Sept / Oct 2014
Firelight makes time stand still. When you put out the lamps and sit in the firelight's glow there aren't any rules any more. You can do what you want, say what you want, be what you want, and when the lamps are lit again, time starts again, and everything you said or did is forgotten. More than forgotten, it never happened... This is a brief bit of dialogue from Firelight, a film few people have ever heard of. It’s the tale of two people who “come together” to create a child, and find themselves drawn to one another a decade later, reliving the same emotions and experiences of their brief affair. The story explores the power of sexual intimacy by showing that it is not to be taken lightly and has emotional consequences, while also giving the audience a moral dilemma to ponder. To be together, a woman who has been in a coma for over a decade must die. Is it moral? Is it just? Is it forgivable? If a deed is done in love, though fueled by desire, is it right or wrong? These are questions you won’t find in Austen. Firelight is not a “classic.” It is not based on a literary masterpiece. It was conceived in a director’s mind and brought to the screen only to fade into relative obscurity among all save fans of costume dramas. It is unique, original, and often forgotten which just goes to show that undiscovered or neglected stories can have a
powerful impact and ask much harder questions of its audience than “popular” tales. And in many ways, it is the stories that aren’t as well known that I like the best, perhaps because many of them confront their audience with truths and ideas that are not easy to confront. Like Firelight. Passion. Lust. Benevolent murder, or rather, a Victorian version of “assisted suicide,” without the braindead individual’s consent. That isn’t romantic. It isn’t sweet. It doesn’t give us a warm place in our chest like Lizzie and Mr. Darcy do, but it’s not supposed to. Its purpose is to make us think. Some of the films and books in this issue you have heard of before, and some you haven’t. It’s our hope that in introducing you to lesser-known tales, you will find a whole new world to explore, to unleash your imagination, to ponder the complexities of obscure tales and why they are left there to founder. You may even find a new favorite along the way… if nothing else, something to think about. —Charity
THE ANATOMY OF A STORY The Making of a Lady
THE STEAMPUNK WORLD The Wild, Wild West
THE TRUEST FORM OF LOVE Lorna Doone
FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT Sinking of the Laconia
THINGS WE NEVER HAD The Painted Veil
RICKIE ELLIOT The Longest Journey
TIME WARPED Eugene Onegin
A FORGOTTEN ERA North & South
FORGOTTEN FRONT Combat
THE SECRET APPEAL OF The Pink Carnation
Rosencrantz and Gilderstern are Dead
SCIENCE FICTION’S UNDERDOG
AN UNUSUAL HEROINE My Brilliant Career
I AM NOT THAT I PLAY
A Tree With Deep Roots
DEAREST EMILY Emily of New Moon
Upcoming issues have open spots! We’d love for you to contribute! Monsters & Madness for Halloween, and A Family Affair for Christmas. See the back cover for info. Request or claim your topic by e-mailing the editor. E-mail Femnista: firstname.lastname@example.org www.charitysplace.com 3
tories are a complex business. Their purpose is always to mystify. Inside of them, an audience can find many, multi-hued enchantments. They have the ability to hold us captive, and the power to move us to tears… to feel beyond what we ever thought possible. They make us think and ponder and analyze, whirring our minds in a million directions before we even realize we’ve been swept up into said story. What each celebrated work of fiction, either via the film or book medium, have in common is their popularity, and the fact that people know they exist. They are adapted time and again with much anticipation, but what about more obscure stories? They rarely seem to earn the notice they easily deserve: where’s the excitement for the tales hiding in the shadows yet equally, if not more, deserving of our notice and praise?
The Making of a Lady is one such obscure tale, more unknown than not. Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who is better known for children’s classics, it’s not difficult to see similarities to the dark and delightful A Little Princess or the gothic The Secret Garden. Darkly passionate, the story isn’t one easily forgotten by the end, for it lingers with us. It tells the story of an innocent, penniless young woman named Emily who accepts a practical marriage proposal void of any romantic overtures from her employer’s nephew, a man of wealth and a military career. A stranger to romance and a practical girl, Emily agrees to the marriage of convenience with the distinguished James only to eventually fall for her kind-hearted husband. What follows is a brief period in which the two share bliss as they settle into his isolated country estate, until James
is unexpectedly recalled to duty, leaving Emily to his prying family and the potentially fatal perils that arrive with them. Instead of searching out “hidden meanings” or pursuing a line of deeper emotional punches in this story, I’m going to attempt to pique your interest in this story by its accord as a cinematic production, in that it has plenty to offer. In its own canopy of effervesce, this is one of the most charismatic tales I’ve ever seen. It has class, charming (albeit haunting) characters, and a heroine who begins “badly” in her naivety, but morphs into a sincerely genuine, sympathetic being. Even with its shy and slow beginning, an interesting stage is set full of “spooky” possibilities… not to mention intriguing first impressions. Our first meeting with James reveals him to be a kind man far more concerned with doing what is right than finding a
woman he can love. His past is riddled with sorrow and he’s not anxious to repeat that pattern, but he is attracted to the pragmatic attitude Emily presents and wants to “save” her in a sense while also building a protective barrier around himself. James believes there is safety in never loving again. Little does he expect their marriage to yield any other result. Though Emily is less-than -interesting at first, she soon becomes a delightful heroine who has to “lead” the majority of the film; she inspires our respect and concern as she becomes a pawn caught in the web of people who despise her existence. Our ambiguousness toward Emily is one of the subtle
nuances of the production; our view of her, and everyone around her, constantly shifts and changes as the story unfolds. Throughout, we are constantly questioning the motives of the characters… who can be trusted? Are their motives innocent? The character arcs sway, but not without slowing to contribute beautiful glimpses into the smaller joys they take pleasure in, which then gives us moments of joy; these are the images that shatter the cracks in the armor of the players and the twists that take us by surprise as a result. It’s in the vulnerable moments, like the awkward first caress of new lovers, or a game of hide and seek, that we understand who everyone really is. In part
this is what makes the piece such an interesting work of literature as an adaptation and for the outsider, something to study. There is an unusual depth to it because of the gothic-like presentation it puts forth without becoming anything supernatural. There are no ghosts or ghouls here, except in the human hearts of those who intend ill will toward others, and that is partly what makes it so frightening. I can remember watching this unfold for the very first time and being delighted by the conflicting emotions it created… I was surprised more than once by the paths it took, plenty of romance, and a journey of self5
Rissi C. spends her free time reviewing books and movies, attending to the necessities of life (such as accumulating costume dramas for her collection), plotting future novels, and pondering the deeper aspects of life. She greatly enjoys interacting with her readers on her blog.
discovery for a heroine that is rare in film. She must come into her own under precarious circumstances, and although the film is unique and often sadly misunderstood by its audience, it’s a tale that has never been told before, and that helps make it fascinating. There are a million and one ways this could have all gone horribly awry. Fortunately, it did not. There are no scripting errors from where I sit—all that is left behind in its wake is small screen magnificence. It’s a brilliant lesson in characters— the writing constantly forces us to question everything, while
quietly instilling in us feelings of love or a kind of obligation for certain protagonists. This really is the epitome of a story we are disappointed to see draw to its all-too-soon ending. It may not offer its audience a deeper message in the same vein as some complex stories do, but do not doubt that this is one classic tale that deserves any recognition it receives; it’s one of the more beautifully rendered notions of love being a choice… a choice that heals scars in the most striking of ways. ♥
ll trendsetting has to start somewhere, usually in one place, at one time. For the world of steampunk on film, it literally began in 1965 with a show innocuously titled The Wild, Wild West. All westerns that came before it were completely straight-laced. Rawhide, Bonanza, Have Gun, Will Travel… they were the tried-and-true westerns of American television. This is why The Wild, Wild West stands apart. It blends the reality of the western frontier with the unreality of steam-powered weapons and some of the most fantastical, villainous plots ever hatched in a television script. This show was the forerunner of steampunk, before the term was invented. (“Steampunk” is a modern trend that blends Victorian society and costume design with scientific advancements: steam power, hot air balloons, clocks, that sort of thing. It is enormously popular among a certain set.)
Robert Conrad and Ross Martin starred in this bizarre twist on a TV western, playing government secret agents James West (Conrad) and Artemus Gordon (Martin). The show takes place during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. Jim and Artie are two of his most trusted agents, often sent to eradicate the dastardly villains whose sole purpose is to destroy America. Jim West bleeds red, white, and blue with every pump of his heart, and it doesn’t hurt that he loves the ladies on the side, too. With Artie as his partner, Jim challenges every villain known to mankind, and then some, from Russians to werewolves to evil scientists. However, their chief villain, the nefarious Dr. Miguelito Loveless, was a stroke of genius for the show. Miguelito, played by the unforgettable Michael Dunn, is a dwarf but also the mastermind who sets out to thwart Jim’s daring-do and
endless American optimism. In 10 episodes, the good doctor pursues his best efforts in destroying not only American civilization, but James West and Artemus Gordon along with it. Not every show writes in a character who develops a method of hiding literal people in paintings. But Miguelito does it and the audience believes that he can do it. Just as Jim and Artie can never fully stop Miguelito, neither can he defeat them, resulting in an endless battle of wills. He is the ideal villain to contrast with Jim and Artie. Speaking of contrasts, James West and Artemus Gordon are also a contrast to themselves, as were the actors. Artie is the brains of the duo. He concocts ingenious mechanisms to get himself and Jim out of tight spots, and weapons hidden in shoes, sleeves, or behind the collar of a jacket. The clever gadgets mostly belong to Jim’s wardrobe, while Artie dons a different attire, that of an experienced thespian capable of turning himself into a fool, a 7
doctor, a gypsy, or any one of hundreds of disguises. Every face Artemus Gordon wears was designed by Ross Martin, a credit to his skill as a stage actor and make-up artist. As for Jim, well, what can audiences say of him except that he is the brawn to Artie’s brains, a fact that never escaped Robert Conrad, but he never appeared to resent the tipping of the scales between the two characters. He did his job as the brawler, indulging in at least three fistfights per hourlong episode, while Ross Martin invented new ways of keeping them alive to fight another day. Conrad did the majority of his own stunts, leaping from high buildings, plunging off
precarious precipices, and enduring manhandling from his crew of stuntmen as he fell into surprisingly flimsy household furniture and walls, shattering solid crates as if they were, well, made of balsa wood. But the show wouldn’t have been The Wild, Wild West without James West brawling and Artemus Gordon in disguise. Audiences knew what to expect from these heroes in each and every episode. Jim West would never compromise his loyalty to the United States of America, and Artemus Gordon would never compromise his loyalty to Jim. Perhaps that’s what truly makes this show shine. Yes, it is dreadfully campy, stuck in a bad version of the 1960s with
horrible, dated hair on all the women and dresses with zippers up the back, but there is a sparkle, a connection, a charisma between Martin and Conrad that cannot be denied. Martin was a good 15 years Conrad’s senior. They ran in different circles, with Conrad attending the fights while Martin visited the opera, but this show brought them together and brought out the best they had to offer. There are moments of jocularity between them that reveal the two men connecting as the friends they were. Once, when asked about the man who replaced Martin for several episodes when he’d broken his leg on set, Conrad merely said that you could never replace Ross Martin. No one
could do what Ross did. Friendship is a beautiful thing to capture on film. It reminds us of that deep-rooted need we have to connect. If there had been no chemistry between Martin and Conrad, the show would have failed in its first season. But it didnâ€™t fail. The camera captured those moments of genuine amusement and fondness the two men shared, preserving a series that lasted 4 seasons and produced 2 made-for-TV films. Yes, this show is undeniably steampunk. How else do you describe a war machine that is solely steam-powered? It just didnâ€™t know what it was back in 1965 because there was no such thing as steampunk. It was a
very strange combination of western and science fiction that somehow worked. So, for the pure excitement of watching a trend being born, The Wild, Wild West is an absolute must-see. But it is more than that; the relationships and comradery between Robert Conrad and Ross Martin makes this series unforgettable. For me personally it is exciting to sit next to my mother and share with her a television show she loved when she was a child, a show whose popularity has somehow never entirely waned and whose fans still remain strong. It might not be all that well-known anymore, but The Wild, Wild West is still very much loved. â™Ľ
Carissa Horton loves watching old movies and television shows with her folks. She dabbles in lots of handicrafts (sewing, knitting, writing, costuming). She currently works for Compassion International, which finds sponsors for third world children, and dreams of being an agent at a publishing house. She blogs about life, faith, relationships, and fandom in her free time.
n 1896, in the untamed bush of Australia, sixteen year old Stella Miles Franklin penned what became her magnum opus. Like the heroine of the story she conceived, she had a wildness of spirit. For her to follow the traditional norm of the day, marry, have children, and mingle in genteel society, would not have suited her. When she was confident that her manuscript was ready, Stella sent her novel to her favorite poet, Henry Lawson. With his assistance, in 1901 it debuted as My Brilliant Career, under the masculine pseudonym, Miles Franklin. It was a success and though she went on to write other books, it was her first that struck a chord with her audience.
The story opens in the late 1890s with young Sybylla Melvyn yearning for a different life… a better life. Her family is poverty stricken and though she yearns for greater things, to be a concert pianist or a stage actress, she cannot
see past the turmoil. Her father drinks away what little earnings they make off their few milk cows and drought has dried up their land. Life seems bleaker still when her mother suggests hiring her out as a maid. The only refuge she has is in
composing stories. Her attempts to write a novel are futile, although she is encouraged to try again and this time write of what she knows. Sybylla’s salvation comes in the form of a letter from her aunt and grandmother. Since she is being so difficult at home, they invite her to Brindabella. The stage sweeps her away to her grandmother’s mansion in a region that resembles heaven. At least compared to her dusty home, it does. There the sun shines in a beautiful way and they receive rain regularly. There, her relatives pamper her with new dresses, new books, dances and something else… her attention is piqued when she meets Harry Beecham, a
wealthy and handsome young man. In contrast to her frankness and quicksilver mind, he is reserved and quiet. A friendship blossoms between them, they become best “mates” and Sybylla begins to think that she is in love. Though not conventionally pretty and considered too clever for her own good, Harry is smitten as well. On the night of the dance, he proposes. Sybylla must make a choice between following her heart and following her dreams. Were she to accept Harry, she would have to become what he wants. As much as he loves her, he can never understand or accept her dream. If she chooses to pursue her goals, there is no guarantee that she will
achieve success. Girls wrote to Stella Franklin, confiding how much they could relate with the heroine’s predicament and how they too did not measure up to society’s high expectations. Other readers wrote to Stella, convinced that her story was autobiographical, that she was in reality Sybylla and that everything happened as it was penned. Years later, when the feminist movement started, My Brilliant Career had a resurgence in popularity. Women were surprised that this story was so ahead of its time and found contrary Sybylla Melvyn inspiring. ♥
Veronica Leigh is an aspiring novelist, who lives in Indiana with her family and six furbabies. Her obsessions range from Jane Austen to the Holocaust to the TV show Once Upon a Time. She has published two short autobiographical pieces and hopes to see more in print. She also lurks on her blog.
s entertainment consumers, we are all very aware of the mainstream blockbusters in every medium. They take over the advertising time and media coverage we are bombarded with, and they aren’t even always good. What about those good books, television shows, or films that don’t get the most attention? Why are some things underrated? The answer is probably a combination of factors. Projects geared toward women seem to automatically receive second-tier status from the media (don’t get me started on that) and that is probably the reason why a lot of people may have never heard of The Pink Carnation book series. It is a series of historical novels that may be femaleoriented but are full of enough action and humor to entertain any reader.
In February 2005, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was published. Written by Lauren Willig, the novel introduced Eloise Kelly, a Harvard doctoral student in history, in England to investigate aristocratic spies of the Napoleonic era for her dissertation. She hopes to discover the longhidden identity of one spy in particular: The Pink Carnation. Just like the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian, the Carnation worked undercover to assist England in defeating the French empire under Napoleon. A stash of papers in the possession of the Selwick family gives Eloise the information she’s looking for, as well as the possibility of romance for herself in the form of Colin Selwick. The reader spends most of the
novel experiencing the events of early 1800’s England and France as Eloise reads about them. Colin’s ancestor Richard (established here as the identity of the Purple Gentian) meets and falls for Amy Balcourt as she inadvertently entangles herself in his espionage activities. In the end, Eloise and the reader learn who the Pink Carnation is. The novel was a New York Times Bestseller and the series has continued over 10 more books, with the twelfth—and final (sob!)— installment to be published next year. The modern plot involving Eloise and Colin continues to progress over all the books as she learns all the details she could ever want about the spy work of the Pink Carnation. They only take up a brief amount of page time, though. The focus is the romance and adventure of the past. Each book focuses on a different couple and how they get together amid the intrigues
of espionage. The lead characters are connected through family or friendship for the most part—the heroine of the second book in the series, The Masque of the Black Tulip, is Richard’s sister Henrietta, for example—and the character of the Pink Carnation (whose identity I won’t spoil here but it’s a great reveal) appears in nearly all of them. Why this series has been successful is no mystery to anyone who has read the books. The believability of how Willig presents two people’s feelings for each other is exceptional, and she isn’t bad at making up covert plots either! By far, though, the best aspect of the entire Pink Carnation series is the humor. Willig has a distinct and funny tone that stays consistent throughout every novel and is a treat to read. The reader laughs out loud or at least has a big smile of mirth on their face frequently throughout each of the novels in the series. Given the setting, it’s obvious that one of the influences on The Pink Carnation is Jane Austen and her six wonderful novels. Romance being center stage in the plot and the presence of plenty of humor serve to reinforce this influence. Nothing recaptures the magic of a great writer writing in their own time about their own time, and Willig’s authorial voice is indeed too modern to achieve an accurate comparison, but the influence of Austen is something
to recommend in a work. Another obvious touchstone for Willig was The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy’s classic swashbuckler about the spy himself and his real-life identity as Sir Percy Blakeney. Blending these two types of stories was an inspired idea and Willig executes it with skill. The Pink Carnation has a female lead character, focuses partly on romance, and was written by a woman, so that has kept it firmly in the “chick lit” section of fiction despite its bestseller status. The series is probably underrated because of this, less likely to come to the attention of as many readers as some other genres might and less likely to be taken seriously by critics as literature. This is unfair because the action and comedy of The Pink Carnation would be entertaining to any reader. Perhaps by the time the publication of The Lure of the Moonflower occurs next year, Lauren Willig’s covert English spy in the Napoleonic era will finally get more overt recognition. ♥
Rachel Sexton is from Ohio and has a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Arts. She loves her parents and her dog Lily. But what you really need to know is that she has to have acting, film, reading, and dance in her life and her favorite fandoms are Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jane Austen, and Once Upon a Time. Plus, she is most described as quiet and her biggest vice is cupcakes. Oh, and her main hobby is editing fan videos.
y first introduction to Lorna Doone was on a rainy afternoon. I sat riveted as betrayals, hidden identities, forced marriages, daring rescues, political intrigue, and forbidden romance played out. The instant it ended, I rushed to order a copy, which I watched frequently for months. When I wasn’t watching Lorna Doone, I discussed it with other fans. We debated every element of it from the Celtic design in the carpet to the plot’s twists and turns. Two fan bases emerged; those who admired John Ridd, and those who found Carver Doone more interesting. Villains, to me, are more fascinating than heroes for a variety of reasons, but while I do “like” Carver for the wretched soul that he is (his bad behavior goes a long way in making John a hero), John Ridd is a true hero in every sense of the word. What sets this story apart from many others is
that ultimately, it is not about “revenge.” John has every reason to hate Carver, who murdered his father when John was young. Carver tries to kill everyone at the farm in a daring night raid, and also attempts to kill Lorna after she rejects him. Yet, after all of that, and with every reason to believe he has lost everything he cares about, John can’t leave Carver to die. He extends his hand to save Carver from a terrible fate. Why? Because John has proven to us time and again, in his treatment of others and his earnest heart, that he is a good man. Many modern-day “heroes” are heroic but not necessarily good. Goodness stems from a compassionate heart and often heroic characters are also driven through a desire for vengeance or impose their moral law on others by inflicting punishment. True goodness is a moral fortitude not often reflected in modern literature. It is the ability to forgive and have compassion
for an enemy; to truly “love them” as scripture calls us to do. “Love” means many things to many people, but here I will define it, as psychologist M. Scott Peck defines it, as “the desire to see others achieve spiritual wellness.” To want what is best for them, even if it means they do not need us (codependency). Even though John struggles to be selfless, he pursues what is best for all involved with his whole heart, even his enemies. He often reacts with anger and disappointment when others make poor choices but winds up risking his life to save them. His actions show love despite his frustration in their choices or even anger at their evil. To want to save the person who has made your life miserable, you must have a forgiving heart. In most other stories, the hero either kills the villain or lets him die because he will not save him. Here, John tries to save him. Though he may not feel loving at times, he still acts in love, and the act causes his love to grow.
C.S. Lewis believed if you act like you love someone by treating them as if you loved them, the charade will become real and you’ll start to love them. He makes a valid point; how often do actors and actresses wind up together romantically after spending six months pretending to love each other on screen? The false act becomes love. The perfect foil for John in the love department is Lorna, who treats everyone with the same universal kindness and “love,” which in turn causes her to love them… from her brutal grandpa to John’s sisters, who distrust her for being a Doone. Carver is a vivid contrast for the wrong kind of love-driven action. He believes himself “in love” with Lorna, but never treats her like it; instead, he treats her as a possession until in his mind, she becomes his property. Early on, when Carver complains about Lorna rejecting his advances, Sir Ensor tells him to “make the girl like you.” Had he treated her as if he loved her, with tenderness and a desire for her well-being, rather than violence, he might not only have discovered real love for her, but earned her love in return (“There was a time when I thought I could love Carver,” Lorna admits; but his brutal behavior killed her love). These different kinds of love and the theme of forgiveness is one of many things I enjoy about this film; it’s high drama with political intrigue, mistaken
identities, kidnapping schemes, murder, and romance. Though John and Lorna are the main focus, with Carver vying for her attention, other love stories also unfold as the story progresses, contrasting sacrificial love with infatuation; John’s sisters find companions in life, though not without heartache. Saddest of all is the unrequited love story, with a sweet young redhead who fancies John but has no chance to win over his heart. When given the chance to find temporary happiness, John remains faithful to a girl he may never see again.
Charity Bishop is fanatical about all things historical and costume drama. She loves analyzing her favorite things and finding new ways to look at them. She lives with a snit of a half-Siamese cat and devotes her free time to writing books, blogging, and searching for spiritual truth in all aspects of life… when she isn’t editing Femnista!
Lorna Doone has everything for every viewer, and I’ve rarely met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it. ♥ 15
hat is it about movies and TV series taking place in WWII that touches us so much? I’ve often found myself intensely moved or even crying at one of these films and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve asked myself this question more than once, but it was watching The Sinking of the Laconia that gave me some answers. It’s a two-part miniseries broadcast on the BBC and the German ARD in 2011. It details an important, but little known incident from WWII, when a German Uboat torpedoed the British troopship Laconia in the Atlantic in September 1942. When the captain of the Uboat, Werner Hartenstein, realizes there are no troops, but British citizens and Italian prisoners-of-war on board the Laconia, he decides to rescue as many of them as he can from the ocean. Over 200 survivors, including women and children, are crammed into
the submarine and an equal number in lifeboats trailing the U-boat. Captain Hartenstein contacted the German Naval command to ask for directions on how to proceed, but only limited help was given to him. French ships were sent from the coast of Africa, but were still days away from the submarine’s location. Hartenstein then decided to contact his enemy, the Allied forces, by putting out a plain message in English, giving away his coordinates and promising not to attack any ship that would assist him in rescuing the survivors. By doing this, Hartenstein made himself extremely vulnerable to enemy attack. The message was picked up by British forces in colonial Liberia, but they feared it was a trap from the Germans and did not act upon it. The U -boat stayed at the surface for two and a half days and then, in the company of two other submarines, made for the coast of Africa to intercept the French ships
sent to pick up survivors. That night, the U-boat was spotted by an American B-24 bomber plane. Despite the Red Cross flag draped over the submarine and the fact that a message was sent from the Uboat stating there were British civilians on board, the B-24 bombed the U-boat and hit one of the trailing lifeboats, killing dozens of people. Hartenstein gave orders to cut loose the lifeboats and transferred the people on board to them, so he could dive and escape. In the following days, most of the lifeboats were picked up by French ships. Two lifeboats had decided against waiting for rescue and started towards the coast of Africa. Only a small number of the people in these lifeboats survived the long sea journey. Of the 2732 passengers of the Laconia, 1113 survived in the end. Of the victims, 1420 were Italian prisoners-of-war, held in the hold of the ship. This incident had far-reaching consequences for the “rules” of war. The German Naval command
issued an order, forbidding Uboat crews from assisting shipwreck survivors. The Sinking of the Laconia is the adaptation of this unbelievable true story, and in my opinion one of the best adaptations of real events I’ve seen. The miniseries is a co-production of British and German television and has the decided advantage over many other war dramas in that the German characters are played by German actors who actually speak German! This immediately gives it a realistic feel. The hero of this miniseries is the U-boat captain Werner Hartenstein, played brilliantly by Ken Duken. Hartenstein is a fully rounded character, clearly a decent man trying to do the right thing but trapped in duty and the orders of his superiors. His portrayal is understated; Hartenstein does not speak aloud of his feelings or doubts, but his eyes or hand through his hair speak volumes. Second in command on the submarine is chief engineer Rostau, a character a little less easy to like than Captain Hartenstein with his crude humor and unfailing loyalty to the “Vaterland” Germany. Still Rostau is just a man and there are definitely moments when you can identify with him. The same goes for all the German characters on the Uboat, which is one of the remarkable features of the series: it manages to avoid the well-known TV trope of “All Germans are Nazis” and shows all characters as people, not
immediately as “good” or “evil.” Before the U-boat sinks the Laconia, we are given a glimpse into the life on board both vessels. There is camaraderie between the crews. Games are played and performances staged to pass the time for both sides. All this goes to show the
similarities between the characters in wartime. Lest you think The Sinking of the Laconia is looking at WWII with rose-tinted glasses, there is definitely enough realism about the crimes of the era, too. The character of Laconia officer 17
Tryntsje Cuperus is a 30year old Dutch woman working as a PhD student in veterinary science. Sheâ€™s an Anglophile and history lover, so her favorite movies are period dramas and her favorite books are classics or historic novels. She loves animals and nature and her favorite season is spring. She also blogs.
Thomas Mortimer is played by Andrew Buchan, one of my personal favorite British actors. Just before the Laconia is torpedoed, Mortimer is given the devastating news that his wife and two young daughters have been killed in a German bombardment. And Laconia passenger Hilda Schmidt is passing herself off as British; she is fleeing the Nazi regime with her baby niece Ella because all the rest of her family has been captured by the Nazis. When these characters and many more are forced together in close quarters on the U-boat, they start talking and seeing each other as human beings. The best parts of this miniseries are
the conversations between the Germans and the British, where they simply share a little bit of their life with each other and discover they all hate this war which has the world in turmoil. Thinking about these scenes, it struck me why a good WWII drama can touch me so deeply: it shows us people just like you and me in unimaginable circumstances. People who have to make difficult choices and can choose to do great evil, but also great good by helping others and showing them kindness, even when theyâ€™re the enemy. People like the characters in The Sinking of the Laconia, who ask us as viewers a question: what would you have done in similar circumstances? â™Ľ
ramas, epics, tales of bravery and courage, true love, unfaltering loyalty, adventures and fantasies tend to enthrall and enrapture us as an audience. We all love a good hero, and even a good villain if their side of the story is interesting and understandable. We love watching characters pursue true love against all odds. We love happy endings. But what if the hero and the villain are wrapped up in one? What if the story is full of sad, human, flawed people that make mistakes and mess things up? What if the ending isn’t a fairytale one? Can we ever truly enjoy watching such a story unfold, or revisit said story over again? If a story doesn’t follow the traditional “love story” path, will we still feel a romance unfolding? Such is the story of The Painted Veil, the tale of Kitty and Walter Fane, an unhappily married couple
dealing with the aftermath of marital betrayal and infidelity. The narrative takes an unblinking, unyielding look at the harsh realities of lost love and misplaced priorities. It takes the audience to tough places emotionally and visually. There is sickness, pain, misery, mental turmoil and many, many tears. However, it is one of the most fulfilling and inspiring stories I have ever encountered, full of redemption, grace, forgiveness and hope. Unlike most period romances, this tale isn’t one about falling in love or finding love so much as learning to give love and love those around us. Walter and Kitty meet and marry in a short amount of time but their coupling is for two very different reasons. Walter is an honorable man who loves Kitty, but Kitty simply wants to get out of her parent’s house and avoid being an old maid. The life they lead together isn’t exciting,
adventurous, or passionate, something that Kitty longs for. She meets a dashing married man named Charlie Townsend. The two instantly connect and begin a clandestine affair to spice up their “dull lives,“ disregarding the potential hurt to their respective spouses. Walter eventually finds out and offers Kitty a deal: go with him to China where he’ll be investigating an outbreak of cholera or he’ll divorce her publically; he also offers the alternative of a quiet divorce if Charlie will leave his wife and marry Kitty. Charlie refuses, so Kitty is forced to move to China with Walter. What transpires in a cholera stricken village is transformative in both their lives. While Walter meant the move to be punishment for her transgressions, having to spend so much time together means they start to see one another in a different light. Kitty learns to recognize the simple beauty of her “boring” husband, for even though he doesn’t lead an exciting life, he is constant, patient and 19
dedicated in all things. In turn, Walter comes to appreciate Kitty’s personality and strengths and learns to love her again. One of the things that sets this story apart as a romance is that the lead characters aren’t the most sympathetic or lovable. Walter is a sensitive, caring man, but his dark side emerges when he seeks to punish his wife for her indiscretions. He can be cold and harsh and at times it is hard to like him. The same goes for Kitty; her goodness is often overshadowed by her pride and selfishness. She longs for things in the beginning that at the end she realizes won’t bring lasting happiness. While in China, Kitty often writes to Charlie, hoping
for a change of heart on his part. She holds out hope that his claims of love were true and he’ll eventually rescue her from her dull, oppressive life. But her letters go unanswered and she has to painfully abandon her trust in him, turning instead to the slow mending of her relationship with Walter. This leads me to the subject of grace and forgiveness. There isn’t much of it at the beginning of the story where all Kitty and Walter can focus on are their own personal purgatories. But grace is discovered through the course of the story, buried deep inside the characters like ancient treasure, covered by the sands of frustration, distrust, sorrow, pain and resentment. Once they
get over their disappointment in each other, work through their distrust and pain, and sift through their anger, their eyes start to open and they can appreciate the good qualities in each other. Walter sees Kitty helping out in the school and children’s hospital wing and sees her as something other than selfish, self-centered and shallow. He puts aside his emotional wounds and antagonism to forgive his wife. Kitty sees Walter’s love of people, especially children, his selfless placing of others before himself, his intelligence, innovations and ideas brought to life, and the positive impact he has on the village as a whole. They discover each other as if for the first time, and years after
their marriage grow to love one another as husband and wife. The biggest testament to this change comes when Kitty discovers she’s pregnant, and is uncertain who the father is. It could be Walter’s, or it could be Charlie’s child, something she tearfully confesses to her husband. At this point grace takes precedence in Walter’s heart and he comforts Kitty with the knowledge that it doesn’t matter; he’ll accept the child as his own regardless. I wish I could say the story has a fairytale ending, but cholera has no such grace and robs the Fanes of growing old together, stealing Walter away in his prime. However, I suppose in a way the ending is fitting. Kitty
returns to England alone and heartbroken, but receives solace in her new son. Years later she meets Charlie again, but even though he expresses interest in renewing their acquaintance, she does not. Charlie realizes from her boy’s age that he could possibly be his son, but it doesn’t matter to Kitty as it didn’t matter to Walter. Her son has her husband’s name, and she tells Walter Jr. when he asks whom Charlie was that he is quite simply “no one important” anymore. ♥
Hannah Price: my name is Hannah Clarice, and I am a proud movie nerd. I love creativity in all its forms and have the pleasure of pursuing many kinds of creativity as both hobbies and life pursuits. This coming year will see me put this into practice as I take on an internship with a traveling theater production and learn more in depth about film, theater and storytelling as a whole.
he Longest Journey is considered E.M. Forster’s least-known and, according to some, least-liked novel. Indeed, the story sounds simple and straightforward, following Rickie Elliot, an intelligent and sensitive young man whose ideas and dreams are cultivated in Cambridge as he encounters a myriad of challenges moving forward in life. The author himself wrote that it “is the least popular of my five novels but the one I am most glad to have written,” stating how the novel was closer “toward what was in my mind.” Indeed, in closer inspection, it is a deeply personal story about one character’s journey towards a state of self-actualization or revitalization of one’s life. Scholars, along with E.M. Forster, have thought that the reason why this novel was not as popular as his other titles was because it was considered “dated.” While novels such as A Passage to India and A Room
with a View contained themes and issues that were familiar and universal, the very structure of The Longest Journey was of a time period and of a particular English landscape that no longer existed. Coupled with the book’s more aesthetic and philosophical themes, it may seem inaccessible to some readers. While there have been different analysis about what the book is truly about— from the autobiographical elements related to Forster’s personal life to the greater philosophical ideas discussed—the book can be simply approached as a coming-of-age story. The reader is introduced to Rickie in his Cambridge days, brimming with ideas encouraged by the university environment; he is able to
express his ideas with likeminded colleagues and cultivate his love for poetry without feeling out of place. Despite this contentedness, he is also uncertain about the future, something that many young people can relate to. Upon completion of his program, he sets out from Cambridge with the goal of becoming a writer. But things do not turn out as he planned as no one will publish his writings. Meanwhile, he becomes engaged to Agnes Pembrooke, a young woman he knew growing up, and settles in to teaching classics at a school as a means to support their lifestyle. He thinks this new chapter in his life will improve things, that “the crown of life had been attained, the vague yearnings, the misread impulses, had found accomplishment at last”
“--and so/ With one sad friend, perhaps a jealous foe,/ The dreariest and the longest journey go." ("Passages of the Poem, or Connected Therewith" by Percy Bysshe Shelley) and that “never again must he feel lonely [...] to undertake the longest journey.” But over time, his everyday routine coupled with his wife’s growing insensitivity to his feelings and the losses that he experiences along the way leaves his life empty and mundane. His eventual abandonment of his ambitions to write leaves him feeling like “an outcast and a failure.” But these changes and sacrifices are not enough to change his life: whatever love he and Agnes had for each other fades away, along with his overall perception of his wife, and he finds himself unable to truly express himself because no one around him can understand him and what he’s thinking and feeling. While he “remained conscientious and decent [...] the spiritual part of him proceeded to ruin.” As bleak as his story seems, it is not wholly discouraging as Rickie manages to salvage something for himself despite everything he experienced. In meeting his half-brother, Stephen,
he comes to a renewed understanding about life and relationships, and rediscovers a sense of fellowship with other people and with the world around him. It may not be the exact same sense of purpose and understanding he felt when he was in Cambridge, and it comes much later in his life and with a cost, but in the context of his experiences since, it leaves Rickie with a sense of contentedness and renewed purpose. While sombre in tone, The Longest Journey rejoices in the human ability to find something meaningful despite the stress and discouragements of everyday living. It is a coming-of-age story, but it can also be considered as a cautionary tale about the perils of reconciling dreams with reality, and the challenges of ideas surviving out there in the real world. It also raises the question of whether or not one can ever truly balance the desires of the inner life with that of conventional desires. It is a solitary journey, riddled with challenges, but also with promise. ♥
Lianne Bernardo is a 20something Canadian who loves history, period dramas, British television, travel, photography, and (European) football. She is an avid and eclectic reader, reading everything from fantasy to classic literature to historical fiction, and extensively about the books she's read on her website, caffeinatedlife.net An aspiring writer, she is working towards finishing a number of her writing projects. You can also find her on Twitter, @unavitacaffeina.
ome stories seem to take on a life of their own, moving effortlessly from medium to medium, gaining richness and resonance as they go. Alexander Pushkin’s 1825 verse novel Eugene Onegin is one of these. On the surface it’s just a sad tale of a man and woman who can’t get their timing right—she falls in love too soon, he too late. But that simple, sad story has a strange power and endurance. It’s considered part of the foundation of Russian literature. Russian soprano Anna Netrebko observed in a live interview that every Russian schoolchild knows it. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky turned it into a magnificent opera. And there have been several film adaptations of the book, most recently a sparse but beautifully made film called Onegin with Ralph Fiennes, Liv Tyler, and Toby Stephens (rated a
surprising R for brief violence and occasional sexual references that seem more deserving of a PG-13). For some reason, it’s not a well-known story on this side of the Atlantic, but there’s no question that it’s an integral part of European culture. Eugene, the title character, is a jaded young man, a citydweller who thinks he’s seen it all. He couldn’t be more different from Tatiana, the bookish, romantic girl he meets on a visit to the country. Yet Tatiana finds in him the hero of her dreams, and impulsively pours out her heart in a letter—which he courteously but firmly rejects, advising her that it’s not wise to show her feelings so openly. Tatiana is crushed. And there’s worse still to come. On the outs with his friend, the poet Lensky, Eugene tries to get his goat by flirting at a party with Lensky’s fiancée— Tatiana’s sister, Olga. A furious Lensky challenges
Eugene to a duel, and is killed. Horrified by the results of his careless, petty actions, Eugene flees and spends years traveling the world. Another year, another party. Eugene, back in his hometown of St. Petersburg but still restless, spots a beautiful, fashionably dressed woman at a soiree, and is instantly smitten. Surprise—it’s Tatiana, now married to Eugene’s cousin, the wealthy older nobleman Prince Gremin. Now it’s Eugene’s turn to write to her passionately, and Tatiana’s turn to reject him. She admits she still loves him, but refuses to be unfaithful to her husband. Eugene is left alone and despairing. A simple story, as I said—so simple you’d hardly think it could be the stuff of opera. But when well done, it can put your heart through the wringer. Last year, a friend and I saw the Metropolitan Opera production starring Anna Netrebko and Polish tenor Mariusz Kwiecien, and
came out emotionally wrecked (and, I’m afraid, hoping that poor old Prince Gremin would shuffle off this mortal coil before too long!). Eugene Onegin’s strength lies in its compelling and complex characters. There’s something likeable about Eugene, despite his caddish ways and annoying world-weary pose; one feels that he could turn his life around if he just knew what—or rather, who—was good for him. Still, I can’t pretend that I don’t feel a touch of satisfaction when he has to take his own medicine. (It’s funny how even the noblest story can bring out some of the baser emotions.) And Tatiana, the voice of bold romanticism (for a young girl to write that letter in that time and place was shocking), upends our expectations by not letting her heart run away with her at the critical moment. It’s her determination to keep her wedding vows at any cost that leaves us both heartbroken and admiring. Even though she too is suffering, it feels as though she’s won a victory. The story also offers some interesting parallels between the two romances—Tatiana and Eugene, Olga and Lensky. This is brought out especially well in the film Onegin. Tatiana and Lensky are both visionaries, people of depth who can see what’s truly important. Olga and Eugene have both been content for most of their lives to stay
shallow and frivolous. A romance between two such different types, the film suggests, can bring nothing but heartache. The film’s biggest weakness is its ending, as it just seems to fade away quietly. This is where the opera comes off better. I recommend getting hold of the 2013 Met Opera production, which is now available on DVD and Blu-ray, if you can—the passion and power of the ending as performed by Netrebko and Kwiecien is, well, operatic! It packs much more of a punch and is far worthier of such great characters. If you’re saying, “But it’s … opera!” don’t let that scare you off. There are subtitles to help you out, and the music is beautiful. The action is slow at the beginning, but it builds into
something amazing. If you’ve ever enjoyed The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, or The 1812 Overture, then you’re already acquainted with Tchaikovsky, and if you’re willing to go a little farther and try this too, you just might be pleasantly surprised. After all, a story this good deserves to be experienced in as many ways as possible. ♥
Gina Dalfonzo is a lifelong fan of the works of Charles Dickens, but also dabbles in other classic literature. She is the editor of BreakPoint and Dickensblog. 25
h, North & South, a tale neglected in my circle of friends. The story begins with a dissenting vicar, Mr. Hale, uprooting his family’s lives in southern country Helstone and moving north to industrial Milton. His daughter Margaret struggles with leaving behind her old life. Mr. Hale, in discovering new ways to earn income, offers tutoring and meets Mr. Thornton. Cue the headbutting (or should I say sparks?) between Margaret and Thornton. The author weaves in a commentary on the industrial advancements of the age, particularly the cotton industry and the working condition for factory employees. We witness the struggle from all sides. Thornton runs the mill, Nicolas Higgins leads a union strike, Boucher is a worker negatively affected by the strike, and Margaret is moved by compassion for the starving children and families of the strikers. It was a real issue in this time period. People died because of the cotton intake into
their lungs. Working conditions were a far cry from what they are today. The story wouldn’t be the same without this underlying message, and it’s addressed well. The tale pivots and bursts with conflict as Margaret’s tale goes on. She faces many challenges such as loss, misfortune, false accusations, and internal conflict. I wish I could elaborate, but I won’t spoil it for you, so let’s talk about Margaret. Dear, dear, Margaret. Prejudiced yet kind, passionate and stubborn, these are words that describe Gaskell’s wellcrafted heroine. In fact, she reminds me terribly of Lizzie Bennett in Pride & Prejudice. Not entirely but there are similarities. A trait I particularly liked in Margaret was her determination to help people such as the Higgins and later Boucher’s children, regardless of how it made her look. She also faithfully obeyed her mother and cared for her father, doing her best to bring them
happiness, even though her relationship with her mother was rocky. Margaret’s actress, Daniela Denby-Ashe, did an amazing, amazing job. She became Margaret, completely embodying the character, and that’s the best praise I can personally give. I think she suits the role quite well. When I do get around to reading the book her face will be how I imagine Margaret. Moving right along, let’s talk about Thornton! He is tall, dark, mysterious, and handsome. Clearly, he’s the model hero. Our first encounter with the puzzling mill owner leaves us unimpressed and even a little unsure if we’re supposed to like him or not. Especially when we catch him beating a worker senseless for smoking. Our opinion doesn’t change easily or quickly for us or for Margaret; but somewhere in episode two, we glimpse Thornton’s potential. Then we begin to see past his cool demeanor and into his heart. Though it doesn’t appear so at first, Thornton has a deep
appreciation and care for his employees. However, he will not tolerate foolishness or less than average effort. He values integrity and hard work, and he wants his employees to respect and honor that. But here’s the sad fact, people: poor Thornton believes that no one, other than his mother, will ever love him. There is such a depth to him and such heart and soul poured into his personality. Suddenly he’s changed from the brusque man we first met. Richard presents this very well. His features and broody demeanor compliment the character. Honestly, you forget he’s Richard Armitage. He, like Daniela to Margaret, becomes Thornton. To draw this article to a close, North & South is a stunning tale that only very few, if any, of my friends have even heard of. Its art and beauty deserves acknowledgement. It is strange to me that the many fans of Austen have not tapped into Gaskell’s masterpiece. Or maybe they have and I simply haven’t met them. This miniseries by BBC is incredibly overlooked, and well worth the four hours it takes to watch. (Trust me, once you get started it’s hard to stop!) I have watched it over and over again as the occasion called for it. Each time, I’ve delved deeper into each character and take away something different. I intend to pick up the book very soon, as I find available time, and I cannot wait. The beauty and
intensity of this lovely story will stick with me for quite some time. Margaret and Thornton hold their place as one of my favorite literary couples of all time. If you haven’t heard of North & South, I encourage you to check it out. You won’t regret it. ♥
Rosie Wilson is a college senior with a passion for the written word. In the last few years she has rediscovered her love for reading, and now she blogs at Writings of Rosie. It’s her greatest pleasure to endorse Godly fiction; she loves to interact with fellow bloggers and published authors on a daily basis. She desires to inspire other hearts to come to Christ through her stories. Next to reading, Rosie loves to write, spend time with her friends and family, and play guitar with her cousins. 27
hat’s it like to translate a play you have written to the big screen? We can ask Tom Stoppard this question, because in 1990 he screen-wrote and directed a movie version of his play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Though written in 1964, the play was published in 1967. It was a huge critical and commercial success, making Stoppard the most famous English dramatist of the time. The play cleverly reinterprets Shakespeare’s Hamlet from the point of view of two minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Written around and in-between the lines of Shakespeare’s play, Stoppard takes the main concerns of contemporary theater—absurdism and its main themes of death and impossibility, and translates them to live theater. Initially, we might think that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is nothing but
a play on the stage, but it also works well on screen. The film’s premiere took place at 47th Venice International Film Festival, where the movie won the Golden Lion. It stars Gary Oldman as Rosencrantz and Tim Roth as Guildenstern. As in the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do not have control over their circumstances, are never in control of the situation and are occasionally put-upon without their knowledge, because they seem naively incapable of reading the people around them. One might say that manipulation, in many ways, is the art of directing a play, but our heroes are easily, and, at times, willingly manipulated. Of the two, Guildenstern has the dominant personality. He can never decide how he will act; he can only explain his decisions in the moment. This is why the Leader Player (Richard Dreyfuss) tells him that he needs to just “Relax.
Respond. That’s what people do. You can’t go through life questioning your situation at every turn.” His friend Rosencrantz is slightly more hapless and inactive. Oldman was nominated for the 1991 Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead for this role. In 2011, the magazine Total Film named Oldman’s portrayal of Rosencrantz as one of the “greatest moments” of his career. Rosencrantz is an interesting character in and of himself. In the stage directions, Stoppard writes, “Ros betrays no surprise at all… he feels none. However, he is nice enough to feel a little embarrassed at taking so much money off his friend.” Rosencrantz is nice, and more likable than Guildenstern. In many ways, Rosencrantz is like a child. While Guildenstern constantly seems absolutely loaded in existential questions, Rosencrantz is able to have fun. He’s more excited by the Tragedians and their joking plays. But Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern have something in common: when left alone, they often suffer from feelings of isolation. Our heroes try to think and feel. In many ways, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead it is the title characters’ fault that they die. But what does “dead” mean? The “dead” in the title just means predetermination, a theme explored in the monologues and dialogues of the main characters. “Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.” What else we can rely on in this changing world, except good old words? Words that save, sentence, kill, resurrect, make rejoice and suffer, but never betray. Our heroes are victims of the theater itself, which a great
playwright once called a life, even if it’s a special kind of life. Stoppard’s film is a long, leisurely narrative journey of the transience of human existence and the inability to rewrite our own poorly written play called “Life.” Watching it, we can enjoy the pathos postmodern philosophy and comedydrama—played by great British actors; we can generally consider the action as a kind of No!-Hamlet play and try not to take everything that happens on the screen lightly. The choice, as always, belongs to the audience. Still, back to words. If life were a play, most of us would be minor characters in it; let us have faith not in life itself, but in the good old words that can console us in the difficult moments of life. ♥
Marianna Kaplun is a native Russian speaker, who has also mastered the art of English! She loves to blog about her favorite books and movies, as well as her general thoughts, in both Russian and English, at Philologyland, her own personal corner of the web.
've had the same favorite show since I was fourteen: Combat!, a little-known drama from the ‘60s set in France during WWII. For twenty years, I have joyously slogged around muddy Normandy with a squad of grungy American GIs, fighting Nazis and coming to grips with hard truths about the way the world works. A gritty WWII drama might not be the kind of show you'd expect a fourteen-year -old girl to love, I suppose. Ahh, but I was learning to appreciate good writing and good acting, and Combat! has an ample supply of both of those. By the end of my first episode, I'd fallen in love with the show and one of the main characters, a sergeant named Saunders. Combat! had two stars: Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders and Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley. In an interesting departure from many dramas of the time, Morrow and Jason
shared top billing by alternating weeks as to whose title card appeared first and who would have the most screen time. Saunders leads a squad composed of several regular characters, and most episodes also involve some replacement soldiers who either die off at the first opportunity or are played by a guest star and have a crucial role in the episode's plot. The regulars included a lithe Cajun (Pierre Jalbert), a wise-cracking city boy (Jack Hogan), a giant farmer (Dick Peabody), a medic (Conlan Carter), and a perpetually naive youngster (Tom Lowell). Together, they did everything from saving babies to rescuing downed pilots to blowing up bridges. It’s the seven regular characters that set Combat! apart from all other shows, for me. None of them are cardboard cut-outs or caricatures. Throughout the show, they’re allowed to
explore various facets of their personalities, grow, and change. Friendships form and dissolve, wounded people get healed, whole people crumble around the edges. And as for Sgt. Saunders… I could spend an entire article rhapsodizing about him. When I was fourteen, he embodied all the traits I wanted to have myself: courage, strength, determination, and loyalty. Now, he represents a whole different set of virtues I’m seeking: kindness, gentleness, compassion, and willingness to sacrifice himself for others. But before you dismiss him as a boring saint, I should mention he is also stubborn, short-tempered and has a hard time changing his mind about people. Like real people, he’s full of contrasts: patient and demanding, caring and harsh, comforting and deadly. A complex and rewarding character to study, indeed. Unlike most shows set in WWII, Combat! doesn't shy away from tough subjects like
collateral damage, cowardice, civilians fraternizing with the enemy, and even death camps. While it never touches directly on the Holocaust, since the setting never changes from Normandy, they do manage a story involving Polish prisoners shipped there to build things for the Nazis. Some episodes grapple with the problem of soldiers receiving orders they feel are morally wrong. Others deal with the worth of human life, the definitions of courage and cowardice, and the role of women in a changing world. Even the enemy soldiers are portrayed as real people, not paper targets, and the question of whether enemies can work together for a better good is addressed many times. As you might expect, a show with storylines and acting of that caliber boasts a massive number of big-name guest stars. Actors asked their agents to try to get them a slot on Combat!—such as Robert Duvall, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, James Caan, Leonard Nimoy, and many more. It was a meaty show that serious actors wanted to be a part of; many of them specifically wanted to work with Morrow, who was widely respected as a contemplative, giving actor. Future Oscar-winner Robert Altman directed ten episodes in the first season, most of which are spectacular. Richard Donnor helmed one as well, long before he became famous for directing and producing movies like Superman, and Lethal Weapon.
As for the look of the show, the production crew did a fantastic job trying to make everything look as real as possible. They used actual war footage in many episodes, realistic period weapons and uniforms and vehicles, and as many actual German-speakers to play the "Krauts" as they could. In fact, one of the most realistic things about the show is how the German soldiers speak German and the French speak French, and with only one episode as an exception, there are no subtitles for them—the audience remains as uninformed about what they're saying as the American characters, though much of the French does get translated by the Cajun soldier. When I went to college, I took German for my foreign language just so I could understand the Krauts a little bit. I met my husband in that class— Combat! truly changed my life!
Rachel Kovaciny started writing fanfiction for Combat! before she knew what fanfiction was. She coruns a Combat! fansite called Fruit Salad, where she writes stories and episode reviews under her fandom callsign, White Queen.
All five seasons are available on DVD, and the show has a thriving fandom. There are many episodes on YouTube if you want to try a few. I recommend the two-part episode "The Long Way Home" as a good place to start—thanks to a longer story, you get to spend more time getting to know the regulars. If you enjoy deep writing, excellent acting, characterdriven drama, or the WWII era, I can't recommend this show strongly enough. ♥ 31
nder-rated. The word could easily be replaced with “ignored” or “cultstatus” and conjure up images of when The Princess Bride, Legend, and Labyrinth hit theaters and obtained a small but loyal fan base that has slowly grown outward until almost everyone knows where the line “As you wish” comes from. But some under-rated book-tofilm adaptations are not given this same support, and in fact the books are so thoroughly ignored that one can find an elegantly bound hard-backed, five-story edition of it in the $7 bargain bin at Barnes and Nobles. I am, of course, referring to the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars series, of which there are twelve stories published. It has also spawned a few movies, with only the most recent adaptation called John Carter being worth anyone’s time to watch. Yes, the books spawned the infamous movie that became synonymous with Disney
never getting a proper return for their 200+ million dollar investment. It also angered fans of more popular modern science fiction books and movies like Star Wars and Avatar and works by Ray Bradbury because it appeared to be ripping them off and rehashing their storylines. Talk about a bad rep. But before you go to another article because I appear to be bashing the story, too, wait a moment longer. What if I told you that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote his stories between 1912 and 1948 and it is generally known that he influenced the science fiction genre, not the other way around? What if I told you that Edgar Rice Burroughs created a Barsoom (Mars) world that is as intricate and complex as those thought up by George R.R. Martin and J.R.R. Tolkien? What if I told you he not only created Martian measurements for time and distance, but also developed distinct back
histories of the planet including ruins of ancient cultures, unique flora and fauna, contrasting physical appearances of the intelligent “men” of Barsoom, and a mode of transport that has not even been fully developed on modern day earth, using the sun’s rays for energy? Not only that, but Mr. Burroughs managed to put into his stories a primary protagonist from Earth (Jasoom) whose arrival on Mars started a cascading series of historical events arcing through eleven of the twelve books. His name is John Carter, gentleman and fighting man of Virginia, who in 1866 finds himself transported to Mars though he leaves his earthly husk behind in a dusty cave. His Martian “avatar,” if it can even be called that since it is still flesh and blood, is faster and stronger in the thin atmosphere of the red planet. Much of his story on Mars involves the green four armed “men” of the Thark tribe, the red men of Mars who at least
appear human, the red princess Dejah Thoris, and numerous other beings, including the Black Men and White Men, Therns of Mars, and his Calot pet Woola. His first two adventures on Mars influence all the following books and characters, including the arrival of Ulysses Paxton, a WWI soldier transported to Mars after being mortally wounded in combat. There is nothing about any of the stories (with perhaps the exception of the poorly written John Carter of Mars, the work of Burroughs’ son) which could be called under-rated. And given their age, the tales can’t be called unoriginal, either, as they predate the stories that they “rip -off.”
But what about the 2012 movie, is it under-rated or simply a bad bit of adaptation? I tend to view it as the best Mars tale Burroughs fans will likely get, and it had a big budget to boot. There are a few flaws, like Dejah Thoris being given a scientifically minded role, John Carter learning the widely used Martian language by drinking some queer substance, and the medallions that the Therns use. So yes, someone who has read all of the Mars series could easily pick apart the new film and leave nothing but the bare bones behind. But… it is faithful to the heart of what Burroughs was building: a new, exciting world where daring, handsome men rescue the maiden, bring
together cultural enemies, and represent good in the fight against evil. This theme is what carries the stories and gives them their set of ideals. So why are the Mars novels/ movie still under-rated and largely ignored? This is a perplexing question for which I have no answer. Certainly, you could call him a “pulp-fiction” or “dime-a-dozen” author, but his stories have actually outlived the era of the magazine and newspaper serials in which they were originally published. They have caught the attention of major film studios from the 1910’s onward, and influenced some of the largest and most successful science fiction 33
Caitlin Horton: I’m an avid reader, sewer, and doll maker who spends a good deal of time thinking about Narnia and pondering how to bake a Twelfth Night cake. But mostly, I’m a 20something who lives a life blessed in the knowledge that I am God's child, that my life has a purpose within the scope of His plan, a love of history and helping little children. And remember, every day can be like Bilbo's "adventure" if you are willing to take the "ordinary" and add some "extra" in front of it! I also blog about my crafts!
authors and filmmakers in the last 60 years. They don’t deserve to be put in the bargain bin, that’s for sure. Perhaps it was because they were ahead of their time when originally published and deemed shocking by Edwardian readers. For example, the typical article of clothing worn on Barsoom is a leather harness about the waist for weapons and strands of jewels, though Burroughs seldom lingers on this aspect of Martian life. Occasionally a Martian scientist will do genetic, monstrous experiments to create new life. And all female Barsoomians, regardless of color, lay eggs that slowly grow larger until they hatch at proper
infant size after a set number of years. For the poor Edwardians, shocking probably didn’t cover it. But for modern audiences, all of the above “issues” merely serve as enhancement for the story, showing how different Mars is from Earth and how one man’s imagination can spawn living, breathing, memorable alien societies. Perhaps one day, Burroughs’ Mars will be given proper acknowledgement by the science fiction community and will no longer be considered “under-rated,” but will instead be hailed as the magnum opus that it truly is and how it helped our society to see beyond the current moment and look into a past “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.” ♥
he written word—an essential piece of communication, reaching places that spoken words cannot. Our alphabet is what makes this possible. It’s so fundamental we never even think about not being able to read or write. Imagine a world where education is only for the rich. Imagine learning an alphabet of more than 50,000 characters—and these letters don’t even represent the sounds of your language. This is the world of pre-15th Century Korea. A Tree With Deep Roots delves into the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. This 24 episode series revolves around King Sejong, the creator of Hangul. Despite being born into power and wealth, young Sejong is merely a pawn. The puppet king can only watch as his father, the true de facto ruler, executes any who stand in the royal family’s way—even Sejong’s politically influential in-laws. Underneath the young king’s fears, there is a gnawing for more: to be a great leader remembered for helping his
people, not ruling with tyranny. So he begins a secret mission to create a language that even the poorest people can learn; a language of less than 30 characters based on Korean pronunciation. Sejong’s dream is birthed in a time when China is the dominant superpower. Though Korea governs itself, they acknowledge the Chinese Emperor as the Son of Heaven, a ruler with the mandate of heaven. To create a new alphabet goes against years of hard-rooted culture. The nobles will never accept a world where even slaves can be educated. It is foolish; daresay even treasonous. It’s not only the upper-class who balks at the idea of change. The show’s main hero, Chae Yoon, a runaway slave, despises the king. He couldn’t care less about the king’s great cause when he’s willing to sacrifice the lowly people in the game of politics—people like his father, a mentally challenged slave, who died in a
political massacre. Chae Yoon vows retribution and slowly works his way into getting a position as a royal guard—all in the hopes of driving his sword into the king’s heart. He enters the palace just as a political cult emerges, murdering palace scholars. While Chae Yoon investigates these deaths, his vengeance is painfully challenged when he discovers his childhood friend, So Yi, a slave girl turned palace maid, is deeply involved in the creation of the Hangul alphabet. How could she be serving the king who had their families slain? If anyone can understand his pain, So Yi does. Because of her photographic memory, she hasn’t spoken since the traumatic massacre of her childhood, memories haunting her every night. Survivor’s guilt fuels her dedication to making Hangul no matter the cost. She knows the dynamic change that this written language could bring—just as she hopes Chae Yoon will put aside his hatred and help the 35
first met Emily of New Moon when I was 14 years old. I felt a kinship with her instantly. Though just a character in one of L. M. Montgomery’s books, she was exactly the kind of person I wanted to be. I’d read Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables books and loved them, but this was a different kind of love. I knew Emily. I knew how it felt to lose a father. I understood how it felt to love writing so much that it was a burning need. I identified with so many of the emotions and imaginings she went through in her life. Faith White lives in Texas. She has been writing stories since her early teens, mostly to entertain her sisters. She loves period dramas, superhero movies, and Korean dramas and thrives on history and world culture. She also blogs! king. But Chae Yoon lived on hate alone for years. Finding So Yi, the last person of his old world, awakens a soul tie that he cannot deny. But to follow her path—and that of the king—will cost him everything. Mostly emotional and soul-searching, at times heart-warming with a
hint of comedy, this show features excellent writing, a rare find in most television nowadays. Add gorgeous costumes, exciting martial arts, intense acting, and a thought-provoking story and A Tree With Deep Roots is one of the best Korean dramas I have seen. And seriously good television. ♥
Emily has a tender soul. She feels things deeply, and in fact, throughout her life sees what she can only call “the flash.” For just a moment, the veil of this world is pulled away and she experiences a beauty and wonder so deep that it takes her breath away. She never knows when it’s going to come, and it can come during an ordinary day or in the middle of a schoolyard scuffle. After her father dies, she goes to live with her two aunts and cousin. Emily and Aunt Laura get along well from the start, as do she and her cousin Jimmy. But she and Aunt Elizabeth butt heads from the beginning. Emily isn’t a naughty child, but she speaks her mind. Even when she submits to her aunt’s rules, she is often judged harshly. The time at New Moon (where her aunts and
cousin live) is good for her, though. She makes new friends, both real and imaginary. The world grows beautiful again after her father’s death, and as time passes, even she and Aunt Elizabeth learn to love each other. The characters in the trilogy are like people you’d want to know in real life. Emily writes poetry, short snippets from daily life, and little stories. Her best friend Ilse, though wild and untamed, is beautiful and full of spirit. Teddy paints pictures that capture the essence of what he sees, and Perry has the motivation to go far in life. Aunt Laura is sweet and good, Aunt Elizabeth, while strict, loves Emily, and Cousin Jimmy teaches Emily about nature while sharing his poems with her. Even the school children and her extended family are painted with much detail. What really captured my interest all those years ago, though, was how much I was like Emily. She feels things deeper than most people, which means that if you hurt her, the pain stays for a long
time, but the beauty she sees in life is deep and breathtaking. She uses words to capture what she sees in life, whether it’s her beloved Wind Woman or the way Aunt Ruth sounds as she criticizes Emily. She also channels her happiness and sorrow through her writing—the beauty has to come out in some way, and the pain is alleviated when she puts pen to page. Emily eventually grows up and lives a full life, learning many things about herself and those around her. And though life brings pain, it also brings
Carol Starkley lives in the beautiful state of Connecticut. She has a husband, three daughters and live-in mother-in-law, three cats, five fish, and a hamster. She works part-time while working and going to school. She loves to write, read, and take pictures of life around her. Her blog is updated infrequently, but she hopes to change that after she graduates. She’s a Christian, and hopes that ultimately her life will point to him. She sometimes blogs.
sweetness. She never loses her wonder at the world around her. I hope that I never do, either. ♥ 37
Claim your topic before someone else does! email@example.com Halloween: Monsters & Madness
Explore the nature of good and evilâ€Ś in the world and in the human heart. Join us for a plethora of monsters, real and imagined. Taken: Sleepy Hollow (TV series), Frankenstein, Morgana Pendragon, King Kong, Loki, Dracula, The Wolfman, Orcs, The Monster Squad, Rumplestiltskin (Once Upon a Time), Angel / Buffy. Topic Suggestions: Maleficent, Teen Wolf, The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, The Beast (Beauty & the Beast), Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, Werewolves...
Nov/Dec: A Family Affair
Exploring family dynamics, sibling rivalries, and touching reconciliations. Taken: Hansel & Gretel, The Dorrits (Little Dorrit), The Baratheons (Game of Thrones), The March Sisters (Little Women), Anne & Margot Frank, The Bennets (Pride & Prejudice), Chuck & Ellie, While You Were Sleeping, The Woodhosues (Emma), Sherlock & Mycroft. Topic Suggestions: The Ponds (Doctor Who), the Lannisters (Game of Thrones), The Borgias, The Corleones (The Godfather), The Pendragons (Merlin), The Tudor Queens, The Winchesters (Supernatural), The Foresytes (The Foresyte Saga), The Crawleys (Downton Abbey).
Help us choose next yearâ€™s issue themes! Send us your suggestions!
In this issue: The Making of a Lady, The Wild Wild West, My Brilliant Career, The Pink Carnation, Lorna Doone, The Sinking of the Laconia, T...