Thursday, September 28, 2006

Some notes about Gibson's The Passion

Some notes I made about Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, that I made when I first saw it.

I enjoyed the way it was made, the superb photography, the excellent direction, the amazing cast of unknown faces - most of them continental rather than US in origin - the curiosity of having them speak in the original languages (it's not often you hear Latin spoke!), some of the individual scenes - the healing of Malchus' ear is one that is really affecting.

I didn't enjoy the excess of the lashings, which go on and on and on, until they blunt your sense of horror at what's happening, and you want to say - Enough...this is a movie, not a reality.
Equally the journey up the hill to Golgotha goes on and on and on... and has the same effect on the audience. People have said Gibson, as a Catholic, has based this on the 14 stations of the cross - I didn't think it was quite as pointed as that, but it's a long time since I went round the stations.

I found it odd as to what was left out: John has his feet washed but not Peter, who was surely a more dramatic actor in that incident. Judas' suicide is given prolonged treatment, but who he is and why he's doing this isn't explained. People coming to this movie who are unfamiliar with the Jesus story will be quite puzzled by some of what goes on....there's no back story to a lot of it, and the flash backs we do get are rather random. Even the resurrection looks like another flashback until you notice, if you do, the nail hole in his hand.

I 'enjoyed' it more than I thought I would, but mostly from an aesthetic side. It moved me in places, but more in small ways than large. Jesus' suffering became over the top because one of the lessons of drama, as Gibson ought to know, that less is more. As for it being violent; well, Gibson himself has appeared in movies that are just as violent as this. The only difference is that they aren't about a revered figure....

Muyk Quhroughl

A friend suggested I might spell my name:
Muyk Quhroughl.

I was impressed: it gives hints of my Irish forebears, and the first name may have some connections with the Jews in my past.

On further reflection she added:

Sometimes you could spell it 'Majic', pronounced'Mah-yeek'. Majic Quhroughl, the Slavic Irishman.

I didn't think I could call up any Slavic ancestors, but she said:

It's a public-relations tour de force. People notice it and they boggle. [As opposed to bloggle]. They say to you, 'MAGIC? How can you have a name like MAGIC??" and you reply, with a faint superior smile, 'It isn't Magic, silly. It's Mah-yeek. Short for MghCaejl. Old traditional Irish family name, handed down from my greatgreatgreatgrandfather, the Chieftain.'
Then they say, 'Huh! Nobody's THAT great,' and you murmur modestly, 'HE was. . . .'
And they'll be so impressed they'll never forget you, and the next time they want a book reviewed, they'll send it to you. (That solves the problem of having no Slavic ancestors)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Neil Gaiman

I can believe things that are true and I can believe things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody know if they’re true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen – I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just over-grown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in Drive-In Movie theatres from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that anti-bacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian Shaman. I believe that Mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumble-bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and no-one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, life is a cruel joke and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

The female hippy character, Sam, in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: on a roll, and expressing the confused state of belief that she probably shares with many other American citizens. It’s also an aria for one of the main characters; Gaiman being both real and cynical and joking and hilarious all at the same time; and a marvellous expression of Sam’s smart/na├»ve/intellectual/simple personality. And a rare moment of warmth and humour in a fairly dark novel.