Monday, 23 December 2013

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Holiday Season Special:

 Now that the holiday season is upon us and in but two days it is Christmas, let me recommend a movie to watch one of these days (that is if you haven’t watched it already).

The Nightmare before Christmas is a Tim Burton project which dates back to 1982 when he wrote the poem while working as a Disney animator. Since then Disney had been meaning to put this poem into work either as a short movie or a 30-minute tv special.  When it finally came out as a stop motion musical fantasy movie in 1998 it was released under Touchstone Pictures because Disney considered it to be too dark and not really meant for too young an audience.

To me it is one of those perfect productions meant for adults who are still in touch with the child within them. It is the perfect combination of the gloomy and the merry. But marrying these two contradictory notions within the same production is Tim Burton’s specialty anyway.

So what is the story of The Nightmare Before Christmas?

‘Twas a long time ago,
Longer now than it seems
in a place that perhaps
you've seen in your dreams
For the story that you are about to be told
began with the holiday worlds of old

Now, you've probably wondered
where holidays come from.
If you haven't I'd say
it's time you begun.
For the holidays are the result of much fuss
and hard work from the worlds that create them us

Well you see now, quite simply
that's all that they do,
making one unique holiday
especially for you
But once, a calamity ever so great
occured when two holidays met

 by mistake

This introductory poem sums it up for us but let me give you a more detailed description of the story. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town is fed up with his work and renown. One successful Halloween after the other…he feels hollow and he yearns for something new. That is when he stumbles upon the Christmas Town. Bewitched and overcome by the spirit of Christmas he will soon find himself doing something he never means to do.

The music was composed by Danny Elfman who also takes part in the movie as the singing voice of Jack Skellington. I have to say: The music makes this movie what it is!! I have always been a great fan of Danny Elfman and Tim Burton so the movie is my personal heaven for Christmas. As a matter of fact we have got a family tradition of decorating our tree to the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It is the perfect film to watch during the holiday season. However its gloomy and dark atmosphere might be a little too hard for children under 8 years of age so if you are planning to watch it with your kids be on your guard. As for your inner kid…he/she will be most satisfied and will thank me for recommending it to you.





Saturday, 14 December 2013

The White Queen

T.V Series

Consisting of 10 episodes, this British Drama series covers the reign of Edward IV and how Richard III came into succession, right to the end of the Battle of Bosworth Field. However the main focus is on the court and most particularly the powerful women of the court. 

Edward is crowned king by the Kingmaker Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick who will betray his own choice of King because of Edward IV’s wife, Elizabeth Woodville, a mid-ranked lady in English Aristocracy. Richard Neville’s regarding this choice of a wife, defiance will set a series of events into motion which later will shape the entire English history.  It is funny how when you stay too close to the knots you cannot see the great design of the entire carpet and sometimes, that which we deem an unfortunate flaw will turn out to be the greatest little detail which gives life to the entirety of the pattern itself.

Those who know me, know that I am a great fan of Queen Elizabeth and her character as a woman who reigned superbly on her own with no related male figure around her, be it a husband, brother or even half-brother for that matter back in that age.  

A woman who defied all and yet managed to stand tall and fast against every plot and treason.

A woman who gave England its own church and its own theatre.

And this is the story of her ancestors, right towards the end and after the Wars of the Roses.

And it is a story of loyalty, treason, love, hatred, witchcraft, faith, curses, blessings, war, peace, and first and foremost ambition, because at the end of the day ambition will rule over them all.

What I liked about the series most is how it was quite true to the historical events (and some of the historical rumors) and yet it managed to keep its own point of view and narration. I must admit to not liking the scenes of Elizabeth Woodville dabbling in witchcraft which adds an unnecessary amount of fantasy into history but then again if I sit back and ask myself: “Did these people believe in and blamed witchcraft for what befell them?” . The answer would be a simple “Yes”. So I decided to not take those scenes all too literal but rather a weakness of that specific age and time.

You will find portrayal of Richard III quite different than that of William Shakespeare’s and truer to the historical records. After all Shakespeare, not unlike his many contemporaries, served and admired Queen Elizabeth, not forgetting that she is a Tudor and Tudors had to black name Richard III in history in order to secure their throne.  Still the famous line “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” will escape your lips because such is the impact of Shakespeare!


If you get past the first episode of the series with all the mushy romantic sentiments you will find the rest of the work really well written, played, directed. For those who are interested in medieval English history, Wars of the Roses and the steps into the Golden Age of Queen Elizabeth, I would suggest watching The White Queen first and then continue with the series Tudors (there is a merit to that production despite the fact that it was inclined to stay in Henry VIII’s bedroom far too much but not without a well-founded reason) and last but not least conclude it with the 1998-production: Elizabeth (the movie) where you will see Cate Blanchett displaying her superior role-acting as always. I do not and cannot recommend the subsequent movie Elizabeth, the Golden Age because it miserably lacks the superiority of its predecessor both in insight and in production.

I think it is time to conclude this post in praise to the series “The White Queen”. I would most certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested in that specific age and time.