The War of the Worlds

 

Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

— H. G. Wells (1898), The War of the Worlds

I don’t know what it is about this Sci-Fi classic by H.G. Wells first serialised in 1897 in the UK by Pearson’s Magazine and in the US by Cosmopolitan magazine. The novel’s first appearance in hardcover was in 1898 from publisher William Heinemann of London.

But ever since I came across the story I fell in love with it. But it was via Jeff Wayne’s musical version I  encountered the tale of the Martians that invaded our planet, Even though the chances of this happening were a Million to one.

I forget how often I have listened to that album but at least hundreds of times if not thousands(maybe I should get out more). In 2008 I got the chance to see the live show. 30 years I had waited for it and it did not disappoint. Although I was a bit surprised by the cast who joined for the most recent shows,in my opinion some just had no talent at all(An ex member of Westlife), leave alone to be a part of such an amazing phenomena.

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But of course it was Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of the World of the Wars which had probably the biggest impact. The panic that ensued because people believed it was a genuine news broadcast. Ingenious really when you think of it, you just can’t buy that kind of publicity. It was on the 30th of October 1938, the world was in grip of events happening in Germany.

 

Someone asked me once “what is your favourite War of the Worlds movie?”And I honestly couldn’t say. I like the 1953 and Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation equally.

 

The story is really the most basic form of Science Fiction. The earth being invaded by aliens. But it works, it is compelling. It basically is a war story but rather then human enemies we are fighting extra terrestrial foes.

The story clearly inspired other TV show and movie makers. Series like “V” and “Falling Skies” are clearly based on the War of the Worlds as is “Independence Day”

 

What is the most fascinating is that it was written between 1895 and 1897 and it didn’t date. It is still as fresh as it was when it was first released. Ironically I only read the book after I listened to the musical version and watched the movies.

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I think I might just retreat now and listen to the album again, or read the book. I may even watch one of the movies.Either way one thing I know for sure the story will never bore me regardless in which configuration or adaption. Leaving you with some art work of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of TWOTW and my favorite track.

 

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A great script does matter

I am a great fan of TV Dramas and Movies and despite a lot of critics saying that the last few years the quality has gone down, I believe that this isn’t really the case.

Particularly the TV Shows have really improved, I think it was shows like the Sopranos that really raised the bar.

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TV Channels and production companies like HBO, Showtime and AMC have really invigorated the TV landscape, throw in the mix Netflix and Amazon Prime and the online entertainment is complete. If it wasn’t for these companies who basically gave a cart blanch to TV Show makers we would have never had show like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and their spin off Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead

Shows like Ray Donovan, House of Cards,Bosch,Homeland and Game of Thrones would have never been aired, especially Game of Thrones with an often graphic and even pornographic content.

So on TV front I think the quality has gone up dramatically, but of course this is all a matter of taste. The one thing these shows have in common they are all character driven and it is evident that a lot of time is spend on the scripts.

Take Game of Thrones for example, although some of the graphic scenes are really ‘in your face’ it doesn’t take away from the character, Peter Dinklage who plays  his character Tyrion Lannister  so convincing that you don’t even notice his small stature.

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However unfortunately there are shows who started so promising but really failed to maintain the initial strong story lines.

Lost, took the world by a storm but at the end it ended in a damp squib. It really felt like the producers wanted to drag it out to get as much money as possible from the show  at the cost of a good script. They should have kept to the originally planned 3 seasons.

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Another prime example is Heroes. It started of great it had everything one could want in a show about heroes and villains, until season 3 that is where they came up with this ridiculous story line based in Cork,Ireland with the worse Irish accents I ever heard. But I could get over the accents, the worse thing here was they showed heavily armed security guards in a warehouse,not even the Police have guns in Ireland. That was just lazy script writing.

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One show that kept me interested until the very last episode was True Blood, unfortunately after all the hard work they had put in , it seemed that they had just given up at the very end. I have never have been more disappointed by a finale then with True Blood it was the mother of all anti-climaxes.

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By no stretch of the imagination am I a fan of the Irish national broadcaster RTE, but they did produce one of the most realistic and gritty crime drama’s even for international standards.

When I first heard of Love/Hate I had closed my mind to it, solely because of the fact it was made by RTE, but boy was I wrong. It is one of my all time favorites on par with The Sopranos ,Ray Donovan and Breaking Bad.

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Funny enough it was our Scandinavian brethren who produced some of the finest pieces of Crime drama this century, although subtitled the characters were so strong that you’d nearly forget they were talking Danish and Swedish. I am of course talking about The Killing(Forbrydelsen), the Bridge(Bron/Broen) and Wallander(well that is still Wallander in Swedish). I wasn’t to impressed with the BBC version with Kenneth Branagh.

When it comes to TV Shows I do tend to have a preference to Police Drama’s as a kid I grew up watching the German cop shows Derrick and Tatort, the latter one meaning Crime Scene, so basically it was CSI before ‘the’ CSI.

There might be more of a case when it comes to the Big screen to say the quality of movies just isn’t what it used to be and a lot of it is because of dodgy CGI, but having that said some of my all time favorite movies were made the last 16 years or so. Gladiator,The Lord of the Rings Trilogy,The Dark Knight trilogy, Pan’s Labyrinth and I am Legend, to name but a few. Again all these movies even though they were jam packed with special effects they were still character driven and a lot of attention was given to the script.But also movies like Gran Torino and Gone baby Gone are masterpieces.

I do get over some minor discrepancies in scripts, like in the recent ‘Captain America-Civil War’ where they mix up one German word, although it is annoying for a linguist like me, it didn’t take away the overall enjoyment of the movie.

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However when they mess up a whole scene by having a Finnish guy speak German as if it was Finnish is just lazy and unforgivable , this was the case in Swordfish,maybe that’s why Halle Berry took her top off to distract from the bad and lazy script.

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All in all as a viewer I think we are spoiled for choice in both TV and Cinema features.

Forgotten History- Audrey Hepburn and WWII

Aside from my interest in WW2 and I am also a movie buff. And to be honest looking at actors and actresses nowadays none of them have the screen presence like the classic screen Icons such as  Audrey Hepburn.

Although I was never a huge fan there is no denying her acting talents and some of the all time classic movies she starred in. ‘Robin and Marian’ is still one of my all time favorites.

Bur not to get side tracked since this blog is referring to her activities during World War 2 and is not meant to be a movies review.

The fact that she actively did help the resistance is amazing given the background of her parents.

Hepburn was born on 4 May 1929 at number 48 Rue Keyenveld in Ixelles, a municipality in Brussels, Belgium.Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston was a British subject born in Úžice, Bohemia.

Her mother, Baroness Ella van Heemstra , was a Dutch aristocrat and the daughter of Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra, who was mayor of Arnhem from 1910 to 1920, and served as Governor of Dutch Suriname from 1921 to 1928.

Hepburn’s mother and father married in the Dutch-Colonial Batavia (now Jakarta), Dutch East Indies, in September 1926. They moved back to Europe, to Ixelles in Belgium, where Hepburn was born in 1929, before moving to Linkebeek, a nearby Brussels municipality, in January 1932.Hepburn held British citizenship through her father.

As a result of her multinational background and travelling with her family because of her father’s job,she learned to speak five languages: Dutch and English from her parents and later French, Spanish, and Italian. Hepburn began studying ballet when she was five years old

Hepburn’s parents were members of the British Union of Fascists in the mid-1930s,with her father becoming a true Nazi sympathizer.

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The marriage began to fail in 1935, and after her mother discovered him in bed with the nanny of her children,[Hepburn’s father left the family abruptly. Joseph settled in London following the divorce.In the 1960’s, Hepburn would finally locate him again in  Dublin through the Red Cross.

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Although he remained emotionally detached, his daughter remained in contact and supported him financially until his death.

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Hepburn’s father, Joseph, who abandoned her when she was a little girl, and her mother, Ella, were members of the British Union of Fascists. In 1935, they toured Germany with other members of the organization, including the notorious Mitford sisters, British aristocrats who were jailed for their Nazi sympathies. After Hepburn’s parents divorced, Ella returned to Germany to attend the Nuremberg rallies and wrote an enthusiastic account of the experience for fascist magazineThe Blackshirt. Joseph was investigated by the British House of Commons for receiving seed money to start a newspaper from Germans with ties to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He was imprisoned as an enemy of the state for the duration of the war.

In 1937, Ella and Audrey moved to Kent, South East England, where Hepburn was educated at a small independent school in Elham, run by two sisters known as “The Mesdemoiselles Smith”.In September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, and Hepburn’s mother relocated with her daughter back to Arnhem in the hope that (as during World War I) the Netherlands would remain neutral and be spared a German attack.

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While there, Hepburn attended the Arnhem Conservatory from 1939 to 1945 where, in addition to the standard school curriculum, she trained in ballet with Winja Marova. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Hepburn adopted the pseudonym Edda van Heemstra because an “English sounding” name was considered dangerous during the German occupation. In 1942, Hepburn’s uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum (husband of her mother’s older sister, Miesje), was executed in retaliation for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement.

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While Hepburn’s half brother Ian was deported to Berlin to work in a German labour camp. Hepburn’s other half-brother Alex went into hiding to avoid the same fate.”We saw young men put against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it and you could pass by again…Don’t discount anything awful you hear or read about the Nazis. It’s worse than you could ever imagine.” Audret Hepburn recalled.

After this, Ella, Miesje, and Hepburn moved in with her grandfather Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra in nearby Velp. At the time, Hepburn suffered from malnutrition, developed acute anæmia, respiratory problems, and edema.Hepburn, in a retrospective interview, commented, “I have memories. More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon.

I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on to the train. I was a child observing a child. Later in her career, Hepburn was asked to play Holocaust victim Anne Frank in both the Broadway and film adaptations of Frank’s life. Hepburn, however, who was born the same year as Frank, found herself “emotionally incapable” of the task, and at almost 30 years old at the time, too old.

By 1944, Hepburn had become a proficient ballet dancer and she had secretly danced for groups of people to collect money for the Dutch resistance.

“The best audience I ever had made not a single sound at the end of my performances”, she remarked She also occasionally acted as a courier for the resistance, delivering messages and packages Had she been discovered doing either of these things, a swift execution would have followed.. After the Allied landing on D-Day, living conditions grew worse and Arnhem was subsequently destroyed during Operation Market Garden.

During the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of the Dutch’s already-limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder German occupation.

People starved and froze to death in the streets; Hepburn and many others resorted to making flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuits.

During those times, the future Hollywood icon’s meals were often comprised of endive, the low-calorie green leafy vegetable often used in salads, tulip bulbs that she dug up from the ground and water. This was how she survived.Audrey Hepburn disclosed that there were times she couldn’t stand up; she felt to weak to make use of her limbs.

By the time WWII ended, the then 16-year-old Audrey Hepburn only weighed 88 pounds [about 40 kilograms]

One way young Audrey passed the time was by drawing; some of her childhood artwork can be seen today.When the country was liberated, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration trucks followed. Hepburn said in an interview that she fell ill from putting too much sugar in her porridge and eating an entire can of condensed milk. Hepburn’s war-time experiences sparked her devotion to UNICEF, an international humanitarian organisation, in her later career.

Audrey Hepburn’s legacy as an actress and a personality has endured long after her death. The American Film Institute named Hepburn third among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time. She stands as one of few entertainers who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. She won a record three Bafta Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. In her last years, she remained a visible presence in the film world. She received a tribute from the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 1991 and was a frequent presenter at the Academy Awards. She received the BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992. She was the recipient of numerous posthumous awards including the 1993 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and competitive Grammy and Emmy Awards. She has been the subject of many biographies since her death and the 2000 dramatisation of her life titled The Audrey Hepburn Story which starred Jennifer Love Hewitt and Emmy Rossum as the older and younger Hepburn respectively. The film concludes with footage of the real Audrey Hepburn, shot during one of her final missions for UNICEF.

During the 1950s, it would have been disastrous for Hepburn’s squeaky clean image if it were known that her parents were Nazi sympathizers. By today’s standards, her rejection of her parents’ racist ideology makes her even more admirable.

Hepburn’s image is widely used in advertising campaigns across the world. In Japan, a series of commercials used colourised and digitally enhanced clips of Hepburn in Roman Holiday to advertise Kirin black tea. In the United States, Hepburn was featured in a 2006 Gap commercial which used clips of her dancing from Funny Face, set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, with the tagline “It’s Back – The Skinny Black Pant”.

To celebrate its “Keep it Simple” campaign, the Gap made a sizeable donation to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.In 2013, a computer-manipulated representation of Hepburn was used in a television advert for the British chocolate bar Galaxy. On 4 May 2014 Google featured a doodle on its homepage on the occasion of Hepburn’s 85th birthday.

 

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/the-film-star-and-her-fascist-father-28961174.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000030/?ref_=nv_sr_1