Getting through Great Scott!
A: And so we come to the only film on our list that neither of us has seen. This promises to be interesting. I have an abiding fascination with Robin Hood: both visually (I will quote the animated version at you; I don’t care if you disapprove of my adolescent love of the Costner version) and academically (Stephen Knight’s history is awesome). So… I’m a bit scared.
J: In ye olde times …
A: Yikes look at that font.
So, 12th century eh. Blanchett already being forceful, with a bow? I’m pleased. A flaming arrow!
J: More ye olde times …
A: Robin Longstride, eh? That’s different. But it’s still Richard not-so-lion-heart’s time. AND we’re actually on crusade with Rusty! (wait, not crusade – this is France, surely, with Richard more interested in running French bits than his English territory)
J: So basically it’s Gladiator … gosh I hope it’s not as slow. I wonder if they will show the archer’s paradox… slow motions arrows n all. Continue reading →
I have loved everything I’ve read by Mark Kurlansky. So when I was in a small bookshop in a small town and saw a new book from him, I was pretty stoked. I half considered buying it as an e-version, partly because OH THE IRONY, but then my darling fawned her how pretty it is (and it really is very pretty, with rough-edged paper and all), so I bought the bard-back. Supporting small book shops for the win.
Tragically, I am disappointed.
I was trying to pin down exactly why the book didn’t work, and halfway through I realised: each paragraph felt like an extended dot point. Like he had all of these great ideas and fascinating points, mostly connected to paper, but… couldn’t quite nail the flow and structure. There are weird disjointed bits that entirely lack in connection, there are some fascinating bits about language and so on that aren’t clearly tied to paper, and… well. Disappointed.
I appreciated his discussion of the technological fallacy: that tech happens and then society follows. Rather, he argues, society creates a demand and THEN technology follows, playing catch up: why else is so much money spent on market research? So I liked that bit. However, as someone has pointed out to me, Kurlansky is entirely too linear in his perspective on the relationship between change and society. Civilisation just isn’t like that.
More serious than the lack of sequencing, though, were a few points where he was just… kinda wrong. For instance: he suggests that some people credit Ada Lovelace with inventing computers, and then reveals that actually she was inspired by Charles Babbage. And, uh, no. She invented the first computer language, and it’s no secret she worked with Babbage! … so this makes me a little concerned when he’s discussing those bits of history that I don’t actually have knowledge of. Because… can I trust him?
I gave it a four over on Goodreads because the ideas and the history really are fascinating, but the book itself as a piece of text ought to get a three.
As I mentioned in my post about the book Queen of the Desert, a biography of Gertrude Bell, I finally got around to reading the book after seeing the biopic directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman. I didn’t mind the film; my mother, having read the book, didn’t love it but didn’t hate it; having read the book I am increasingly annoyed by the film.
The good things: Continue reading →
If the 1997 (?) adaptation of Ivanhoe is accurate, then I know a few things about Walter Scott:
1. He didn’t like the Templars.
2. He didn’t much like most of his characters.
3. He was a vicious old bugger who liked inflicting, or at least imagining, pain on other people.
I really enjoyed the portrayal of John. Young, childish, scared, weak – with a streak of ruthless cruelty. The scene with Richard, John and Eleanor is hilarious, with her treating her sons like children and ordering them around… just a pity that it was so ahistorical, since Richard was her favourite and she would have had problems with Richard spending little time in England in favour of Aquitaine, as he did. Which brings in the other ahistorical bit, with Richard and John both being abe to communicate with the Saxons very easily… unlikely, since neither of them spoke English, and I doubt that many of the Saxons – the peasants, anyway – spoke Norman. But, tut; so many people make these assumptions.
I really enjoyed Blois Guibert’s character – he was so very bad, and then to twist his heart in such a way as to make him fall for Rebecca was a terrible, tragic thing. And Christopher Lee as the Grand Master – superb!
I bought a second-hand copy of the book a while ago… not sure I can read it any time soon, now.