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"School" is a thoroughly enjoyable and captivating work. In the same manner as Ken Burns' documentaries, you feel that you have traveled through periods of history with key or typical personalities of those times. Very well made.
North American Poet worth getting to know better
This musical adaptation of the tragic life of 19th-century Québec poet Émile Nelligan inspired me to go out and learn more about his life and touching poetry -- surely one of North America's brightest, but brief lights as a writer.
The production's writer interweaves well the story of the tender, yet independent young artist and a nationalist message; Émile and his mother persevere in the face of an oppressive, personality-squashing father.
The theme music is still memorable for me, even nine years after seeing it. Well-acted stage performances particularly for the characters Nelligan and his mother, Émilie.
Vive le Québec _ _ _ _ _!
Càite am bheil a' Ghàidhlig? / Where's the Gaelic?
Would the film have lost any profits had it included some Gaelic dialog for the sake of accuracy and reality? There might have been couple of mumbled words in Gaelic at some point, but they were easily overlooked.
The fact that the majority of Scots involved in this history would have been Gaelic speakers is strangely absent from the film. Even the writers of the Indiana Jones fictional stories made sure that realistic dialog with subtitles peppered the script to give an air of realism.
This story is one of freedom from oppression. The people's right to use their own language was one the things that was eventually taken from them. It might have been important therefore to show the audience that they actually had their own language.
Man of Aran (1934)
What language did they speak?
An amazing document and well worth seeing.
It is strange to watch a classic documentary film on this brave community and not get a single chance to hear them speak one word in their own language (Irish Gaelic). The voice-overs were all in English, for the audience of course. But we would not have been harmed by even a smattering of dialog in Irish.
I also missed seeing a little more of domestic life. What did they eat, how did they cook, what was their religious life like? We see only the sea, the source of their existence, but not much of what they did beyond it.
The Edge of the World (1937)
A rare look at Scotland
An interesting film and well worth seeing for those interested in Scottish theme films. The comparison with Man of Aran is valid, in that it depicts an isolated island community struggling to eke out an existence.
What was missing for me was even a hint at the language these island people of "Hirta" would have spoken, Scottish Gaelic. The church scene with its psalm singing was executed better than in "The Little Minister", but still without making an effort to portray the real thing. The singing was in English, using a Lowland style and the precentor did not chant the line, but read it! They had clearly not visited any Highland churches before preparing the scene.
The documentary film, appended to this, "Return to the Edge of the World" was wonderful and I found it equally enjoyable.
One of television's best
Even those with criticism for the Cadfael series' inaccuracies and inconsistencies can't help but be avid admirers. The writing and performances are superb and Jacobi must surely be one of the most gifted actors alive on stage or screen.
It seems unnecessary that they had to go abroad to film the series. There must surely be a patch of forest left in Wales or the west of England that would have suited a film crew. It is also a shame that more actual Welsh actors had not been engaged for the series, even as extras or cameos. The location is in a traditionally Welsh region of Shropshire, so one should expect to hear Welsh being spoken by the abbey locals, if not the occasional cast member.
It is true some of the episodes did not work well, especially the incredible "Virgin in the Ice". "The Sanctuary Sparrow" is certainly one of the best due to the classical tragedy of the story. The series is accompanied well on American television by forewords and epilogues by Diana Rigg, usually with interesting trivia about the books, filming or historical background.
God's Outlaw (1986)
Solid Historical Drama
This played on Canada's CTS recently and I was glad to have the opportunity to see this rare piece of historical drama. I wonder how many other networks would play a movie about the trials and tribulations of the translator of the English Bible. This is a captivating story for those with an interest in the Bible, history and period films. If they made collectable superhero cards for translators, William Tyndale would be on one of them.
The dialog is well written and the performances are solid, fine English stage-type acting. Not Oscar award material but as watchable as any period stage drama I have seen.
Silent Running (1972)
A classic of science fiction
Certainly one of the most memorable films I have seen and by far one of the best science fictions. Lowell may be unstable, but there is something in his character which many can relate to - the total sense of dismay and loss at the vast destruction our society and culture has brought on itself.
The soundtrack and Baez' theme songs stayed with me for well over a decade until I was able to find the soundtrack album and later a LaserDisc of Silent Running. The music was very appropriate to the dreamy quality of the film and the supreme idealism of the main character.
I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1973)
This is one of those films that stays with you for many years. I saw it about 20 years ago and remember the powerful effect of this story of a minister who is sent to a west coast native Canadian village. He learns that he has much to learn from his hosts. Quiet, touching and inspirational tale.
King Lear (1983)
This turned me on to Skakespeare
I credit this production with turning me on to Shakespeare, unfortunately at the end of my highschool career and not at the beginning. The performances are superb. Particularly memorable are Olivier and Diana Rigg. This production made the characters come to life for me in ways that previous Shakespeare productions on screen or stage had not.