I was watching Orson Welles’ 1948 version of Macbeth. It is a version of the play steeped in darkness, with the drama taking place on a landscape that looks like a dark and evil lunar surface. Interestingly Welles adds a character, the Holy Man, a Catholic priest. At the beginning of the film he chases away the “three weird sisters”, waving the Celtic Cross he carries. After King Duncan arrives the Priest leads the court, anachronistically, in the rendition of the Saint Michael Prayer, go here to read about it, that would be written by Pope Leo XIII some nine centuries after the events depicted in Macbeth:
Saint Michael, the arch angel, be our safeguard
against the viles and wickedness of the devil.
Do thou, oh prince of the heavenly host,
by the divine power
thrust into hell satan and the other evil spirits,
who wander through the world,
seeking the ruin of souls.
Thus thou renounce Satan?
I renounce him.
And all his works?
I renounce them.
And all his pomps?
I renounce them.
Candles are distributed during the prayer, are lit and are raised by all at the end, Macbeth slower than the rest. Continue reading
How wonderfully daffy the golden age of Radio tended to be. A broadcast on December 19, 1944 of the show This Is My Best: Norman Corwin’s comedic poem The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, a hilarious look at a plot by Hell to stop Christmas, with Orson Welles starring as Nero. Amazing the entertainment heights that could be reached without car chases, explosions, profanity, bathroom jokes and sex.
In honor of my bride who is a descendant of King Harald Hardrada.
And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians–dead!–slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.
H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
Remember, no panicking. All will be well. Nothing to worry about:
Amateur astronomers are puzzling over a seemingly anomalous cloud that has shown up on images of Mars taken over the past few days. Is it really a cloud, or a trick of the eye? Does it really extend 150 miles up from the surface, as some of the observers suggest? And what churned up all that stuff, anyway? The amateurs and the pros will be trying to resolve those questions before the phenomenon fades away.
“It’s not completely unexpected,” Jonathon Hill, a member of the team at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, told me today. “But it’s bigger than we would expect, and it’s definitely something that our atmosphere guys want to take a look at.” Continue reading
Orson Welles gives a spell-binding performance as he delivers a sermon at the beginning of the movie Moby Dick (1956). The role of Father Mapple (back in the days when Protestant ministers would often have that title) is based on Father Edward Thompson Taylor, the great Methodist missionary among seamen who was in charge of the Seamen’s Bethel in Boston in the Nineteenth Century.