Sunday, April 25, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
And like to coins, some true, some light, but every one of you stamped with the image of the King.
-Tennyson, The Holy Grail
There are experiences that "stamp" a person for life. Whatever they may be, these events are so life-altering that they set those who experience them apart from the rest of humanity. No matter what your character, appearance, or circumstances are, something about you is different from those who haven't been "stamped." Conversely, no matter how unalike you may be, you have a bond with anyone who has had experienced the same. They know. They've been there. They "get it."
Discussing Tennyson's Idylls of the King with my students has led me to coin a new term: "Round Table experience." These are periods of profound communal interaction that dramatically shape our character for good or ill. It's those moments when you feel part of something bigger than yourself; when you enter into fellowship at a deeper level than what you've normally experienced. My first "Round Table experience" was with my high school friends in Connecticut. I had a similar experience in college. Watching my students draw together as a class this year has been my first chance to see a "Round Table experience" from the outside.
Like the Round Table iteslf, all of these experiences come to an end. The Fellowship is inevitably broken, and we are left like Bedivere with "new faces, other minds." Still, the marks left on our souls endure, and the memory drives us on in search of new communities, new fellowships. The old order may change, yielding place to new, but Christ is still King, and the music that built Camelot can never be silenced.
On my finger I wear a silver ring that bears the words "Bonum, Veritas, Pulcher." Of those that wear it, some good there are, and some bad, but all stamped, all marked, with the same image.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
That's about the best way I've found to describe the 2010 remake of the 1982 adventure classic "Clash of the Titans." Emerson assures us that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." Whether that's true or not, any kind of consistency, even a foolish one, is necessary for art. Now "Clash of the Titans" doesn't bother to posture itself as high art; it's just plain pulp. However, even a thinly invented world created purely for the sake of entertainment needs some unifying "truth" to so that the audience can suspend disbelief. The lack of a unifying "truth" to the film is the one great weakness of this remake. "Clash of the Titans" can't decide what kind of world it's trying to immerse us in. Are the gods really damnable? Well we only meet two of them. Hades is definitely damnable, but Zeus comes off as more conflicted and weak than evil. Should men rely only on their own strength? Then why does Perseus need to use the gods' gifts to win? Is the way of things that the younger gods always overthrow the older, as the film's beginning implies? Then why doesn't Perseus overthrow the gods at the end? He even takes the bribe of getting Io back and then bustles off like a good little boy.
These things said, it's really the film's only real weakness given its objective: to re-make the 1982 "Clash of the Titans" with better special effects. It had great monsters, great sets, fun costumes, and non-stop action. I went to be mildly entertained and I got my $8.50 worth. I'm glad the old Greek legends, however marred by Hollywood, are being re-told again. In the end, it was pulp. Would a few more re-writes have raised it above the lowest-common-denominator-thrill-ride? Sure. Should they have striven for that given the original film that they were trying to remake? I guess it depends on whether you believe that movies should ever be made "just for fun." Or to restate that in a more sophisticated tone: "is low art necessarily bad art?"
Bottom line: Three stars out of five: see this if you're interested, but you're not missing anything big if you don't.
P.S.- If you're looking for a more faithful rendition of the Perseus myth, check out Jim Henson's "The Storyteller: The Greek Myths." Now there's a series I would love to see resurrected.