dinsdag 29 november 2011

Magic, science and Christmas

A while ago I saw the movies Thor and Beginners. At first sight you would think they wouldn't have that much in commen. And that is correct. But what they do have in commen is that they both had a quote about magic which cought my attention.

"I come from a world where magic and science are the same thing" - Thor

"Well, magic's just science that we don't understand yet." - Foster in Thor.  

A long time ago, a lot of things would have been called 'magic'. Nowadays we are to evolved to think so. If not and you voice your opinion, you will probably be shrugged or laughed at. Lighting doesn't come from the God Zeus, but it's a reaction between clouds and their temperatures (or something... If you wanna know the whole story, go look it up. I'm no pro). A rainbow doesn't have a pot of gold, but is also just a reaction between the sun and rain drops. People get healed not by the powers of (any kind of) God, but by medicine. At least that's what most people say. But some people still believe.  Like the quote above, I would like to say that magic is science that isn't understood yet. Therefor it's magical, because we can't understand it yet. There are people who can't accept that and need to find out what's behind it, but there are also people who simply enjoy that it's a wonder of the world. My question would be 'Why take the magic out of everything?' I guess that it also has a lot to do with the fact that people can't accept something when they don't understand it. I'd say that that is their loss. 

It's wonderful to see a rainbow and enjoy the beauty of it. To look at the clouds and find shapes of animals in them. To look at the world and let yourself be amazed. There is one time when a lot of people are suddenly open to this way of thinking and that's Christmas time. In the United States they have Santa Claus with his reindeers and elves, who do magical things. And pretty much every Christmas movie is about adults having lost their faith or ability to believe in magic and finding it again through children. Children believe and for them the world is a magical place. At least until they get too old and society sets them straight. In my opinion that's too bad. There is enough stress in the world and people worry too much (me included). And if you can't enjoy some of the magical things in life, life itself (i.e. the stress, responsibilities, family ties, duties) may destroy you.

"People like us, half of them think it will never work out. The other half believe in magic." - Anne in Beginners.
You can choose to see the magic in life. I'm not saying it has to be 'real' magic, like the stuff they show in (science) fiction shows, such as Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But you could see the magic, or the wonder, in everyday life.  Isn't it amazing that we are able to see the stars and watch the moon shine, even though we can't see the sun that makes it visible to us? To be able to communicate with everyone over the world, even though we are miles apart? To play around with frozen water: snow? Or like the quote suggests: love and relationships. Isn't it wonderful to have someone you love and who loves you back? Isn't that kind off a miracle?

Every person has a choice in what he/she does or doesn't see. Like I said above: Christmas time has something magical about it. That's why some people call it 'the most magical time of the year'. What makes it even more magical is that everything seems better. When snow has fallen down and everything is covered, it feels like a clean slate. A new start. To me that's magical. Everything is equal. There are Christmas ligths everywhere and that also has a magical feeling to it. It brings light in the darkness. It helped the three kings find baby Jesus and helps people who are lost to find their way. It also (usually) helps bring people together. Whether that is to help a good cause (and donate money), to finally open your heart to people who are different (whether that be in wealth, color/race or partner choice) or in your own family. In a way it's actually kind of strange that a certain time of the year can inspire so much good in people... I also choose to see the magic in that. I truly believe that if you can believe in magic and have faith, nothing will ever be a lost cause. Because there is always a chance that something wonderful can happen.

 Why does it look like magic? 
(Besides the fact that this is a still from HP, I mean)

p.s. I do not own any of the material, but my own words.

woensdag 16 november 2011

Guilty Pleasures

Everyone has them, right? And probably more then one... So do I. One of mine is still Disney movies, specifically animated: I think they are amazing. I just watched Rapunzel (aka Tangled) last week and it made me remember just how much I love them. In my oppinion they are even better when they give a more educated audience something to watch as well and that is why I LOVE the movie Hercules.

(so funny)

First impressions
The first time I went to the movie theatre my parents took me and my two sisters to the Disney movie Aladdin. We came in late and had to sit on the balcony, on the floor. And I can't even remember that much, but I do remember that. Besides the obvious: the songs. Who doesn't know 'A Whole New World'? Other movies I grew up with were Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Dumbo (to name a few). When you're a kid, you don't really think about them. You simply enjoy the story, the music and how it looks. It's entertaiment... But I really fell in love with Pocahontas. More specifically when I found out that it was based on a true story. I found out that I am really interested in the true story and a few years ago I took a course about the history and culture of America and I finally read about it. 

Layers, layers, layers
Disney movies can teach you a lot and I think they taught me a lot. Like with Pocahontas, they give a sense of history. Different cultures, the discovery of new land, the diferences there are and how even though people might be different, it doens't mean one is better than the other. You would think that a lot of us would already know that, but some people don't. There are lessons, which I think you should learn from your family. But not all people think the same. And of course that's not a problem, because it's good that they are and it should be respected. But children should grow up knowing the differences in the world and how when one person has an opinion it doesn't have to be the same as yours. And that is where Disney movies can help. My parents are very open minded, but the movies made me ask the questions. So there are many layers in a movie and they can inspire children at a very young age to start thinking for themselves and aks questions. 

Also for adults
Like I said, one of my favorites is Hercules. I watched this one when I didn't know anything about the ancient Greeks or Greek Gods. When I went to high school I got lessons in Greek and Latin. We had to translate myths and that's how I learned a lot about it. But I always came back to that movie, because it introduced it to me. And when I watch it again, I notice so much more than when I was younger and 'unknowing'. Of course this goes for many movies, but in this one you get to learn about an entire new world with Olympos, Cerberus and fauns. When you meet Phil he talks about heroes like Achilles, you see Theseus with Medusa's head, and he mentions Cleopatra. Not to mention that a lot of the mythology comes by. Like his birth, all the other Gods, twelve labours, Lydra and the Titans. Seeing the subject of the movie, it isn't all that weird. But you can see it in other movies as well, such as Anastasia.

The message
Now, usually it's about happy endings and finding Prince Charming. Defenseless girls who need a man to save them. That isn't such a good message for young girls... or maybe it is, it just isn't a very strong empowering one. In Anastasia, Mulan and Rapunzel the main characters are female and much stronger than the man. They end up saving them or at least fighting next to each other as equals. So Disney movies have changed over the years, but they always leave you with a message. Themes that keep coming back is overcoming differences, never giving up on your dreams and fighting for what you want. Whether that is a love interest, being independent, finding and/or proving yourself, but most of all believing in yourself. And that is part of the reason why I love them. I like Disney movies, so sue me... They can teach you more than you even know when you're watching it, they are funny, intertextual and a lot of the time also inspiring. If they keep making them this way, I'm just gonna keep watchin' them!  

Other tips that I haven't mentioned: Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp, Robin Hood, Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Bambi and the Hunchback of the Notre Dame... To name but a few. And very different ones, but amazing: Wall-E, Up.
Btw: Enjoy the vids!

donderdag 10 november 2011

Lovely lights

So this past Monday I went to my parents. Not really to visit my parents but to visit Glow Eindhoven, which is only about half an hour from my parents. We were supposed to go with the entire family, but my mom couldn't and my sister was too tired. So it was just me and my dad. And it was BEAUTIFUL!

Seeing how I don't like to rush, I left in the afternoon and had some time to chat with everybody. My mother was already at home, so we talked a lot. I especially liked that, because she wouldn't be joining us in the evening. But the thing I really loved was eating with my family. Because I live 'on my own' in Utrecht I end up eating alone a lot of the time. I do have roommates, or housemates actually, but we never know when anyone is around. So it's just me and my food. It makes it that much more enjoyable to share a nice meal with your folks. We talk and laugh and a lot of the time the food is so much better than when I make it :p. So pure enjoyment. After dinner me and my dad left to go to Eindhoven where the event 'Glow' had started. 

Glow Eindhoven is a wonderful event (from saturday till saturday if I'm correct). Throughout the city you get to see projects made by artists involving light. Or as the tagline says: 'Forum of light in art and architecture'. The event also had a theme about what is reality and what is delusion. My dad and I first bought a program (and route) and we went our way. Now I really love art, though it depends on the art itself of course. But this was truly amazing. There were projects in which you could participate, and beautiful shows you could just watch. For me there were a few projects that I really loved:

- There was this invention where the electricity produced sound. And it played the theme from Inspector Gadget! (At least that's what I could make of it). It was just very cool :). 
- Another was closeby. There was this building on which lights were projected. This projection changed on the rythm of a choir that was singing (though there wasn't an actual choir, it was recorded). It was really beautiful and the building was covered in mesmerizing lights. The trees around it also had the same lighting so it kind of made you be 'inside the music'. 
- Then there was the church. It was this beautifl artwork which involved the church, and it's bonestructure, itself. Who-ever the artist was, he/she really knew how to use the entire gothic building. What surprised me the most was how it wasn't just project on the front of the church, but also around the round towers. It was a very interesting show, because the projection also made it look like the building was going to come down and that sort of things. Really cool.
- But my absolute favorite was 'Afterlight'. It's about this two dimensional picture on a wall. Though the projection made you believe it was three dimensional. I have no idea whatsoever how in the world they could do something like that, but it was really convincing. They did something with the lights that made the picture come forward and move and it's just.... unbelievable. 

I guess this isn't really all that interesting to just read about it, but it was very beautiful and an amazing night out. Afterwards I went back with my dad, stayed the night at my parents and left early in te morning. Only so that I could continue to work at my thesis for a while longer, cos I'm very dedicated all of a sudden :p. But it was a very nice, relaxing and interesting night out.

zaterdag 5 november 2011


I'm from the Netherlands and here we have this thing called 'SOG' which stands for 'Study-Avoiding-Behaviour'. When you're doing it, you would be 'sogging'. So that's kinda what I've been doing. When I started this blog my intention was to put something up here like every week or so. And I think it kinda translates to this as well. Because I have been slacking here a bit as well. The honest reason? I couldn't decide what to write about! There's so much, so many movies I would like to share with you, so many shows. So many experiences. But you have to start somewhere, so here's me rambling on...

I'm writing my thesis now and it's actually coming along very well, so I don't really feel bad about it. It's just that I reached the chapter where I did a little audience research and it's so much work to put in to it. It doesn't help that I haven't done this a lot either. So I keep getting distracted. I have watched a short series that I bought a while ago and hadn't seen yet. Which I can recommend to anyone btw. It's Australian and it's called 'Return to Eden'. My mother once showed us this when we were younger, so I guess it's a little nostalgic for me as well. But I still like it. It's very well written and there's definate tension. I also love to look at the fashion of that time! I also (finally) finished watching 'The L Word', which I started with a looooooong time ago, because friends liked it. And I have to say, that the final season was really good. Other than that, I watch/follow a lot of shows, which I also try to keep up with weekly. I like to keep updated, so I read and watch the news, the only thing I haven't done in a while is reading. And I truly miss that. But I keep saying, that once I finish my thesis, I will have time for all of that. For going to the gym again, reading, and writing. Cos I love to write my own stories and I just started with another one today. I only wrote about one page, but it's enough to keep me happy and motivated. So that's a lot of sogging. But that isn't all. One way to make it less 'bad' is by doing something useful. So I did the groceries, cooking and all that housework. I did the laundry, but it still means I'm not getting any work done on my thesis. Which I really would like to finish by the end of November. Now in my defense, I also had a cold this week. Luckily it's almost totally gone now, but it means that my writing was a bit off. And that also helps to inspire sogging. But of course, these are all very bad excuses. Because when something needs to get done, you just need to pull yourself together and do it!

So here's a bit of a lesson in this very interesting blog (cough!) for whoever reads it: Excuses will always be just that, excuses. It's another way of saying that you did or didn't do something for some reason, that doens't cover it. We can always make as many excuses as we like but it doesn't change the fact that the deed is done. Excuses are usually made when you or someone else thinks it is necessary to apologize in some way. So you already know that something is wrong with the way it was handled. Right? Well, I guess that's just my opinion. At least that's what I always think to myself when I hear myself making excuses again. It does help me to think about my actions and hopefully stop the use for excuses. But like this blog proves, I also have my weaker moments.

This blog took a totally different turn than I intended, but for now it's time to start writing again... On my thesis I mean. And that is exactly what I'm going to do, without any excuses to be made ;).

zaterdag 8 oktober 2011

Stories behind some movies

Going back in time
One of the things I love about movies, is that you can go back in time. The first showing of a short film was in 1895 and even though a lot of movies didn't survive, a lot of them did over the years. The beauty of such movies is the glimps you can get from that period. For me it's not just history, but also the way movies were made. When I watch The Secret of Delft (1917) I see the way that actors used to act in a theatric way. Grand gestures and a lot mimic in their faces. You get information from intertitles, or you can read lips. And in this same movie one of the actors, Anne Bos, did her own stunts. She was tied to the wing of a mill that made her go upside down several times. In case it wasn't clear yet, this movie is Dutch. The wind mill might haven given that away, but also the secret of Delft itself. Because it's a story about the delft-ware, which is one of the export products of the Netherlands.
So it says something about the time. Also because Anne Bos did her own stunts. That doesn't just mean that she's an amazing actrice, but it also shows a sense of female empowerment. And seeing it in the time of the First World War and next to the suffragettes, I think it can say a lot about that time period.  This is one of the oldest movies I have seen, but I never really dug deeper into her background. Not untill I got the assignment for one of my classes. That is how I found out that movies and the stars in them can say a lot about how a movie was made, the period it was made in and the history surrounding it.

Like The Secret of Delft, there is another movie that I saw way too late in my oppinion. That movie is Singin' in the Rain (1952). I think I first saw this movie, about two or three years ago. My parents had mentioned it, but I never knew what it was about. And when I watched it, I completely fell in love with it. I'm a total sucker for musicals, so that's a big plus. But it's also about a very important change in the movie industry, namely the talkies. That's what they called the first movies that had sound (read: dialogue) in them. The dialogue could actually be heard, instead of just being read in the intertitles. In a way it shows the history of making movies and the problems they face when talkies entered. This movie didn't just focus on this big event and used songs, it was also really fun with great songs and a good storyline.  Great names such as Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Conner also made this a wonderful movie.

Rebel Without a Cause
Writing about movies through time that mean a lot to me, I also have to name this one. Like the others before, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) is a gem in the entire movie history if you ask me. Truth be told, I really wanted to see James Dean in a movie. The first time I ever heard this name was in an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, where Sabrina's crush, Harvey, dresses up as James Dean for Halloween. This immediatly got my attention, but, again, I didn't see this movie until I started my bachelor. I came across this movie, and his name, in a college about film history and I finally decided to by the movie. What I saw when I watched it was a total surprise. I figured if guys would have him as an idol, he would probably bad-ass. And with a movie title like that, who could think anything different. But the first look I got from him was as a troubled teenage boy, who can't stand to see his parents fight over everything and I was just sold. I fell in love with him right away. His performance was touching. This may be because of my lack of knowledge, but I figured that in that time, if you were a rebel, you would stand up to your parents, smoke and race through the streets. Which also happened. But in this movie he showed a beautiful side about how hard it is to be a teenage boy with the troubles of that time (just after the Second World War). It made me want to see more of him an to my great dissappointment I found out he only played in two other movies: East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956). James Dean appeared in several tv series, but he never even got to see the premiere of his last movie. He died at the age of 24 in a car accident, but lived on as an icon.

There is a lot more to these movies that I outlined above. I might go deeper into them in an other blog, but for now I will just leave whoever reads this with these wonderful titles and a glimps in the wonderful stories that lie behind them.

p.s. I do not own any of this pictures. I found them online.