Maus, Art Spiegelman

Today, I decided to present you a famous American graphic novel. It’s Maus, written and drawn by Art Spiegelman, published between 1970 and 1980. It was the first graphic novel to receive the Pullitzer Prize. Spiegelman deals with the palce of the Polish Jews during World War 2. Exactly, Spiegelman presents us his father’s story, as a Holocaust survivor. Spiegelman stages himself in the story, he is nicknamed Artie.

The particularity of the story is the representation of characters as animals. Nazist people are cats, Polish jews are mice (hence the title « maus » which means mice in German), and Polish non-jews are pigs. Spiegelman shows this story with embedded narrative : it’s Vladek who tells his story to Artie, now he’s in the USA. He is talking about his situation as a Jew, his passage in Auschwitz, face to Gestapo..

You should read this book, it’s awesome, and very interresting. The black and white drawings emphasizes the dark time that is the World War 2, with the genocide. Reality of this period is well-despicted.

 

T. Gainsborough

Hello everyone!  Today, I’m going to speak about a famous British painter, Thomas Gainsborough. He’s propably one of the most famous portraitist in England of the 18th century., after Reynolds.

He began his life as a simple landscape painter, then as an unknown and low-paid portraitist of region’s merchants. But, he managed to become a close friend of noble people and even, the Royal Family. Indeed, the whole Family considered him the greatest painter of this time. Unfortunetly, they are forced to choose Reynolds as the court official painter.

Obviously, we realize that Gainsborough has been more famous as a portraitist whereas it represents a minor part of his work. In fact, he likes above all painting landscapes which is quite, because of the Academy, a rejected genre. Besides, his landscape works of art have been consider too natural : Gainsborough didn’t use the painting rules of his time.

This painting, nicknamed The Blue Boy, is representative of the Gainsborough’s retraining from landscape paintings to portraits. He needed to earn more money. Probably, we can say that Gainsborough inspired himself with Van Dyck’s masterpieces.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Recently, I have seen The Perks of being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Chbosky. And, I was very surprised to discover a so pleasant film about the teen discontent. Charlie, the main character, comes to the High School. He’s alone, outcast. He’s rejected by others because he’s different. We discover throughout the story that his best friend’s dead, and that he hides a heavy secret about his aunt Isabelle. But Patrick and Sam (his first love), senior students, accept him in their friends group.Thanks to that, Charlie begins to make peace with his past, and to become more confident. Thus, he starts to be really happy.

What I loved in this movie is the optimistic vision of life, I mean, this film gives us the desire to live. Friendship makes us feel more alive despite the past we could know. Personnally, if you are sad, watch this flm, even if there is paradoxically a kind of melancholy, of nostalgia which creates the story.

My Dog Stupid, by John Fante

My Dog Stupid is a novel written by John Fante in 1987. Fante relates the story of Henri Molise and his family. The story begins with Henri, the father who finds a dog in his garden. This dog, which is nicknamed Stupid because this is the case, decides to settle in the Molise’s home. Throughout the novel, we follow an american family, who are the perfect opposite of the typical american family’s idea, according to the american way of life, clearly, to the american dream. This story shows us a broken family. Fante caricatures the cliche of the ideal american way of life : no melting pot, no perfect families, no humanity.

Moreover, Fante, using the Henri Molise’s point of view, displays of a cynical humor. It’s funny, it’s risible, it’s serious in the same time. This character is cruel : with his wife, his children, and even with himself. The most ironical in this novel, is the fact that the Stupid Dog makes Henri clever about his life, and his society.

I loved this book. And you should read it! What’s more, for those who fear big books, My Dog Stupid is well. It’s short ( I read it in one round-trip in the train), and it’s percussive. It makes us see differently the USA, and in fact the reality.

Beatrix Potter

When I was a little girl, my grandmother read me The tale of Peter Rabbit, and others, written by Beatrix Potter, with her watercolor paintings. Indeed, B. Potter was, not only a writter famous for her stories for children, but also a naturalist who liked to draw landscapes and of course animals. The stories about the animals she’s written, personify the animals like « human beings ». For exemple, they talk, they clean their home with a broom…

The book I prefer of Beatrix Potter is The Tailor of Gloucester, in which little mouses make a suit to serve the tailor who feed them and who is sick. I remember that the Potter’s universe makes me dream. You should discover this wonderful world!

Rebecca, written by Daphné Du Maurier

Rebecca, is a novel written in 1938, by Daphné Du Maurier. This work is considered as a classic of the english literature.

It relates the story of the female narrator, whose we don’t know the name. This woman meets Maximilien De Winter, a upper cast man to her. Mr. De Winter is weird but lovely, he seems to have a painful past ( his wife, Rebecca, is dead ). So, she falls in love with him : it’s reciprocal. They get married. The young couple come in Maximilien’s manor, Manderley. Gradually, the young woman « is haunted by the Rebecca’s ghost », Mrs. Danvers, the governess, boosts this. In the wake of a bal, a storm brings out, from the sea,  a boat with Rebecca’s body. Therefore, a police investigation starts. We can notice the main character’s evolution, she becomes a strong woman while she was a « little and shy girl » at the beginning.

I won’t say the story’s wake, it’s up to you, to discover it! I decided to make an article on this novel because it’s, I think, my favorite. The atmosphere is almost indescribable, the ( psychological ) suspense is unsustainable. The novel is dominated by the mystery. There is a kind of darkness in the way the novel is written, in the opposite of the  main character’s innocence. What’s more, it’s a great idea from Du Maurier to not give a name of the female narrator.

Moreover, I want to deepen the subject. So, I’ll talk about the famous film adaptation : Rebecca, directed by Hitchcock. This film is created two years after the book’s release ( 1940 ). This film well retranscribethe general atmosphere of the book. The image alows to give more details showing the Rebecca’s domination, even after her death.

So, now, I let you read the novel or watch the film! Personally, I prefer the novel, because the suspense is more impressive, the darkness is more palpable, the Manderley’s vision is more idealistic.

The King’s speech (2010)

The King’s speech is a film directed by Tom Hooper. The casting is composed By Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush.

Then, I’ll sum up the story. So, the film deals with the famous stuttering of the king George VI. In the wake of the Edward VIII’s abdication ( because he wants to get married with a divorced woman ), a more young son of George V, Albert, becomes the king, George VI. But he suffers from stuttering, so he’s unable to do a speech, without mistakes. So, his wife, Elizabeth, find him a « speech therapist » who works of way not really conventional. Throughout the film, we follow the Albert’s determination to progress and to be worthy to be a King. The film finishes on the famous speech of George VI, on the radio, to declare the World War II.

Personally, this film is well done. We are touched by the evolution of George VI, in the same time, he is. The end let us in tears. What’s more, I watched this film in original version, and I find the british accent so charming, and pleasant to hear. Colin Firth have a lot of charisma, and Geoffroy Rush is funny enough.

So, now, it’s your turn to give your opinion about this film!

 

William Turner.

I want to show you a British painter and watercolorist I like very much : William Turner. I’ll do a quick biography of this man, and after I’ll show you several of his works, those I prefer.

So,Turner was devoted at the Art all of his time’s life. If at the origin, Turner was part of the English Romantism with his lyric landscapes, he was however a pioneer of the Impressionism with the details dissolved of the painting’s colors. He travelled troughout Europe, often alone.

To finish, I invite you to focus on William Turner. I’ll show some works :

 

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c2/William_Turner_-_Flint_Castle.jpg
http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/turner/i/slave-ship.jpg
http://uploads5.wikipaintings.org/images/william-turner/alnwick-castle-northumberland.jpg

 

The Brontë Sisters.

I would like talking about Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë. These women are great novelists of the 19th above all Emily and Charlotte. I’ll focus, in particular, on Emily and Charlotte whose I read the most of works.

So, they grew up in an isolated place, in the West Riding of the Yorkshire. In spite of this « imprisonment », all of the Brontë family display a huge creativity with a lot of imagination. This place where they live, is a wild place, so we can guess why it’s often the same atmosphere which reigns in their differents books.

So, I read Jane Eyre and, one of my favorite books, Wuthering Heights. This last deals with a « strange » love story, accompagnied by wild characters and unheathly atmosphere. I’d rather avoid to give too details! As of Jane Eyre, the story distinguish herself by the feminism in advance for this time. Now, I would like reading one of the book of Anne Brontë.

Unfortunetly, the destiny of the Brontë family is tragic. The most of died of tuberculosis, often young.

So, you should read the Brontë’s books, and watch the film adaptions which accompany the novels like the version of Jane Eyre directed by Zefirelli, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, or even, Jane Eyre according to Fukunaga which is more recent. 

Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright.

This film is one of the two film adaptations of the novel by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. This adaptation stays faithful next to the film. What’s more, he’s less boring than the another adaption made by BBC.

Keira Knightley is very beautiful in the version of Joe Wright even if the actress ( Jennifer Ehle) as Elizabeth in the film of BBC corresponds better in this role, for me. Whereas, I find the two actors as Mr Darcy are perfect both : Matthew Macfadyen is very handsome, and Colin Firth is very charming!

The advantage with the Joe Wright’s vision of Pride and Prejudice is that the film isn’t long, and that the aesthetic of the film is greatly good implemented.

So, I let you discover the one or another of this two adaptations and tell me, according to you, which is the better.

The Hours (2001)

I would like talk about a film I watched recently : The Hours, directed by Steven Daldry, with famous actresses such as Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman.

The film stages the crucial day of three women in parallel. The first tells about Virginia Woolf (played by Nicole Kidman) during she wrote Mrs Dalloway in the 20’s, the second about Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), an housewife of the 50’s who read this novel which will change her life. And finally, the third story shows Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), an modern and real incarnation of the character of Mrs Dalloway.

What I like in this film is the question of the life and the happiness, and of the vain being. Also, I like the splice of the beginning and the end of the film which stages the suicide of Virginia Woolf (which respects the real suicide of this writer). This film makes me interrested by Virginia Woolf and I think I’ll be interrested also by her works!

To finish, I want to say that The Hours, the title of the film, is in fact the initial title Virginia Woolf wanted to give to Mrs Dalloway.

Now, I let you disover the intrigues of the film, and the links the director makes between the three stories! It’s very touching and breathtaking!

Frankestein film vs. Frankestein Drama

I would like talk about this two adaptations of the Mary Shelley’s novel!

I saw, in literature in English class, the film Frankestein directed by Kenneth Branagh who plays also the main character Victor Frankestein. Before seeing the film, I went to the drama adaptation of this story. The troup who performs this calls Theatre en Anglais

Personally, I prefered the actor’s acting in the drama rather than the movie. In the film, the actors tend to exaggerate the feelings, the emotions, it’s almost « too much ». Although, during the drama, in spite of the wrong lights, the actors are very exceptionnal, I was impressed. In my opinion, the single thing which are very great in the film is the make-up, and perharps the special effects. I was very very suprised when I knew that the creature were interprated by Robert de Niro. 

Finally, I can say that I prefer the drama, even if I don’t like the some change of the original story. I find their perform breathtaking, because they manage to play in spite of the lack of space, and the fact they are only four actors, for many more characters.