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Friday, July 29, 2016

Independenţa României, 1912

Independenţa României
programul filmului, 1912
cu imaginea producătorului (Leon Popescu)
source: Biblioteca Academiei Române
(wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended


An amazing film for that era... This was the first feature film to last 2 hours (from which about 20 minutes are lost).
Ionuț Niculescu and Tudor Caranfil discovered in 1985 the movie's scenario, begun by Petre Liciu and continued by Aristide Demetriade and Constantin Nottara. This led to the establishment of the real director: Aristide Demetriade, not Grigore Brezeanu, as thought before. Grigore Brezeanu, along with Leon Popescu were producers.
Carol I was not present in the film (although the Royal House gave a sum of money for the production) except for the final parade which was set not in 1877/78, but in 1912 (actually a cut from a news reel, like a 30 years later...). In the movie he was impersonated by Aristide Demetriade, the director himself. The critics emphasized the merit of make-up artist Pepi Machauer (who also played czar Alexander).
Also, this was not the first Romanian film ever. Previous titles are: Păpușa, a theater play, 1911 Amor fatal, a theatre play, 1911 Inşir'te, mărgărite!, a fairy tale, 1911/2

In December 1911, the theatrical magazine Rampa published a note under the heading The Cinema in the Theatre (signed by V. Scânteie) indicating that Maestro Nottara is in the course of making a patriotic work re-creating the Romanian War of Independence on film, so that today's generations might learn the story of the battles of 1877, and for future generations a live tableau of Romanian bravery will remain.
As a result, the director of the Bucharest branch of the Gaumont-Paris studio, Raymond Pellerin, announced the premiere of his film Războiul din 1877-1878, scheduled for 29 December 1911. A film made in haste, with a troupe of second-hand actors and with the help of General Constantinescu, who commanded a division at Piteşti, from whom he had obtained the extras needed for the war scenes, Războiul din 1877-1878 was screened a day before by the prefect of the capital's police, who decided that it did not correspond with historic fact. Consequently, the film was confiscated and destroyed, Raymond Pellerin was declared persona non grata and he left for Paris, while the collaborationist general saw himself moved to another garrison as a means of discipline.
On 5 May 1912, the magazine Flacăra brought to its readers' attention the fact that "as it is known, a few artists have founded a society with the goal of producing a film about the War of Independence... Such an undertaking deserves to be applauded". The initiators were a group of actors: Constantin Nottara, Aristide Demetriade, Vasile Toneanu, Iancu Brezeanu, Nicolae Soreanu, Petre Liciu, as well as the young Grigore Brezeanu, associate producer and the creative force behind the whole operation. Since a large amount of money was needed for the production, they also brought into this effort Leon Popescu, a wealthy man and owner of the Lyric Theatre. The group received strong backing from government authorities, with the army and all necessary equipment being placed at its disposal, plus military advisers (possibly including Pascal Vidraşcu). The camera and its operator was brought from abroad, and the print was prepared in Parisian laboratories. The film's production crew was as follows: Producers: Leon Popescu, Aristide Demetriade, Vasile Toneanu, Nicolae Soreanu, Petre Liciu, Grigore Brezeanu, Constantin Nottara, Pascal Vidraşcu. Screenwriters: Petre Liciu, Constantin Nottara and Aristide Demetriade. Director: Aristide Demetriade. Cinematographer: Franck Daniau. Makeup and hairstylist: Pepi Machauer.
On 1 September 1912, at the Eforie cinema the premiere took place. Despite all its shortcomings as the theatrical game of the actors, the errors of an army of extras uncontrolled by direction which provoked unintended laughter in some scenes and rendered dramatically limp those of the beginning, the film was well received by spectators, being shown for several weeks. Through this realization, through the dimensions of its theme, through the distribution method chosen, through the genuine artistic intentions, through its professional editing (for the time), the creation of this film can be considered Romania's first step in the art of cinematography.
And yet he who had realized this work, the man who kept the whole team together, the theater director Grigore Brezeanu, was left disappointed. The press of the time made ostentatious mention of Leon Popescu, who financed the film and made sure to distance the other financiers, buying their part; no such praise was heaped on the artistic makers of the film. This caused producer Grigore Brezeanu to say in an interview given to the magazine Rampa and published on 13 April 1913: My dream would have been to build a large film studio. I have come to believe that this is impossible. First of all, we are missing a large capital investment. Without money we cannot rival the foreign studios...A studio, according to our financiers, is something outside art, something in the realm of agriculture or the C.F.R. Hence I have abandoned this dream with great regret.






Hai să o dau puţin şi pe româneşte :) Nu a fost chiar primul nostru film, dar pe aproape. Pentru mine filmul ăsta e o minune: să îi vezi în carne şi oase pe câţiva din cei mai mari actori pe care i-a avut teatrul românesc, pe Demetriade, pe Nottara, pe Romaneasca (aşa o alintau, pare-se cronicarii dramatici ai vremii). Şi nu numai ei, Brezeanu, Toneanu, Soreanu, Liciu... Am citit în copilărie o Istorie a Teatrului Naţional (scrisă de Ioan Massoff), am citit-o din scoarţă în scoarţă, şi toată viaţa am regretat lipsa unei maşini a timpului, să îi văd şi eu în carne şi oase. Iar filmul acesta mi-a dat prilejul să pătrund şi mai adânc în epoca aceea, să aflu de Teatrul Liric din Piaţa Walter Mărăcineanu şi de directorul său Leon Popescu... sau de Pepi Machauer, formidabilul as al machiajului din acest film...


(Filmofilia)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

City of Imagination: Kowloon Walled City

photo: Bobby Yip/Reuters
(source: Tech Insider)
no copyright infringement insider

Between the 1950s and 1994, tens of thousands of immigrants constructed a towering community 12 stories high across a 6.4-acre lot in Hong Kong. It was called Kowloon Walled City. With a population of 33,000 squeezed into the tiny lot, the city was 119 times denser at its peak than present-day New York City. Although it faced high levels of crime and poor sanitation, the city was also impressively self-sustainable — until its demolition in 1993.

Read more in:




City of Imagination: Kowloon Walled City 20 Years Later
(video by Wall Street Journal)

The Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was once the densest place on earth, a virtually lawless labyrinth of crime, grime, commerce and hope. A Wall Street Journal documentary tracks its colorful legacy and brings the place alive 20 years later:



photo: Greg Girard
(source: Tech Insider)
no copyright infringement insider



(Filmofilia)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Răsună Valea, 1949

Răsună Valea, 1949
(source: cinemagia)
no copyright infringement intended

.A classic Communist inspirational movie about the building of a railroad through the mountains. Thousands of young volunteers sign up to work on the site. There's tunnels to be drilled, rock to be blasted, earth to be moved... Besides the work there are other perilous things jeopardizing the site such as the malevolence of persons such as lazy Niki. Conspiracy also seems to be aiming at putting the project in peril. Towards the end of the movie, everybody seems to realize that they need to work together for the good of others by building the railroad. The enemies of the project-some of which are even brigadiers- are being exposed and face the consequences of their betrayal. The peasant Ion leads the pack who finally gets the railroad built.

Considerată prima realizare a cinematografiei socialiste româneşti, în regia lui Paul Călinescu şi cu o distribuţie de zile mari, filmul descrie avântul patriotic al miilor de tineri care în 1948, la chemarea Uniunii Tineretului Muncitoresc (UTM) au venit din toate colţurile ţării să construiască linia ferată Bumbeşti-Livezeni. Tinerii brigadieri, într-o epocă în care a nu fi cu noi însemna a fi împotriva noastră, sunt plini de patos revoluţionar, dar se confruntă cu vicisitudinile vremii, cu iarna ce le umflă ochii de frig, cu vara toridă ce-i asudă, cu utilaje şi metode de lucru rudimentare, cu cei leneşi, cu cei care vor să saboteze construcţia tunelului montan (duşmanii poporului), şi cu iubiri desigur.





Într-adevăr o distribuţie de zile mari: Marcel Anghelescu, Geo Barton, Radu Beligan, Nicolae Sireteanu, Ion Talianu, Eugenia Popovici, Maria Voluntaru, Angela Chiuaru, Ionescu-Ghibericon, Marcel Enescu, Pop Marţian, Puiu Hulubei, şi alături de ei într-o scenă de cuplete Horia Şerbănescu şi Trio Grigoriu. Unii dintre ei au rămas în conştiinţa noastră şi astăzi, alţii, cum se întâmplă, sunt uitaţi. Păcat! I-am văzut la teatru, sau am citit despre rolurile lor de-a lungul anilor, i-am văzut în filme, sigur că nu în toate în care au jucat, că nu se putea.

Cine dintre ei m-a impresionat în filmul acesta cel mai mult? Radu Beligan desigur, steeling the show ca în orice alt rol în care a jucat în teatru sau film de-a lungul lungii sale vieţi, un artist cu o personalitate covârşitoare. Era tânăr atunci, în 1949, şi avea să rămână formidabil de tânăr, şi tot timpul pe scenă, până la nouăzeci şi şapte de ani, când inima a încetat să îi mai bată.

Pe Nicolae Sireteanu mi-l amintesc de pe când eram elev, venea câteodată la noi la liceu la serbări, aveam o sală de festivităţi impresionantă, în care a şi funcţionat pentru câţiva ani un teatru, venea, cum zic, şi recita pe scena sălii. Nu-l mai văzusem însă în alte filme (şi a mai jucat în câteva). Iar aici era chiar la primul său film, ca şi Geo Barton, un alt actor pe care l-am admirat mult în tot ce a jucat. În schimb Marcel Anghelescu, alt mare actor, jucase în timpul războiului în Ziua cumpătării în 1942, alături de Florica Demion şi de Ion Manu, în regia lui Jean Georgescu, şi în Escadrila albă în 1944, alături de Lucia Sturza Bulandra, în regia lui Ion Sava. Amintirea unui mare artist cheamă amintirea altora, un univers al vieţilor trăite pe scenă sau pe platoul de filmare.

Pe Pop Marţian l-am văzut prima dată în filmul acesta, Răsună Valea. Şi apăruse pe ecran încă în 1925, în Năbădăile Cleopatrei, regizat de Ion Şahighian. Juca acolo alături de Nicolae Soreanu şi de Jean Georgescu, cel care în primul rând a fost poate unul dintre cei mai mari regizori ai noştri. Dar aş putea vorbi de fiecare din actorii aceştia la nesfârşit.

Un film comunist, din epoca lui Ana, Luca şi cu Dej bagă spaima în burgheji. Am văzut filme mari făcute de regizori pasionaţi de idealurile comuniste. Eisenstein, sau Vertov, sau Ivens, ca să dau doar câteva exemple. Artişti mari, intrând uneori în conflict cu autorităţile politice comuniste, pentru că operele lor erau prea îndrăzneţe (artistic sau politic), ori puneau unele întrebări care nu mai conveneau. Răsună Valea era însă un film făcut strict la comandă politică. Regimul comunist de abia instaurat în România avea nevoie de un film reprezentativ. Au chemat un regizor foarte bun (care însă cu greu putea fi bănuit de convingeri comuniste; în timpul războiului făcuse filme la comanda politică a regimului antonescian: România în lupta contra bolşevismului, premiat la Veneţia in 1941, şi altele cu aceeaşi tematică). Paul Călinescu era de fapt mult mai mult decât foarte bun, era un regizor din aceeaşi clasă cu Jean Georgescu. La Veneţia fusese premiat şi în 1939, pentru Ţara Moţilor. Acum trebuia să lucreze la comanda noilor stăpâni. În 1947 a făcut documentarul Agnita Botorca, considerat vârf al filmografiei personale (Valerian Sava). Cei care nu au trăit anii de atunci îl pot învinui cu uşurinţă de oportunism. Ar fi bine să îşi aducă aminte de vorba lui Miron Costin (dacă au auzit-o), că nu sunt vremurile sub om, ci bietul om sub vremuri. Pentru Răsună Valea i s-a dat un detaşament întreg de actori foarte buni, pentru muzica filmului a fost ales Paul Constantinescu (creatorul unor Oratorii Bizantine de mare rafinament), iar scenariul i-a revenit lui Mircea Ştefănescu (un dramaturg de talent care dupa război s-a dedicat scrierii unor piese de teatru dedicate marilor personalităţi ale istoriei noastre: îmi amintesc de Eminescu al lui pe care l-am văzut în 1964 la Naţional; şi îmi amintesc cum am văzut Micul Infern, eram în armată şi ne-au dus la teatru, la Bacău - nu mai ştiu ce naiba am făcut în seara aceea că la întoarcere m-au băgat direct la bulău, până a doua zi de dimineaţă).

A avut Paul Călinescu la dispoziţie tot ce îşi putea dori. Însă cel mai de folos i-a fost colaboratorul său fidel de la mai toate filmele pe care le-a facut, operatorul Wilfried Ott. Iar într-adevăr imaginile acestui film sunt extraordinare.



(Filmofilia)

Monday, July 18, 2016

The NO Parties

(source: El Pais)
no copyright infringement intended


As the tsunami caused by BREXIT reverberates all over the place, Orlando is followed by Dallas which is followed by Baton Rouge. Meanwhile Dhaka is followed by Nice which is followed by Ankara. Never a dull moment. We're beginning to think possibly WWIII to start over the night. You go to bed on Friday night and you think the world is as it is. You get up on Saturday morning in a totally different universe. ¡Hasta la vista, baby!

In order to keep cool and not get mad, maybe it's a good idea to read some analysis, as objective as it can be, and try to understand things. I found this analysis firstly in Spanish, then the original in English. It's about the European NO parties. The two authors, Susi Dennison and Dina Pardijs, work with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Not that I would agree with everything there. Firstly, many say that the extremes are touching each other, I reject this totally. Sometimes the two extremes can discover a joint interest and act together, however they remain distinct. Sometimes one of the extremes discovers a joint interest with some political force from the center, it's the same thing, they remain distinct. Thus I cannot agree with analyzing in block the extreme right and the extreme left, though both are NO parties.





Susi Dennison
Director of European Power programme, ECFR



Dina Pardijs
Programme coordinator, European Power, ECFR




(Zoon Politikon)

NY: The Week Pokémon Go Took Central Park

el juego de la verdad
(source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5d17wtYuBs)
no copyright infringement intended




(source: NY Times)





(New York, New York)

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

There Is A New Lady In Town

photo by Dominic Lipinski/Pool/AP
(source: People)
no copyright infringement intended


Sgeulachd gun faclan

(that's in Gaelic; if you don't know it, shame on you!)



(Zoon Politikon)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ben Judah, England’s Last Gasp of Empire

Queen Elizabeth II attending a service
of the Order of the British Empire
St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2012
Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph, via Associated Press
(source: NY Times)
no copyright infringement intended


From Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England was an empire. No more. Brexit has turned the twilight years of the reign of Elizabeth II into the final chapter in the history of Great Britain ... Why did England choose this? The key is not sovereignty but a rejection of ethnic change. “It’s not England anymore,” people told me as I traveled around the country covering the referendum ... “We don’t recognize our country anymore.” Ben Judah in today's NY Times:




(Tim and Ben Judah)

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Tim and Ben Judah

Tim Judah
(source: Matthisvalerie in WikiMedia)
no copyright infringement intended




Ben Judah
(source: European Council on Foreign Relations)
no copyright infringement intended


Both are British journalists and authors. Tim is Ben's father. Born in 1962, Tim Judah studied at London School of Economics and at Tufts, then began a career of correspondent in hot zones around the world, reporting from El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, North Korea. In 1989 he moved to Bucharest, to work there for The Times and The Economist. In 1991 he moved to Belgrade covering the Balkan wars for the British media and authoring several books focused on the Yugoslav drama (the first of them being The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, published in 1997 - criticized by Charles Simic for ethnic bias - truth is that is hard not to be biased in such a complex matter). Once the Euromaidan started, Tim began reporting from Kiev. His most recent book (In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine, 2015) covers the Ukrainian situation. As for the son, Ben, he was born in 1988 and spent his childhood in Bucharest and Belgrade, following his father, and attending French schools in both places. Back in England he continued his French education at the London Lycée Charles de Gaulle (aside English and French he is fluent in Russian), and then studied Modern History and Politics at Oxford. As a journalist he spent several years in Russia, traveling all over the place throughout the former Soviet Union, reporting from Caucasus, Siberia, and Central Asia, covering the war in Georgia and the revolution in Kyrgyzstan, and writing a book (Fragile Empire, 2013) that analyzes the evolution of Putin's Russia. Ben also traveled to Tunisia (during the 2011 Revolution) and Xinjiang (the Wild West of China, as he named it in Standpoint - actually a region with a very distinct national identity, threatened by the centralizing policies of the Beijing regime). He worked with the European Council on Foreign Relations, continuing there his research on Russian politics, and with the European Stability Initiative, focusing on the Russo-Turkish relations. His second book (This is London) was published this year and is an epic account of contemporary London ... motivated by a desire to show our capital in its true (new) colours: as a megacity of global migrants, some of them rich, most of them poor, few of them happy with their lot (The Guardian).





(A Life in Books)

(Zoon Politikon)

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Friday, July 08, 2016

Virginia Woolf (and Edward Albee)

Virginia Woolf in 1902
by George Charles Beresford
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended


My first encounter with the name of Virginia Woolf took place in Bucharest, by the mid of the seventies. At the National Theater, Radu Beligan and Marcela Rusu, Valeria Seciu and Costel Constantin were playing George and Martha, Honey and Nick, the old couple and the young one, in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. My knowledge of modern English literature (and generally of modern literature) was next to nothing. I had read a decent number of authors, but all of them were from the 19th century. A Romanian book about the post-war English and American theater had come just in time to show me new horizons (together with a long article published in one of the few liberal magazines allowed to exist in the Communist country that was by then Romania). It was a period of cultural opening (it didn't last long, that's another story), and some of these English or American guys began to be staged in one or another of the Bucharest theaters. So I went to see Albee's play, eager to swallow that modern mentality, to get familiar with that world, as much as I could. You know, I was young and enthusiastic.

It was much later that I understood that the name of Virginia Woolf was used in the play just as a pun (as well as the names of George and Martha: just another pun - a reference this time to George Washington and his wife). Irreverent puns? Well, yes, young rebels are always irreverent.

I was no more young when I had the occasion to visit Washington's places, a great journey that I made on the Potomac, admiring the view of all those superb manors strung on the Virginian shore between Alexandria and Mount Vernon, enduring a heavy rain (sheltered under the boat's roof), and listening to the stories of the captain, a guy with a respectable white beard pretending to be an old buccaneer. As I said, I was no more young, and through the years I had got the habit to be sometimes irreverent myself (for good or bad reasons). So all kind of puns (some of them innocent) came to my mind as I was walking through Washington's manor, or along the houses of his slaves, or in the exhibition showing his farming preoccupations (or just listening to the story of his false teeth).

And much, much later, I learned that George and Martha from Albee's play were based on a real couple famous in the New York artistic world of the fifties, Willard Maas and Marie Menken. A great couple, promoting the new trends, with a formidable vision of what the arts should become, mentoring the young artists, instilling in them the courage to experiment. And yes, the two having a well known tempestuous relationship. Albee knew them well and actually Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a subtle tribute, an accolade if you like, a modern form of tribute (irreverent and paradoxical, why not?) paid to these promoters of modernity. I have to tell you sometime about the movies they made these two guys, Maas and Menken, and about their importance in the modernist movement of that epoch.

And perhaps I should tell you also about my other encounters with the name of Virginia Woolf.




(A Life in Books)

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

Arcadio Díaz Quiñones y su edición de La Guaracha del Macho Camacho

Arcadio Díaz Quiñones
(fuente: 80 Grados)
no copyright infringement intended

Nació en Puerto Rico. Hizo sus estudios en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, donde fue profesor durante más de veinte años. Mentor de muchos profesores y profesoras de literatura, ha tenido desde siempre una participación muy activa en los debates políticos e intelectuales más relevantes del país y del mundo. Desde 1982 es profesor de literatura hispanoamericana en la Universidad de Princeton.
(fuente: 80 Grados)

¡Finalmente lo hice! He encontrado en Amazon La guaracha del Macho Camacho por Luis Rafael Sánchez, tanto el original (una espléndida edición con uno studio introductorio de nivel académico escrito por Arcadio Díaz Quiñones) como la traducción en Inglés de Gregory Rabassa (Macho Camacho's Beat). Traté de comenzar a leer desde el original, ¡pero es duro! Argot puertorriqueño pesadamente, además la pasión del autor de jugar con las palabras y frases para crear retruécanos y sugerir referencias sutiles, literarios, políticos, históricos ... sobre el mundo puertorriqueño. Pienso que leer el original y la traducción en paralelo, de lo contrario sería imposible para mí en esta etapa. Leí en primer lugar el estudio introductorio de Arcadio Díaz Quiñones. Fui capaz de leerlo y de comprenderlo, para mi sorpresa, y para mi alegría. Una gran entrada en el universo del libro, así como un resumen exhaustivo de las sugerencias realizadas por Rafael Sánchez a través de sus retruécanos. Voy a volver.


(Una Vida Entre Libros)

(Luis Rafael Sánchez)

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Saturday, July 02, 2016

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Arrangements

illustration by John Cuneo
(source: NY Times)
no copyright infringement intended


Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.

The NY Times Book Review asked Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to write a short story related to the current US presidential campaign. She came with The Arrangements, a very contemporary replica to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, with Melania Trump as Clarissa:




(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

(Virginia Woolf)

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Žižek, Disorder under the Heaven

(source: The Guardian)
no copyright infringement intended



Slavoj Žižek in DiEM25 about BREXIT:




(Zoon Politikon)

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