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Archive for November, 2018

On one of the upper branches of the Congo river lived an ancient and aristocratic family of hippopotamuses, which boasted a pedigree dating back beyond the days of Noah–beyond the existence of mankind–far into the dim ages when the world was new.

They had always lived upon the banks of this same river, so that every curve and sweep of its waters, every pit and shallow of its bed, every rock and stump and wallow upon its bank was as familiar to them as their own mothers. And they are living there yet, I suppose.

Not long ago the queen of this tribe of hippopotamuses had a child which she named Keo, because it was so fat and round. Still, that you may not be misled, I will say that in the hippopotamus language “Keo,” properly translated, means “fat and lazy” instead of fat and round. However, no one called the queen’s attention to this error, because her tusks were monstrous long and sharp, and she thought Keo the sweetest baby in the world.

He was, indeed, all right for a hippopotamus. He rolled and played in the soft mud of the river bank, and waddled inland to nibble the leaves of the wild cabbage that grew there, and was happy and contented from morning till night. And he was the jolliest hippopotamus that ancient family had ever known. His little red eyes were forever twinkling with fun, and he laughed his merry laugh on all occasions, whether there was anything to laugh at or not.

Therefore the black people who dwelt in that region called him “Ippi”–the jolly one, although they dared not come anigh him on account of his fierce mother, and his equally fierce uncles and aunts and cousins, who lived in a vast colony upon the river bank.

And while these black people, who lived in little villages scattered among the trees, dared not openly attack the royal family of hippopotamuses, they were amazingly fond of eating hippopotamus meat whenever they could get it. This was no secret to the hippopotamuses. And, again, when the blacks managed to catch these animals alive, they had a trick of riding them through the jungles as if they were horses, thus reducing them to a condition of slavery.

Therefore, having these things in mind, whenever the tribe of hippopotamuses smelled the oily odor of black people they were accustomed to charge upon them furiously, and if by chance they overtook one of the enemy they would rip him with their sharp tusks or stamp him into the earth with their huge feet.

It was continual warfare between the hippopotamuses and the black people.

Gouie lived in one of the little villages of the blacks. He was the son of the chief’s brother and grandson of the village sorcerer, the latter being an aged man known as the “the boneless wonder,” because he could twist himself into as many coils as a serpent and had no bones to hinder his bending his flesh into any position. This made him walk in a wabbly fashion, but the black people had great respect for him.

Gouie’s hut was made of branches of trees stuck together with mud, and his clothing consisted of a grass mat tied around his middle. But his relationship to the chief and the sorcerer gave him a certain dignity, and he was much addicted to solitary thought. Perhaps it was natural that these thoughts frequently turned upon his enemies, the hippopotamuses, and that he should consider many ways of capturing them.

Finally he completed his plans, and set about digging a great pit in the ground, midway between two sharp curves of the river. When the pit was finished he covered it over with small branches of trees, and strewed earth upon them, smoothing the surface so artfully that no one would suspect there was a big hole underneath. Then Gouie laughed softly to himself and went home to supper.

That evening the queen said to Keo, who was growing to be a fine child for his age:

“I wish you’d run across the bend and ask your Uncle Nikki to come here. I have found a strange plant, and want him to tell me if it is good to eat.”

The jolly one laughed heartily as he started upon his errand, for he felt as important as a boy does when he is sent for the first time to the corner grocery to buy a yeast cake.

“Guk-uk-uk-uk! guk-uk-uk-uk!” was the way he laughed; and if you think a hippopotamus does not laugh this way you have but to listen to one and you will find I am right.

He crawled out of the mud where he was wallowing and tramped away through the bushes, and the last his mother heard as she lay half in and half out of the water was his musical “guk-uk-uk-uk!” dying away in the distance.

Keo was in such a happy mood that he scarcely noticed where he stepped, so he was much surprised when, in the middle of a laugh, the ground gave way beneath him, and he fell to the bottom of Gouie’s deep pit. He was not badly hurt, but had bumped his nose severely as he went down; so he stopped laughing and began to think how he should get out again. Then he found the walls were higher than his head, and that he was a prisoner.

So he laughed a little at his own misfortune, and the laughter soothed him to sleep, so that he snored all through the night until daylight came.

When Gouie peered over the edge of the pit next morning he exclaimed:

“Why, ’tis Ippi–the Jolly One!”

Keo recognized the scent of a black man and tried to raise his head high enough to bite him. Seeing which Gouie spoke in the hippopotamus language, which he had learned from his grandfather, the sorcerer.

“Have peace, little one; you are my captive.”

“Yes; I will have a piece of your leg, if I can reach it,” retorted Keo; and then he laughed at his own joke: “Guk-uk-uk-uk!”

But Gouie, being a thoughtful black man, went away without further talk, and did not return until the following morning. When he again leaned over the pit Keo was so weak from hunger that he could hardly laugh at all.

“Do you give up?” asked Gouie, “or do you still wish to fight?”

“What will happen if I give up?” inquired Keo.

The black man scratched his woolly head in perplexity.

“It is hard to say, Ippi. You are too young to work, and if I kill you for food I shall lose your tusks, which are not yet grown. Why, O Jolly One, did you fall into my hole? I wanted to catch your mother or one of your uncles.”

“Guk-uk-uk-uk!” laughed Keo. “You must let me go, after all, black man; for I am of no use to you!”

“That I will not do,” declared Gouie; “unless,” he added, as an afterthought, “you will make a bargain with me.”

“Let me hear about the bargain, black one, for I am hungry,” said Keo.

“I will let your go if you swear by the tusks of your grandfather that you will return to me in a year and a day and become my prisoner again.”

The youthful hippopotamus paused to think, for he knew it was a solemn thing to swear by the tusks of his grandfather; but he was exceedingly hungry, and a year and a day seemed a long time off; so he said, with another careless laugh:

“Very well; if you will now let me go I swear by the tusks of my grandfather to return to you in a year and a day and become your prisoner.”

Gouie was much pleased, for he knew that in a year and a day Keo would be almost full grown. So he began digging away one end of the pit and filling it up with the earth until he had made an incline which would allow the hippopotamus to climb out.

Keo was so pleased when he found himself upon the surface of the earth again that he indulged in a merry fit of laughter, after which he said:

“Good-by, Gouie; in a year and a day you will see me again.”

Then he waddled away toward the river to see his mother and get his breakfast, and Gouie returned to his village.

During the months that followed, as the black man lay in his hut or hunted in the forest, he heard at times the faraway “Guk-uk-uk-uk!” of the laughing hippopotamus. But he only smiled to himself and thought: “A year and a day will soon pass away!”

Now when Keo returned to his mother safe and well every member of his tribe was filled with joy, for the Jolly One was a general favorite. But when he told them that in a year and a day he must again become the slave of the black man, they began to wail and weep, and so many were their tears that the river rose several inches.

Of course Keo only laughed at their sorrow; but a great meeting of the tribe was called and the matter discussed seriously.

“Having sworn by the tusks of his grandfather,” said Uncle Nikki, “he must keep his promise. But it is our duty to try in some way to rescue him from death or a life of slavery.”

To this all agreed, but no one could think of any method of saving Keo from his fate. So months passed away, during which all the royal hippopotamuses were sad and gloomy except the Jolly One himself.

Finally but a week of freedom remained to Keo, and his mother, the queen, became so nervous and worried that another meeting of the tribe was called. By this time the laughing hippopotamus had grown to enormous size, and measured nearly fifteen feet long and six feet high, while his sharp tusks were whiter and harder than those of an elephant.

“Unless something is done to save my child,” said the mother, “I shall die of grief.”

Then some of her relations began to make foolish suggestions; but presently Uncle Nep, a wise and very big hippopotamus, said:

“We must go to Glinkomok and implore his aid.”

Then all were silent, for it was a bold thing to face the mighty Glinkomok. But the mother’s love was equal to any heroism.

“I will myself go to him, if Uncle Nep will accompany me,” she said, quickly.

Uncle Nep thoughtfully patted the soft mud with his fore foot and wagged his short tail leisurely from side to side.

“We have always been obedient to Glinkomok, and shown him great respect,” said he. “Therefore I fear no danger in facing him. I will go with you.”

All the others snorted approval, being very glad they were not called upon to go themselves.

So the queen and Uncle Nep, with Keo swimming between them, set out upon their journey. They swam up the river all that day and all the next, until they came at sundown to a high, rocky wall, beneath which was the cave where the might Glinkomok dwelt.

This fearful creature was part beast, part man, part fowl and part fish. It had lived since the world began. Through years of wisdom it had become part sorcerer, part wizard, part magician and part fairy. Mankind knew it not, but the ancient beasts knew and feared it.

The three hippopotamuses paused before the cave, with their front feet upon the bank and their bodies in the water, and called in chorus a greeting to Glinkomok. Instantly thereafter the mouth of the cave darkened and the creature glided silently toward them.

The hippopotamuses were afraid to look upon it, and bowed their heads between their legs.

“We come, O Glinkomok, to implore your mercy and friendly assistance!” began Uncle Nep; and then he told the story of Keo’s capture, and how he had promised to return to the black man.

“He must keep his promise,” said the creature, in a voice that sounded like a sigh.

The mother hippopotamus groaned aloud.

“But I will prepare him to overcome the black man, and to regain his liberty,” continued Glinkomok.

Keo laughed.

“Lift your right paw,” commanded Glinkomok. Keo obeyed, and the creature touched it with its long, hairy tongue. Then it held four skinny hands over Keo’s bowed head and mumbled some words in a language unknown to man or beast or fowl or fish. After this it spoke again in hippopotamese:

“Your skin has now become so tough that no man can hurt you. Your strength is greater than that of ten elephants. Your foot is so swift that you can distance the wind. Your wit is sharper than the bulthorn. Let the man fear, but drive fear from your own breast forever; for of all your race you are the mightiest!”

Then the terrible Glinkomok leaned over, and Keo felt its fiery breath scorch him as it whispered some further instructions in his ear. The next moment it glided back into its cave, followed by the loud thanks of the three hippopotamuses, who slid into the water and immediately began their journey home.

The mother’s heart was full of joy; Uncle Nep shivered once or twice as he remembered a glimpse he had caught of Glinkomok; but Keo was as jolly as possible, and, not content to swim with his dignified elders, he dived under their bodies, raced all around them and laughed merrily every inch of the way home.

Then all the tribe held high jinks and praised the mighty Glinkomok for befriending their queen’s son. And when the day came for the Jolly One to give himself up to the black man they all kissed him good-by without a single fear for his safety.

Keo went away in good spirits, and they could hear his laughing “guk-uk-uk-uk!” long after he was lost in sight in the jungle.

Gouie had counted the days and knew when to expect Keo; but he was astonished at the monstrous size to which his captive had grown, and congratulated himself on the wise bargain he had made. And Keo was so fat that Gouie determined to eat him–that is, all of him he possibly could, and the remainder of the carcass he would trade off to his fellow villagers.

So he took a knife and tried to stick it into the hippopotamus, but the skin was so tough the knife was blunted against it. Then he tried other means; but Keo remained unhurt.

And now indeed the Jolly One laughed his most gleeful laugh, till all the forest echoed the “guk-uk-uk-uk-uk!” And Gouie decided not to kill him, since that was impossible, but to use him for a beast of burden. He mounted upon Keo’s back and commanded him to march. So Keo trotted briskly through the village, his little eyes twinkling with merriment.

The other blacks were delighted with Gouie’s captive, and begged permission to ride upon the Jolly One’s back. So Gouie bargained with them for bracelets and shell necklaces and little gold ornaments, until he had acquired quite a heap of trinkets. Then a dozen black men climbed upon Keo’s back to enjoy a ride, and the one nearest his nose cried out:

“Run, Mud-dog–run!”

And Keo ran. Swift as the wind he strode, away from the village, through the forest and straight up the river bank. The black men howled with fear; the Jolly One roared with laughter; and on, on, on they rushed!

Then before them, on the opposite side of the river, appeared the black mouth of Glinkomok’s cave. Keo dashed into the water, dived to the bottom and left the black people struggling to swim out. But Glinkomok had heard the laughter of Keo and knew what to do. When the Jolly One rose to the surface and blew the water from his throat there was no black man to be seen.

Keo returned alone to the village, and Gouie asked, with surprise:

“Where are my brothers:”

“I do not know,” answered Keo. “I took them far away, and they remained where I left them.”

Gouie would have asked more questions then, but another crowd of black men impatiently waited to ride on the back of the laughing hippopotamus. So they paid the price and climbed to their seats, after which the foremost said:

“Run, mud-wallower–run!”

And Keo ran as before and carried them to the mouth of Glinkomok’s cave, and returned alone.

But now Gouie became anxious to know the fate of his fellows, for he was the only black man left in his village. So he mounted the hippopotamus and cried:

“Run, river-hog–run!”

Keo laughed his jolly “guk-uk-uk-uk!” and ran with the speed of the wind. But this time he made straight for the river bank where his own tribe lived, and when he reached it he waded into the river, dived to the bottom and left Gouie floating in the middle of the stream.

The black man began swimming toward the right bank, but there he saw Uncle Nep and half the royal tribe waiting to stamp him into the soft mud. So he turned toward the left bank, and there stood the queen mother and Uncle Nikki, red-eyed and angry, waiting to tear him with their tusks.

Then Gouie uttered loud screams of terror, and, spying the Jolly One, who swam near him, he cried:

“Save me, Keo! Save me, and I will release you from slavery!”

“That is not enough,” laughed Keo.

“I will serve you all my life!” screamed Gouie; “I will do everything you bid me!”

“Will you return to me in a year and a day and become my captive, if I allow you to escape?” asked Keo.

“I will! I will! I will!” cried Gouie.

“Swear it by the bones of your grandfather!” commanded Keo, remembering that black men have no tusks to swear by.

And Gouie swore it by the bones of his grandfather.

Then Keo swam to the black one, who clambered upon his back again. In this fashion they came to the bank, where Keo told his mother and all the tribe of the bargain he had made with Gouie, who was to return in a year and a day and become his slave.

Therefore the black man was permitted to depart in peace, and once more the Jolly One lived with his own people and was happy.

When a year and a day had passed Keo began watching for the return of Gouie; but he did not come, then or ever afterwards.

For the black man had made a bundle of his bracelets and shell necklaces and little gold ornaments and had traveled many miles into another country, where the ancient and royal tribe of hippopotamuses was unknown. And he set up for a great chief, because of his riches, and people bowed down before him.

By day he was proud and swaggering. But at night he tumbled and tossed upon his bed and could not sleep. His conscience troubled him.

For he had sworn by the bones of his grandfather; and his grandfather had no bones.

(Published in L Frank Baum*’s collection in American Fairy Tales,1901)
Note : *The author of the Wizard of Oz

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Whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting. From room to room they went, hand in hand, lifting here, opening there, making sure—a ghostly couple.

“Here we left it,” she said. And he added, “Oh, but here too!” “It’s upstairs,” she murmured. “And in the garden,” he whispered “Quietly,” they said, “or we shall wake them.”

But it wasn’t that you woke us. Oh, no. “They’re looking for it; they’re drawing the curtain,” one might say, and so read on a page or two. “Now they’ve found it,” one would be certain, stopping the pencil on the margin. And then, tired of reading, one might rise and see for oneself, the house all empty, the doors standing open, only the wood pigeons bubbling with content and the hum of the threshing machine sounding from the farm. “What did I come in here for? What did I want to find?” My hands were empty. “Perhaps it’s upstairs then?” The apples were in the loft. And so down again, the garden still as ever, only the book had slipped into the grass.

But they had found it in the drawing room. Not that one could ever see them. The window panes reflected apples, reflected roses; all the leaves were green in the glass. If they moved in the drawing room, the apple only turned its yellow side. Yet, the moment after, if the door was opened, spread about the floor, hung upon the walls, pendant from the ceiling—what? My hands were empty. The shadow of a thrush crossed the carpet; from the deepest wells of silence the wood pigeon drew its bubble of sound. “Safe, safe, safe,” the pulse of the house beat softly. “The treasure buried; the room . . . ” the pulse stopped short. Oh, was that the buried treasure?

A moment later the light had faded. Out in the garden then? But the trees spun darkness for a wandering beam of sun. So fine, so rare, coolly sunk beneath the surface the beam I sought always burnt behind the glass. Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs. “Safe, safe, safe,” the pulse of the house beat gladly. “The Treasure yours.”

The wind roars up the avenue. Trees stoop and bend this way and that. Moonbeams splash and spill wildly in the rain. But the beam of the lamp falls straight from the window. The candle burns stiff and still. Wandering through the house, opening the windows, whispering not to wake us, the ghostly couple seek their joy.

“Here we slept,” she says. And he adds, “Kisses without number.” “Waking in the morning—” “Silver between the trees—” “Upstairs—” “In the garden—” “When summer came—” “In winter snowtime—” The doors go shutting far in the distance, gently knocking like the pulse of a heart.

Nearer they come; cease at the doorway. The wind falls, the rain slides silver down the glass. Our eyes darken; we hear no steps beside us; we see no lady spread her ghostly cloak. His hands shield the lantern. “Look,” he breathes. “Sound asleep. Love upon their lips.”

Stooping, holding their silver lamp above us, long they look and deeply. Long they pause. The wind drives straightly; the flame stoops slightly. Wild beams of moonlight cross both floor and wall, and, meeting, stain the faces bent; the faces pondering; the faces that search the sleepers and seek their hidden joy.

“Safe, safe, safe,” the heart of the house beats proudly. “Long years—” he sighs. “Again you found me.” “Here,” she murmurs, “sleeping; in the garden reading; laughing, rolling apples in the loft. Here we left our treasure—” Stooping, their light lifts the lids upon my eyes. “Safe! safe! safe!” the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry “Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.”

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On recalling the pioneering work of Walt Disney in injecting into the medium of cinema the element of fantasy, we are faced with films in animation to which only limit placed is at creative level. When you run out of inspiration you killed it. For a genius like Disney it was reality with no holds barred. Cinema as art is delineation of reality by a contrived eye as much as a jaundiced liver gives an altogether view of the world. Animation does the same service to cinema as the genre of fairy tales is to literature.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – 1937

“I definitely feel that we cannot do the fantastic things, based on the real, unless we first know the real. This point should be brought out very clearly to all new men, and even the older men.” Disney 1935/Letters of note: How to train an animator
Before Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Disney studio had been primarily involved in the production of animated shorts of which Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies were the staple fare. Disney was ready for bigger things he embarked on a feature with a budget that totalled ten times the cost of producing an average Silly Symphony.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to be the first full-length cell animated feature in motion picture history. Both his brother and business partner Roy Disney and his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it. He had to mortgage his house to help finance the film’s production, which eventually ran up a total cost of $1,488,422.74, a massive sum for a feature film in 1937, The Hollywood movie industry referred to the film derisively as “Disney’s Folly” while it was in production.
On August 9, 1934, twenty-one pages of notes—entitled “Snow White suggestions”—were compiled by staff writer Richard Creedon, suggesting the principal characters, as well as situations and ‘gags’ for the story.
As Disney had stated at the very beginning of the project, the main attraction of the story for him was the Seven Dwarfs, and their possibilities for “screwiness” and “gags”. Walt Disney had suggested from the beginning that each of the dwarfs, whose names and personalities are not stated in the original fairy tale, could have individual personalities.
Along with a focus on the characterizations and comedic possibilities of the dwarfs, Creedon’s eighteen-page outline of the story included the Queen’s attempt to kill Snow White with a poisoned comb, an element taken from the Grimms’ original story. After persuading Snow White to use the comb, the disguised Queen would have escaped alive, but the dwarfs would have arrived in time to remove it. So it had to be discarded.
It had first been thought that the dwarfs would be the main focus of the story, and many sequences were written for the seven characters. However, at a certain point, it was decided that the main thrust of the story was provided by the relationship between the Queen and Snow White. For this reason, several sequences featuring the dwarfs were cut from the film.
Even in discarding reality, art for clarity sake has no substitute but be true to itself.
Noted filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein and Charlie Chaplin praised Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a notable achievement in cinema; Eisenstein went so far as to call it the greatest film ever made. The film inspired MGM to produce its own fantasy film, The Wizard of OZ in 1939. Another animation pioneer, Max Fleischer produced Gulliver’s Travels in order to compete with Snow White. There were many clones that tried to cash in on the Snow White’s phenomenal success.

Snow White’s success led to Disney moving ahead with more feature-film productions. Walt Disney used much of the profits from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to finance a new $4.5 million studio in Burbank.

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95 min. French black and white

Aka. Les Bas-Fonds is one of the curiosities in the history of cinema that Jean Renoir who has been busy making Une Partie de Campagne left it for directing a film, theme of which was apparently against his grain. Une Partie is like a painting of his father come to life where nature takes hand in determining the life of a nubile girl in her first love. The lovers surrender to nature and to their emotions, but social circumstances determine otherwise. What had in the Gorky’s gutter play to wean him from the Maupassant story? In 1936 the rise of Hitler in Germany and the Popular Front in France created within the French Left a new sense of solidarity with the Soviet Union. In that context the Russian immigrant producer Alexander Kamenka asked Jean Renoir to direct a film of Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths. Renoir accepted the offer and before agreeing to take on the project, Renoir insisted that the film be set in France (not Russia), and that some drastic changes be made to the plot. The most significant change was the ending; the tragic denouement in Gorki’s play was replaced with a happier ending, in keeping with the mood of the time.
Trivia:
Renoir was obliged to write to Gorki to receive permission for these alterations to the story, which was duly given (although Gorki died a few months before the film was released).
Plot

The story revolves around two characters that represent two ends of the society. One is titled and the other a common thief. The baron (Jouvet) has stolen 30,000 rubbles from the ministry and lost it gambling. Pépel (Gabin) has come to rob the baron’s luxurious house and finds nothing worth stealing there. The baron, returning home in a suicidal mood, interrupts Pépel’s theft. Here in their first encounter, each opens the eyes of the other to the possibility of change. Each glimpses a new possibility, the baron, a life without things; Pépel a life without thefts.
Soon the baron appears at the flophouse. The baron finds himself in the swim of things there. If thousand – rubble game in the casino had turned his world upside down he finds life there: he can still indulge his passion in the three-kopek game in the flophouse. If he has lost his class he has found his life. He sheds luxury and prestige without regret. When Pépel finds life in the lower depths unbearable and proposes to leave the flophouse, he asks the baron what he will do. The baron replies without hesitation, “I’ll stay here.” He has no desire to go. Unlike Gorky’s baron, his descent from aristocracy has not been degrading but liberating.
After Pépel leaves the baron’s home carrying the bronze horses he steals some apples, then gives them to a child and tells him, “And if someday someone tells you Pépel is a thief, you’ll set them straight.” The film ends with homage to Chaplin’s Modern Times as the lovers walk off down the road of life.
Acting: The film, apart from its dark theme, is carried by the acting of the two main characters. The Gabin-Jouvet pairing is a masterstroke, with both actors providing fine performances that are charged with conviction and humanity. Despite their different backgrounds and approaches to their art, the two actors complement each other perfectly, the down-trodden and passionate proletarian played by Gabin making a poignant contrast with Jouvet’s ruined but nonchalant aristocrat.
The scene where the two characters meet and, realizing the absurdity of the barriers which separate them, become friends is one of the enduring moments of the film, and is certainly in keeping with the ethos of the Popular Front.
The large supporting cast gives the film its richness and color, with notable performances from Suzy Prim, Robert Le Vigan.
I can still savour the wonderful opening shot of the film: Jouvet stands upright, the only figure on screen, in the centre of the frame, silent but with an occasional superior smirk escaping him as his unseen superior rebukes him for embezzling ministry funds to pay off his gambling debts; and the camera swings round him first to the left and then further and further to the right finally to reveal his superior reflected in a mirror.
This single opening shot keys us to all the important features of the film: the priority given to star persona and performance; the degree to which the narrative differs from (adds to, opens out) Gorky’s original play; and the significance of Renoir’s camera style of this time, characterized by deep-focus depth-of-field, the moving camera, and the revelation of off-screen space, the world extending beyond the limits of the frame” (brightlights films.com- Ian Johnston)
Akira Kurosawa and Renoir
Both Renoir and Kurosawa
 adapted it each with his distinct genius leaving its impress. Donald Richie calls Akira Kurosawa’s film of The Lower Depths a miracle of ensemble playing. In contrast Renoir makes of the play a vehicle for two fine actors, Louis Jouvet and Jean Gabin. The action of Kurosawa’s film occurs completely within the flophouse, as does the play, but less than half of Renoir’s Lower Depths takes place there. Still the flophouse remains, visually, the most interesting locale in the film, with its chiaroscuro lighting and dramatic shadows, its rough bricks, rude stairways, and old wooden posts that often divide the screen vertically or project diagonally across the frame and its length that lends itself so well to deep focus cinematography.
When Akira Kurosawa made his version of The Lower Depths in 1957 he had seen Renoir’s film. It was perhaps that which led him to try it himself. Unlike Renoir, Kurosawa follows Gorky almost scene for scene. In a style that resembles Renoir’s in its long takes and deep focus cinematography Kurosawa creates his flophouse as the locus of a world. But by the sheer vitality of the life in his film manages to overthrow the despair and pathos that permeate the play.
Kurosawa greatly admired Jean Renoir and his own decision to write an autobiography was prompted by reading Renoir’s My Life and My Films “and by the terrific impression Renoir left on me when I met him—the feeling that I would like to grow old in the same way he did.”
Kurosawa’s Lower Depths shows the power that could be achieved in cinema by staying close to the text and setting of Gorky’s work. Renoir did not see Kurosawa’s film until 1977. He watched it with great interest, then remarked, “That is a much more important film than mine.”
Although overshadowed by Renoir’s subsequent masterpieces (La Grande Illusion was made straight after this film), Les Bas-fonds is an impressive work, which, through its very evident humanity, remains a surprisingly modern film. This film was awarded the first Prix Louis Delluc in 1937.

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GOP has heard the call from above and they want to hear James Comey and Loretta Lynch
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In one fable posted some years ago I had posited an idea that at infinitesimal spaces while treating the headache of Zeus the spark created by the fire god must behave in such ways that the clot and the spark act as one. In that thought experiment, Erwin Schrödinger’s cat achieves a similar state: Cat in a box would be exposed to a radioactive particle that had even odds of decaying or not. Until the box was opened, the poor cat would be both alive and dead at the same time, which seemed clearly absurd to Schrödinger.In other words these are entangled. Entanglement as a quantum effect describes where particles separated by vast distances mysteriously link up their states. Scientists in 2016 have already created with quantum-entangled bacteria.
Usually, we describe quantum physics as a set of rules that governs the behavior of extremely tiny things: light particles, atoms and so on to which realm of livings things and bacteria belongs to another order. This larger world, at the bacterial scale (which is also our scale — the chaotic realm of life) isn’t supposed to be anywhere near that weird.

There’s just something about the quantum world that doesn’t seem to make sense in ours. Bouts of migraine in most sufferers seem to be triggered by solar flares. The light takes some eight minutes to reach us but it triggers migraine earlier than that. Why?
But scientists don’t agree on where the boundary between the ordinary and the quantum world lies — or if it even exists at all. Chiara Marletto, a physicist at the University of Oxford and a co-author on the recent paper, which was published Oct. 10 in The Journal of Physics Communications, said that there’s no reason to expect that there’s a limit on the size of quantum effects.

“I’m interested in studying the border where quantum rules stop applying,” she told Live Science. “Some people say that quantum theory is not a universal theory, so it does not apply to any object in the universe, but actually will at some point break down. My interest is to show that actually, that’s not the case.”

In 2017, a team of researchers based at the University of Sheffield in England said they had created a state of what’s known as quantum coupling in photosynthetic bacteria. They placed a few hundred bacteria in a tiny, mirrored room and bounced light around. (Based on the length of the mini room, only a certain wavelength of light persisted over time, known as the resonant frequency.) Over time, six of the bacteria appeared to develop a limited quantum connection to the light. So the resonant frequency of light inside the tiny room seemed to synchronize with the frequency at which electrons jumped in and out of position inside the bacteria’s photosynthetic molecules.
Marletto said that her model shows that this effect likely involved more than just quantum coupling. There was likely something going on even weirder than what those experimentalists described, she said.

The bacteria, she and her colleagues showed, likely became entangled with the light. What this means is that the equations used to define each of the waveforms — of both the light and the bacteria — become one equation. Neither is solvable without the other. (According to quantum mechanics, all objects can be described as both particle and wave, but practically speaking, in “large” objects like bacteria, the waveforms are impossible to see or measure.)

Like Schrödinger’s proverbial cat in a box, the whole system seemed to exist in an uncertain netherworld. How often we have seen rational man interacting with rational men as we would assume every delegate, who deliberated around the table hammering out the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and what did they produce? Just the opposite. Why speak of rational idea of man when he cannot fathom the weird world of justice and equality operating without? You deny justice with the most cogent arguments and quote instances out of the whole and what you produce is more misery and just opposite to your professed principles. This is entanglement on a moral plane. Between our physical universe and worlds created purely on abstract ideas only entanglement that is sustainable not by rules of men or by their material accomplishment but by moral laws. For me God is that moral being.

(Ack: Schrödinger’s Bacteria? Physics Experiment Leads to 1st Entanglement of Living Organisms-Nov.13.Rafi Letzer-Live Science)
Benny

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In memory of C.D.K-

On Christmas Eve around 1942, when I was a boy, after having the traditional punch and cookies and after having sung ’round the fire (my Aunty Mary at the piano), I, with my sister, my mother and my aunts, and Emma Jackman and her son, got into Emma Jackman’s car and drove down Taylor Avenue to church for the midnight service: I looked out the rear window at passing houses, doors adorned with holly wreaths, I looked into windows–catching glimpses of tinseled trees and men and women and children moving through rooms into my mind and memory forever; the car slowed to the corner stop at Jefferson and the action seemed like a greater action, of Christmas in a cold damp Missouri night; patches of snow lay on the ground and in the car the dark figures of my mother and sister and aunts talked around me and the car began to move along in an air of sky–at bottom dark and cold, seeming to transform the car, my face, and hands, pressed close to the glass as I saw my friends with their parents in their cars take the left turn onto Argonne Drive and look for a parking place near the church; Emma Jackman followed, and I watched heavily coated figures make their exists, and move down the winter walk toward the jewel-like glittering church–up the steps into the full light of the doorway–fathers and sons and mothers and daughters I knew and understood them all, I gazed at them with blazing eyes: light poured from open doors; high arched stained glass windows cast downward slanting shafts of color across the cold churchyard, and the organ boomed inside while we parked and got out and walked along the sidewalk, I holding my mother’s right arm, my sister held mother’s left arm (mother letting us a little support her)–down the sidewalk to join others at the warmly good noisy familiar threshold: spirits swirled up the steps into the church and Billy Berthold handed out the Christmas leaflets, I gripped mine. I looked at the dominant blue illustration of Birth in white and yellow rays moving outward to form a circle around the Christ child’s skull as Mary downward gazed; Joseph; kneeling wisemen downward gazed; I gazed down the long center aisle at the rising altar’s dazzling cross and we moved down the aisle, slipped in front of Mr. and Mrs. Sloan and my buddy Lorry, Mr. and Mrs. Dart and my buddy Charles, Mr. and Mrs. Reid and my buddy Gene and his brother Ed–we then knelt away the conscious realization of our selves among music in the House of the Lord, I conscious of a voice that, slowly, coarsely, wandered–the I (eye) in see, hear me (I), we were on our feet singing, and the choir swept down the aisle, their familiar faces moving side to side as collective voices raised in anthem I held the hymnbook open and my mother and sister and I sang in celebration of God the crowded and brightly decorated–pine boughs and holly wreaths hung around the walls with candles high on each pew, I glanced at the gleaming cross–my spine arched, and far beyond the church, beyond the front door, beyond the land of the last sentence in James Joyce’s _Dubliners_ a distant door seemed to open away beyond pungent green of pine gathered around rich red hollyberry clusters, red velvet, white-yellow center of candle flame, white of silk, gold of tassle, and gleaming glittering eternally cubistic gold cross and darkness of wooden beams powerfully sweeping upward–apex for the strange smoky penuma that so exhilarated me, I who smiled and reeled in a vast cold cold gaze down at myself listening to Charles Kean’s Christian existentialist sermon in time before the plate was passed and the choir had singing, gone, and we were outside, I standing by my sister; my mother and aunts were shaking Charles’s hand, I shook that solid hand warmly, and I walked down the steps, my mother and sister and aunts again, again, once again it rushed through me taking my breath, my spine arched toward trees and streets walking slowly breathing deep I moved down the sidewalk, eyes crystallizing streets yards houses and all lives within; my perception forked upward through treetops into the vertical fields of space, and a moment later, in the crowded back seat of the car, as Emma Jackman started the engine, I breathed vapor on the rear window, and with my finger, I signed my name.
The End
Fielding Dawson (1930-2002):

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A walk to the park
in a drizzle unhurried,
Oh, the heave about my throat
is gone.
And the asphalt gleams with desire-
My feet may slosh through
A puddle or two,-never mind
But autumn is at my feet:
The greens are gold and
Red flushed with fleeting clouds
Overhead.
Intimations
Of winter tousle my hair
Even as geese glides to their tryst,
Silent before a world gone to sleep.
Benny

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They were new patients to me, all I had was the name, Olson. Please come down as soon as you can, my daughter is very sick.
When I arrived I was met by the mother, a big startled looking woman, very clean and apologetic who merely said, Is this the doctor? and let me in. In the back, she added. You must excuse us, doctor, we have her in the kitchen where it is warm. It is very damp here sometimes.
The child was fully dressed and sitting on her father’s lap near the kitchen table. He tried to get up, but I motioned for him not to bother, took off my overcoat and started to look things over. I could see that they were all very nervous, eyeing me up and down distrustfully. As often, in such cases, they weren’t telling me more than they had to, it was up to me to tell them; that’s why they were spending three dollars on me.
The child was fairly eating me up with her cold, steady eyes, and no expression to her face whatever. She did not move and seemed, inwardly, quiet; an unusually attractive little thing, and as strong as a heifer in appearance. But her face was flushed, she was breathing rapidly, and I realized that she had a high fever. She had magnificent blonde hair, in profusion. One of those picture children often reproduced in advertising leaflets and the photogravure sections of the Sunday papers.
She’s had a fever for three days, began the father and we don’t know what it comes from. My wife has given her things, you know, like people do, but it don’t do no good. And there’s been a lot of sickness around. So we tho’t you’d better look her over and tell us what is the matter.
As doctors often do I took a trial shot at it as a point of departure. Has she had a sore throat?
Both parents answered me together, No . . . No, she says her throat don’t hurt her.
Does your throat hurt you? added the mother to the child. But the little girl’s expression didn’t change nor did she move her eyes from my face.
Have you looked?
I tried to, said the mother, but I couldn’t see.
As it happens we had been having a number of cases of diphtheria in the school to which this child went during that month and we were all, quite apparently, thinking of that, though no one had as yet spoken of the thing.
Well, I said, suppose we take a look at the throat first. I smiled in my best professional manner and asking for the child’s first name I said, come on, Mathilda, open your mouth and let’s take a look at your throat.
Nothing doing.
Aw, come on, I coaxed, just open your mouth wide and let me take a look. Look, I said opening both hands wide, I haven’t anything in my hands. Just open up and let me see.
Such a nice man, put in the mother. Look how kind he is to you. Come on, do what he tells you to. He won’t hurt you.
At that I ground my teeth in disgust. If only they wouldn’t use the word “hurt” I might be able to get somewhere. But I did not allow myself to be hurried or disturbed but speaking quietly and slowly I approached the child again.
As I moved my chair a little nearer suddenly with one catlike movement both her hands clawed instinctively for my eyes and she almost reached them too. In fact she knocked my glasses flying and they fell, though unbroken, several feet away from me on the kitchen floor.
Both the mother and father almost turned themselves inside out in embarrassment and apology. You bad girl, said the mother, taking her and shaking her by one arm. Look what you’ve done. The nice man . . .
For heaven’s sake, I broke in. Don’t call me a nice man to her. I’m here to look at her throat on the chance that she might have diphtheria and possibly die of it. But that’s nothing to her. Look here, I said to the child, we’re going to look at your throat. You’re old enough to understand what I’m saying. Will you open it now by yourself or shall we have to open it for you?
Not a move. Even her expression hadn’t changed. Her breaths however were coming faster and faster. Then the battle began. I had to do it. I had to have a throat culture for her own protection. But first I told the parents that it was entirely up to them. I explained the danger but said that I would not insist on a throat examination so long as they would take the responsibility.
If you don’t do what the doctor says you’ll have to go to the hospital, the mother admonished her severely.
Oh yeah? I had to smile to myself. After all, I had already fallen in love with the savage brat, the parents were contemptible to me. In the ensuing struggle they grew more and more abject, crushed, exhausted while she surely rose to magnificent heights of insane fury of effort bred of her terror of me.
The father tried his best, and he was a big man but the fact that she was his daughter, his shame at her behavior and his dread of hurting her made him release her just at the critical times when I had almost achieved success, till I wanted to kill him. But his dread also that she might have diphtheria made him tell me to go on, go on though he himself was almost fainting, while the mother moved back and forth behind us raising and lowering her hands in an agony of apprehension.
Put her in front of you on your lap, I ordered, and hold both her wrists.
But as soon as he did the child let out a scream. Don’t, you’re hurting me. Let go of my hands. Let them go I tell you. Then she shrieked terrifyingly, hysterically. Stop it! Stop it! You’re killing me!
Do you think she can stand it, doctor! said the mother.
You get out, said the husband to his wife. Do you want her to die of diphtheria?
Come on now, hold her, I said.
Then I grasped the child’s head with my left hand and tried to get the wooden tongue depressor between her teeth. She fought, with clenched teeth, desperately! But now I also had grown furious–at a child. I tried to hold myself down but I couldn’t. I know how to expose a throat for inspection. And I did my best. When finally I got the wooden spatula behind the last teeth and just the point of it into the mouth cavity, she opened up for an instant but before I could see anything she came down again and gripping the wooden blade between her molars she reduced it to splinters before I could get it out again.
Aren’t you ashamed, the mother yelled at her. Aren’t you ashamed to act like that in front of the doctor?
Get me a smooth-handled spoon of some sort, I told the mother. We’re going through with this. The child’s mouth was already bleeding. Her tongue was cut and she was screaming in wild hysterical shrieks. Perhaps I should have desisted and come back in an hour or more. No doubt it would have been better. But I have seen at least two children lying dead in bed of neglect in such cases, and feeling that I must get a diagnosis now or never I went at it again. But the worst of it was that I too had got beyond reason. I could have torn the child apart in my own fury and enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to attack her. My face was burning with it.
The damned little brat must be protected against her own idiocy, one says to one’s self at such times. Others must be protected against her. It is a social necessity. And all these things are true. But a blind fury, a feeling of adult shame, bred of a longing for muscular release are the operatives. One goes on to the end.
In a final unreasoning assault I overpowered the child’s neck and jaws. I forced the heavy silver spoon back of her teeth and down her throat till she gagged. And there it was–both tonsils covered with membrane. She had fought valiantly to keep me from knowing her secret. She had been hiding that sore throat for three days at least and lying to her parents in order to escape just such an outcome as this.
Now truly she was furious. She had been on the defensive before but now she attacked. Tried to get off her father’s lap and fly at me while tears of defeat blinded her eyes.
The End
The Use of Force by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
(ack: classic shorts.com)

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Recently a high profile Saudi dissident went visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. He never returned. What excuses the Riyadh government gave became curioser and curioser but no body. Here is another that defies explanation. Enlightenment in Europe as a principle would separate State from Religion. Afterall when the Pope of the Holy See in 800 AD endorsed the Divine Rights of kings it was Religion legitimizing the rule of one bandit king and his family the exclusive rights to plunder the state finances with impunity. After much bloodletting and religious wars the beacon of enlightenment succeeded in throwing light into dark recesses of man who would publicly establish a principle but see to that something far different takes control over the rest of the proceedings. That is history for you, in capsule.
Is our mind that complex? Wars for instance was not sought out as the ape ancestor had nothing to complain of than hunting and gathering on an unwritten principle: share and share alike.

Evolution can explain why humans exhibit aggression because it is a primal emotion like any other, experts say. Dogs have it and apes also show it. Emotions are to be handled and for a social animal like man, nature provides them a safety valve in context of other life forms. Members in the same group come to learn very early there is safety in numbers. Maternal instincts of mother and suckling baby in need, forge a bond held more secure on account of the genetic push. Emotions of a mother and her infant, both benefit by emotions. Emotions can run the gamut of aggression and fear when threatened by outsiders. Evolution has primed primates and men to express appropriately so the survival of each group is in the best interest of each member and also a collective responsibility. Think of brain as a muscle that is well toned by constant use. Bodily exercise and mental agility benefit from constant use. Body and Mind as one. Think of members of the same group with same goals and sharing of genes as one organism.
Man, given his tool making capacity, has relied on channeling his emotions in the ways he whittled a piece of flint to serve his every day needs. By breaking it off he might hone the edge as sharp as a surgeon’s knife. In making that fine artifact, he has dissipated his bad emotions as well as found a new thrill of making a useful tool.
Somewhere along the line it became a lethal weapon and a weapon of war.
The same evolution that made man separate jumped the realm of biology found a new use for the tool, his handiwork.
Primal emotions when given expression consciously make even a piece of bamboo or flint as weapons of war. The use of weapons may date back well before the rise of humanity, given evidence that even our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, can use spears to hunt other primates. Man, as a social animal can rationalize his nature, his need to give vent to pent up aggression. Only he did not account for the destructive force he would unleash in evolving a simple weapon as a flint knife to the nuclear bomb that may wipe off all life from the face of the Earth. How did a flint as a tool to fell animals in hunt or skin the hides of animals or carve piece of wood became a weapon to murder? Blame it on his nature.

Biologists speak of ‘norms of reaction,’ which are patterned responses to environmental circumstances. For example, some male insects are more likely to guard their mates when there are fewer females in the population, hence fewer other mating opportunities. Natural selection didn’t just shape a fixed behavior, it shaped the norm of reaction — the nature of the response,”
In humans a bad idea when he can think rationally on it brings many advantages. Increasing his supply of food at the cost of one who is weaker is one way of doing it. Annexing a territory from a weak tyrant is worth the while of a chieftain if he has a superior force. He reckons that his success would silence others and make his position more secure. It must have come handy when others would take the same path to aggrandize themselves.
‘Just as compassion for your offspring increases your genes’ chance of survival, violent tendencies may have been similarly useful for some species’ observed biologist David Carrier, of the University of Utah(2012),” Humans certainly rank among the most violent of species.” In true nature-nurture fashion, though some kind of genetic preprogramming for violence, may exist in humans as a result of our evolution. The west has long felt as champions of liberty and free speech but when dissidents simply disappear in broad daylight it ought to warn all how a thin veneer of decency has coated modern man. It must sit oddly where civilization is on every body’s lips while civility is cut out from his heart.

Now in a very divided America evangelicals have come in droves to support President Trump. What excuse they have? They embrace Trump the policymaker, despite being uneasy about Trump as a man, says Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a prominent evangelical activist group. What kind of family Mr. Perkins has in mind, I wonder? When he supports a system the head of the family is fated to spend most of his waking hours into drudgery to the neglect of his family sounds hypocritical. He is more like the Popes of yore giving a thorough whitewashing of men whose moral turpitude knows no bounds. Never mind religion has a way of rationalizing Satan when he comes in the form of mammon. This is what Tony Perkins, Jerry Falwell Jr. and their ilk want to see in public life.
Benny

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