of another and so on. There was no single item on which eight of the fifteen were agreed that he had resetted it, but at least eight of them thought he had resetted at least one of them. That is how they had arrived at their majority.

    After more directions and a further hour’s deliberation, they ended up acquitting him.

  • Opps Murder I is capital punisment

  • “Maybe you can explain how offering something of value (a shorter sentence or no sentence at all) =/= subornation.”

    Because they are almost always guilty as sin. They are merely admitting a crime they have in fact committed. No judge will accept a plea bargain if the Defendant continues to assert his innocence, and I have seen plea bargains rejected because the Defendant makes an assertion of his innocence at the last moment. ( And no, in the case I recall the Defendant was not in fact innocent of the offense, his assertion to the contrary notwithstanding.)

    Some Defendants are innocent. I recently convinced the State’s Attorney in my county to nolle prosse a prosecution against a client who I established was not guilty of the offense charged. However such a case is rare enough that each one stands out among the hundreds of criminal defenses I have been involved in.

  • Basic law question for you, Don, from somebody who has never talked with a lawyer except at parish men’s club meetings: Does nolle prosse invoke double jeopardy?

  • Mary de Voe

    The maxim of the Civil Law is “Testis unus testis nullus” – One witness is no witness.

    So, if a man confesses to theft, that is not sufficient to convict; but if he says where he hid the goods and they are found there, then the confession and the finding are two independent sources of evidence and that makes a sufficient proof, even if only one witness hears the confession and only one finds the goods.

    I remember, before we had divorce by consent, we had “hotel cases,” where husband would spend the night in an hotel with a “woman to the pursuer unknown.” The chambermaid would testify that she brought the guilty pair their early morning tea. She would be shown a photo of the defender and would identify him as the man. The wife (who always wore deep mourning, with a hat and gloves), would then stand up and lift her veil and the witness would swear she was not the woman. She would then be corroborated by the receptionist, who had signed them in. He would produce the register and he, too, would be shown the defender’s photo, testifying that this was the man and the wife was not the woman. It was still thought prudent to produce the cheque, with which the husband had paid for the room. The marriage, by the by, was deemed sufficiently proved by the wife’s oath and her production of her marriage lines.

    For some reason, Gleneagles – a five star hotel in Perthshire, with an excellent golf course, was the preferred locus for these little pantomimes. I remember four such cases calling in a morning at the Court of Session and the same receptionist was a witness in three of them. I wonder if they had an arrangement with the listing office to have the cases heard together in batches, to avoid disrupting their staff schedule.

  • “Because they are almost always guilty as sin. They are merely admitting a crime they have in fact committed. No judge will accept a plea bargain if the Defendant continues to assert his innocence”

    I don’t doubt it.
    I was referring to defendants who get shorter sentences in return for testimony against others.

  • “I was referring to defendants who get shorter sentences in return for testimony against others.”

    Ah, the classic Jail House Snitch. I, and many of my brethren and sistren of the defense bar, do tend to think that often involves perjury. There have been prosecutions of prosecutors when they have clearly crossed the line but probably not enough. I like one local judge who will tell juries that they may believe a Jail House Snitch if they wish, but that invariably those individuals have a strong motivation to testify favorably for the prosecution and that jurors should consider that when determining the credence to give their testimony.

  • “Does nolle prosse invoke double jeopardy?”

    No, it is merely a statement to the court that the prosecutor has decided not to move forward with a prosecution at this time and wishes to dismiss it. No jeopardy attaches.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    The maxim of the Civil Law is “Testis unus testis nullus” – One witness is no witness.
    Thank you Michael Paterson-Seymour. My knowledge of the law comes from Moses in Sacred Scripture. Jesus too, had much to say about Justice.

  • Mary de Voe

    There is a fascinating work, the Collatio legum mosaicarum et romanarum [Comparison of the Mosaic and Roman laws] written some time between 294 and 313 AD, at Rome, almost certainly by a Jewish author.

    It draws out the similarities between the two codes, not only in their general principles, but in detail.

    There is really only one area in which the author stresses the superiority of the Mosaic law – God has not only given the poor the power to gather grapes in the vineyards and to glean in the fields and to take away whole sheaves but has also granted to every passer-by without distinction the freedom to enter as often as he likes the vineyard of another person and to eat as many grapes as he wants, in spite of the owner of the vineyard. This “preference for the poor” has led some scholars, such as Girard and Raabello to suggest Christian authorship, or, perhaps, interpolation.

  • “If you ever have an opportunity, sit in on a criminal jury trial.”

    I’ve done that twice, both in the course of journalistic duties. One was a murder trial involving a man who had stabbed his ex girlfriend to death during an argument; the other involved a local public official accused of embezzling public funds (via credit card) to patronize a local gambling boat. Both cases ended with guilty verdicts; the murderer got 45 years in prison with no parole and the official got 30 months probation. Neither case was anywhere near as dramatic as what you see on TV or in the movies; they were just depressing, really.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour says:

    There is a fascinating work, the collatio legum mosaicarum et romanarum [Comparison of the Mosaic and Roman laws] written some time between 294 and 313 AD, at Rome, almost certainly by a Jewish author.

    This sounds very interesting and I will try to find the work. I am also fascinated by the comparison of the prophet Isaiah and our U.S. Constitution, sometimes using different words and saying the same thing. Most fascinating. Thank you for your kindness, Michael Paterson-Seymour.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review

Thursday, July 5, AD 2012

The reviews of the film had been dismal, but I felt duty bound to watch it, and give the film a review.  On  July 3, having closed my law office for the afternoon, my family and I went to the movies.  While the rest of my family, not sharing my duty to report on the film, joined the folks seeing Spider-man III, I strolled over to see the Great Emancipator dispatch vampires.  The viewing was rather like a private showing.  The audience in the vast theater consisted of me and one individual in the back.  I found this aspect of the film quite pleasant.  Alas that is the first and last positive aspect of this film that I can report.  Intrepid souls who wish to can follow me into the bowels of ALVH below, the usual spoiler  caveat being in force.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

8 Responses to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review

  • Thanks, Don, for saving me $10. No, make that $11, because now I won’t even get it from Red Box when it lands there sometime next week.

  • Very disappointing to hear. What a ridiculous choice to play it as a straight-up drama.

  • Thanks for the heads-up. Cancel this for a boys-night-out activity with the Msgr and the guys from church.

  • It’s interesting that they should choose such a noble and prominent historical figure to play the role of a vampire hunter. I didn’t see the film but it certainly seems like a worn-out angle on the vampire theme: it takes a heroically good person to overcome evil.

  • Prometheus is another one that should be canned. Burdened by a mishmash of themes, and held together with a predictable plot, that of the search for our roots and the answers to the existential questions, it is a film that barely comes to life when Elizabeth Shaw was giving birth to the Alien monster. It is rather tedious the X th time one sees computer generated terrain or horrible octopus-like creatures sucking the lifeblood out of sundry beings, when the movie itself lacks dramatic tension. Ridley Scott apparently felt that he could get by the two hours, by inducing some identikit memory of movies past, for which reveries the audience would be grateful. The wife was scathing after the show.

  • I think the director was Timur Bekmambetov, rather than Tim Burton (although he hasn’t been that great lately either).

    My oldest daughter (7) upon seeing the title on Rotten Tomatoes said “That sounds like a really weird, silly movie.” While I am sure there is room for a good entertaining story with the vampire/historical figure premise, it definitely raises the level of difficulty. Thanks for reviewing and removing the temptation to rent it!

  • True John Henry. He and Burton were the co-producers with the directing credit (sic) to Bekmambetov. Judging from interviews he has given though, it does appear as if this was Burton’s pet project

  • Pingback: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review | The American Catholic | The Lincoln Movies

Just Seen It Reviews For Greater Glory

Tuesday, June 12, AD 2012

The hard working film mavens of Just Seen It give For Greater Glory an enthusiatic review in the video above.  It is one of the more perceptive reviews of the film that I have seen.  The two reviewers come at the film from a purely secular viewpoint and had little if any knowledge of the Cristero War prior to viewing it.  The message of religious freedom that the film conveys is obviously the most important part of the film, but even leaving that aside the movie is a masterpiece of the filmmaker’s craft.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

9 Responses to Just Seen It Reviews For Greater Glory

  • I saw the film and enjoyed it. The scene where Jose made his own via dolorosa brought to mind scenes from The Passion of the Christ for me. Overall this review is favorable but I’m missing her point about the last 10 minute. Any help?

  • She is a non-Catholic Michael, and perhaps not overly sympathetic to the Church judging from that remark. That of course makes her fairly enthusiastic endorsement of the movie as a film notable.

  • Her concern was that it “developed a religious agenda.”

    Good thing secular movies are agenda free.

  • “developed a religious agenda.”

    I heard what she said but I’m having a hard time relating her opinion to what I saw. Apparently her co-review did as well. But I’m looking at things with Catholic filters so I wondered if anyone might have a better sense of what she was getting at. Sorry, don’t mean to beat a dead horse.

    @ Donald – Agree that her non-Catholic POV does add power to her endorsement.

    My non-Catholic mother-in-law saw the film before we mentioned anything about it. I found her take on the General’s character interesting. Her view, as an Evangelical, was that General Gorostieta was a believer but didn’t like “all of the rules” of the Catholic Church. I must have gone to the bathroom during that scene.

  • SPOILER ALERT! – Re: the “agenda” in the last 10 minutes, just a guess, but there was the dream sequence with the flashbacks to several key lines and Enrique awakes and realizes they are about to be attacked, yet he first wants Fr. Vega to hear his confession instead of leaping into action… Maybe that’s the Catholic agenda? As to the “all the rules” observation, there was the earlier related scene where Fr. Vega is distributing Communion and Gen. Gorostieta is in line, and the priest says, “You need to confess,” and Enrique says, “Doesn’t He already know?”

  • “Fr. Vega is distributing Communion and Gen. Gorostieta is in line, and the priest says, “You need to confess,” and Enrique says, “Doesn’t He already know?”” Yes, He already knows and Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Confession to make sure that we know.

  • “Good thing secular movies are agenda free.” You are kidding? Right?

  • The reviewers did not say anything about Calles or the communist agenda or being surprised by the speed/ force of the crackdown on people of faith– that crackkdown was stunning, and it stuns me that the reviewers don’t even express anything about it.
    They also didn’t say anything about the ambassador or the offer of planes, or interest in oil rights– in fact, they seemed pretty unfazed by some history presented in the movie.
    Even if the lady isn’t catholic, just as a PERSON I think she would have been a bit fazed about human atrocity instead of bristling about Catholic political incorrectness (apparently thinking the movie was promoting the Faith at the end of the movie)/ She comes off as too shallow to review a movie so deep.

  • Of course this secular reviewer would not say anything about what the Communists did. ‘”Bad people” doing bad things’ is the film industry’s bread and butter. It’s pretty normal for people to be abused badly during the course of a film. People facing it with blatant faith, as well as great ingenuity and bravery is almost unheard of.

    Secondly, this disruption of her comfort level is the footprints of the Holy Spirit through an unformed conscience. It is no wonder that she’s not clear about her discomfort. Sin is inured to sin, and greatly disturbed by holiness. God willing, these images of faith will stay with her, whereas the endlessly repeating horrors and engineered shock value will fade away into nothing.

Ed Morrissey Reviews For Greater Glory

Sunday, June 10, AD 2012

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air saw a rough cut of For Greater Glory back in March, so I was curious to read his review, and here it is:

 

 

For Greater Glory tells the story of the Mexican government’s attempt to stamp out the Catholic Church under President Calles (played by Ruben Blades), and the uprising that followed, a civil war that killed 90,000 people. Calles attempted to enforce the anti-clerical laws put into Mexico’s 1917 socialist Constitution by demanding the expulsion of foreign priests, banning public demonstrations of faith (including the wearing of clerical garb), and making criticism of the government by priests punishable by five years in prison. A boycott organized by the Catholic Church prompted Calles to get even tougher, and open war broke out. Enrique Gorostieta (Andy Garcia), a general who had fought for the winning side in the revolution, chose to lead the Cristero rebellion, and the film focuses mainly on Gorostieta, two of his lieutenants, and a young boy named Jose Sanchez del Rio, who was later beatified by the Catholic Church.

Back in March, I was fortunate enough to see a rough cut of the film, and wrote a semi-official review at the time (from which I borrowed the synopsis above) with the caveat that I would wait to see the theatrical release.  Last night, my wife and I saw it in its limited Twin Cities release, and the final cut has significantly improved the narrative flow of the film. One of the few areas of concern I had from the rough cut was the difficulty in following the constant shifting between subplots in the first half of the film, and some ambiguity about the intent in some scenes.  Those problems were resolved nicely, with additional footage in some areas and smoother transitions throughout.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

6 Responses to Ed Morrissey Reviews For Greater Glory

  • Thank God for the brave intelligent people who invested themselves and their money into making this film, said by some film critic to be “too Catholic”. It has not been shown in our home area, but we did get to go see it Thursday. I hope it will get wider distribution or somehow lots of people will see it. I encourage my non catholic friends to see it– for freedom of religion– any Christian religion–not just Catholic.
    This movie is hard to talk about. overwhelming.
    I ask the young martyr Jose Sanches del Rio to pray for us. Like the actor in the second clip, I hope I have to courage to truly live faith.
    I would like to learn a lot more about the U.S.response, Ambassador Morrow.

  • Please go see this movie. Show your support with your dollars. ONLY by going to see it and making a statement with your money will other movies like this one will be made.

  • Does anyone know where this movie is being shown? I live in Western Wi and have not been able to find anyplace that is showing it. I noticed the reviewer said in the “limited showing in the Twin Cities area”. Is that Msp/St. Paul Mn? Thanks

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) Go to the movie’s website: forgreaterglory.com ; click the “Find a Theater” link at the top of the page, and be prepared to travel further than you normally would to see a new movie, because of the “limited release” thing. (For example, Don, the kids and I drove 50 miles each way to a theater we’d never been to before to see this, because it was the closest downstate Illinois theater that was showing the movie.)

  • Jeane if you are in western Wisconsin and if they show it in the twin cities than shouldn’t have too much trouble depending on how close you are. When I lived in Minneapolis people would smuggle bottlerockets over the border so crossing the border shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Interesting that this comes to light. My father, Wm A Cline, of Wharton Texas was born in 1910, and recenlty died in 2012. He told me he was friends with Shelby Longoria. He said, back in his college days, he, Shelby and other friends were having an evening at the Cadillac Bar in Nuevo Laredo. Shelby’s dad comes in and says “there is going to be a raid on the town tonight and I need your help. Shelby and friends helped his dad empty the vaults of the local bank and load the money into pickup trucks and bring it to the US. Dad said when the revolutionaires appared and robbed the bank, the bank was empty of cash. “That,” he said, “was the last raid of that revolution.”

    Robert Cline

The Fugitive (1947)

Tuesday, June 5, AD 2012

A Fugitive: I have a question, Lieutenant. When did you lose your faith?

 A Lieutenant of Police: When I found a better one.

The film For Greater Glory has reminded me of director John Ford’s forgotten The Fugitive (1947).  Very loosely based on Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory (no priest in an American film in 1947 was going to have the moral failings of Greene’s whiskey priest) the film did poorly at the box office and soon fell into oblivion, except among film critics who regard it as one of Ford’s more interesting works.  Ford said it was  his favorite film.

The film is set in a nameless country, obviously Mexico where the movie was filmed, where religion has been abolished by the government.  Henry Fonda is the last priest hunted by a police lieutenant, played maniacally by Pedro Armendáriz.  Armendariz is a whole-hearted convert to atheism, and views the capture of Fonda as a noble task.  

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

7 Responses to The Fugitive (1947)

  • Yeah, this is the film I meant! It’s got some gorgeous, gorgeous scenes in it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the beginning of the movie, though, because TCM was always airing it at weird times.

  • “All in all, an interesting film. However, I wish Ford’s main leading man, John Wayne, had been cast in the role of the fugitive priest. While he is on the run he rounds up a hard riding band of Cristeros. In the climactic fight scene he leads the Cristeros in liberating the village, taking out the police lieutenant in a mano a mano epic fight, and ends the film saying mass for the newly liberated villagers! Whatever the critics might have said in after years about the film, I guarantee it would have been a smash hit at the box office!”

    Yea, Donald, and I wish that Mel Gibson would have had the lead in The Passion and led the apostles and his followers in a violent revolt against the Romans like in Braveheart and instead of being captured and killed at the end he would have cut off all their heads like he and Homer Simpson cut off the heads of all the other senators when they remade Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

    With all your militaristic ramblings Donald . . . do you get the point of the Gospels.

  • Glinda, how long have you suffered the dreadful malady of being humor impaired, and have you sought treatment for this grave affliction?

  • Glinda,

    What you write about what happened during Christ’s first coming is absolutely correct. Below is what is going to happen when He comes again, and it is going to make the Cristeros’ rebellion against an evil and vicious atheist dictator look like a child’s game of Cowboys and Indians. Buckle up, “baby”, because the wrath of God is going to come. He will not indefinitely tolerate baby murdering to the tune of 1 million per year in this country, and the heretical nuns who give assent and approval for the same. His justice is the other side of the coin whose head is love; and He loves babies, He loves His Church, He loves righteousness and holiness.

    11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

    KING OF KINGS AND
    LORD OF LORDS.

    17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.”

    19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

    Revelation 19:11-21 [ Did you read that, Glinda? – it’s agonna be horrible because that’s what sin does. ]

  • Mr. McClarey, thanks for the heads-up. I’d never heard of this film before,
    and I’ll be sure to check it out.

  • I think you will enjoy it Clinton. It is a film that is worthy of careful examination since, at least in my case, there are nuances that flew right by me the first few times I watched it.

A Film For Our Time, and All Times

Sunday, June 3, AD 2012

 

No one, surely, Venerable Brothers, can hazard a prediction or foresee in imagination the hour when the good God will bring to an end such calamities. We do know this much: The day will come when the Church of Mexico will have respite from this veritable tempest of hatred, for the reason that, according to the words of God “there is no wisdom, there is no prudence, there is no counsel against the Lord” (Prov. xxi, 30) and “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. xvi, 18) against the Spotless Bride of Christ.

Pius XI, INIQUIS AFFLICTISQUE

 

I knew that my viewing of For Greater Glory was going to be something special when two Dominican nuns, in habits,  came out of the showing before the one my family and I attended and one of them remarked to me that it was a very powerful film.  I replied that we were looking forward to seeing it.  Well, that wasn’t completely true.  My worldly, jaded 17 year old daughter would much have preferred to have been back home killing zombies online with her internet chums.  By the end of the film  she was weeping over the scene in which 14 year old Blessed  José Sánchez del Río, stunningly portrayed by Mauricio Kuri,  was martyred.  I did not blame her.  I have not been so deeply moved by a film since I saw The Passion of the Christ.

Before we go any farther, I should announce the obligatory spoiler alert.  I will be mentioning plot elements that people who have not seen the film might not wish to have revealed to them.  For those wishing to continue on, if you have not read my initial post here on the historical background of the Cristeros War, you might find it helpful to look at it before reading this review.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

25 Responses to A Film For Our Time, and All Times

  • I saw the film on Friday, opening day, and was very moved by it. I am a B16 kind of Catholic and find the LCWR and their supporters in a role of harrassment against those of us who accept the teaching magisterium of the Church and want to be faithful to its dogma and sacramental life. I wonder how the dear nuns would react to a film where courageous Mexicans were willing to give their very lives for God, where heaven cost them everything. I admire their deep faith and am grateful for their example. What are the LCWR nuns examples of? New Age faux theologies, feminism that supports abortion on demand, gay marriage. Who would die for those things?! They need to wake up. Go see the movie, sisters, and find out what the Church is really about. Certainly not your power struggle with the bishops. Viva Christo Rey!

  • I saw the film on Friday evening with some young men from the Church. The martyrdom of Blessed José Sánchez del Río reminded me of Revelation 6:9-11:

    9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

  • The Mexican Constitution to this day contains many anti-Catholic articles,
    forbidding the church to own property, interfering in Her administration,
    banning monasteries, limiting seats in seminaries, prohibiting Church schools,
    even prohibiting both processions and the wearing of clerical dress outside
    the walls of a church. Some of these laws are now ignored by the authorities,
    but they remain as a threat. For example, a few years back the Cardinal
    Archbishop of Mexico City made a public statement condemning government
    corruption and collusion with drug cartels. As I recall, the president of
    Mexico responded by pointing out that the provisions of the constitution
    remain in effect. The Church’s social services and schools are permitted to
    operate only on the sufferance of the government, and could be swept away
    should She make herself too troublesome.

    I’d imagine our president rather envies Mexico for her modern, progressive
    constitution.

  • My wife and I saw this movie last night. I noted one of the liberties that the film too, namely the burning of the train by Vega. I also noted in retrospect that they made it a point of showing him with several women smuggling ammunition when he meets General Ramirez, who seems to raise an eyebrow about the circumstances. In wanting to be charitable to the filmmaker, I wonder if it’s possible that perhaps other sources picked up Mexican government propaganda and used that as a source on Fr. Vega. I’m sure you’re right about the character of Fr. Vega, but I’m not a historian, so I have no idea what kind of evidence was used in the sources which present Fr. Vega in a rather negative light. Perhaps you can give us more information?

  • I’d like to think this movie may be a lesson for Obama and the secularist. Is there a point beyond which we will resist?

  • “I’d imagine our president rather envies Mexico for her modern, progressive
    constitution.”

    Not just Obama:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/06/ginsburg-to-egyptians-wouldnt-use-us-constitution-as-model/

  • Just saw the movie and certainly can’t add to what you’ve said. All I can say I hope my faith is never put to the test.
    Can you suggest any books on the Cristero war or the period generally? My knowledge of Mexican hiistory is spotty at best.

  • The literature on the Cristero War in English is fairly sparse. The best book is probably Jean Meyer’s The Cristero Rebellion

    http://www.amazon.com/Cristero-Rebellion-1926-1929-Cambridge-
    American/dp/0521102057/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338758811&sr=1-1

    A good short history is in Latin American Wars, volume II

    http://www.amazon.com/Latin-Americas-Wars-Professional-1900-2001/dp/1574884522/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1338758811&sr=1-10

  • Wikipedia has what I would consider to be a reasonable section on the Cristero War, but I am hardly one to speak authoritatively. It “seems” accurate, to me.

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy:) Don tells me the Wikipedia article on the Cristero War is accurate, Don the Kiwi. (Although I’m the one with the university degree in Spanish, Don’s read more Latin American history than I have. At least I can translate the Spanish-language resources for him!)

  • What is the story behind José Victoriano Huerta Márquez, 35th President of Mexico, whose dictatorship the Church allegedly supported, because of which support the anti-clerical laws in the Mexican Constitution were established? Did the Church shoot itself in the foot? I also read that at first the US supported Victoriano Huerta, and then Woodrow Wilson admonished him to restore / institute democratic reforms. Is this liberal progressive revisionist history, or is there some truth to all of this?

  • Few events in history are more convuluted and confusing then the Mexican Revolution that started in 1910. Madero toppled Diaz. He was overthrown by Huerta in 1913 after Madero proved unable to cope with the revolts that he faced. Huerta had initial US backing, but the incoming Wilson administration opposed him and backed Carranza who toppled Huerta in 1914. The Church in the chaos of the Mexican Revolution simply attempted to survive. Mexico has a long tradition of anti-clericalism dating back the first half of the nineteenth century. Anti-clericalists were at the helm when the 1917 Constitution was written. The Church was attacked at the time as supporting conservative forces in the Mexican Revolution, notably Huerta, but that was a false allegation:

    http://pittsburgh.academia.edu/ReynaldoRojoMendoza/Papers/150348/The_Church-State_Conflict_in_Mexico_from_the_Mexican_Revolution_to_the_Cristero_Rebellion

  • Thanks for the clarification, Donald. It’s always best to be properly informed.

  • From Fr Seraphim Beshoner’s podcast “Catholic under the Hood” (Franciscan humor there) an episode about the role of women in the revolt.

    http://catholicunderthehood.com/2011/12/10/278-las-brigadas-femeninas/

    Looking a the show notes he does give sources that interesting.

  • Pingback: St. Boniface the Hobbit Magisterium of Nuns Asia Bibi Sola Scriptura | Big Pulpit
  • Wow, it’s like we watched two different movies. As important as this story is and as much as I wanted to like this movie as a practicing Catholic, a combination of poor directing, an overblown and hammy score and average to sometimes cringeworthy acting (with a few exceptions – Blades and Greenwood) just ruined it for me. Despite their obvious anti-Catholic bias, I have to admit the secular critics were right in panning this seriously flawed movie. It seems that Catholics are so
    hungry for any movie that treats the faith favorably these days, some are willing to overlook the fact that a movie is just not that good (There Be Dragons is another recent example). We should expect better than this.

  • “It seems that Catholics are so hungry for any movie that treats the faith favorably these days, some are willing to overlook the fact that a movie is just not that good ”

    Or simply have a completely different opinion from yours as to the film. Everyone should go see it and make up their own minds as to the merit of the movie.

  • The movie was GREAT! Absolutely awesome. And head and shoulders above any of the recent releases (e.g., Battleship, Avengers, etc.).

  • I can’t get the scene of the martyrdom of Jose out of my head. The kid was fantastic throughout the entire movie.

  • Dear Donald,
    I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to my paper. Thanks very much!

    I would be happy to hear comments about it and to answer questions anyone may have about the Cristero Rebellion, or about the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary (anti)religious policies.

  • Thank you Reynaldo for writing an epic paper that clarifies a topic I have always found somewhat confusing.

  • Pingback: The Fugitive (1947) | The American Catholic
  • My sole complaint about the movie comes at the very end. In order to give the pretense of a happy ending all that’s mentioned is that the church bells rang again. There was no mention of the 6,000+ Cristeros that Calles executed once they laid down their arms. Guess that was his idea of “amnesty.”

  • Pingback: Letter from Granddaughter of General Gorostieta | The American Catholic
  • Pingback: Letter from Granddaughter of General Gorostieta « Almost Chosen People

Happy New Year and Welcome to Arrakis!

Sunday, January 1, AD 2012

Happy New Year to all our readers.  Clan McClarey spent New Year’s Eve in our usual fashion in watching the movie Dune (1984) a movie so wretchedly bad that it is good, if watched as  an unintentional comedy!  When the film was originally released the introduction to the film consisted of the above video by Princess Irulan, portrayed by Virginia Madsen, a very minor character in the film.  When it was determined that the introduction merely confused already confused moviegoers more, at least those who had never read Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, a new introduction was made up when the film was released on television:

Upon its release the film was nearly universally panned.  David Lynch, the director, disowned the film, and adopted the pseudonym of Alan Smithee, a name traditionally adopted by directors of films that turn out so badly that the directors do not want their names attached to it.  The film earned the title of worst film of the year by film reviewers Siskel and Ebert.  Janet Maslin in the New York Times gave the film one star, and regarded it as completely incomprehensible: “Several of the characters in Dune are psychic, which puts them in the unique position of being able to understand what goes on in the movie”.

Why is Dune such a grand buzzard of a film?

1.  Confusing.  Audiences were simply asked to take in too much of an immensely complicated science fiction setting.  Now if they had simply had this catchy tune at the beginning of the film, perhaps some of the confusion could have been eliminated:

2.  Overacting.  A prime example:

3.  Sting.  Dune was the movie where Sting amply demonstrated that he could not act to save his singer soul.  His role is actually fairly minor.  But he does have a climatic fight scene where he jumps around like a deranged gerbil and comes off as silly rather than menacing:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Continue reading...

13 Responses to Happy New Year and Welcome to Arrakis!

  • Happy New Year Don, and all posters and commenters on TAC.

    Our year has begun as it finished – wet, cool (as in almost cold) which has dampened the ardour throughout much of the country for raging parties, outlandish behaviour, and – just as a bonus – virtually no arrests or murders throughout the country because the weather has been too bad.

    Actually, the weather has been shocking for a month or so – we had a warm Spring which promised much, but then the La Nina side of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation{of the Pacific}) – which brings low pressure – kicked in. We had a series of fronts come up from the Southern Ocean sveral weeks ago, and a couple of weeks before Christmas a tropical cyclone from the Coral Sea headed SE, brought minor flooding to Queensland and NSW, then packed itself in the Northern Tasman, joined the cold fronts coming up from down south, and has given us a few weeks of dirty, cold weather, bringing serious flooding to Northalnd, the northern region of the South Island and c entral North Island.

    So much for AGW. The met. office is predicting a warmer and drier summer than usual – I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Can’t really complain though, I reckon we’re not as cold here as some of you guys up in the northern US and Canada are right now 🙂

    God bless all.

  • Water… millions of decaliters of water!

  • Actually, Lynch didn’t disavow the original, only the extended TV version.

    And Dune is about as good a translation to cinema as could be expected from Herbert’s crypto-totalitarian pseudoi-mystical epic.

  • Happy New Year Don. The weather in Central Illinois has been drier and warmer than usual. However today it is pretty cold, which is typical for Illinois in January, although we often have a thaw toward the end of the month.

  • You are correct OCB as to Lynch only using Smithee in regard to the extended version.

    I actually think the Dune miniseries which appeared on Sci Fi in 2000 is superior:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142032/

  • I enjoy Dune too in all its silliness. Back in school it was my go to sick movie. Whenever I had a cold and was bleary with fever and cold medicine, I’d pop in Dune. It makes more sense that way. I read a few of the Dune books, and I really wish I hadn’t. There’s just enough in them to make me think they could be good if only the author’s philosophy made more sense. Or if he stopped taking himself so seriously! Happy New Year from Arrakas.

  • “There’s just enough in them to make me think they could be good if only the author’s philosophy made more sense. Or if he stopped taking himself so seriously!”

    How true Mrs. Z. The novels grew more philosophy ridden and unreadable as they went on. The first three aren’t that bad, but the last three are putrid. Herbert’s son Brian and Kevin Anderson have written an additional 13 (!) novels in the series, none of which I have bothered to read.

  • I agree, Don. I gave up after number 4, with the giant worm hybrid emperor. They began to read like someone put words from major world philosophies and religions into a random word generator to spit out “deep” sentences.

    Since you seem to like the science fiction/fantasy books and movies, any recommendations? I can’t seem to find anything I like as much as C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. Maybe the bar is too high.

  • 1. The Incomplete Enchanter Series by the late L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incomplete_Enchanter

    2. The Honor Harrington series by David Weber.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honor_Harrington

    3. The Legion of Videssos series by Harry Turtledove.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videssos
    4. The Kris Longknife series.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Shepherd_(author)

    5. The CoDominium series by Jerry Pournelle
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CoDominium

    6. The Hammer’s Slammers stories by David Drake (Fairly gritty and somewhat depressing)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer's_Slammers

    7. Anything by the late Poul Anderson. (Personal favorites are the High Crusade and the Nicholas Van Rijn stories.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_High_Crusade
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_van_Rijn

    8. The Starfire Series by David Weber and Steve White:
    http://www.goodreads.com/series/41767-starfire

    9. The Retief series by the late Keith Laumer. (Howlingly funny and politically pointed.)
    http://www.goodreads.com/series/41767-starfire

    10. A Canticle for Leibowitz by the late Walter Millis. (Ignore the truly dreadful sequel.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz

    11. The Childe Cycle by the late Gordon R. Dickson.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childe_Cycle

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): 12. Most things by Elizabeth Moon, esp. her fantasy novels, and especially “The Deed of Paksennarion” trilogy (which has additional related books, both from a while back and quite recent).

  • Patricia C Wrede’s “Enchanted Forest Chronicles” are very good. (Dealing With Dragons is #1, if you’d like to check it out.)

  • The movie WAS pretty darn awful, although I have a soft spot in my heart for it.. mostly because the cast was ridiculously awesome. Von Sydow, Prochnow, Jones, Jordan, Hunt, Stewart, Annis, Phillips, Ferrer, Dourif.. I mean.. WOW.

    Too bad a good cast can’t rescue a dismal screenplay.