Friday, September 30, 2011

The Last Battle.

Every C.S. Lewis-fan will know that I in this moment have given myself an almost impossible task, and that you can find millions of entries on the subject. However, I spent a lot of time looking into wardrobes as I was a little girl, almost convinced I met Aslan, and to be quite honest, I don't think I ever stopped looking for him. Only now, I look into the metaphor that is the wardrobe and meet the metaphor that is Aslan. So in my view, I'm more than equipped to have an opinion or two on the matters of Narnia!

Clive Staples Lewis, or better known to his friends as Jack, was a writer born the 29th of November 1898. He died, at age 64, the 22nd of November 1963. The trained historian, or even just people interested in history, will note that the date of his death is somewhat epic...why? This was the day J.F.K was assassinated, and the coverage of his Lewis' death was not as important. However, he lives on through his books and stories. The books that will follow his name into eternity are The Chronicles of Narnia, an epic tale dealing with his relationship to Christianity.
One of his closest friends, another one of my favorites, was J.R.R Tolkien, and together they (and a few others which I could specify, although Wikipedia has the details...I think Tolkien's son Christopher and Lewis' brother were members.) formed a group discussing literature (both their own and already existing). They called themselves The Inklings.
They met frequently at a pub called The Eagle and The Child (or the bird and the baby), a pub which still exists, and also a pub where yours truly spent an entire day...writing! And I'll tell you, that place holds some of the magic presented in the books of the two masters, and I'm sure they really did inspired me as I sat, just where they used to sit, below their pictures...writing a story...about magic...

The Last Battle is from The Chronicles of Narnia, and this is the last of the seven books about the magic country.
Why do I start with this story and not at the beginning?
Oh, there are so many reasons.
For one, most of you know how the story begins... The first book that was written is called the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but if you have read the books, you'll know that this is the second story about Narnia. The first one is called The Magician's Nephew. Confused??? Don't be, buy them all as one large book, and they'll be printed in the correct reading order...or check with Wikipedia... But my point was that most of you know the beginning of the story, and some of you may even continue to watch as they kill book by book on film. I'm not very fair here. I do like the films, I like them very much,

but I think they took a few liberties (at least in the last two), and I can't say I'm a fan of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as they completely changed the story, even though it has Ben Barnes, but I really do like the films, in general...But the books are better!

But the one book I never expect they'll make into a film is this one, the story is simply too big. It has the Apocalypse, for crying out loud!

Now, maybe I should have shouted Spoiler alert there, for those of you who are completely in the dark at the moment. But as Lewis battled with the loss and then the retrieval of his faith in God, so does his characters. He wrote seven books, a strong link to the creation myth of the Genesis. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan gives his own life for a sinner, and death itself must give up...another strong link to Christianity, and Jesus in particular. Aslan frequently refers to his father, The Emperor across the sea, a link to the one God. And in The Last Battle, Aslan sais: "Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash I account as service done to me. I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. And unless thy desires had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek. "
I wanted to paraphrase, but I had the book just here. I looked it up, and Lewis said is so much better that what my summary would have been, so begging your pardon if this made for a long read...

So, to the book
The Last Battle is about King Tirian. He's the last king of Narnia.
Aslan has been seen in Narnia, but the Centaurs know for a fact that it can't be the real Aslan, the times are not peaceful and nor do they hold any signs of Aslan's coming. But the people of Narnia are blinded by the impostor, a donkey called Puzzle who is wearing a lions skin. He is demanding the population of Narnia to give him food and riches for him to grant them his presence. And weirdly enough they are only allowed to look at him from a distance. "Aslan" is killing dryads and nymphs, and selling the talking animals as slaves to Calormen. Could this really be the real Aslan? - the Narnians ask themselves, as their only conclusion is that he's not a tame lion and we better do what he says. They are only allowed to talk to Shift. He's the monkey governing the "operation".
King Tirian is captured and tied to a tree awaiting his execution. Here he pleads to the real Aslan, offering his own life for the safety of Narnia, and if he is unable to come himself, if he could send some of the children from the other world. When nothing helps, he cries out, as King of Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel, Emperor of the Lone Islands that he wishes to get in contact with the humans. He then manages something that no other Narnian has managed before him, he opens up a portal to our world, and around a table he counts seven individuals. They try to speak to him, in the name of Narnia, but Tirian is unable to answer. The vision fades away. But then Jill and Eustace find themselves in Narnia, literally next to the King. They untie him and escape.
Now everything becomes a race to the end, and the end is through the door of an old shed. This is where it becomes bigger on the inside. On the inside of the shed is paradise, Aslan and the Narnia within Narnia. And through this door they can see the destruction of Narnia, see how the stars falls from the sky, how the sun dies, how the ocean swallow the land, and how everything in the end just seize. All the talking animals, all the nymphs and dryads and really all that's magic, end up walking through the door, and are urged to go further up and further in, where they end up in the Aslan's land, or the land of the Emperor across the sea. And all of the people who loved Narnia, Polly, Digory, Peter, Edmund, Lucy, Eustace and Jill are really dead, and get to come to their version of heaven. It's all very sad, yet incredibly powerful.

I first encountered the marvels of Narnia when my parents read to me when I was a child, and I think I've read the books at least twenty times, cover to cover.
After a while a lovely series from the BBC entered our screens in Norway. At first it aired as a series between Christmas and New Year, and I remember sitting in the living room with my duvet wrapped around, snacking on tangerines and watching The Chronicles of Narnia.

My favorite fairytale on the time, anyway. Later I came to think that the story could be grander, it could have a vaster landscape, fiercer and more brutal battles and a better lion!

Did I ever get my wish?

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I just had to write about Thor, son of Odin. He is like my favorite Norse God, only like ever...
I mean, look at the man, he's drop dead gorgeous...

I might come off as a bit shallow, and quite a bit girly at the moment, but I assure you, I'm really not, at least not shallow! The fact that Kenneth Branagh directed this brilliant film based on the Marvel Comic is merely a coincidence, and a crown to top a lifelong fascination.

I cannot pinpoint exactly when it started, and having said that I actually just remembered, funny thing jugging your memory like this, it all comes back! 
Anyway, my mother was the conductor of a choir back when I was a little girl, and this choir was about to go on tour to Iceland. My mother had, at the time, just had my brother, so she was in no condition to go flying off to Iceland. But in her place, my father went along as the temp conductor, don't worry, he knows the craft as well. The choir is not really important, I'm sure they had an absolutely brilliant trip as Iceland is an exciting country, but what ended up being significant for me was a few comic books he brought home.   

It was the Valhalla series, drawn by Danish Peter Madsen. And I was lost, even though I couldn't understand a single word, as the copies my father brought home were in Icelandic, but I could easily understand the story. Later on we bought all the comics in the language I could understand, and they remained a favorite throughout my childhood and my teens. 
Then, a good few years later, me and my family went to Italy. Italy? Where is she going with this, you wonder? Hang in there, I have a plan... I finished my books rather early in the trip, and I must have complained, because suddenly I found myself with the first issues of X-men. My brother took pity on his sister and introduced me to an entirely different comic book universe, and was I ever lost...again... I completely fell in love with X-men, their fabulous battles, their noble courage, their characteristic characters... 
I obviously knew about Superman and Batman at the time, but this ended up being my meeting with the battle between Marvel and DC, and I knew which one I preferred from that day on... Ask me when I'm on the movies to watch the new Batman with Christian Bale or the coming Man of Steel with Russell Crowe as Jor-El, I might have forgotten all about my preference to Marvel... But the general idea is Marvel rocks, come on, they gave us



Captain America

And... Thor!

Any reason, I wonder, why I chose to show you a comic book picture of Thor and not the lovely Chris Hemsworth??? 

Ah, there he was... and the brilliant Tom Hiddleston as Loki! 
This is only a neat way of drawing attention to my favorite comic of all times, The Ultimate Avengers. I hope you all go buy a copy, as they are both entertaining and very well both drawn and written. What I know is that when I read these stories, I was lost again... As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm the sort of person to get involved in various stuff with mind and soul, and I look for inspiration everywhere, the result is usually I get inspiration and a great sensation of overwhelming emotions. And according to my brother I'm what is called a fan-girl, and strangely enough I'm OK with that. 

I do tell stories, the long kind, in novel-form, and as a writer I need to get my inspiration from somewhere. I have a highly developed allergy for social realistic dramas from the seventies, so you can probably picture that my stories are of the imaginative kind. I use to say that a story is not a great one if it has no dragon...and the dragon could be a metaphor, but there has to be a certain amount of imagination involved. So finding my inspiration in superheroes and fantasy-adventures (I'm obviously working my way up to daring a piece on LOTR...a lot of literature on the subject already, but alongside Mr. Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien is my personal muse...) is the only way to fly. I think one has to be open to receiving inspiration where and whenever, and one has to accept that it will present itself in different wrappings. I was, in the start, quite baffled to learn about the comic-book-loving-side of myself, but now I couldn't imagine my imagination without it. I've even a draft to an X-men story, but my heroes tend to be extremely powerful, I have yet to learn that the anti-hero is preferred. So, maybe I'll lend the storyline to my brother, the real fanboy, and let him have a go...

Getting a bit sidetracked here, I was talking about Thor.

I never familiarized myself with the Comic Thor, only the Thor in Ultimate Avengers. 

So I hadn't very high expectations to the film. But I knew Kenneth Branagh from various films, and I knew I liked him both as an actor and a director, so I knew that the film at least would be entertaining. Little did I know that it would be of the mind blowing kind. 

I even knew Chris Hemsworth from Star Trek, remember being bummed out that he died five minutes into the film, but he left enough of an impression for me to remember him. When I left the movie theatre having seen Thor, I knew he would be right up there with Hugh and Russell, and strangely enough they're all from the land down under... Is there a pattern here??? My favorite American actor is Nathan Fillion and he's from Canada, it turned out! A quick correction of self! I couldn't imagine a world without Robert Downey Jr., Nick Cage, or Johnny Depp! But now I sidetracked again!

The movie Thor has a very simple story. SPOILER ALLERT!!!! WIth a simple story presenting a theme that has been dealt with in numerous films, books and plays, you have to stay very focused to get it right. I believe Kenneth Branagh did just that. He present the story of the self-involved and overly proud heir to the throne. His only wish is to prove himself in battle like his father did before him. He sets out with a foolish boy's dream to win at a man's battle, engaging the Frost Giants in fight. As a result his father, Odin All-father banishes him because of his disobedience and strips him of his enormous powers at the same time. He does, however, give that little beacon of light and hope as he says, and here I will paraphrase, as I can't remember word for word: He who's worthy will possess the power of Thor.

Here you see Hannibal Lecter as Odin...
Thor crashes to earth, and is on the way to a better version of himself. But only after having close encounters with a couple of cars, trashing an ER, eating all the eggs at a local diner, and then obviously falling in love with the young scientist, Jane Foster, played by Queen Amidala (or Natalie Portman, if you want to be technical...). 

At one point he attempts to retrieve his hammer, but it's stuck and he can't lift it. A sad and probably turning moment in the selfishness of Thor. 

                Meanwhile in Valhalla his brother, Loki, is doing what he can to "befriend" the Frost Giants and getting Odin off the throne. He learns that he in fact is the son of Laufe, the leader of the Frost Giants, and not the son of Odin (this is, however, a slight rewriting from the Marvel-guys, as Loke is the son of Odin and a Jotun. But the mythological accuracy you can check on google;)). And if he had an evil agenda before, he certainly does now! He visits earth, after Thor unsuccessfully apprehended the hammer, and tells him that Odin is dead, and that the burden of the throne has fallen on him. Further he tells Thor that the conditions for peace with the Frost Giants depend on the continued exile of Thundery Thor. And, as the trusty man he is, he believes the lies of Loki, and accepts his fate. 

                Now, what Loki didn't expect was the disobedience of Thor's friends, and of Heimdal the Gate keeper. His friends travel to earth to bring home the true heir to the throne. And when Loki finds out the treason he sends the Destroyer for Thor. 

                This is where Thor regains his power, as he finally act like a leader of men, and not like a boy running around playing a man. He dies doing so, and then Odin (currently not so dead, but in the Odin Sleep, a suspended state where he regains his power) send Mjolnir to wake Thor from the dead. He regains his powers, his hammer, his belief in himself, and he sets off to first kill the Destroyer and then fight his brother. 
                They fight, and in the end Thor has to destroy Bivrost, the rainbow-bridge, thus rendering Asgard without a link to the other realms of the World Tree, Ygdrasil...But hey, they are Gods, and The Avenger movie is just around the corner, so I'm guessing they are returning to a movie theatre near you! I know that I'm going, that's for sure! And I hope they use the storyline from The Ultimate Avengers, as it's simply awesome. 

                Wednesday, September 21, 2011


                For years the story about the Moor of Venice has trapped me, almost like a moth to the flame. I don't quite know why as this is one of the most dramatic of all the tragedies. It has given me a lot to think about, and it still does really. I find it a brilliant base for stories I write myself, as it is such a complete story. I'm normally not very drawn to social realistic dramas, as they are too realistic. But the realism in Othello is probably one of the features of the story that has brought it into the new millennia. It could happen. Now, I could say that the unrealistic of A Midsummer Night's Dream is what gave it its ability to survive time, and I would contradict myself. So to conclude before I begin, let's just say that the genius of the writer is what makes it live still, and then get back to the scary realistic plots of Othello.

                I have really dug deep to find the reason for my fascination of this play, and it suddenly struck me when it all began. I must have been ten or something, and my favorite show on TV was Fame. I had all their...wait for it... tapes, yes tapes, because I am that ol... mature, and obviously I'm talking about music tapes, not video tapes.

                One very appealing, and well used tape (this I think I had a video tape of as well), was a concert with The Kids From Fame, and Gene Anthony Ray (Leroy) played Othello in a song called Desdemona. This particular picture is from a song called Starmaker, which in the concert was the closing act. But as you can see, they are in their...well Medieval costumes, not actually correct in my mind and not so according to the historical period, as Shakespeare is very much a renaissance writer, but there you go.

                Another mistake is that Desdemona lives in the Fame version (at least in the version from the show, from the concert I'm not sure...). I'm all for happy endings, but one of the biggest truths in the story about Othello is that he's lured, tricked, convinced by Iago into distrusting and eventually killing his sweet young wife, and out of pure jealousy as such. Had he not killed her, he would have been the man Iago knew he was not, and the reason for telling the story would not had been pertinent at all. So, through The Kids From Fame I got my first encounter with Othello, but I learned the true story later.

                Morpheus as Othello and Victor Frankenstein as Iago

                My entire life I have been a singer. When I grew up I attended a conservatory of fine arts, and my instrument of choice was (and still is) my voice (only now I use my voice a bit different, meaning I write).
                My parents are musicians, my father plays the viola and my mother is a singer, and I inherited a taste for the classical tunes from them. My favorite classical composers are Vivaldi, Purcell, Mozart, Verdi and Bruckner. And as I now mentioned Verdi, some of you might know that he wrote a beautiful and extremely powerful opera called Othello, and those of you that read my blog know it now.
                I would not look at myself as a true soprano if I hadn't given Desdemona a go, and in particular the "Saliche-part", for the record, Saliche means Willow in Italian. It is an aria that is dreaded by sopranos all over the world, as it is very difficult and comes at the end of the opera when you're tired and about to least on stage. But it is one of the most sublime pieces of music I've had the honor of singing. I actually performed the prayer in a small church in Liguria, Italy, and I almost felt like crying, but then the high note would have been a sob, and that's the most dreaded of all the notes, as it's in pianissimo. I nailed it, by the way!
                But before Othello was an opera, and longer before it was a dance act in a Television show in the eighties, it was a play by Shakespeare.

                A small image here with Gandalf as Iago...
                It was first performed in 1604 at The Globe Theatre, and since then it has continued to inspire and live on.
                Othello is a saluted soldier that has a soft spot even with the King. All though, after "fooling" around with the King's daughter, Desdemona, he's welcome into the family as a son (all though the king gets a bit angry at first...). But now, Othello makes a choice that seals his destiny. Instead of choosing his friend, Iago, as best man, he chooses Cassio, as this man has a star with the King. Iago gets insanely jealous, but gets so quietly. He's pretending to be Othello's friend, but at the same time he's feeding him small drops of distrust towards Desdemona.

                Othello is also a story about racism. Iago several times refer's to Othello's black skin, and that he finds it hideous, and he can't for the life of him understand why this black man has so much success and he himself doesn't. Using Desdemona's personal items, and his own wife (Emilia) as an instrument to place them where they should never be found (in Cassio's possession for instance), Iago drives Othello insane, playing his friend like a game...)

                and Othello eventually kills his beloved Desdemona. When he understands what he has done he takes his own life. It becomes apparent to the characters of the story (as well as the reader, who has had the general idea the whole time) that the one orchestrating the tragedy was Iago.

                I have included a lot of images of the character Iago, as I'm sure the bright reader will have noticed. There is a perfectly good reason for that. For a while now I think the play should have another name, or at least a sort of "sub-title", as Iago is the lead character, I think. Had there not been Iago, Othello would have married Desdemona and lived happily ever after, and the play would have ended with a wedding ( I mentioned in an earlier post that a tragedy ended in death, a comedy ended in a wedding and the historic plays have their previous historic ending...often a tragic one, except for HenryV that ends in a marriage...and a sonnet with grim prospects for what's to come

                A very young Kenneth Branagh here...).

                After Desdemona sings her Willow-tree-song she prepares for her husband to come home and take her life. She's seventeen, but she knows. She pleads for her life, but it is no good. She dies, and at that moment Othello wakes up, and ends his pain (this is a very common way of dealing with pain, apparently, kill oneself.). Now, take a look at his last words, the poetry is that of the eternal kind.

                Othello's last words: I kiss'd thee ere I kill'd thee: - no way but this, (falling upon Desdemona) Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.

                Saturday, September 17, 2011


                Oh, Russell Crowe...

                Sweet Russell Crowe... Are you aware of the magnitude your inspiration truly has? For at least a decade now I have greedily accepted the inspiration your variated work has given me, and I think I can call you my muse.

                I first became aware of Russell when watching Gladiator... A hard core fan would say that they followed him since the beginning of time, but I'm not going to fill my past with the truth I wish I had. I was a changed woman after finding this sometimes human, sometimes God-like man from Australia... A lot of good came from Australia :-)  And I am a hard core fan, I educated myself post-Gladiator.
                There I was, at the movies, about to watch a film in my least favorite movie genre of the entire industry, the DRAMA, and for almost three hours time stopped, and I was lost. Not only is the story told brilliantly by director Ridley Scott, but every character in the film, every actor, are lifting the experience...even now when I'm watching it for the thirtieth-ish time. 

                My favorite poster.

                I said I educated myself, bringing films like Virtuosity (a naked Russell...crap film though), L.A.Confidential, Heavens Burning, Mystery Alaska (which I really enjoyed..) and The Insider to my collection, and I enjoyed every single one of them. Heaven's Burning, is a beautiful story of love.
                I even loved Rough Magic (the first time I saw it, I guess I was blinded by my fascination at the time), but then me and my mother and brother tried to watch it again a while ago, and we had to turn it off. The story is just too bad, and I'm sad to say that not even Russell could salvage the terrible story. Coming from a person who really adore fairytales and fantasies, magic and mysteries, Rough Magic should be right up my alley. But sadly the story is too bad. Russell can also be bad...(see that

                I bought Romper Stomper,

                Nazi Russell, bad ass Russell, brilliant actor Russell.

                and kept it in my collection for months before I dared to see it. Until then I had only seen Russell as the hero, sometimes the tormented hero, but still a hero (I'm not counting Virtuosity). I was dreading putting it on, because I'd heard it was terrible. He was a nazi for crying out loud, and the story is deep and violent and disturbing, which I guess is the point, eh? Well, finally I put it on, and I was gobsmacked by the natural raw talent he was, all ready back then.

                I survived Romper Stomper, I've even put it on a couple of times.
                After Gladiator, though, the pearls that are the movies of Russell came like a beautiful necklace.
                Proof Of Life, and to this day I'm wondering what he was thinking in that last shot.
                A Beautiful Mind. Oh, I love A Beautiful Mind. I was livid when Denzel won the Oscar and not Russell. Not because I don't think Denzel is a talented actor, because I do, I just never felt Training Day was a very good film... and I don't think Hollywood recognized precisely how fabulous Russell was as John Nash. But we live, we forgive and we forget... And then came
                Master and Commander.

                I remember exactly where I sat in the movie theatre, I remember how I felt when the title music began, and I remember I loved it. It was like I was reuniting with a dear, dear friend, one I hadn't seen for a while, and one I had truly missed. I'm never afraid when I see a film with Russell, as he always delivers, always. For me ( I obviously love Pirates of the Caribbean), Pirates of the Caribbean appealed that much because of Master and Commander, and a bit because of Johnny Depp, a lot because of Johnny Depp. But if anyone were to give Captain Jack Sparrow a run for his money, it would be Captain Jack Aubrey there on the far side of the world.

                Then came Cinderella Man, and like expected he's still great. But the movie that came after Cinderella was and still is the best feel good movie in the existence of time. It's a movie I can pop in when I'm feeling blue, and then, three minutes in I'm feeling like I'm floating on air, in a good way. The best prozac I can think of (not that I really know what prozac is, I just thought it would add a cool schwung to my entry:-) as I've heard it used so many times in movies and series.). And the movie I'm talking about is of course A Good Year. One can practically taste the sweetness of the wine, or the herbs in the food. It's one of those movies that puts life into perspective, and if you haven't seen it, go check it out. It's brilliant.
                Once again Russell Crowe team up with Ridley Scott, and the result is a diamond in my collection.

                In the UK the BBC made a mini series called State of Play with John Simm as the investigating journalist Cal McAffrey. It's an edgy, political and sharp piece of TV. I met John Simm through Doctor Who, and one thing lead to another, you know Life on Mars and so on. So when I discovered State of Play, I was thrilled. Now, most of you might have heard this title, but as a film with Russell Crowe and DareDevil...(oh, DareDevil, ain't that a horrible piece of movie crap?). Well, State of Play is a movie too, but it was a Television series first. In the film, though, the story has been slightly Americanized, but other than that it's the same plot and the same characters. Only now it's Russell Crowe as Cal McAffrey, believe me, that works. And though DareDevil (for the record, DareDevil is Ben Affleck) isn't drawing me to the movies, Russell Crowe is. And to give Ben Affleck one good remark, I do like Dogma.

                For the third time Russell teamed up with Ridley Scott, and the result is yet another brilliant tale. Evil tongues didn't like this particular version of the famous character, but I (as the hard core fan I am) beg to differ. Russel still knows what he's doing. And no one does it better. I loved Robin Hood, the new angle that Robin Hood was in fact Robin Longstride, and the fight on the beach, brilliant.

                Next year they are making another Superman movie, they are calling it Man of Steel.
                I was perfectly happy with the old Christopher Reeves movies, but he's dead and can't make films anymore (at least not in these realms). Then came along Mr. Brandon Routh, and that was fine too...but not innovative. Superman fighting Lex Luthor, a story told so many times before... So, do we really need another Superman? I say YES, with capital letters, because it will feature Russell Crowe as Jor-El. I'm not expecting him to get a major role, but I'm expecting it to be significant as we are talking about Russell Crowe. And I might add a fun fact, at least I think it's fun, Kevin Costner is playing Superman's earth-father. They really brought in the big guns for this film.
                So that is one reason to look forward... but I'll give you another as well...

                Russell is playing Javert in a new adaption of Les Miserables... The only reason I would be happy Russell didn't play Valjean (which is the lead) was if this role was interpreted by someone I admired just as much as I do Russell... and it is.
                Hugh Jackman...but that's another entry.

                As I really want to pay homage to Russell Crowe I'm ending with an image of Maximus. The role that made sure everyone knows who he is. And in my mind he has at least three Academy Award's.
                He is my muse!
                G'day and Good night, all of you!