Some Halloween Fantasy to Fuel My Imagination…

I love Halloween. I always have since I was little. I loved getting dressed up, apple bobbing and the rare treat of (closely supervised) trick-or-treating. However, once you reach teen years (and beyond in my case), unless you like getting dressed up in skimpy costumes, drinking and clubbing, you’re pretty limited for Halloween activities. As this isn’t my cup of tea, I decided that a trip to the cinema was in order.

My first encounter of Silent Hill was thanks to my friend James, who forced (yes forced) me to watch the first film about four years ago. Horror films aren’t really thing and video games are about a million miles away from my list of past-times but there was something about Silent Hill that I really couldn’t shake off. Continue reading

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Shakespeare Live From the Globe!

As I am doing a year long Shakespeare module, you won’t be surprised to hear that I have been busy reading many of his plays. However, this week I was in for an extra treat, as one of my lecturers organised a trip to the local cinema, which was showing Much Ado About Nothing live from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

As an absolute Shakespeare lover, it has always been my dream to go to the Globe (ideally to see Macbeth as that is my favourite!) but when I hear that this trip was being organised I knew that I had to go! Continue reading

The Dark Knight Rises: A Review

I will do my very best not to spoil anything for those who haven’t yet seen the film 🙂

The first time I saw ‘The Dark Knight,’ it was very much against my will and it terrified me…I’m putting that down to the clowns. However, when I watched it again at a later date (in a less threatening environment than a cinema screen) I was completely hooked! I’m certainly not, by any means, a fan of superheroes. Generally I am unable to suspend my disbelief far enough to see me through the first transformation or fight scene, however, something about ‘The Dark Knight’ drew me in. I think what essentially attracted me was the study of human behaviour when placed in these situations (I’m sad I know) and the most prominent image I took away from the film was when the parties on the two boats have the option of blowing up the other boat to save themselves, and neither of them could do it.

When I heard that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was being released, I found myself being surprisingly intrigued. In an instant, I had made up my mind that I wanted to see it. I hoped to be as drawn in as I was by the previous film, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The plot is generally about the return of Batman, as, for the first seven years after the death of Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne has disappeared from Gotham, and upon his return, he lives as a recluse and a cripple. Suddenly, his solitary life is interrupted by the intrusion of a ‘cat burglar’ which inspires him to find out more about the mysterious woman. Eventually, after various events, Wayne discovers that a masked man, Bane, is terrorising the city, and once again dons the infamous suit to defeat him. In a painfully embarrassing fight scene, Batman is defeated and exiled, forced to improve his mind and body, until his can return to Gotham and face Bane once again.

The story was intriguing from the beginning, and offered all of the twists and turns you would expect from a superhero movie. While at times little things felt predictable, this is probably something that cannot be avoided in this genre. However, these elements didn’t spoil the film in any way and I was definitely glad that I had gone to see it. The ending is completely unexpected, and leaves you wondering what will happen next! And even the fact that I haven’t seen ‘Batman Begins’ didn’t stop me from understanding who characters were or what was going on, even though it did require some logical thinking.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the film and I really didn’t want it to end. Even now I would be tempted to watch it again, even this soon after my first viewing! Which is a lot coming from a girl with no interest in superheroes!

 

Avengers Assemble

Last night I went to see ‘Avengers Assemble’ with my friends and my boyfriend. Admittedly, I didn’t know what I was going to think. It wasn’t a film I particularly wanted to see, and I wouldn’t describe it as ‘my kind of film’ but I was thoroughly impressed.

The plot revolves around an energy source called The Tesseract, which draws energy from space. It is used as a source of renewable energy, until it starts behaving unusually, and Loki, the supervillain, uses it as a gateway to earth. He steals The Tesseract and begins creating a portal to allow his army through to invade the Earth. Meanwhile Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D is assembling a group of superheroes to defeat Loki.

The film was surprisingly gripping right from the start, and although I went through the whole film without knowing who some of the characters were, it didn’t necessarily matter. What I liked most about the film was the humour, particularly that of the egocentric Iron Man, and the scenes featuring Hulk and Thor. This made the film stand out from other superhero movies (because we all know who’s going to win in the end anyway) and it makes it a great family film.

I would strongly recommend this film as one to go and see. It will be particularly rewarding if, like me, you don’t have high expectations. Even if you don’t think it is a film that you will enjoy it is definitely worth watching, you don’t need a detailed knowledge of the characters but it might be worth finding out who is who before you go (this would save the confusion that I suffered!) but otherwise it is a really interesting and exciting film.

‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe

A few days ago I mentioned on my blog about ‘The Listeners’ by Walter de la Mare that my other favourite poem is ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe.  The poem was first published in 1845, and it tells the story of the narrator’s lost love, Lenore. The speaker is haunted by his loss, and during this dark period, a raven flies in at his window. This physical embodiment of his grief becomes even more ghastly when it begins to speak the one word, ‘nevermore.’ The speaker becomes distraught at the thought of seeing Lenore, ‘nevermore,’ but cannot rid himself of the raven.

The main reason I love this poem is the incredibly fast pace, which has you tripping over your words no matter how many times you have read it! You cannot help getting faster and faster as you speak each verse. The unique rhyme scheme emphasises this, making the words even trickier to get your tongue round the words!

A film has been released in the last few months under the same title, which stars John Cusack. The last few days of Poe’s life are a mystery, before he was found close to death on a park bench shortly before he died. This film attempts to capture a dramatic concept of what may have happened in Poe’s last days before death. The plot revolves around a killer who murders in the style of Poe’s short stories. Each death resembles one of short stories, with only the addition of a clue to lead them to the next victim. Once Poe’s lover is kidnapped, it is a race against time to save her life, but in exchange, he is going to have to make a sacrifice. This film had me gripped from the very start, which, being a lover of Poe isn’t a surprise. It did have the same effect on my boyfriend, however, who has never read any Poe in his life. It is a really faced paced and exciting film, just like the poem, and well worth a watch.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

Edgar Allan Poe

The Woman in Black – film/book review

Last night, after spending three years on my bookcase, I finally got round to finishing Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black.’ After seeing the film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe, I was eager to finish the book I had started so long ago. For anyone who has not seen the film or read the book, it is the tragic story of a young lawyer who is sent to Eel Marsh House to sort through the papers of the late Mrs. Drablow. While he is there, he experiences many unexplained events and is haunted by the ghost of a woman in black – a woman whose presence leads to deadly results.

The book is wonderfully written. You find yourself being drawn into the experiences of the narrator until you begin to feel on edge yourself – something that not many books manage to achieve.  The book less than two hundred pages long and with something gripping happening in every chapter (roughly ten pages long) you can’t help but wanting to read chapter after chapter in one sitting.

I was amazed at how true to the book the film really is. Often filmmakers take advantage and turn the story into something completely different, but in this case it is not true at all. Admittedly the film does introduce the underlying story much sooner to keep the action going, but it still holds on to the essence of the book. The film also uses the advantage of visual and audio effects to build up the suspense to create scenes where the audience cannot help but jump out of their seat…even if you think you can predict what is coming!

The main difference between the book and the film that I encountered was the ending. The film leaves the audience with complete closure and, what could almost be interpreted as a happy ending in the reunion of the lovers and the expelling of the ghost. However, the book offers no real conclusion to the story, somehow making it scarier, as you are still left with questions at the end, which keeps you thinking about the book a long time after you have finished it.

Overall, I found that both the book and the film are wonderful examples of a truly gripping ghost story. The book is a completely unique concept that, even for those who have seen the film, offers something very new and will keep you wanting to read more. The film offers an interpretation of the book that is very true to it, while offering something that people who had already read the book wouldn’t expect. I would strongly recommend both reading the book and watching the film, as even though they tell the same story, they are wonderfully unique.

If you enjoyed this please read my article on the London Olympics: http://bit.ly/IaTK1X