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Movie Review: “The Little Prince”

ec4e725b6d1c1d6faf94e3a956f7a7e4Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Version: 2015; starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, James Franco

Genre: children’s; animation

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.”

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

Growing up, my mom had two copies of the French classic “The Little Prince.” One was in French (and incomprehensible to me), the other in English. Neither interested me very much.  The pictures looked bland and too unbelievable.  I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy the story.

Not too long ago I saw that Netflix had made an animated version of the book and I didn’t mind sitting down to spend an evening that way. I was mildly curious.  I was not prepared to be blown away.

I think I was drawn into it from the first notes of music. The art, the plot, the script were beautifully done.  The old phonograph playing was enough to melt my heart alone!  I was nearly crying by the end of it.  And now I want to read the book very much.  It isn’t often that film versions inspire me to read the book, but when they do…  🙂

This movie is actually told in two stories. One is of a little girl who is expected to live a life where childhood is forgotten.  She unexpectedly meets her next door neighbor, an eccentric old man (and self-proclaimed ‘hoarder’) who used to be an aviator once upon a time.  He begins to woo her friendship by telling her the story of the Little Prince he met in another world long ago.  The story of the Little Prince and his rose is told through stop-motion animation, and I loved every bit about it!  I enjoyed it even more for it’s nuances, and thought-provoking lines about life that are hidden like gems throughout where you have to mine them to interpret the meaning for yourself.  Wonderful!

5dc9afdfecd8144ffddd97bd0c8b18e9There are many who abhor this film because they say it takes too many liberties with the book. Apparently the story of the little girl trying to live the expected life of an adult is not in the original.  Since I’ve never read it, I don’t even know if the part of the Little Prince is told faithfully.  But I know I loved the film and that it has inspired me to pick up a book I never knew I needed to read before.  I would say that is the effect of a well-told, don’t you?

One of my favorite lines comes from the Aviator consoling the little girl when she tells him she doesn’t want to grow up. He responds, “Growing up isn’t the problem– forgetting is.”  I wish someone had been able to tell me that when I was a kid and afraid of graduating to adulthood.  This wisdom makes a world of difference because it is true!  I have found that becoming a true adult is really only becoming the person you were meant to be, which includes the parts of childhood that are good and pure and young in heart.  Idealistically, the aim is to shed the ‘juvenile’ ways we used to think and act.  Juvenility is to be differentiated from being childlike in that it is immature, selfish, and narrow-minded.  (1 Cor. 13:11)  Childhood, on the other hand is essentially joy, wonder, and innocence.

1631c1a78f3a24aa2c2690874535b559I have met older adults, even Christians in their 60’s, behave like juveniles. I have met adults who have completely forgotten what is childhood, instead exuding joylessness, hyper-practicality, and busyness.  But I have also met other adults who have retained their openness to life, wonder at the world, and quest to learn and grow- the mark of a true ‘child at heart.’  That is what God means for us to be, I think.  And for us believers, we are all to be trusting children in relation to Him.

And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

I do have a qualm about the movie’s plotline, and that is although it is an indie flick, it does not escape the usual Hollywood storyarc of children being better-knowing than their parents (or more often single parent): rebelling against the ‘status quo’, and teaching the parents they do not know what is best for their kids. See an excellent article on this topic here.

But the voices (esp. Jeff Bridges’ for the Aviator) were great!  Bridges has a voice that has aged well, resulting in a friendly, comforting effect.  I also loved the Fox, voiced by James Franco.  So adorable!

I recommend this glimmering, luminous movie for family viewing, young and old alike. If you approach it being prepared that it’s more loosely based on the book, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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C. S. Lewis Audio Drama

I wish it had not taken me so long to listen and pass this excellent audio drama on to you, but such has been my [lack of] blogging activity lately I’m afraid!  The Northern Irish Man in C. S. Lewis* stars Geoffrey Palmer as that famous author, who reminisces about his childhood in Ulster.  The acting felt very realistic and it was interesting to find the pieces of Narnia that inspired Lewis as a boy.  Settle in and enjoy, but don’t forget that this is only available for a limited time!

*For some reason cannot insert link to text, so click on picture to take you to the drama!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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The Dark Nursery Past & Present

Have you ever wondered about the origins of seemingly nonsensical nursery rhymes?

Ring around the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

Why in the world do we teach young children these simplistic poems when we don’t even know what they are talking about?  Are they clues to some hidden meaning or are their histories long past memory?

In this shortish, informative article by Clemency Burton-Hill, I learned that many nursery rhymes were at one time veiled records of current events.  It’s fascinating, and helps to view these children’s poems in a closer light.

But why are they children’s poems?  Are they fit for children?  The Victorians certainly didn’t think so, and began the campaign to clean the rhymes up.  Okay, I’m grateful for that.  I’d much rather my young’uns babbling fun repetitive sounds than knowingly reciting tales of torture techniques geared for male genitals.  I’m convinced of the educative quality of children learning soothing sounds and rhythms.

But I got to thinking about how ‘shocked’ we are to learn of the real meanings that lie behind these mysterious sing-songs.  It was dealing with the world as they knew it at the time, only later being ‘sanitized’ for society.  We live in a much more decent world, our children are much more innocent…  Or are they?  Our world contains much violence today.  School shootings, child molestation, human trafficking.  However, what worries me more than these issues is what they learn in the home little on up from those nearest to them.  Broken homes, where mom’s had three boyfriends in the past month.  If dad’s in the picture, he’s never grown up himself and spends his waking time playing violent video games or watching adult “cartoons” that spew forth 4 letter (and 3 letter) words.  “Mother”; “It”; “hotdogs and buns”…  And we’re shocked over Rock a Bye Baby?

No, I’m not stressed over wool tax.  I’m worried about the little boy who lives down the lane, who grows up in a world where his dad was busy texting during his first steps and his mom can’t decide whether or not to give him up for adoption because she spends part of her time in jail.  He doesn’t get to be read or sung nursery rhymes.  It’s heartbreaking, and it’s not just little Danny.  His story is a common epidemic!

Yes– clean up the content for the little ones, but let’s not forget about the overall home we’re raising our kids in.  Is it mentally, spiritually, emotionally clean and healthy?  Ultimately, the only way for this to be possible is for the people in the home to be rooted in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eventually, there’s only so much we can protect our kids from.  We do not live in bubbles forever, and it’s important to remember history from those who came before.  People from long ago passed their experiences down to us in rhymes.  What will we pass down?

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: “The Prisoner of Zenda,” by Anthony Hope

2636473Genre: classic; adventure

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:] “Anthony Hope’s swashbuckling romance transports his English gentleman hero, Rudolf Rassendyll, from a comfortable life in London to fast-moving adventures in Ruritania, a mythical land steeped in political intrigue. Rassendyll bears a striking resemblance to Rudolf Elphberg who is about to be crowned King of Ruritania. When the rival to the throne, Black Michael of Strelsau, attempts to seize power by imprisoning Elphberg in the Castle of Zenda, Rassendyll is obliged to impersonate the King to uphold the rightful sovereignty and ensure political stability.”

My Book Review: This story became an immediate favorite years ago when I first saw the old 1952 film version (starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr) when I was 15 years old.  I was staying at my grandpa’s and watched it over and over.  There was something about the swashbuckling adventure full of danger, intrigue, cloak and dagger, and romance that really had me at hello.  In fact, I believe it was one of the first titles I ever entered into my To-Read notebook that I wanted to make sure I read the novel of someday.  It’s been years for me to get around to it, and I was a little bit afraid that the book would let me down in comparison.

This book is not terribly long or hard to get through. I found that the movie version I loved from the first followed the plot pretty well, except for maybe some scenes removed to make for better film-length comprehension.  The book was exciting and fun to read, though I probably would have enjoyed it a little more had I read it first before the movie.  Some parts, such as the Granger-Kerr chemistry is better than the book.  But it’s a great adventure in a vintagey, old-fashioned sort of way.  I’m always in the mood for impersonation stories, intrigue, and suspense.  And I think the tale’s a bit of a classic in that a hard, bittersweet decision is made at the end that leaves you sighing and wishing…  Sort of like Casablanca.

If this sounds like a story you would enjoy diving into, just know that it is actually the second in the Ruritania Trilogy.  I’ve read the first book The Heart of Princess Osra (see book review here), but the two novels are more standalone than anything.  In fact, The Prisoner… is much more of an interesting read than the first.  I will be reading the third in the series, Rupert of Hentzau at some point in time, and I understand that particular one is a better connected sequel to PoZ.

So grab this book if you want an escape to the mountains of the fictional country of Ruritania, where old castle walls, heraldry, and swordfights await you!

“This is movie magic at its mightiest!…” Ha, ha! 😀

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Mid Year Reading Goals

Although it may seem like I’ve been getting into a blogging rut of recent months, I’m actually pretty proud of myself for keeping on and not quitting.  I don’t want to quit even if things have been busy and hectic sometimes.

And I still have new blogging goals.  Some I will not be making public yet for a while with them, and others I will start during now during the mid year.  This revamping is not so much a revamp of the blog, as it is of my reading routines, but the routines will be showing a little difference here on the blog.

So, without further ado, I unmask my newest reading goal, and that is to join The Classics Club.  This is where I make a list of 50+ classics I plan on reading at least within the next five years and blog about them, then link them to The Classics Club blog.  I have decided to do this because 1) the goal was doable; 2) I read classics anyway; 3) I’ve discovered some really lovely book blogs out there that I didn’t know existed through TCC; 4) I would love to meet and interact with some other like-minded book lovers out there!

Below I will be sharing my curated list of classics I plan on reading.  Let it be known that I am using the word ‘classic’ loosely to suit my own tastes, which tend to be a lot of vintage dime thrillers.  I still have no desire to jump into War and Peace.   But I believe that if a book is an oldie and has at least stood the test of time well enough for me to have an interest in reading it, it must be a classic, right?  I also have many children’s classics, but that was in no way meant to cheat.  I appreciate any good story!  And lest anyone shouts my list is ‘No fair!”, I will refer you to the several below that are more ‘serious’ works of literature.  I avoided repeating authors or books from the same series in order to keep the variety.

The list may be subject to change:

Main 50 Classics Club List:

The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery

The Borrowers Afield, by Mary Norton

Miss Billy, by Eleanor H. Porter

The Seven Conundrums, by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright

The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade

The Brass Bottle, by F. Anstey

The Shaving of Shagpat, by George Meredith

The Film Mystery, by Arthur B. Reeve

The Phoenix and the Carpet, by Edith Nesbit

The Flaming Forest, by James Oliver Curwood

Captain Blood Returns, by Rafael Sabatini

King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard

Dead Men’s Money, by J. S. Fletcher

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope

John Jago’s Ghost, by Wilkie Collins

The Passenger from Calais, by Arthur Griffiths

The Rosary, by Florence L. Barclay

Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief, by Maurice LeBlanc

The Amazing Interlude, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Alice in Blunderland, by John Kendrick Bangs

At the Appointed Time, by Anna Maynard Barbour

Wired Love, by Ella Cheever Thayer

The Heart’s Kingdom, by Maria Thompson Davies

Basil Howe, by G. K. Chesterton

Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake

The Fisherman’s Lady, by George MacDonald

The Maid of Sker, by R. D. Blackmore

Miss Cayley’s Adventures, by Grant Allen

Down the Garden Path, by Beverley Nichols

The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

The Mystery of the Blue Train, by Agatha Christie

Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Man Who Lost Himself, by H. de Vere Stacpoole

The Laughing Cavalier, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The Green Rust, by Edgar Wallace

A Fair Barbarian, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte

The New Chronicles of Rebecca, by Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Blessing of Pan, by Lord Dunsany

The Palace in the Garden, by Mary Louisa Molesworth

A Spinner in the Sun, by Myrtle Reed

Trent’s Last Case, by E. C. Bentley

The Forsaken Inn, by Anna Katharine Green

Paradise Lost, by James Milton

Nothing So Strange, by James Hilton

Love Insurance, by Earl derr Biggers

The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Reading Habits

 

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Movie Review: Les Miserables

928283ab6e774bf98c29d851f4efc1ddBased on the book by Victor Hugo.

Version: 2012; starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne

Genre:  drama, musical

Plot Summary: In the times between post-Revolutionary France and the Paris Rebellion of 1832, an inconsequential criminal -Prisoner 24601- is set free from penal servitude.  Can a thief receive grace and have another chance in life?  Some would think not, particularly a strict, tow-the-line, “black & white” law enforcement officer like Inspector Javert.  But others, –like the trusting little girl Cosette and the idealistic activist Marius,– choose to open their hearts to the man remade into the new Jean Valjean.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.  

Yeah, I’m a little late to the party on this one, but a good story is a good story in a book or on film no matter when one happens to experience it. I’ve never read the book (somehow never could convince myself to begin a 2,783 page opus [see recent post]), but I have seen the earlier 1998 version with Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean.  I’m not sure I enjoyed that one.  But I’ve also listened to the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre’s excellent audio production of the story and highly recommend that.

Les Miserables is a classic tale that contains so many human elements that speak deeply to us—love, hatred, forgiveness, compassion, revenge. That’s why it’s a classic.  The drama, the pathos, emotion pull us in and won’t let us go.  I found myself being deeply engrossed in this newest film version of Victor Hugo’s epic story.  Believe it or not, I’d never seen or listened to the musical, although a few songs sounded familiar because of how they’ve infiltrated our pop culture (I Dreamed a Dream, Bring Him Home).  At first I wasn’t so sure this story could be presented seriously as a musical, but I was proved wrong in one of the earliest scenes (when Jean receives the gift of forgiveness from the priest).  And by the end of the movie, I was blubbering away into a soggy Kleenex.

I had avoided watching it when it first came out because of watching the trailer and hearing others’ reviews. I’d heard that so and so shouldn’t have been cast in this role because somebody else would have done so much better…  Another person was snubbed for not being cast…  This actress completely ‘ruined’ the movie… That person couldn’t sing… etc. etc. etc.  I’d heard the film was too ‘gritty’, too ‘gorey’, too ‘indecent’.  I watched the trailer and saw too much skin.

untitledI’m not a musical aficionado. Maybe so and so could have sang the part better.  All I know is Fantine sang as though her life was at the bottom of a sludge pit and Valjean sang through weary tears.  Cosette sang like a bird in love, and Marius like he’d found the treasure of his life.  If I could be so thoroughly convinced this story was real, I think somebody was doing their job supremely well.   Probably the only one who didn’t have me convinced of his role was Russell Crowe as Javert.  He felt uncomfortable and limited in the part.

Gritty? Yes.  Gorey?  It was a reflection of the time and era in which real people lived.  Not all of humanity has lived in pristine Downton Abbey.  Indecent?  Yes. Humanity is messed up.  But we live in a  place where true love shines like a jewel amidst the dirt and grime of a perverted world.

Yet, there are some indecencies I would prefer not to expose myself to, and there were some content issues I’d warn about. I have better things to do than count swear words and describe raunchy scenes, so you can read a more detailed review here if you are in need of one.  But I will say that there were at least two places I wanted to be careful about: 1)  Fantine gradually falls deeper and deeper into the backalley ways of the underworld, not out of any desire on her part but out of pure desperation.  As she sings her song, she is led into a dark room where one gets the idea of what will happen next without having to see it.  I didn’t watch, but continued to listen to her heart-rending song.  I wouldn’t fast forward through it if it can be helped because the music is some of the best of the musical and it’s well acted.  2)  The Thenardiers are the picture of the world taking delight in degradation.  The rowdy song that takes place in their inn, where they celebrate the pleasures of sin is one that can be skipped (IMO).  It is definitely NOT a family scene!  I got half way through and decided I was too sick to watch the rest and clicked through to the next scene.

Only one thing I wish could have been improved upon and that is I would have liked to have seen more of the beginning developing relationship between Jean Valjean and the little girl Cosette.  This is a weakness in the original story itself I think, and that is that Cosette’s character is too trusting.  This could have been strengthened in the movie, and their getting to know one another was rather missing.  It would have helped to cement my emotional attachment further.

But for all of that, I wish I had not waited so long to watch this wonderful story illustrated with so much emotion, music, color and drama. The sets and the details blew my mind.  I don’t often like to rewatch movies, but this is one I will want to have in my collection to go back to every so often.  I truly thought it was a good piece of art, though I know there are enough who debate me there.

What are your thoughts on this film version of Les Miserables?  I’d like to know what you think!

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Do you read long books?

Do you read long books? I confess that I tend to shy away from them.  I think it just seems like too big a commitment for me.  I prefer variety or else I get bored, and tackling a 400+ page novel leaves me exhausting just thinking about it.

It’s ironic but I think I had more patience when I was younger (teenage years). I had more time and I attempted just about any classic in the quest to say I’d read them all.  My tastes and goals have changed over the years.  But some of the longer fictional books I have accomplished in the past include “Little Women (age 12); “Ivanhoe” (which I converted into a 75 page play for my sister and myself); and more recently, “Titus Groan,” by Mervyn Peake.  There are a few others on my TBR that I don’t know when I’ll get to.  “The Maid of Sker,” by Richard D. Blackmore, “The Cloister and the Hearth,” by Charles Reade, and “Glastonbury,” by Donna Fletcher Crowe.

I think some of the reasons why I often shy away from the longer tomes these days is because I don’t feel I have the emotional or mental energy to undertake it. A couple of years ago I ordered a book on interlibrary loan, and then promptly sent it back upon seeing how thick the book and how tiny the print was.  I was going through a rough time and needed something lighter and faster paced.  Recently I also passed on an Edward Rutherfurd novel, when 15 years ago I probably would have checked it out.  Another plausible theory could be due to the fact that I have more eyestrain than I used to and it taints my desire for long, involved reads.

When searching out new additions for my TBR on goodreads, I try to thoughtfully evaluate whether I will realistically want to read a particular title or if I would just feel burdened and dread opening the cover. That sounds sort of funny now that I have that typed down.  Why would I want to read anything I’d dread?  Am I such a glutton for self-torture?  I want to read good, meaty, beneficial books.  But the word and page count of a book does not necessarily make it beneficial.  A proverb can be more wisely read than a full assortment of “Grey” romance.

Yet some of the world’s best epics have been told through long-drawn out prose. (Those French and Russian novels for instance…)  But usually their stories are too familiar told through other mediums for me to care to devote so much time to reading.  Maybe one day my interests will change again and I’ll be a reader of “Moby Dick” but I’m not so much a fan of whale blubber right now.

What does constitute me attempting a big fiction book? Just like any other book, it is usually a creative plotline and the adventure that draws me in.  If it has my attention in these areas, I can perhaps forget I’ve spent the last 3 months in this world.  It’s what kept me going through “Titus Groan”, and is what has me interested in someday trying “Shogun,” by James Clavell.

I came to ponder all of this after reading this article entitled “Never Ending Stories.”

What about you? If you’re a reader of long tales, what attracts you to them?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Reading Habits, Uncategorized

 

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