Pillars of the Earth was a bestselling novel by Ken Follett, published in 1989. I read it a few years ago, and it was a truly epic undertaking; probably close to a thousand pages. It bucked convention, killing main characters (before George R.R. Martin made it cool) and allowing horrible things to happen to good people. I was simultaneously infuriated and impressed, recognizing that the author was making a point about the lawlessness and injustice of medieval England.
I finished it just in time for the 2007 miniseries, which featured a few now-familiar faces: Hayley Atwell (Captain America), Eddie Redmayne (Les Miserables), and Rufus Sewell (Knight’s Tale). I had a hard time appreciating the adaptation as I’d just spent several weeks with these characters; in particular I remember my annoyance at our introduction to Atwell’s character, who comically brains her unwanted suitor with a candelabra (they’re missing the whole point of the character!!! Growth! Development! Transformation!! ARGGHH) BUT I digress.
For the past few months, I have been pondering the question: Why do I watch so many horror movies? I can’t attribute my interest to any of the explanations Piece of Cape offers up: the thrill rush, the gore, the “sport.” In reviewing The Descent I expressed an appreciation for the survivability aspect, my admiration for and aspiration to emulate those who rise to every occasion and manage to survive. But on a more fundamental level, I think it boils down to this:
More than any other genre, horror movies will always keep you guessing.
Since I’ve pretty much exhausted all the mythology-related movies I’m familiar with (or at least the ones worth talking about), Courtney and I will now embark on a new blog series: WAR IN MOVIES! Which is a tough category to narrow down, considering the number of incredible films centering on war. But we’ll do our best.
To start things off, we have The War to End All Wars, The Great War, also known as… World War I.
I love horror movies. I’m fairly certain that some day I will be caught in the middle of some horrible disaster, and I need to be prepared to survive it. This is why I regularly quote “The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why” in casual conversation (fun fact: did you know that most plane crashes are survivable? And that the people who survive are usually the ones who paid attention during the security briefing and read that brochure?).
I think that’s the root of my fascination with horror movies – imagining every possible situation I could be placed in, and figuring out how to survive. The Descent fits perfectly into this self-education.
While Greek myths are often reinterpreted and adapted into modern-day tales, Egyptian mythology rarely takes shape on the big screen. When it does, more often than not it’s the trappings of the ancient culture that fascinate us, rather than the gods in the pantheon.
Often when I criticize a movie like Skyfall for half-baked plots and shallow characterization, what I hear in response is, “Whatever, it’s just a mindless action movie.” But I don’t believe that’s true. A movie decides what it’s going to be – Daniel Craig’s Bond was a deviation from previous movies in that it wanted to be thoughtful and have more depth than its predecessors. It aspired to something that it didn’t quite achieve.
Taken 2, however, has no pretensions. It knows exactly what it is – car chases, explosions, and gravelly-voiced Liam Neeson. Everything else is just the glue that gets us from one fight scene to the next.
The legend of King Arthur has enough drama to launch a thousand soap operas: extramarital affairs, an orphan destined for great things, wizards, magic, dragons, incest, and a holy quest. It’s no surprise that the story has been told dozens of times in modern cinema. There’s no way I can cover them all, but here are some of the stand-out adaptations:
I was really excited to see a movie I was sure to love because I’ve been a bit of a Negative Nancy as of late. But sadly, after the initial high of the thrill ride passed, I ended up somewhat disappointed with the latest Bond installment.
****EXTREMELY HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD****