Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Movie Spotlight: Daddy - Long - Legs (1919)

Judy Abbott has spent all her life in an orphan asylum, taking care of the other orphans and getting herself in trouble (mainly in the interests of the other children). That is, until a trustee decides to send her to college. He wishes to be known only as Mr. Smith and the only other thing she knows about him is that he has long legs. Hence, she addresses all her letters to him as Daddy-Long-Legs. Away at college she makes new friends–most importantly, handsome and wealthy Jarvis Pendleton–and suffers from the snobbery inflicted upon her by the high society people with whom she comes into contact. Feeling herself forced to refuse the offer of marriage of the man she loves, Judy is desperate for good advice. In the seeking of said good advice she receives the greatest shock of her life.

It is done. I have seen my first silent movie. I had read the book several years ago and thought it a romantic and hilarious story, but was disappointed with her manner of talking about religious matters. However, I still liked the story and having seen a bit of this picture–and having four half-hour drives (please note, I was not driving :)) to and from a dance and conference and not wishing to spend it in idleness–I sought it out on You-Tube and watched the 1:24 minute film. At first I had my doubts. No music or talking or anything…how tiresome is that? But I loved it! I really did! And wish to watch it again. The movie makers had taken out the provoking ideology and had left (or added) the funny parts. Mary Pickford who plays Judy is known as the greatest silent film actress and I think she deserves the title. She is pretty, feminine, clever, and fun, without being flirty or flighty, and she manages to make that all clear without you hearing her voice and yet without overdoing her acting. In addition, she has some beautiful “Titanic”-era dresses. Jarvis's acting was well done too. I thought he looked a little strange at times, though as my sister said, if there was music at those points they would be very sad, so it is simply my immature mind which dislikes it. However, for the most part I liked him very much.

As for the scenery, I thought it was actually better than many newer films I have seen (the ‘95 Persuasion comes to mind). From what I could tell the outdoor scenes were really shot outdoors and the interior ones were good too.

Yes or no on silent films? Judging off this one a definite yes! I was surprised at how alive the story became without any sound and only text on the screen every once in a while to show the most important lines. So, I recommend the (1919) Daddy-Long-Legs to those who enjoy old films, sweet romance, and humor.

Stars: 4.5/5

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: The Horn of Roland by Jay Williams

Roland is the nephew of the mighty Charlemagne. When but a boy he–with his eleven fellow squires–turns the tide of a great battle and is knighted. Afterward all twelve become known as The Peers of France. Roland leads his companions to many victories against the Saracens and wins fame and glory among the Christian nations, but treachery and enemies from within are harder to guard against and Roland has gained the hatred of Count Ganelon. And Ganelon has no qualms about doing away with Roland, even if it comes to consorting with the very enemies of Christendom...
Even before I had read much about Roland I had thought of him as one of the most wonderful and heroic men in history (possibly because of a splendid painting we have in a book). Either way, to me the story of Roland is in the same class as Robin Hood and William Wallace. (I know, I know–Robin Hood is technically not a historical figure, whereas W. Wallace and Roland are, but he practically is.) But what I mean by saying he is in the same class is that a.) they are  great and honorable heroes and b.) their stories all end tragically. Oops, I hope I did not spoil the story, but everyone knows that those heroes die… don't they? Legendary heroes always have to die, because it is a sad but proven fact that to have a story really “stick” the hero must die. The story is written in a surprisingly simple style, but I assure you the author tells you enough–or at least he tells you all the right things. I hardly ever cry in books, but at the end of “The Horn Of Roland” tears were literally dripping off my face. The only other book that I remember crying that much about was “The Scottish Chiefs” which is–surprise–about William Wallace. (If I can help it, I do not read the ends of books about Robin Hood.)

Should one read “The Horn of Roland”? Yes. Possibly the story could have been written in a more overtly gripping style yet on further thought it really was. Many times it is the simple things that have the most power and this book is certainly in that class. And I certainly enjoyed it.

Stars: 4 out of 5
Content: Fighting, but not any especially gory descriptions

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