Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Watched and read

I saw The Seventh Seal, one of those iconic films I'd never got round to before. Quck overview: a knight 'Antonius Block' (crazy name, crazy guy) returns from the crusades to find his country ravaged by the black death. He travels with his squire, occasionally hallucinating (?) a chess-game with Death, encountering iconic people, and having Existentialist thoughts. It's only 90 minutes and well worth the watching. It just rocks along, frankly. It's not at all slow or over-intellectual.

I knew that this was one of those iconic and influential films, but it was very funny to see it, and realise how many other things are almost spin-offs. Just on the comedy side: Monty Python, Bill and Ted, Blackadder, Woody Allen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Terry Pratchett. And you won't believe me but it is a kind of comedy itself.

I watched the BBC dramatisation of the William Golding trilogy 'To the Ends of the Earth'. This was an interesting companion to the Seventh seal as it is concerned with the same Christian/Humanist/Existentialist interface, but obviously from a Christian p.o.v. I like this trilogy a lot, and I'm re-reading the third book, Fire Down Below, right now. Quick overview: a priggish demi-aristocrat sails to Australia in about 1812. He isn't a particularly appealing character, but he journeys through a kind of Repentence into a better person. There are a lot of good characters and good writing, the first book put me through the emotional wringer in a big way - I was sobbing when I read it.

You may disagree, but I think compared to other nautical books like Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian, this is on a higher plane altogether.

The production, three 90 minute episodes, obviously lost a lot of detail, but I think it preserved the overall structure and feel very well. Most of all I thought the acting was excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch was marvellous as the prig. He wasn't afraid to make himself unappealing. Sam Neill was also good as a Godwin-alike radical. The governess Miss Granham was I thought one of the strongest female characters I have seen on mainstream TV for some time.

Discussions by immortalradical here and chance88088 here make me want to re-read If on a Winters Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino.
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