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Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman: The Last of the Mohicans—Promontory (1992)

One of my favourite pieces of cinematic music; the base tune is actually adapted from a portion of “The Gael”, written and recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean in 1990. MacLean, in turn, was probably influenced by a much older melody which appears frequently in songs collectively known as “Las Folías de España“, widely adapted by a number of Baroque composers (Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli).  It has also been adapted more recently by Trevor Morris for Season 1 of The Tudors (his version is called “A Historic Love“).


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The Screen Traveller: Hong Kong, Gateway to China (1938)

Here is an 11-minute travelogue showing the colony in happy times, 3 years prior to hostilities in the Second World War.

On November 16th, 1941, Canadian reinforcements from the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada arrived in Hong Kong to bolster the colony’s garrison. The Japanese launched their invasion on December 8th, and three days later, D Company of the Winnipeg Grenadiers became the first Canadian Army unit to see ground combat in the Second World War.

CBC has an interesting audio account from survivors of the battle, along with some interesting nuggets of information. Perhaps most illuminating is the fact that more Canadians sent to Hong Kong died as prisoners of war (550+) than in the fighting (290).

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The Barber of Siberia (1998) – Tsar Alexander III and cadets

The impressive martial pomp and ceremony of late 19th century Imperial Russia, as imagined by modern filmmakers.  (Via the Tiger on Politics.)

As Mikhalov likes to say about Barber of Siberia, in a phrase that reveals the extent to which his film about the heroic past is intended as a blueprint for the troubled present, “It is not about what was, but about what ought to be.”

— Larsen, Susan. National Identity, Cultural Authority, and the Post-Soviet Blockbuster: Nikita Mikhalov and Aleksei Balabanov. Slavic Review, Vol. 62, No. 3, (Autumn 2003), p. 493.

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Airplane! vs. Zero Hour!

There are probably few of you that didn’t realise this, but 1980’s Airplane! was not just a spoof of Airport-style disaster dramas, but a very specific satirical retelling of 1957’s Zero Hour!

The producers of Airplane! actually bought the rights to Zero Hour! so that scenes and lines of dialogue could be lifted wholesale, then sold the rights once production was finished and the satire was released.

CANADIAN CONTENT WARNING: Interestingly enough, Zero Hour! was itself a retooling of Arthur Hailey’s story Flight into Danger, televised in 1956 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (and starring James Doohan, later to find fame with Star Trek).

The astute viewer will note that Zero Hour‘s main protagonist, Ted Striker, is actually a Canadian, and he is travelling within Canada (from Montréal to Vancouver) aboard a fictional Canadian airline. There are subtle nods to this throughout the film—characters speak about a Toronto Argonauts football game, the air traffic control stations are all Canadian cities, and the DC-4 aircraft even carries an appropriate Canadian registry (beginning with C-F).

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News you can use

…from the world of cinema, via Cracked magazine.

  • Good news! A zombie outbreak would fail without a whole lot of effort and toil. Zombie ecology renders them more or less designed to fail:

    …Their main form of reproduction is also their only source of food and their top predator. If they want to eat or reproduce, they have to go toe to toe with their number one predator every single time. That’s like having to fight a lion every time you to want to have sex or make a sandwich. Actually, it’s worse than that: Most top predators are only armed with teeth and claws, meaning they have to put themselves in harm’s way to score a kill. Humans have rifles. The zombies have no choice but to walk into bullets.

    — Dietle, David.  “7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly).” Cracked.com, 17 August 2010.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark was a brilliant movie when I saw it as a kid, but in the light of adult reflection, its plot made no sense whatsoever. This and five other films could have had their plot lines solved in a couple of minutes, at best.

    Instead of stealing and re-stealing the Ark from the Nazis, Indiana Jones and the U.S. Army should have been rooting for them to find it. Their best case scenario is that the Nazis mission goes exactly according to plan: find it, ship it off to Germany and open it in a lavish pageant in Berlin with the whole Nazi high command in attendance. That was what they had planned to do all along. All the top Nazis in Berlin, including Hitler, front and center at the grand opening of a device that has a reputation for melting the faces of anyone in its vicinity.

    It’d not only be the end of the movie, but of the whole damned war.

    — della Quercia, Jacopo.  “6 Movie Plots That Could Have Been Solved In Minutes.” Cracked.com, 11 August 2010.

    Amen to that.

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Ikaria XB1 (1963)

Icarus XB1

Future Czech cosmonauts survey a derelict spacecraft from (presumably extinct) capitalist nations, launched in 1987.

In one of history’s supreme ironies, these retro-cosmonauts expected black tie attire, cocktails and gambling aboard Western craft—amenities today’s government-funded astronauts are sorely lacking; but then we have decided to do without a manned spaceflight program at all.  With the demise of the shuttle program, our astronauts will ride into orbit aboard Russian or private craft, and other astronauts/space tourists of the future will indeed be the wealthy who can afford such $200,000-per-trip trifles.