Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I went to the cinema a few nights ago to see The Hobbit, directed by Peter Jackson based on J.R.Tolkien's novel of the same name in the Excel cinema in Tipperary with my daughter Katy. I wasn't chomping at the bit to get there, but Kate's enthusiasm was contagious and in any case, there's always the chance that one might be pleasantly surprised....and I do so like surprises. I must be one of the very few that still hasn't seen the full trilogy of Lord Of The Rings. I did go to see the first part with all the family as part of Emma's birthday treat, but after a particularly hard day's work, I fought to stay awake and failed miserably. That was not a reflection on the movie, just a phase that lasted about three years of not being able to stay awake for live gigs...plays, concerts, films etc. This became a genuine nuisance and given the fact that I don't really like to waste time sleeping, it was difficult to fathom. When Part 1 was later released on DVD, we rented it out, but once again I struggled to stay awake. However, I managed Part 2 in the cinema and loved it, even though it was difficult for me to follow given I'd missed most of Part 1. I thought the moving trees were spectacular, but Gollum (pictured below) absolutely freaked me out.   

I haven't seen Part 3 yet, but I will. Thankfully my narcoleptic phase appears to have ended, and I will catch up on all the Rings and the five Harry Potter movies. Ssssh....I know, I shouldn't be owning up to that one! There were some very special moments in The Hobbit. I loved the Wizard of the forest, who took care of all the animals (even brought a teeny little hedgehog back to life!) He had birds nesting in his hair under his hat, which he took off periodically to let them fly in and out; one side of his face caked in bird droppings. A telepathic conversation between Cate Blanchett (Elf Princess) and Ian McKellen (Gandalf) in a tower at the palace of the Elves was gorgeous and suggested that this couple, who were so obviously in tune with each other, might have been lovers in another time. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 hour Hobbit experience in spite of the appearance of the dreaded Gollum.

When we arrived home after the movie, I lit the fire and candles whilst Katy checked out the TV listings and flicked onto the movie Moulin Rouge starring Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman and the amazing Jim Broadbent. When Moulin Rouge (2001) directed by Baz Luhrmann was first released, there was such a  huge hype surrounding it and my friends raved about it. I eventually watched it on TV and was quite disappointed, because I had really wanted to love it. My daughters, who were madly in love with Ewan McGregor at the time, couldn't believe that I wasn't moved by this film. That all changed a few nights ago. 

This movie is a classy visual tour de force with incredibly beautiful sets, costumes; clever adaptations of old musical hits (including the song we associate with Marilyn Monroe - Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, Roxanne and many many more), wonderful performances; and an age-old romantic story-line. The plot is centred around a poor poet Christian (Ewan McGregor), who falls in love with a consumptive leading actress and courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman) whilst rehearsing for a show in the Moulin Rouge. No-one except Jim Broadbent and his wife know that Satine is dying, not even Satine herself. She is to be wed to a rich Baron who is rather like the baddie with the moustache from the old silent movies. Being a courtesan, and no stranger to the art of pleasuring men, Satine falls madly in love for the first time with Christian and they plan to run away together. However, they are scuppered by the Baron who learns of their plans and threatens to kill the Poet. Broadbent comes to Satine to inform her of this and her deathly prognosis. He tells Satine that the only way she can save Christian's life is to make him believe that she no longer loves him, which she does eventually, for a while at least, and he leaves brokenhearted. However, in one last desperate attempt, Christian arrives at the Moulin Rouge on opening night and interrupts the show; whereby Satine can no longer hide her undying love for Christian and they sing a powerful duet together. I am not going to spoil anything by revealing the end for anyone who has not yet seen this wonderful movie, just as I have not yet seen the full Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Harry Potter movies.  Whilst watching Moulin Rouge, I couldn't help but be reminded of  Guiseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata. That too had been ill-received upon first viewing.

La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) is based on a play called La Dame aux Camelias adapted from the novel by Alexander Dumas, fils. Traviata was jeered by the audience when it was first performed in Venice on 6 March 1853. Many within the audience directed their scorn towards the 38 year old soprano Fanny Salvini-Donatelli, whom they said was too old and too overweight to play the role of the courtesan heroine Violetta dying from consumption. Verdi, who was distressed by this reaction, went on to tweak Act II and III, and even though the content was thought to be unwholesome, particularly in England, it is now second only to Mozart's The Magic Flute on the list of most-performed operas worldwide. Quite a turn-around!

Naturally after watching the Moulin Rouge for the second time, I have asked myself why I didn't get it the first time around and have come to the conclusion that I tried to rationalize and contain it in realism rather than going haplessly wherever the flying carpet took me. On hindsight the movie is of the same ilk as The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, Scherazade, Arabian nights, Sinbad etc....sheer escapism. Its all about believing in magic and I think I forgot to believe for a little while.

The clip below is the final duet Come What May, which was the only song written especially for the movie. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman are no mean singers. So romantic!

I'd also like to ask readers to check out my daughter Katy's new facebook page: Katywalshmusic She is a singer/songwriter and working as a sound engineer in Canada. Whilst working on her first album she is endeavouring to build up a fan base on Facebook, Soundcloud etc etc and would be grateful for any likes, but of course, only if you genuinely do. There is also a Youtube video clip below of her singing one of her songs She's My Local with an accoustic guitar at a party in Canada. (She had never met the chap beside her until that afternoon)

Ciao for now

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