Dec 142010
 

Billy Budd is a young man impressed from a merchant ship in 1797 and made foretopman on the British Navy frigate Avenger during the French revolutionary wars with England. In a conversation with the Captain, Edward Fairfax Vere, the ship’s master-at-arms, Jon Claggart, accuses Budd of mutinous conspiracy. Skeptical of the accusations (given Budd’s easy-going and cheerful bearing), Captain Vere invites Claggart to make the accusations in Budd’s presence. Given the opportunity to rebut the accusations, Budd, who suffers from an inability to speak under duress, is unable to do so. Frustrated and angry, Budd strikes Claggart, killing him. Though believing Budd innocent of mutiny and free of any intent to kill Claggart, Vere quickly convenes a drumhead court to try Budd . .

A powerful and moving film about the battle of good versus evil

Billy Budd by Herman Melville (text)

FILMS

Dec 142010
 

‘Why passports? Why immigration restrictions? Why not let human beings go where they wish to go, North Pole or South Pole, Russia or Turkey, the States or Bolivia? Human beings must be kept under control. They cannot fly like insects about the world into which they were born without being asked. Human beings must be brought under control, under passports, under finger-print registrations. For what reason? Only to show the omnipotence of the State, and of the holy servant of the State, the bureaucrat. Bureaucracy has come to stay. It has become the great and almighty ruler of the world. It has come to stay to whip human beings into discipline and make them numbers within the State. With foot-printing of babies it has begun; the next stage will be the branding of registration numbers upon the back, properly filed, so that no mistake can be made as to the true nationality of the insect. A wall has made China what she is today. The walls all nations have built up since the war for democracy will have the same effect. Expanding markets and making large profits are a religion. It is the oldest religion perhaps, for it has the best trained priests, and it has the most beautiful churches; yes, sir.’

The Death ShipDas Totenschiff, B. Traven (Germany 1926)

See also B Traven A Mystery Solved (Will Wyatt)  and Macario (Films)

and To The The Honourable Miss S . . . (Ret Marut, Der Ziegelbrenner, 1915-1919) FILMS

Dec 102010
 

The extraordinary story of Eli Kazan’s paternal uncle, Avraam-Elia, born in 1909 to an Anatolian Greek family living under brutal Turkish rule during the Ottoman Empire. In 1913 he  was four when his parents immigrated to New York City. His father, George Kazancioglu, a rug merchant, continued his trade in America. AMERICA AMERICA tells of Elias Kazan’s father’s brother who fled to Constantinople (renamed Istanbul in 1930) to escape Turkish Ottoman brutality towards native Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians. Before escaping to Constantinople, his uncle’s father gave his son the family treasures and a plan to earn sufficient money so that his family could later join him in Constantinople, and from there take passage to America. However, BEFORE UNCLE AVRAAM-ELIA KAZANCIOGLU reached the United States, his journey led him into a series of experiences — each one one more shocking than the next.  Avraam-Elia came across Ottoman Turks burning a church filled with trapped and helpless Armenian children and elderly people. He also witnessed the violence of an “abortive massacre”, which filled him with even more determination to escape from the violence against the Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and other Christians of Asia Minor (now called Turkey). After many trials and tribulations, Avraam-Elia did reach New York City where he worked as a shoeshine boy. Eventually, from his savings, A. E. Kazan his newly adopted name, brought his family to the land where they, and Elia Kazan, had the chance to escape Ottoman brutalities and to fulfill their potential.

Search FILMS: America, America 1; America, America 2; America, America 3; America, America 4

Nov 282010
 

Early silent film (1915) set in Tsarist Russia, where a newly married woman’s husband, an anarchist, is framed by a corrupt police chief and sent into exile in Siberia along with one of her former lovers. She attempts to rescue her husband only to find that the former suitor has assumed his identity. Based on a stage play by John Oxenham and starring Clara Kimball Young, Montagu Love and Claude Fleming.

Nov 282010
 

A 1920 silent film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. It is one of the most influential of German Expressionist films and is often considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time. This film is cited as having introduced the twist ending in cinema. It has also been postulated that the film — with its tyrannical central character of Caligari — can be considered as an allegory for German social attitudes in the post World War I period. Who knows! . . .

Nov 172010
 

Sergei Eisenstein‘s Strike, (his first full-length feature film — pre-Stalinist) is among the most outstanding cinematic debuts in the history of film. Triggered by the suicide of a worker falsely accused of theft, a strike is called by the labourers of a Moscow factory during Czarist times (1903). The managers, owner and the Czarist government send in spies and provocateurs in an attempt to break the workers unity. Unsuccessful, they hire the police and, in the film’s most harrowing and powerful sequences, the unarmed strikers are slaughtered in a brutal confrontation with the military.

Nov 072010
 

After the widespread controversy surrounding his racist film The Birth of a Nation (1915), Griffith attempted to answer, defensively, his critics by taking a smaller feature film that he was working on about the contemporary, ‘Progressive Era’ struggle between capital and labour [titled "The Mother and the Law"] and the theme of social injustice, and combining it with three new stories to create a more dramatic epic. All four widely separate stories, spanning several hundreds of years, ages and cultures, are held together by themes of intolerance, man’s inhumanity to man, hypocrisy, bigotry, religious hatred, persecution, discrimination and injustice achieved in all eras by entrenched political, social and religious systems. In the original print, each story was tinted with a different color.

* THE ‘MODERN’ STORY (A.D. 1914): (Amber Tint) In early 20th century America during a time of labour unrest, strikes, and social change in California and ruthless employers and reformers – a young Irish Catholic boy, an exploited worker, is wrongly imprisoned for murder and sentenced to be hung on a gallows. The boy is saved from execution in a last-minute rescue by his wife’s arrival with the governor’s pardon.

* THE JUDAEAN STORY (A.D. 27): (Blue Tint) The Nazarene’s (Christ’s) Judaea at the time of his struggles with the Pharisees, his betrayal and crucifixion (told as a Passion Play in his last days) – it is the shortest of the four stories.

* THE FRENCH STORY (A.D. 1572): (Sepia Tint) Renaissance, 16th century medieval France at the time of the persecution and slaughter of the Huguenots during the regime of Catholic Catherine de Medici and her son King Charles IX of France, and the notorious atrocities of St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (including its effects upon the planned wedding of a young innocent Huguenot couple – Brown Eyes and Prosper Latour).

* THE BABYLONIAN STORY (539 B.C.): (Gray-Green Tint) peace-loving Prince Belshazzar’s Babylon at the time of its Siege and Fall by King Cyrus the Persian, due to the treacherous High Priests – and the Mountain Girl’s vain efforts to avert the tragedy. The outdoor set for the Babylonian sequences was the largest ever created for a Hollywood film up to its time, and its crowd shots with 16,000 extras were also some of the greatest in cinematic history.

Oct 012010
 

Director Robert Hamer’s fiendishly funny Kind Hearts and Coronets stands as one of Ealing Studios’ greatest triumphs, and one of the most wickedly black comedies ever made. Dennis Price is sublime as an embittered young commoner determined to avenge his mother’s unjust disinheritance by ascending to her family’s dukedom. Unfortunately, eight relatives, all played by the incomparable Alec Guinness, must be eliminated before he can do so.

Generally considered the most sublime of the Ealing comedies and a brilliant vehicle for the astonishing versatility of Alec Guiness – both of which it is – journalist and critic Simon Heffer also considers Kind Hearts and Coronets to be one of the most subversive films ever made in the British cinema, with an innovative, destructive temper that make later anti-Establishment films such as If and A Clockwork Orange seem derivative by comparison.

This 1949 film about a man who murders member after member of his extended family in order to inherit a dukedom is dark not only because its subject is mass murder, but also because of its subtle attack on almost every aspect of British social order – the legal system, the class system, the Church, the City. More unusually, Heffer also considers it as a perfect assault – often disguised by its comedy – on the shallow and narrow lower middle-class values and proprieties that predominated in Britain in the immediate post-war period.

See FILMS

Sep 082010
 

TO THE HONORABLE MISS S… AND OTHER STORIES by Ret Marut a.k.a. B. Traven With an introduction by Will Wyatt, Producer of the BBC documentary B. Traven: A Mystery Solved (See FILMS) (Translated from the German by Peter Silcock). Originally published in English by Cienfuegos Press, Sanday, Orkney (1981)

In 1916 Ret Marut, the author who later became famous under the nom de plume of B. Traven, published this collection of fifteen stories under the title TO THE HONOURABLE MISS S … Written during the years when he was an itinerant actor and journalist in Germany before and during World War I, most of these stories first appeared when Marut edited the anti-war journal, Der Ziegelbrenner (The Brickburner), in Munich. They foreshadow many of the themes and philosophy that characterise such great works as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Death Ship, The White Rose, The Bridge in the Jungle, and other novels and stories Traven wrote later in Mexico. This collection includes such tales as “The Story of a Nun,” in which a doctor marries a doomed woman whom he first meets as a ghost, and “The Silk Scarf,” a simple story with an acidulous ending. Other stories deal with such subjects as pretension, fashion, greed, exploitation, and the price of success, all themes that Traven further developed in his subsequent work. The title story, “To the Honourable Miss S…”, is a romantic love story told against the backdrop of trench warfare in World War I. The vivid realism of the war scenes is reminiscent of Enrich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

TO THE HONORABLE MISS S… AND OTHER STORIES (PDF)

Aug 182010
 

Esteban Echeverría’s El matadero (The Slaughteryard), written towards the end of the 1830s, is, chronologically, the first work of Argentine prose fiction. A fierce and outspoken opponent of Juan Manuel de Rosas’ Federalist regime, the author was forced to live a long exile in Montevideo, where he died in 1851. El matadero remained unpublished until 1871. Owing in part to its brevity – a mere 6,000 or so words – it may be the most studied school text in all Latin-American literature. It is certainly known and acclaimed beyond the borders of Argentina

Argentina, 1839. A young man dies for his political beliefs when attacked by a mob in a slaughteryard used to butcher cattle. The story takes place at the height of Juan Manuel de Rosas’ reign of terror. Though fictional, it is an open indictment of that brutal regime and the first masterwork of Latin-American literature, originally published twenty years after the author’s death. El matadero is reputed to be the most widely studied school text in Spanish-speaking South America.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1805, Esteban Echeverria was a poet and moral thinker who, owing to his uncompromising ideals, was forced into a long militant exile in Uruguay where he died in penury in 1851.

Available now for the first time in a modern English translation this is a story that in well over a century has lost none of its freshness and popularity. This edition is the fruit of years of research into little-known corners of Argentine literature and history, including an extensive glossary, the story’s rare first printed version (in Spanish), and an appendix of reports by early English travellers to the River Plate, including Charles Darwin. This is an uncompromising and unforgettable story

Slaughteryard (a commentary by translator Norman Thomas di Giovanni – PDF) ISBN 9780007346738 Published by The Friday Project