Film and Writing (M.A)
Focus in Film: Adaptation from Literature, Horror Filmmaking Styles and Auteur Cinema
Book Review: "Water Shall Refuse Them" by Louise McKnight Hardy
I adore the realm of folk horror which tends to include some far-away atmosphere of a forest, wooded area or even something like a ‘Wicker Man’ like surrounding. Only a few books can do that successfully without making it look cliché, forced or even too ‘fairy-tale’ in design. One of the books that does this folklorish atmosphere very well is Daniel Kehlmann’s “Tyll” and another one I will say that is honestly one of the best atmospheres of a novel I have read this year is Louise McKnight Hardy’s “Water Shall Refuse Them”. Now, at first when you start reading the novel, you will never guess what the title means, the penny only really drops at the end and the reason is that you have to read the whole novel to find out why the title is actually very important to make everything fall into place and to help us understand the character of Jennifer. As we delve further into the book, we realise as well that something is seriously wrong with the way that Jennifer presents herself to the reader. The way in which she behaves with her family may seem like the average arrogance of a teenager but, in fact, it is something far more disturbing and to be honest - by the end of the book you will have to make up your own mind about her character.
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" and Dark Orientalism
Orientalism is a colonial/postcolonial theory that intersperses aestheticism and exoticism within its midst. Written in his book of the same name, Edward Said made a case for why colonial Britain and its imperialist culture used exotic items as a fetishisation and flirtation of wealth. In a decadent culture which was admittedly richly disgusting, the pinnacle of wealth is represented by items from India, Persia and other countries of the Eastern World that were under imperialist rule or were thought to have looser morals than the upper class of the British folk. Another more sinister and yet believable idea of Orientalism is that to own parts of cultures that were either under British rule or, by most, were not but should have been because of the ‘loose morals’ argument was an act of ownership which the British upper class of the late Victorian Era often felt entitled to. Since the empire was theirs, so was the authority and therefore, so were the goods - including the famed diamond which is still in England today. Edward Said states a message about the ideas surrounding this kind of authority and what they mean:
Book Review: "Dear Reader" by Cathy Rentzenbrink
When it comes to writing, I would personally love to write an autobiography like this one when I’m a little older. Writing a book about how much you appreciate books and the authors behind them is a special kind of personal autobiography in which you can really get close to the narrator and where their lives are leading them. It is also a great chance to share some really great book recommendations with the reader. For me, I have read quite a few (but not all!) of the books within this autobiography. I was more or less stunned by the fact that the novel “The Reader” by Bernard Schlink was included. I was told to read that in sixth form and I really did not get over the emotional scarring it left on me. The books are not all good though, some of them are ones that I did not wholeheartedly agree with but then again, it is not my autobiography. You should all take one lesson from this book if any: read what you feel like and do not let anyone else tell you that what you are reading is not ‘worthy’ or that it doesn’t make you ‘academic’ in reading.
The Importance of Reading “Swann’s Way” by Marcel Proust
Born in the July of 1871 in France, Marcel Proust would go on to write what is considered to be one of the longest novels ever accomplished in human history. Sometimes called either “A Remembrance of Things Past” or more commonly, “In Search of Lost Time” - this book starts off with the first and possibly most famous volume - “Swann’s Way”. “Swann’s Way” is about the narrator’s memory of a man of elegance and style, a Jewish man named Charles Swann who would bring the family apricots in a basket and eventually began speaking to the narrator of a writer that he knew and the young narrator was obsessed with the idea of. But before this, we get various memories of a family who owns a home in Combray and how Charles Swann initially became a hinderance in the narrator’s life. An exercise in the futility of familial relations and a display of how one person can hinder another’s life and upbringing. This metaphorical flower of a narrator can never actually flower since Charles Swann is being entertained downstairs whilst the child narrator is therefore being deprived of his mother’s goodnight kiss and such. There is a massive importance to reading this novel today, especially if you wanted to start to understand how French Literature slowly made its way from Victor Hugo’s older and more revolutionary one into this newer one in which decadence was a slowly dying trade and people were afraid of whenever the next war may break out. The emotional maturity of this novel never ceases to amaze and enlighten me as to exactly how many emotions are actually possible for one human being.
Book Review: "You Let Me In" by Camilla Bruce
If you know me then you also know that I absolutely adore folk horror with all of my heart and more. Not just the Faustian Pact we see in the play by Christopher Marlowe and Goethe’s iconic masterpiece. But also more modern books such as: “Bellman and Black” by Diane Setterfield, “A Cosmology of Monsters” by Shaun Hamill, the modern masterpiece “Tyll” by Daniel Kehlmann and there are many more. Folk horror, I am proud to say, is making a very special comeback amongst the film scene with the films of Ari Aster becoming ever more popular and ever more folkloric, and I can only hope that this spills over into literature and we get a flood of folk horror because I will have so much more to read. Just imagine me as an anime character with those big massive heart eyes and that is pretty much what I will look like. But now you’re going to probably ask: what is folk horror? Folk horror is simple. It takes folkloric archetypes such as fairies, magic beings, faustian pacts, etc. and works them into the real world, creating a disturbing mix between the real and unreal. This is exactly what “You Let Me In” by Camilla Bruce does as well. And it does it so well that I almost put the book back down it was that repulsive.
Book Review: "Palace of the Drowned" by Christine Mangan
When it comes to literature about or set in Italy, there are many that I have read. There is a beautiful book about the Medici by Christopher Hibbert - quite a prolific writer of some of the most incredible cities and times in the world including the French Revolution. There is also an amazing book by the late and legendary author Jan Morris entitled “Venice”. It has to be the greatest book I have ever read about the city and in the top five I have ever read about or set in Italy - it is a vibrant, historical and near-perfect guide to the history and culture of such an exquisite place. There are a number of others including obviously “Innocence” by Penelope Fitzgerald, “Hannibal” by Thomas Harris and also the strange and horrific “Monster of Florence” which is a nonfiction novel by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi - based on the true story of a serial killer that terrorised Florence some time ago.
Book Review: "If We Were Villains" by M.L Rio
Shakespeare has always been a great inspiration to me. I have numerous posters of him on my bedroom walls and I own many many books and secondary sources on Shakespeare. Studying him for years dating from the age of twelve all the way through to being twenty-three then continuing my studies into Shakespeare on my own has been one hell of a ride. To this day, re-reading “Richard II” and “Richard III” (two of my favourite plays), I have been discovering new things after more than ten years of research. One thing I always love is when a writer entwines the principles, themes, words and characters of Shakespeare with their own work. It shows not only an appreciation and an understanding, but I love reading about how the writer has interpreted the text and obviously, I absolutely adored this one by ML Rio.
A Filmmaker's Review: "The Colour of Pomegranates" (1969)
When we talk about international film, people normally assume we are talking about films made outside of Hollywood and that, in fact is true. But others normally assume also that films made outside of Hollywood are not as good as the films made inside Hollywood and that is not only not true, but most of the films made internationally are some that Hollywood could not hold a candle to. One of these said movies that Hollywood cannot come close to in terms of imagination and artistic ability is “The Colour of Pomegranates” (1969). A 1969 Soviet Union film which has a primary language of Armenian means that this film holds a lot of history, culture and background to why the poetic and artistic pronunciations of the film would have caused it to be banned. Hollywood does not really have that problem unless the film outright goes against certain beliefs of stricter countries such as Korea, China and Israel. This film was in fact, banned by sections of the Soviet Union and so, we can see that there is some viewing pleasure there in knowing that it presents a fairly different light on to biographical film.