Entries Tagged 'News and Updates' ↓

A little update, one year later

Anglofilmia has been on hiatus for a while, mostly due to work, but I’m going to start posting again shortly. Over the past year, we’ve been watching a few of the films on the Timeline, and are now into the 800s, with the invasion of the Vikings. There’s a lot of work to be done to catch up, but I’ve been compiling links, photographs and book recommendations all the while. Stay tuned!

On learning the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom

We’ve been watching a lot of Father Ted lately, and I was delighted to find that Craggy Island has its own Wikipedia page, which describes such “Places of note” as “The Field: While not actually a field, the area has fewer rocks in it than most other places on the island.”

The “real” Craggy Island, the one in the helicopter shots shown in the opening sequence, is Inisheer, the little one on the right.

The whole thing is tucked away in the Galway Bay:

That got me to thinking about the most outlying points of the British Isles, and sure enough, there’s a wikipedia page for that too. Did you know that the first person to visit each of the most outlying points of Scotland is also the only person to do so? He did that in 2007. He’s also the only person to sleep on all of them, a feat accomplished in 2009.

There’s also a list of the most extreme points of the United Kingdom. But when I was looking it over, I became confused. The points of the United Kingdom are listed…but so are points for Great Britain, and they’re different. And what are Crown dependencies?

Luckily Jey came to my rescue, sharing with me this video which was apparently making the rounds not too long ago. It explains in a very clear and concise manner the difference between Great Britain, the United Kingdom, the Crown and a whole mess of other titles of ownership I had no idea even existed. Enjoy!

The Anglofilmia process

I realized I haven’t written much about exactly how we’re going about this process beyond what’s on the timeline, so while we’re between films I thought I’d devote some blog space to discussing it.

What’s taking so long?
Most of the films we’re chosen are on the timeline because they’re great works of art, or tell a fascinating story. Others are there because they’re the only available option. This makes for some slow movie watching periods, because it’s hard to make time to sit and watch something we know we probably won’t enjoy all that much.

Where are you on the timeline now?
We’re currently eight films ahead of the blog, meaning we’ve just watched the film about St. Patrick, while I’ve only written up to Alexander (a gap of about 800 years). This is mostly because we’ve been settling into our new house, and I’m going to make an effort to catch up on writing before we get too much further along.

Where do you find copies of all the films?
Some of the movies we’ve chosen for the timeline are rare, from a small release, or aired on television many years ago, and frankly lots are nearly impossible to find. Our sources are, in descending order: Netflix discs and Netflix Instant (the American equivalent of Lovefilm), DVDs rented from the library, series posted to YouTube or other video-sharing sites, and torrents.

It’s frustrating when we can’t find copies of something (I wrote a bit about that here and so far that list includes the animated Y Mabinogi, Vercingétorix, the 1978 BBC series “Living in the Past” and a TV version of St. Patrick’s story narrated by Liam Neeson)…but most of the time it’s a fun little treasure hunt.

Do you watch everything in order/what do you do when a new film is released?
We watch everything in order, with some backtracking allowed where necessary (for example, we are waiting for the DVD release of The Eagle).

There have been some fantastic films about British history released recently, including Bright Star, The Young Victoria and The King’s Speech. We have watched none of them. (If you know about my passion for Romantic and Victorian literature, you’ll understand the level of my commitment to this project.)

Is the timeline complete?
I created the timeline with a lot of online research, but as we begin a new period I have another look and try to add things I missed the first time around. The History of Britain series by Simon Schama is one of the things I discovered after we’d finished with pre-history, but it’s proven very useful as a primer on the Saxons and Normans, and that’s only the first episode.

Also, I’m wondering if I should create a timeline with the films intermixed with significant events or artifacts like the Lindow Man. Thoughts?

How has it been so far?
We both agree that even though we are only just now getting into post-Roman Britain (with a side journey into Europe, for context) we’ve already learned a massive amount about Britain’s history. Britain is wonderful in that many of the artifacts of even these earliest periods still exist, from henges to the Roman roads and beyond.

Any other questions about how the project is run? Post a comment below.

New trailer: The Eagle

Very excited for this contemporary adaptation of Eagle of the Ninth, with Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell (who’s now turned into the adult Billy Elliot you see at the end of that film), and Donald Sutherland. It looks compelling, and the battles seem realistic but not too over the top.

And, I didn’t realize it was being released so soon. When I first heard about it (last year), 2011 seemed so far away… Guess I’d better get on with the book before the film arrives.

If you can’t see the embedded trailer below, visit the site to watch.

2010: Officially the Worst Year for UK Travel, Ever

Every time British people try to go on holiday, the very earth rises up to stop them. This summer it was an Icelandic volcano; this winter it was massive amounts of snow pouring out of the sky. It’s all well and good to be dreaming of a white Christmas, but when it’s preventing you from getting on your plane home and there are 50 people in line ahead of you and they’re all crying, you tend to re-prioritize.

We’d been planning to go to England for the holidays for about six months, to surprise Jey’s parents. This meant six months of rigamarole as all the siblings concocted elaborate ruses about where they’d be, how to get presents to where, and so on. So by the time we’d forcibly fit all of our wrapped gifts into a single suitcase, we were already tired.

Little did we know that a stopover in Dallas to see my parents would turn into a much longer ordeal, and we would yearn for the relative relaxation of battling Christmas crowds full of children flying tiny wireless helicopters.

A map detailing every leg of our journey; click to view at a larger size

Continue reading →

A new entry to the timeline

Hooray! Colin Firth’s latest film is out now and it’s a perfect addition to the Anglofilmia timeline.

“After the death of his father King George V (Michael Gambon) and the scandalous abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) who has suffered from a debilitating speech impediment all his life, is suddenly crowned King George VI of England.

With his country on the brink of war and in desperate need of a leader, his wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), the future Queen Mother, arranges for her husband to see an eccentric speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). After a rough start, the two delve into an unorthodox course of treatment and eventually form an unbreakable bond.

With the support of Logue, his family, his government and Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall), the King will overcome his stammer and deliver a radio-address that inspires his people and unites them in battle. Based on the true story of King George VI, THE KING’S SPEECH follows the Royal Monarch’s quest to find his voice.”

With this cast, it’s bound for success. It’s currently at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and there’s already whispers of Oscar nominations.

On the road again

Well, we’ve successfully moved about 2,000 miles to our new home, and I’m happy to say that means we can actually spend time watching movies (and writing about them) again.

In terms of watching, we’re just about to close out the “Roman Britain” period and enter into “Sub-Roman Britain (Saxons and Normans)”, which is a period that yielded plenty of fascinating stories. Since the film version of “Eagle of the Ninth” isn’t coming out until 2011, I’m reading the 1954 book to fill in some of the gaps between 117 AD, Gladiator (192 AD) and the story of St. Patrick (440s).

And finally, it’s a sad fact that this early in the timeline, relevant movies are sparse, and it’s always a bit painful to have to skip over something when we can’t get ahold of a copy. So I’m also quite pleased to have located a copy of the last film in the Sub-Roman segment, a 1976 BBC teleplay called “Penda’s Fen”.

Like many stories that deal with Britain’s mythological history, it blends contemporary and historical elements, the latter of which qualifies it to represent the 650s AD. If we’d had to skip, it would have been a jump from the 440s to the 800s with nothing in between, which I’m sure we can all agree would have been tragic indeed.

A new book about Cleopatra

(Skipping ahead a little chronologically and moving over a few countries…)

Today I heard a great interview on the radio today with the author of a new biography about Cleopatra that goes back to original sources.

Listen to the story here (if you’re in the US — not sure if it works in the UK). Just in case, I have uploaded the mp3 file here. Usually NPR will post interview transcripts within a few days, so keep an eye on it.

There is also an excerpt available here.

If the name is indelible, the image is blurry. Cleopatra may be one of the most recognizable figures in history but we have little idea of what she actually looked like. Only her coin portraits — issued in her lifetime, and which she likely approved — can be accepted as authentic. We remember her too for the wrong reasons. A capable, clear-eyed sovereign, she knew how to build a fleet, suppress an insurrection, control a currency, alleviate a famine. An eminent Roman general vouched for her grasp of military affairs. Even at a time when women rulers were no rarity she stood out, the sole female of the ancient world to rule alone and to play a role in Western affairs. She was incomparably richer than anyone else in the Mediterranean. And she enjoyed greater prestige than any other woman of her age, as an excitable rival king was reminded when he called, during her stay at his court, for her assassination. (In light of her stature, it could not be done.) Cleopatra descended from a long line of murderers and faithfully upheld the family tradition but was, for her time and place, remarkably well behaved. She nonetheless survives as a wanton temptress, not the last time a genuinely powerful woman has been transmuted into a shamelessly seductive one.

Fascinating, right? Based on the interview and the excerpt, I’m definitely going to buy this book. And you can too, right here at Amazon US or Amazon UK!

How do you spot a Neanderthal on the bus?

According to Stephen Fry’s QI, you might not!

Dog days of summer

It’s been a long working summer here at Anglofilmia HQ, and our movie-watching has slowed down accordingly. (Though the lapse may also be attributed to the intimidating 3.5 hour running time of our next film, Ben Hur.)

There has been some relevant media-related news trickling through, however.

The film version of Never Let Me Go is due out September 15, although it won’t go into wide release in the UK until January. (Why are they making movies of all the books that have made me cry? I’ve just seen the trailer for Norwegian Wood and I’m not sure my tear ducts are up to it.)

October will see Nowhere Boy, about John Lennon’s youth (also with that super-cute sloe-eyed little boy from Love, Actually as Paul McCartney).

And though it’s a long way off (August 2011), I’m very excited to read that Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock is getting a well-deserved second series.