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September 2005

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Wednesday, 22 June 2005
King Solomon's Mines
Topic: Films and TV
Today is the anniversary of the birth of the British author, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, who was born in Bradenham, Norfolk, on 22nd June 1856. He wrote a number of first-class adventure novels but his most famous book is probably "King Solomon's Mines", first published in 1885. It was an instant best-seller. H. Rider Haggard lived for some years in Natal, Africa, and is said to have had an affair with an African woman. Certainly, his sympathy for the native population comes through very strongly in his books.

Of course, it wasn't long before the film industry showed an interest in his stories and "King Solomon's Mines" was turned into a film. Actually, at least three films and a TV mini series have been made based on Rider Haggard's famous book. The first film, made in 1937 and largely forgotten, starred Paul Robeson and Sir Cedric Hardwick. The most recent version, made in 1985, starred Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. However, the one I saw (and probably the best out of the three) was the 1950 version starring Stewart Grainger and Deborah Kerr.

I must have been 8-years-old when I was taken to see the film in London. The film tells the story of an adventurer who helps a woman look for her lost husband in Africa. I know I was totally enthralled with the African wildlife and the marvellous scenery. I believe two elephants were actually filmed being shot but I don't remember the carnage! I do remember that I particularly liked Umbopa, the tall black Prince with a snake carved into his stomach. I was very impressed also with the Watutsi, that African tribe of very tall people, and their marvellous dancing and singing. (The Watutsi are also known as the Tutsi, many of whom were slaughtered in their thousands by the Hutu in 1993.)

The film won well deserved Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Color and Best Film Editing and was also nominated for Best Picture.

Posted by Noviomagus at 18:48 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Saturday, 4 June 2005
Lord of the Rings
Topic: Films and TV
We finally got round to watching the video recording of "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring". It is such a long film, I prepared our Friday supper, my version of "Cod Provençal", earlier than usual to give us a longer evening to fit it all in!

I had actually recorded it on 30th April but it was worth the wait! What a brilliant film! Ian McKellen was excellent as Gandalf and the trick photography making the Hobbits smaller was very clever and really impressive. Elijah Wood was very, very good as Frodo Baggins - the only minor distraction was noticing his chewed fingernails!

We are both looking forward to the next two films in the trilogy. Might have to get the DVD as it will probably be a while before anything appears on terrestrial TV!

Posted by Noviomagus at 01:44 BST Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 11 April 2005
"Around the World in 80 Treasures"
Topic: Films and TV
Have you been watching, "Around the World in 80 Treasures", the documentary series by Dan Cruickshank on BBC2? On the whole, it continues to be a very interesting series visiting some 40 countries on six continents. However, on the Indian continent, I seem to remember that someone called Michael Palin did get to some of the 'treasure sites' first in his recent travel series, "Himalaya with Michael Palin". I certainly experienced 'deja vu' when Dan visited that enormous stone sun dial and its accompanying zodiac stones at the Jantar Mantar Observatory in Jaipur.

Coincidentally, both Michael and Dan have an affinity with elephants, Michael was told he was probably an elephant in a previous life and Dan was 'blessed' by an elephant. Also, they both took time off their travels to play cricket with some young local lads! I suppose Mr Cruickshank's approach is slightly more learned and thought provoking than Mr. Palin's but not necessarily more exciting or educational.

Last week's programme on 4th April, (the seventh in the series), covered Jordan and Ethiopia. Now did you spot Dan Cruickshank's cultural faux pas? I watched the repeat last Saturday because I missed some of Monday's first showing so I saw his blunder twice. Do you remember his visit to an Arab tent to sample some of the 'delicacies'? Two Bedouin gentlemen were entertaining him, and his crew, and an enormous tray of food was placed in front of them. Did you see Dan tuck in with great relish tearing asunder some unmentionable animal part (yuk!) with his fingers? He used his left hand to take the food - the hand considered by Arabs to be 'unclean' (you use it for personal hygiene). When eating from a communal dish with the fingers, Arabs always use their right hand. So, Dan's social gaffe would have contaminated the food. I bet the two Arab gentlemen suddenly lost their appetites - certainly, their faces appeared to say it all!

Well, that observation apart, tonight's episode should be very good indeed as we are whisked through Mali and Libya to Egypt, the Land of the Pharaohs. Here we will see what I consider to be one of the world's finest Treasures, the Death Mask of King Tutankhamun (pronounced Tut-ankh-amun, please, not Tu-tank-hamun). I have had the privilege of seeing this mask in the Cairo Museum and it is breathtakingly beautiful. Don't miss it!

Posted by Noviomagus at 13:38 BST Post Comment | Permalink

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