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Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961)
Stone Age Atlantis as a Movie
This is the best Movie I could find on the Atlantis radiation theme, despite my utter disappointment and dismay - cf., "Atlantis, the Lost Continent" (1961); directed by George Pal. Now I am an old dog and shouldn't allow such mis-classification about a genre that provides lush opportunities for at least 20 movies to be made with box-office success. The problem is, as I see it, perhaps lack of good scenarios and even if they exist to be devoid of inner consistency because they interpret the Atlantic myth as Bronze Age culture, which is not! Plato said with absolute conviction in the dialogue "Critias" (left unfinished) that the story developed 9000 years before his lifetime - a war took place between those outside the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar and those who dwelt within them. Then he gives description of the Athenian civilization, where the Parthenon and other temple structures are not yet built; Athenians are at agriculturalist level of development.
The Atlantis island is bequeathed to Hellenic god Poseidon, who fell in love with Cleito, the daughter of autochthones Evenor and Leucippe, which bear him five pairs of male twins. The eldest of these, Atlas, was made rightful king of the entire island and the ocean was called the Atlantic Ocean in his honor. Atlas's twin Gadeirus was given the extremity of the island towards the pillars of Hercules, and the other four pairs of twins Ampheres and Evaemon, Mneseus and Autochthon, Elasippus and Mestor, and Azaes and Diaprepes were also given "rule over many men, and a large territory." Those are the Kings of Atlantis. Then he describes the Royal Palace enclosed within three circular moats of increasing width, varying from one to three stadia and separated by rings of land proportional in size ... There is consistent effort in modern interpreters to make here an allusion with Crete-Mycenae structures and archaeology, while in my opinion the issue lies in much older mores and races.
Consider the book from Lewis Spence, "History of Atlantis" (1927) - a hilarious piece of writing, would admonish someone, printed for enjoyment by an Occultist and Mythology expert. It is my favorite choice if I have to work on a scenario for Atlantis film. Unfortunately, the contents are not available on-line but I should avail myself to retell it briefly.
Atlanteans are from the races of, so called, "Paleolithic Greeks" - Azilian and Aurignacian cultures (those are Cro-Magnon men living c. 10 000 B.C. and before, which had displaced Neanderthals and other ugly head savages from preceding eras). The Cro-Magnons are invaders of Europe from the Atlantic, that is to say, through land-bridges that are remnants of a sunken continent (relationship with Guanches of the Canary Islands). In their new territories of Pyrenees and Dordogne (South-West Europe) traces from their former culture exist in the Basque Language, exclusive Cave Art and fine implements from Wood, Flint and Horn. They have developed a symbolic system of notation (not alphabetic) with strokes, circles, crosses, zig-zags and ladder-like patterns. They build stone abodes for spiritual purposes. The Cro-Magnons were forerunners of modern Neolithic men. Many facts and artifacts about their culture remain uncertain. Enjoy Your Time!
Holy Grail for the Adults
"Excalibur" (1981) appears to be the most prized Movie coming from the so called King Arthur Films List. This is easy to establish if you do some research in Wikipedia. Next to nothing emerge when you try to make a selection out of those 50 something movies that refer to the subject at hand. I don't mean to embellish anyone, but it seems hard and cumbersome task to have watched all those titles for a rather long historical period - the Dark Ages if we mean precisely for Historians and the 20th century cinema if we mean film critics. It's important. Beside the fact that "King Arthur" has become a household name and has been studied by little kids from 1sr grade, the name of that dynast or monarch has insignificant connotation in the mind of adults. Adults are occupied with the job of bread-winning and don't necessarily have to know who the Hero is, where he lived and die, or when. This is obsolete because even if you wish, there are sparse chances to find all answers in a nutshell.
I spent whole afternoon reading about King Arthur. I have a large library and possess half-a-dozen books strictly on the topic. That doesn't mean that I am an expert on Arthurian Romances. The theme of British Mythology is very complicated. With respect to the fact that English is the most widely read language today worldwide, that Internet offers most of its information in English language, and that most of WWW servers are based on formerly British territories - what else do you want. Thus I reconcile with myself because I think, at least to the nominal, that I belong to the classical heritage of the Greek-Roman World. Those were the pillars that made the foundation of Europe, its Empires and Republics, and then straight to the Americas. This was the world of Christianity and King Arthur was its First Christian Hero, mythical or not. But let the archaeology speak about it.
Joseph of Arimathea is key figure here. He participated in the burial of Jesus and gathered his blood on crucifixion in a chalice (Holy Grail). Joseph was tin trader and had ships trading with British Isles. Jesus had accompanied him as a boy in one of his travels and built a small chapel on Glastonbury Hill (Somerset). In his later life, Joseph of Arimathea returned to Glastonbury as disciple of St. Philip (63 A.D.) and stayed there till end of life, keeper of the Holy Grail. Other stories may tell otherwise, but King Arthur was the first ruler to have initiated Quest for the Holy Grail. Most notoriously about King Arthur wrote Geoffrey of Monmouth (1150) and Thomas Malory (1460) in their semi-romantic (Romanesque) histories - cf., Camelot Castle, Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur Sword, etc. are mainly their fabrication. Other nations in their Medieval Literature and Romances pretend to be localization of Holy Grail Keeper (France, Germany, Scotland, etc.) but essentially King Arthur is Welsh and Cymru Cymraeg.
I wish to finish with few words on John Boorman, producer of "Excalibur" (1981). Very extravagant film magnate with special touch in every Movie he made. Specially creative is in the period 1967-1987, when produced films like "Point Blank" (1967), "Hell in the Pacific" (1968), "Deliverance" (1972) - his best movie, "Zardoz" (1974), "Emerald Forest" (1985). Thank you!
The Defiant Ones (1958)
African Americans in American Culture
Before anything else I wish to stipulate here, that this writing is non-partisan one and has nothing to do with any form of racism, communism or whatsoever deviant behavior - cf., "Defiant Ones" (1958) and also less prominent remake with Carl Weathers and Robert Urich in 1986. If Stanley Kramer dared to produce this movie in 1958 and Tony Curtis (White Male Caucasian) participate in principal leading role, subsequently I don't see reason to swell 60 years later when about half of Hollywood actors are colored and Film Industry in the making depend on this people. The reason I took this small undertaking is to try (if possible) to dispel the myth of African American Culture, its boundaries and genesis, and its role in interpreting current history of USA and all English speaking people on this planet Earth. It's a fair coin, I think both Blacks and Whites should understand me.
"The Defiant Ones" (1958), gave Sidney Poitier his first Academy Award nomination as Best Actor. Five years later, he won the Oscar for "Lilies of the Field" (1963), the first African American to win for a leading role. His roles in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967) and "To Sir, with Love" (1967) were for their time landmarks in the breaking down of social barriers between African Americans and Whites.
I took the paragraph above as citation from IMDb. Certainly its a good place here to mention some other Black American film stars that I have remembered vividly in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - Harry Belafonte, Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Yaphet Kotto, James Earl Jones, Richard Pryor (died of dementia in 2005), Eddie Murphy, etc. Those were people that single-handedly could perform and produce a good Movie for the Big Audience. There are other names that I have missed maybe, but as a rule good Films in those times were the ones that were remembered. In the 1990s already African Americans in Hollywood Films became a cliché, there were so many nominations and deserved medleys that I am not in position right now to make an appreciation.
I will go further a little bit. I am a self-conscious citizen and read all kind of literature (on equal opportunity). I have books in my library on Black Racism and White Racism, the way it started in the American Southwest from the years of 1860 and on. Mass Organizations such as Ku Klux Clan appeared as reaction on the loosing Confederate side. As counter reaction the free Black Americans left their cluster Southern States and migrated internally East and West all over USA. They started to study Culturally and Physically in High Schools and Universities. They interbreed freely in marriages with Whites and casted a singular alloy of racial unity - namely, Mulattos (if you can distinguish them physically) are as good as Blond or Brunette Whites. So what's the case here? Why are we still reading pieces of literature like "We Charge Genocide" (1951) by Civil Rights Congress on pages of Wikipaedia. It's high time for reconciliation ...
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Ian Fleming Wrote Books for Children ...
I dedicate this piece of writing to Ian Fleming (1908-1964), the ingenious creator of 007 James Bond and also to all those defectors from the East that made the world beautiful today - cf., "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968). Since I don't want to miss an opportunity with each of 23 individual Movies from the Bond's series, I decided to place my reference for Ian Fleming in the paragraph with his less popular hero Caractacus Potts and his flying automobile. So putting it bluntly "Hollywood can no longer make movies like that because they no longer know how ... (cited from another reviewer). True or false, Movies for Children with fantastic element in it hadn't been so many in circulation for the mentioned period in the 1960s and 1970s (when I was a growing kid) - here I could point out "Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm" (1962), "Mary Poppins" (1964), "Doctor Dolittle" (1967), "Pippi Longstocking" (1969) with sequels, and maybe some other that I don't remember.
Opinion research on Ian Fleming and his hero James Bond is something else. Fleming, who worked for Reuters as journalist, was recruited by British Foreign Service to do some coverage for espionage trials - particularly, when after 1947 it became highly popular for government officials from the Eastern Bloc to desert West with some classified information. In the country where I live, Bulgaria, "show trials" were made for Traicho Kostov and Nikola Petkov both sentenced to death. This was the beginning of Cold War, per se. Leakage happened from West-to-East also, when Rosenberg family divulged secret for A-bomb to the Russians. The World was never going to be same as before. Conventional war started and Combat battle on front-line was history. Can you believe this, some 3000 years after the Trojan War!
Now get on grounds and pay tribute to Ian Fleming, the Colossus of espionage novel. He didn't have pretensions to have invented sullenly his hero James Bond. In fact, the 14 novels that were written for Agent 007 (i.e., "license to kill in the line of duty") took Fleming only 10 years and ruined respectively his health. He was heavy drinker and smoker; he died age 56. That was not bad age to die after making millions and also the phenomenon "compression of mortality" was not yet known.
I want to complement at end few words on the prototype Spy that Fleming used for his novels. Firstly comes Sidney Reilly (1873-1925) - viz., a notorious adventurer (born as Solomon Rosenblum) in tsarist Russia, who worked for London at least 20 years before executed by the Bolsheviks. The second prototype Spy whom I didn't see mentioned is Oleg Penkovsky (1919-1963). Fleming shouldn't have missed his dossier if he was involved with Foreign Service coverage. Oleg Penkovsky, a colonel with Soviet Military Intelligence, defected to London in the 1950s. He and his contact person Greville Wynne (from MI5) were caught in 1963 and put to trial, where Penkovsky was sentenced to death and Greville Wynne to 8 years in prison (as foreign subject, he was released in 1965 for exchange to another double agent Sgt. Jack Dunlap, an American who spied for U.S.S.R.) Whatever, it is evident from "Penkovskiy Papers: The Russian Who Spied for the West, New York, 1966" that he leaked top secret for at least 5 years before dying. So, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy could be traced directly to this defective line. Thank you!
San Giovanni - L'apocalisse (2002)
Biblical Revelation, Fact or Fiction ...
I write this commentary with standard copy of the Holy Bible by my side not because I distrust the Movie which has many Bible Advisors in making, but for sake of corroboration which is essence of life today - cf., "The Apocalypsis Revelation" (2002). I am an end-user myself, neither working for the Cinema Business nor for some Church Society. My experience by now show me that religion in 21st century shall continue to play important role both as a Statecraft and Community-Family institutional matter.
Watching this movie I disbelieve many of the things presented as such pertaining to 1st century A.D. when Christianity was thriving to establish itself as a Cult vs. Emperor Domitian being a God. Times were sore for the Gentiles in those days and the visions of St. John (last of Jesus Christ's Apostles) were reflecting their inanimate fight for survival. John fled from the penal colony of Patmos (island in the Aegean) and went to Ephesus where he wrote the last chapter of the Bible before dying in 90 A.D. Christianity didn't perish, the Bible became most read book for all times and we Christians should read it from time-to-time although not necessarily believing in every word of it. Moreover, new communities of converts in Christianity are appearing as of modern times which should be encouraged to believe in God as common parlance. Otherwise Morality is gone, we should resolve to War.
Richard Harris (1930-2002) in his last role deserves commemoration. I always wanted to say few words about him and a handful of other British actors that made Film Industry in the 20th century something big. They were Gods for our young generation and now when we in turn are becoming old, it's relevant to pay humble tribute. I liked every movie of that Actor, not standing lower than Marlon Brando for any particular reason. Strongest are his appearances in the 1970s and 1980s when crack movies manifested, such as "Man Called Horse" (1970), "Man in the Wilderness" (1971), "99 and 44/100% Dead" (1974), "Cassandra Crossing" (1976), "Orca" (1977), "Wild Geese" (1978), etc. Particularly striking is the last scene from "Wild Geese" when wounded Harris couldn't overcome the pursuing enemy and cries to Richard Burton in taxiing plane - "Shoot me damn it, I'm ill!" Still haven't watched all the Movies from Harris' collection yet.
Finally, I have prepared some notes on the Apocalypse (Revelation to John) as given in the Bible and want to share them with the reading list. Albeit, the Movie interpretation is abridged, nevertheless, remains the fullest record of events narrated in this vision. I checked also works of Art (frescoes, icons, paintings) that have endeavored to present fragments from Biblical Revelation. Those are numerous items under the title "Antiquities" whose owners or galleries don't even know what is the story about. Now shameful as it is, we shouldn't hallucinate as the Elder St. John. I would recommend to anyone interested in reading to consult the Encyclopedia of Biblical Scriptures (from Jehovah Witnesses). Best presentation. Amen!
Not Like Grimms' Fairy Tales
I am afraid there isn't very much to say on this particular movie in terms of critical acclaim. "Ladyhawke" (1985) fills a gap in my memory as possession (VHS cassette) that I highly valued because this was beautiful movie even for the criteria of long gone 1980s. Yes, the cast was marvelous - Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick performed at the prime of their artistic potential. Their films from the 80s remain classic in the History of Hollywood Cinema (every which one of them, I wouldn't enumerate them). Yes, Richard "Lethalweapon" Donner remains iconic figure in Hollywood film making. Yes, music score from Alan Parsons was excellent electronic achievement. In that way of thinking it is not strange that there is little philosophy here to add and send it on a mail list.
But something that was bugging me lately (that is, not only for this Movie but numerous others) comprise the lack of validity for the screenplay. Scenario doesn't come just as a story devoid of time and place. Unfortunately, this is how many of contemporary movies are being shot - you have got yourself a fantastic script; director of photography gets filming locations that fulfill the criteria of the budget and visionary from the side of producers; finally the film director stitches all that notches in coherent tale. Is that all really or there is something else. What about the Turkish reading of the whole responsible staff? I doubt whether even a dozen people concerning about working title should ever worry about this. After all they work with ready recipes and don't re-tell Grimms' Fairy Tales. This is where I want to put my emphasis.
Now everybody knows who Grimm Brothers are or at least have heard about their stories for children c. 1812. Everything else in order, "Ladyhawke" (1985) comes as a fairy tale exactly from this imaginary domain (but not exclusively mentioned in the screenplay). For instance, another similar (Gothic) movie produced at about the same time and place furnishes much more details on the underlying historical period - cf., "The Name of the Rose" (1986) based on Umberto Eco's novel. All that said, it remains the much more simplified task to try to decode the whereabouts of "Ladyhawke".
I did some Turkish (uninitiated) reading on Europe's Medieval History. Particularly interesting key-point with regard to the tract of land in Northern Italy where our story is supposed to evolve proved to be Lotharingia - firstly a Kingdom in Charlemagne's Empire, then abolished by Neurasia (today France) and Austrasia (today Germany) to an extent that it remained only as a Duchy of Lotharingia in Otto the Great Empire (First Reich). Today this territory corresponds to an extended Netherlands (plus Cologne municipality with Aachen where originally Charlemagne resided and was crowned by the Pope). Those are history facts that any European should know if we consider some common future on this continent. Then we should arrive at the direct consequences of two World Wars in 20th century which are banal enough to reiterate here.
I want to finish my commentary with some scattered notes that I collected during my Turkish reading. These European territories which lie in North-West corner (sic!) of the continental plate were once upon a time covered with thick forests. Not joking neither telling Grimms' Fairy Tales. There were only Kings, Bishops, Knights, Ladies and Sorcerers. Nothing essentially from Church or Economy systems that we perceive now-a-days existed straightforward. Everything from material and cultural heritage is many times restored to hide the traces of obliteration. See the Romanesque Cathedral at end of "Ladyhawke" where final combat with the Evil Bishop partakes. Judge Yourself!
Blade Runner (1982)
Replicants Don't Dream ...
I originally intended to compile a selective list on the android (humanoid) theme as represented in Hollywood film industry. But afterwards reconsidered my thinking and decided to put emphasis on the leading 3 titles as I pre-conceive it. So 1st place goes to "Blade Runner" (1982) - a science fiction movie, which credits belong fore mostly to author Philip K. Dick and his successful bargain to sell copyright of his novel "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" upon which the film was subsequently based. Unfortunately, Dick died prematurely from heart attack at age 53 shortly before Film Premiere. "Blade Runner" is still a Rotten Tomato movie, which means that with score 8.5 out of 10 it remains highly unappreciated by public awareness. This is very strange and pity at the same time, since 30 years have passed and the Movie can't deliver its message which ostensibly purports the idea of World populated by Androids. Today the meaning of "android" is hollow and means some gimmicks or trinkets for everyday use, while the original conception came as semi-organic yet artificial creation. This is at least what lies on the surface etymologically.
My 2nd and 3rd choice are with Isaac Asimov's short stories on Robots. Here comes "Bicentennial Man" (1999) and "I, Robot" (2004) but maybe also some other less popular titles that I don't know or remember. The strength here comes from the fact that those are full length movies with typology Human Characters played by androids (robots). I stress here on the "noxious" implication of humanoids that exempt human life and became its substitutes or alter ego. This is fruitful area of thinking but needs more time for assimilation. For instance, how should be solved the problem for aging given that morbidity doesn't pose threats any longer. How do we embrace the idea of longevity and yet look shrunken, behave numbed. It seems that it's not only a matter of empathy but we have to peg it with self-centeredness as well. Things like that.
Let me see whether I can coin an instant story for this Movie. I owned a perfect VHS copy of "Blade Runner" in the 1980s with the image of apple tree from the Ladd Company. In the 1990s I throw all my VHS cassettes in the garbage bin because there was already satellite TV, PC for mass communication and rudiments of Network; so I worked a lot on sideway activities and did some traveling worldwide. In the 2000s there was slowly this Internet phenomenon that was gaining speed and also the family unification syndrome (as if people haven't seen and know each other for decades); I became strangled in mass hysteria and started to experience globalization on my own ass in the form of arrows and various phantom pains. Everything got screwed since, even my DVD copy of "Blade Runner" didn't look lucrative enough to watch multiple times. Maybe because of that awesome letter-box format that I don't understand to the extent why digital technicians produce it at all. Lastly, a Blu Ray version of the Movie exist from 2010s with over three hours of additional materials that I haven't seen or reviewed personally.
So I will continue my Poor Richard Almanac with some scattered notes. The thing that mostly attracted me in "Blade Runner" when I saw it in 1980s was its perfect Cast. All of them actors that participated in principal roles from the Movie were young, beautiful, daring and enterprising. Today, they are in their 50s and 60s which lump them in category "third age". They are not exactly retired but their performance lack the vigor and dynamism from 30 years ago. That's what the meaning to be an Android - to stay forever in your prime (if you are not bored of it some day).
Brian James in the role of Leon Kowalski was the worst choice for an Android. Except his excellent physique, the dramatic appearance of that Actor is very shallow. But Brian James did many secondary roles in films that I like very much. Something like Anthony Quinn less the international awards. He died in 1999, aged 54.
Ridley Scott is a superb Director. "Blade Runner" was his third successful movie after "Duelists" (1977) and "Alien" (1979). I don't understand what makes him think that the personage of Rick Deckard the Bladerunner (Harrison Ford) was a replicant. Deckard was dreaming and this sole attribute is enough to classify him as Human. Replicants don't dream, they have implanted memories in their mind. Thank You!
King Kong (1933)
Edgar Wallace and King Kong Revisited
One of the most popular symbols of Hollywood Cinema and in fact some of its definitive moments is the "Giant-Ape-on-Empire-States-Building" formula. It gave to the spectators three well accomplished versions of "King Kong" merchandise - subsequently, in 1933, 1976 and 2005. It brought millions of dollars to known and unknown producers, film distributors, VHS, DVD, Blu Ray, etc. vendors and retailers. However, one thing has been largely forgotten and this is how the idea of King Kong emerged in the entertainment business? Who was Edgar Wallace (1875-1932) and how does it happen that he died in the pre-production period of "King Kong" (1933). Do you really think that such a Movie would have existed without the brilliant mind of Man like Edgar Wallace - larger than life phenomenon whose motto was "Money not spent are Money not worth earning". So I want to communicate here few words about this enthusiastic if rather childish personality.
Here we live in 21st century where everybody is bugging something. At the moment I am writing this piece there is an idiot upstairs who is banging on the walls of the apartment just like King Kong did in the movie. He is a schizophrenic and lives in confinement there-in while no one from Community Authorities to Police Force take care because his parents are influential people and are feeding their demented son out of institutional care but are ashamed to admit it. If we, people from 21st century, are not feeling guilty for nothing just because "Atomic War" and "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD) is "guarantied-not-to-happen" then how do we expect to understand events and phenomenon some 100 years ago. My writing is supportive of such tone not because I am an abandoned child like Edgar Wallace who skyrocketed to world fame just out of trickle. I am on the contrary very angry because things around us now-a-days don't have face value and they are precarious and monkeying like King Kong in New Yorlk. Let me go to the beef now.
I read the article on Edgar Wallace in Wikipaedia and see that it has been a stub. I don't know who are the editors of this on-line encyclopedia but obviously they are working on royalty basis and are not interested to expose the truth and only the truth. Therefore, the material at hand lacks shrewdness and astuteness the way as it should be, since it is obvious that it has used the only workable source on the issue - i.e., Margaret Lane's "Edgar Wallace, The Biography of a Phenomenon" published firstly 1938. I happen to own this rare book and see that all other references are contained within it, save a recent bio-bibliography of the titular. Another valuable source on Edgar Wallace is "Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection", edited by C. Steinbrunner and O. Penzler, 1st edition (1976), where you can read anything about his numerous plays, films, books and serials. Consequently, one can see that sometime Edgar Wallace was more famous and more important than Conan Doyle (true or false, the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes was outstripped on narrow margin in the 1920s and 1930s). And if by chance the Anglo-American reader doesn't know - Edgar Wallace, an Englishman, was the first "theoretical" thriller writer who originally draw the plot of a book (provisionally!) and then dictated the story with conversations to the secretary. Very able scheme that allowed him to pace at incredible speed with as little rubbish as possible; truly, he wrote and re-wrote most of his 170 books and scenarios for 10 years in the 1920s. This is a remarkable achievement considering the fact that he was also engaged in variety of other social activities like raising four children, gambling with horse racing (also, owning a personal stall), extravagantly changing several cars and houses, twice being married and divorced (nothing true about his homosexuality), etc, etc.
My memories on Edgar Wallace come from a post-totalitarian country in Eastern Europe. The more time has passed in those democratic transition years and the more stupid things have happened in my life. If I had stayed as dissident abroad, maybe, people like me who used to be the cream of Eastern Bloc would have been more useful in the West rather than brooding jobless in their home countries. Happily, I have some saved money to sustain me for my pittance. As I said, because I have too much leisure time I engage in contributing to various free Internet initiatives. Otherwise, I dreamed to become part of world scientific community but life have been drabbing me around just like Edgar Wallace. Poor Devil, he knew that he was unwell but still he went to Hollywood in 1932 to write the scenario for RKO Pictures. Read the book from Margaret Lane, its a marvel. Thank You!
P.S. On the outward you can't get an idea who really Edgar Wallace was. I guess no documentaries are left on him but only secondary sources. If you read, however, Margaret Lane's biography on Edgar Wallace and browse the photographic material there you can grasp the real personality - a towering individual and celebrity. I think Alfred Hitchcock imitated the titular in his physical appearance from 1950s and 1960s.
Der Schatz im Silbersee (1962)
German Romanticism on American Soil
Let me put this topic on a nationalistic setting - namely, that this movie, Treasure of Silver Lake or "Der Schatz im Silbersee" (1962) is strictly German movie and that it reflects a specific historical period of that country from 19th century, the literary Romanticism and struggle for Unification of the Masses. Karl May (1842-1912) as the protagonist writer of the adventure story came from a poor background and strive hard to make for a living his whole life. He was an enigmatic author for Germany, Adolf Hitler admitted he was overwhelmed by him as a boy and Albert Einstein was also great fan of his books. This is purely German phenomenon we have here of both exasperation and charm - viz, Karl May who used to tell his stories from first person had never visited America or the Orient or China before later years when he personally was devoted to Evangelism, whatsoever.
We shouldn't regard May's literature as trivial or in that case that already during his lifetime he has been copied or parodied. He is one of the great writers of adventure literature from the period before the World Wars, together with Mayne Reid and Emilio Salgari. Their Indians are not ethnological North Americans but simply savages prone to evangelization. Their White Male characters are prototypes of the Superman from the 20th century, always justified and invincible. In the case of American Wild West stories their heroes lack historical accuracy although many of the plots develop in mid-nineteen centuries, presumably before the American Civil War 1862-1865 and with no certain American Geography. So don't look for typical Western Film and try use your imagination. I will further explicate myself.
I have numerous historical books in my library on Modern American History but not a single volume about Indian Wars in literary perspective. I have some scattered materials on Zane Gray, Louis L'Amour, etc. but they are top-listing from 20th century and have numerous film adaptations. The fellows we are talking above are firstly coming from abroad (Germany, Ireland, Italy) and secondly, have historical sense that is indifferent to Anglo-American political issues. So they come and go as foreigners, more or less, the only common ground being Christianity of the advancing trappers or sometimes the eccentricity of a visiting European scholar. Women are always beautiful and stick to family values. I will speak by my memory since I have read those books long time ago and their plot is fuzzy in my mind, but Mayne Reid's books concern the period before American-Mexican War 1846-1848 where the titular was wounded in the thigh and returned to Ireland. After that he started to write books (from Ireland) about his past adventures and mostly dealing with Texas sharp-shooters; Mayne Reid doesn't speak about the defense of Alamo or General Santa Ana - which are subject to many American Films and stories. He did write about Tecumseh the Creek and Osceola the Seminole before they were defeated and sent to Indian Reservations. There were two films based on Reid's novels about those early Indian heroes that were produced by DEFA (formerly, the GDR Film Studio) with Serbian actor Gojko Mitic as principal star. The latter participated in the 1970s at some 20 Indian Films, all based on genuine book plots from Fenimore Cooper, Mayne Reid, Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich, etc.
I will skip the material on Emilio Salgari, but he deserve special attention for his Far West Trilogy (1908) dealing with Chief Red Cloud the Sioux, his wife Yalla and daughter Minehaha, being persecuted by American trapper and agent John T. that was scalped by the Sioux. The book was exemplary 1000 pages, with some historical events and personages like Chivington Massacre and General Custer among others traversing 30 years of time. No railroads existing, which started to appear in the Wild West circa 1860s.
Now let's go to Karl May. I will try to plot the geography of his novels and leave aside the timeline which is not very clear to me. By the time Old Shatterhand arrive in Santa Fe, the Great Plains are the last abode of Native Americans. Here still roam consolidated tribes of several ethnic groups (meaning, territory west of Mississippi River and no American States charted) - Kiowa, Cheyenne, Dakota, Sioux, Arapaho, Comanche and westernmost are Apache, Navajo; still further west are Shoshone and Ute). So looking back at a political map today, these are the states that join the American Union after the mentioned war with Mexico - firstly, Texas along the Rio Grande River; then New Mexico which is undivided and later its western part become Arizona. California become a state but at first is sparsely populated before the Gold Rush in 1870s. Between the Pacific Coast and the New Mexico territories to the North lies the state of Utah and then Nevada. Here principally develop the story in "Treasure of Silver Lake" with no big cattle towns and only wooden forts available. The concept of Cowboy or "cattle-herder" is non-existent yet.
Finally, few words about the actors staff. Lex Barker and Pierre Brice (Winnetou) are excellent in their performance in all 13 movies of the Karl May franchise. Herbert Low (the Colonel Villain) is the most popular actor in this movie. He was Austro-Hungarian by birth and performed in 113 credits for Anglo-American productions. Lom died 95 years old in 2012. Thank You!
La guerre du feu (1981)
Control of Fire and Human Evolution
I read the reviews about this Movie - "Quest for Fire" (1981) - and a set of similar films on the same Prehistoric theme. I shall enumerate in reverse order and since there are only a handful of them dealing with certain degree of historical accuracy on the Ice Ages, Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens proper: viz., watch also "10,000 BC" (2008), "Clan Of The Cave Bear" (1986), "Caveman" (1981) and "One Million Years BC" (1940, remake 1966). All those movies deal with life and adventures of Cavemen in real surroundings, using (hypothetical) artificially devised language and there is no thread of modern civilization involved, which is another lead plot where time is disposed and Lost Worlds discovered with strange Nature and extinct Animals. The most often exploited of those are the "revived Iceman" theme or the "Dinosaur" theme revisited. A solid earring for the unabashed spectator is the most often repeated misnomer - that Man and Dinosaurs never cohabited together, the latter were long time extinct before the Homo species appeared in evolution ladder. Whatever, let go to the principal idea that made me write those lines and these concern the Mother of all Entertainments on Prehistory, less documentaries and other scientific stuff - the Pif Gadget and its Rahan Series.
I am a good man and used to be a very inquisitive kid, at least for the standards of former Socialist Country. Today I have turned into a middleman, who is pursued by homeless dogs in the Streets and trekked by schizophrenics at Home. This dispatch have nothing to do with my political convictions and mishaps in personal life or work (Guess I don't sound convincing but will continue right on topic) As I said, Pif Gadget was a comic magazine that was in high circulation in France and less so in the United States. Maybe even Americans at my age haven't heard about these cartoons which originated shortly in post-war France, firstly about adventures of Pif the Dog and Hercule the Cat in an illustrated magazine called "Vaillant" which issued in big newspaper size. It also appeared on stands in Socialist countries because presumably was outlet from French Communist Party, whether its true or not I am not aware.
From 1969 it changed its name and numeration to "Pif Gadget" with a smaller size (double A4) which was wrapped in celluloid nylon plus a simple toy attached to the whole parcel. So this bundle was my favorite pastime as kid in the 1970s and although I didn't understand French the pictures in the comic strips spoke for themselves and I was fascinated. Special interest deserved the adventures of Rahan the Caveman, but also other heroes such as Doc Justice the Medicine Man, Teddy Ted the Cowboy, Loup Noir the Indian, Nasdine Hodja the Turk, Jeremie the Pirate Kid, etc. Specifically the Rahan case, first series appeared in 1970s where bi-monthly for some 7-8 years came about 150 issues with Rahan (black-and-white, "to be continued" format). Thus I gathered the magazine for years in a row before I decided that have become grown-up and sold them half price to the local Antiquary. The whole collection would have been priceless today but unfortunately its unattainable at low price.
Now let me return to the titular movie "Quest for Fire" (1981), based on sci-fi novel by J.H. Rosny (pseudonym of collaborative work by two brothers). Here the interested reader can get additional information from pages in Wikipedia. The more debatable problem, however, concerning Ice Age as a unity is "How control of fire became a turning point in human evolution?" Go to the adequate page in Wikipedia and you will learn important details on this enormous leap of humankind. Before fire ape-man was a carnivore and hardly bi-pedal. After that he became slowly more and more cultivated, get into shelter, get aware of sexual dimorphism, etc. The story of agriculture and first great civilizations come at much later stage, not earlier than 10 000 years ago. Thank you!