Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I keep meaning to post here but somehow time keeps slipping through my fingers and there's always something else to do and always somewhere else to be. The days grow long and fill with activity and thought; passivity and computers remain relegated to work and not to sunshine hours.

My brother turned 22 on December 13th. It's an auspicious number in our family, not 22 but 13. My mother and her father were both born on August 13 but he passed away when I was younger. I was due actually around then, closer to August 13 as well, wouldn't that have been one for the books - three generations of children born on the same day. But I came in early, six weeks in fact, tiny and not wanting to come out into a cold, strange world.

None of which really has anything to do, at first sight, with the title of this post but we went out for his birthday (my little brother growing so old) and saw the first of the Chronicles of Narnia at the movies in Takapuna - The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I grew up reading those books, following their adventures in Narnia and taking comfort in an image of Christ/God that seemed far more comforting then the tangled paths of [differrent cultural times] violence and misogyny in the Old Testament of the Bible. I read all of the books, more than once, and for years we had the BBC versions on videotape. I was worried that the film would be a disappointment. That it wouldn't compare with the BBC miniseries or that, even worse, they would take something unmistakeably British and maul it somehow - like Dumbledore's American accent in Harry Potter 4. Instead, the movie was just right. I loved the opening with the war planes, it fitted in so well with capturing the audience instantly and transporting them back to another time, another war, back into our colonial past when Britain was still the Motherland and the Blitz was on and children were being sent out into the countryside for their own safety....

It's funny though, not realizing how much difference it makes to have read the books. I had several friends comment that the lion just wasn't vicious enough. It seemed strange that the theology upon which C. S. Lewis had built his books could be so easily missed - mercy, compassion, love, courage, willing sacrifice, resurrection, 'forgive us our trespasses O Lord'...
It's much clearer admittedly when you read the entire series as it traverses creation, the resurrection and armageddon. I particularly liked Lewis's vision of a merciful God. His idea was that all those who believed in that which was good, pure and righteous should know God, and know heaven, irregardless of the name they called Him.

"...Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for his oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child?..."
- C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle, Chapter 15.


The other big film of course that's out at the moment is Peter Jackson's King Kong. It's funny really, I was being taught Jackson as a key New Zealand director back when I was in Sixth Form and before any of these new successes were even dreamed of. I am, I confess, sincerely glad to be away from the likes of 'Meet the Feebles' as it made me want to spew. I am however glad that he still keeps pieces of New Zealand and of his old humour in his new works. I mean, c'mon the huge phallic worm things (not teethed vaginas as is typical Freud but teethed penises) and the giant prehistoric wetas...I hate bugs, I may have cringed slightly during those scenes.

The movie was fantastic. James desperately wants to me to agree with him and say that it's better than Narnia but the two films fall into entirely different categories. I really enjoyed the original King Kong from the 1930s and I'm glad that Jackson retained so much of it while making it his own. Like the lines which they're acting on the boat were said for real in the original, or the 'natives' dancing around on the stage - that's how they had the natives on the island dress in the first film. It's hard somehow to write long descriptive passages about it when I keep wanting to simply say the brief and undisputable statements. The graphics were awesome and so were the fight scenes. Naomi Watts is hot (with a capital H). The rugged captain had the most damndest blue eyes. Jack Black perfectly portrayed zealous determination descending into an almost demonic madness that so well portrays that the real monsters often wall amongst us unseen. And Kong...was beautifully portrayed.
[A. Serkis - of Gollum fame spent time researching real gorillas and the vocalisations that they make, including what they meant. He rendered all of Kong's vocalisations in the film and they simply artificially lowered his voice an octave or two.]
I cried all the way through the end, right from his horrible captivity, through the beautiful snow play in Central Park, right to the bitter end. It's all so much more poignant knowing that he won't live. Or can't live rather, because in the end tales of star cross'd lovers can only ever be comedy or tragedy if they are to capture us and because all of our instincts, both the conscious and the unconscious that dwell on thoughts of racial or colonial fears and miscegenation, tell us that while we may allow ourselves to grieve at it, that such love can never know a happy ending.


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