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Showing posts from 2011

A Merry Christmas and A Freilichin Chaunukah!

Happy Holidays to all of my friends and visitors! Here is a gift to all from The Forlorn Path: This is George A. Smith ’s short film “Santa Claus” from 1898. Smith was a pioneer of British cinema and was a friend and colleague of Georges Méliès . Smith began as a stage illusionist and magician, and like Méliès, would later incorporate these skills into the new art of filmmaking. This film is most likely the first time Santa was put on film. It is interesting to note that he has the same overall appearance as he is portrayed today, albeit a bit thinner and perhaps a little more pagan-looking. Also, instead of coming down a chimney, he enters the children’s room through a magical portal. I find these old films so very fascinating; they are like magical portals that transcend the sands of time and give us a glimpse into the past. I hope that you enjoy it.

Georges Méliès, The Alchemist of Light

Today marks the 150th birthday of Georges Méliès, the first sci-fi movie director, not to mention one of the worlds’ first directors. He made 552 films between 1896 and 1913--nearly all of which are under twenty minutes in length (many are only one or two minutes long.) His films are some of the most imaginative films ever to be directed, even by today’s standards. His innovations in the field of cinematography were groundbreaking and paved the way for future directors. D.W. Griffith said of Méliès, "I owe him everything," and Charlie Chaplin dubbed him "the alchemist of light." Georges was born in Paris, France, on December 8, 1861. His full birth name was Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès. In his younger days, he worked as an illusionist and conjuror. He also had a background in theatre and had a lifelong compulsion to draw. All of these skills would be used to enhance his films and contributed to making his movies stand out. Many of his early films were of himself

Black Death (2010)

I recently had the pleasure of watching the 2010 film Black Death directed by Christopher Smith. I went in only expecting a typical medieval adventure type of movie. The opening narration (something I usually dislike a movie to open with) grabbed my attention and actually drew me in. I knew that there was going to be more to the film than I thought. Its official description reads: “Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.” Do not be fooled by the vagueness of this; Black Death is much more than that. I was reminded very much of a newer version of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. It most certainly is not a remake, just a movie in a similar vein. Black Death saves most of its philosophical problems for the ending, but it hints of the culmination throughout as the plot unfolds. Flawless acting coupled with striking and believa

In Search of the Real Necronomicon

The Necronomicon, the accursed grimoire written in haste by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred has thrilled readers of H. P. Lovecraft for over eighty years. It is mentioned in movies, books and video games and has become a pop culture icon even to people who have never heard of Lovecraft. Naturally, many people ask the same question after their first exposure to the book: “Is it real?” This leads us to the purpose of this blog. We will cover the myths that have crept up around the book and examine them point by point in search of evidence of a real Necronomicon. Let’s begin with the author himself, the Mad Arab. Any Arabic speaker can tell you right off that “Abdul Alhazred,” while sounding very Arabic, is not a proper Arabic name. It is gibberish and nothing more. Lovecraft invented the name when he was five years old after reading 1001 Arabian Nights. He admits to this in a letter to Harry O. Fischer written in late February 1937. It has been speculated that the name was corrupted a

Films to Keep You Awake: The Baby's Room (2006)

Original Spanish title: Películas para no dormir: La habitación del niño My Rating: 10/10, Current IMDB Rating 7.0/10 from 2,015 votes Now this is how it’s done! I’ve been looking for a good horror flick to review for Halloween and until tonight I didn’t think I would find one good enough. Then I happened upon this film. It is directed by Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia and is one of the films from a collection called “6 Films to Keep You Awake.” The movie centers on a couple, Juan and Sonia, and their seven month old son. They have just moved into their new home- an older house in a good neighborhood. They think it a good idea to install a crib monitor in the baby’s room. You can probably guess that nothing good comes of that. Night after sleepless night Juan becomes convinced that someone is in the house but no one is ever found. With no evidence of a break in, it begins to look like Juan is imagining it. One thing I really loved about this movie was the fact that the

The Penitent Magdalene by Corrado Giaquinto

In his 1750 painting, Giaquinto depicts Mary Magdalene weakly leaning against a rock looking upwards at a crown of thorns carried by a cherub. However, a closer archangel tries to direct her attention upwards to heaven, but Mary is focused on the crown instead. A crowd of cherubim looks on from the cliffs above her. A book lays open, propped up between the rock and a skull, a crucifix resting atop it. This painting is very reminiscent of the 1565 version of Titian’s painting by the same name. It is probable that Giaquinto was inspired by Titian’s work, but with some additions and personal alterations. It is still a unique and original piece that stands on its own. I believe this painting is based off of a legend that Mary Magdalene lived out the end of her life in the cliffs of St. Baume near Marseille, France. For thirty years she lived in complete seclusion performing penances. She fasted to the point that she would have died of starvation if not for visits from angels who ga

The Man of Sorrows

Michele Giambono’s “The Man of Sorrows” (circa 1420s) is easily one of the most shocking and morbid depictions of the resurrected Christ. Even compared to other paintings of the same genre, such as Meister Francke’s piece by the same name, Giambono’s stands out. I was very taken aback when I first encountered this piece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City last May. The barely conscious, cadaverous Savior stands upright in his coffin, his bloody arms slump over the rim of the coffin displaying deep puncture wounds on his outturned palms. Behind him you find a crossbeam, adorned with three nails still imbedded in it with fresh blood dripping from it. Large globs of blood trail profusely from the thorny crown still tightly wound around his head, and his right side still bleeds from the centurion’s lance. It is almost easy to miss the image of St. Francis standing to Christ’s left. The saint looks up with an expression of pained reverence at the risen savior. If

"The Idiot" (1869) by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“They call me a psychologist. That is not true. I’m only a realist in the higher sense; that is, I portray all the depths of the human soul.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky The main theme of “The Idiot” is the contrast between the naive and innocent Prince Lyov Nikolayovich Myshkin and the materialistic and decadent society of the day. The prince truly believes in the good nature of people; he is constantly insulted, used and abused throughout the story only to instantly forgive and repeat the process once again. He even blames himself for their behavior, sometimes correctly but his reproaches are generally undeserved. Dostoevsky is being a realist in the sense that if a truly innocent were to try to survive without either being polluted and drawn into the world this would be the inevitable outcome. The story centers on a love triangle that develops between the prince, Nastasya Filippovna and Aglaia Epanchin. Plenty of drama ensues. Prince Myshkin is frequently compared to Christ but I p

The Venus of Urbino

This is easily one of, if not my outright favorite painting. I first saw Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” when I was a teenager and instantly fell in love with her. I feel that this is a very remarkable work because of the unabashed eroticism it portrays. There is no question as to the incredibly sexual intent of this piece. The screen coving the left side of the background draws a perfect line down the center of the work and points directly to her almost exposed vagina. This is the most obvious straight line in the entire painting. All the other lines are curved Her hand, which is the only thing covering her, indicates that she is about to begin masturbating or that she perhaps already has been pleasuring herself. Venus stares directly at you with a neutral or perhaps even stoic expression. The fact that she is not only unashamed of her nudity or self stimulation completely makes this piece what it is. She is one of the only Venus’s worthy of the name out of all the other paintings or

The Man Who Laughs

The Man Who Laughs (1928) Starring Conrad Veidt, Directed by Paul Leni My rating: 10/10 I had the pleasure of viewing this film over the weekend. It is a later silent film and as such the cinematography was much better than a lot of silents that I’ve seen. The story focuses on the life of Gwynplaine, the son of a rebel nobleman in 17th Century England who was disfigured as a child by the evil jester Barkilphedro, “whose laughs are cruel and smiles false.” Gwynplaine’s face is contorted into a permanent horrible, wide grin. I don’t want to focus on the plot. That is available elsewhere, and I believe I’ve already said enough. This film is simply incredible, filled with many wonderfully shot scenes. It is considered a horror film, but the horror is much more subtle. Gwynplaine’s pain is conveyed through his ever smiling face throughout the film so intensely that you can’t help but feel it yourself. He is crying and he is smiling. When he