Friday, February 22, 2013

The simplicity of greatness


                I don't know many details about Abraham Lincoln's presidency so I came into Lincoln unburdened by historical facts. There were some expectations though, considering the director is Steven Spielberg, and they ended up completely fulfilled. The film begins in the midst of the Civil War and follows Lincoln's attempt to bring an end to it, as well as to slavery, and the difficulties he faced doing it, ending with his death after the assassination at Ford's Theatre.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The blood is the life, but what good is a life without faith?

Bram Stoker - Dracula

"I want you to believe."
"To believe what?"
"To believe in things that you cannot."

                Stoker's novel surprised me at first for, being written at the end of 19th century when all of the industrial and technological advancements made the idea of everlasting more possible than ever and everyone strove for a kind of immortality for themselves, it's unusual that it seems to battle the very notion of immortality in this world, marking it as a curse.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In the search for meaning

Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

                Carroll's Alice stories are considered to be full of different meanings, but what I've noticed just now is how Carroll toys with the notion of meaning itself, both literal and hidden. Using words with multiple meanings (dry, miss) or those equally pronounced (tale/tail, flour/flower) Carroll shows how easy it can be to misunderstand, but he doesn't stop there. At one point the Duchess says to Alice: "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.", indicating how the hidden meaning is ours to give regardless of that originally intended. Most works aim to deliver a message, but contrariwise, Alice stories only provide a reader with a framework in which to find one.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Who's the fairest of them all?

Brothers Grimm - Children's and Household Tales

                The visual appearance of women plays an important part in Grimms' tales filled with beautiful princesses and ugly witches . It's almost always connected with personality traits like in The Three Little Men in the Wood where one step-sister is "pleasant and pretty" and the other "ugly and hateful", or Mother Hulda where the women are "pretty and industrious" and "ugly and lazy". It seems that good traits are connected with having a good appearance and bad traits with having a bad one, but it's more complicated than that.

One book a week

                I've recently started with a course called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World on Coursera. It's a course based on reading and interpreting 10 fantasy and science fiction books. Every week we must read one book and write a short essay concentrating on some particular thing we found interesting in it. Even though they're not reviews of the whole books, those essays still reflect my impressions so I've decided to put them here for your consideration and I hope you'll find them interesting and revealing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A little change is always welcome


                Often these days prominent filmmakers decide to tell a story already told. Sometimes even a story told multiple times. Whether it's for a lack of ideas or because of their love of the subject and confidence they can make something special out of it is debatable, but whatever the reason the expectations from such endeavour are always high. That was also the case with the latest of that kind, Tom Hooper's Oscar hopeful "Les Misérables".