Friday, March 29, 2019

Tales Of New Albion - 2nd Edition

Many moons ago I woke up with a fully formed Steampunk story in my head.  It seemed a good idea to write it down and after my good friend Ben Henderson booked me to read it out at one of his Convivial events I did so.  Well one thing led to another and before I knew it I'd finished a collection of 10 Steampunk short stories and published my first book on Amazon.  This featured artwork by Frog Morris which was splendid, but in other ways it wasn't quite right.  For a start there were no page numbers, no index and no foreword.  Also, there was more than the odd typo that really needed correcting.  Well due to another of my Tales Of New Albion side-projects I re-read all 10 stories for my podcast, which helped me correct most of the problems.  I also was greatly assisted by John "Jags" Smith who also read through the entire manuscript and added comments.

So the stories were there now, but I still wanted more.  I got Frog to tweak his artwork and create a new chapter divider.  I also got the aforementioned Ben Henderson to submit a brand spanking new foreword.  I even managed to figure out how to create page numbers!

And so the 2nd Edition of Tales Of New Albion came into being and you can be a proud owner at any point.  Just follow this link and order your copy now.

Or see you at the Red Cape Publishing Book Fayre (8th June - Brighton Unitarian Church) where you can inspect the product closely and get your copy signed.  Oh and did I mention there is an album of original music by Charlotte Savigar also available?  Well it is.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Big War Movie Themes - 1) The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)

Theme tune: Colonel Bogey (K.J. Alford) and the River Kwai March (Arnold) - the former was a marching tune known to soldiers in WWII.  It is particularly haunting when first heard as the POWs march proudly into the Japanese camp.

Year: 1957

Director: David Lean

Length: 2h35m

Format: DVD bought off eBay for £1

Synopsis: A group of WWII prisoners of war are forced to built a railway bridge over the River Kwai by the Japanese.  The Colonel in charge of the british prisoners (Alec Guiness) stubbornly refuses to allow officers to work alongside the enlisted men when demanded to by Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa).  When the bridge falls behind schedule he takes it on as a matter of pride to build the bridge properly.  In the end a commando raid destroys the bridge and at that point the colonel questions what he's done.

Read more here

Historical Accuracy: Probably about a 5 out of 10, from what I've read about it.  My own personal bugbear was that all the Japanese were armed with allied weapons.  Despite the treatment of the prisoners being very bad, it seems that is was short of what really happened.  One good thing is that the Japanese all speak Japanese and are not subtitled.  In terms of it's representation of WWII I would say that the first third is the best (where the prisoners are at the camp and the battle of wills between the two colonels takes place) and it gets weaker after that.  The weird section where the two colonels leave the bridge without any other soldiers and attempt to prevent the bridge being blown up is odd to say the least, however it does work within the scope of the plot and the two people driven by principle into acts that are not what we would consider to be right. 

The representation of women in the film leaves a lot to be desired, but I think it does come across that they were equally brave and served at great cost to themselves during the war.

Is it a good film?: Yes it is.  It was a very entertaining watch and despite bogging down in the middle third (where a shoehorned american character (William Holden) tries to get out of being part of the commando raid) it rolls along pretty well.  I certainly enjoyed watching it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good film. 

Overall: 7/10

Up next: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)

Monday, March 11, 2019

Big War Movie Themes - Geoff Love & his Orchestra

We spent many hours in the car when we were kids and in those days we would listen to music on cassette tape to while away the hours, since there was not much else apart from iSpy books to keep us amused.  In heavy rotation were the entire Sky catalogue and the occasional Christmas present (the embarrassment of listening to Adam and the Ants - S.E.X. - it's on the B-side of Prince Charming -  with my parents both in the car sticks with me).  But one of our favourites, and indeed very popular at the time, was Geoff Love and his Orchestra playing the Big War Movie Themes (1971).  These were all haunting and evocative pieces of classical music and many of them are indelibly written into my memory banks.  Recently I decided that I wanted to hear those specific versions again and bought the album on vinyl (after all, who has a cassette player these days) and sure enough it's still a great listen.

It struck me though, that although I had seen a good number of the films featured, that I hadn't seen them all.  Also, I wondered how well these classic movies stand up when watched with modern eyes some 48 years later.  So I've decided to watch all 12 movies in the order they appear on the album (see the second photograph below) and rate the movie along with it's historical accuracy and depiction of conflict.  With modern offerings like Saving Private Ryan, Letters from Iwo Jima, Band of Brothers and Fury the benchmark for modern war films, it will be very interesting to see how they stand up.

If you want to play along with me then I'll post the next film at the bottom of the review post.  For fun I'll also be noting how much it cost me to get the movie (if I don't have it already) and what medium I watched it on.  I'll be very interested in your own memories and review.

Right - so here we go, first up: