starlady: Carl's house floating above the fields (always an adventure)
I went to see Song of the Sea last night--it's playing as part of the Tokyo Anime Award Festival, which does have (as Time Out Tokyo opined) a rather weak sauce program for an animation festival in Tokyo, but they are playing this film, and that was all I cared about. Technically it's in competition for a long-form prize at the festival, but I think the fix is in; I actually went and bought my ticket on Sunday afternoon, which was good because at that point they only had six seats left, even though it's the only one they're screening twice.

Like The Secret of Kells, which was done by the same production team, Song of the Sea is set in Ireland, although this time it's present day Ireland--but there's just as much if not more Irish in this movie as there was in The Secret of Kells, and I very much enjoyed the way that Irish was used to slip a few past those who might protest the equivalent in English (viz the Daoine Sidhe's doorsigns). The Secret of Kells was a wonderful movie in many ways, and the animation was just as good if not better this time around. Seriously, the animation is so, so beautiful, and so painterly. It's absolutely the kind of film that makes you realize just how far the medium can go.

The movie tells the story of Ben and Saoirse, two siblings who live in a lighthouse on the west coast of Ireland with their father; Brona, their mother, died when Saoirse was born, and nothing has ever been quite right since. Ben blames Saoirse for the mother's death, and at six years old, Saoirse still doesn't talk, which doesn't help things. When their well-meaning grandmother prevails on their father to send them to live with her in Dublin without their dog Cù, the family's troubles become bound up with those of all the fair folk left in Ireland, for Saoirse is a selkie, like her mother before her, and their hope of Tir na Nog, the Summer Country, rests upon whether she can regain herself, and sing her song to guide them there.

Like [personal profile] owlectomy, I thought this was a marvelous movie, and I was really impressed at the way the family drama and the larger heft of the story grow out of each other organically, and the way that there aren't really even any villains in it. The owl witch Macha has her reasons for what she does, and part of Ben's journey is to realize his own shortcomings. I wept all through the climactic scene, which was totally unexpected, but an indicator of just how much heart the movie has, and how effectively Tomm Moore gets that across. In that respect, it emphatically does recall the best of Studio Ghibli's works.
starlady: "I can hear the sound of empires falling." (burning empires)
I was immensely gladdened yesterday afternoon to hear that at long last the official British inquiry into the matter has found every single one of the victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre perpetuated in 1972 by the British Army in Derry, Northern Ireland, to be innocent; Prime Minister Cameron called the murders "unjustified" and "unjustifiable" on the floor of the House of Commons, and apologized.

While in Ireland in 2006 I met a man who was present at the massacre; Jan. 30, 1972, was actually Tony's 18th birthday, and many of those killed were his classmates. Among many other things about growing up in the North and living in the Republic, he told us that of his entire high school class only three guys including him aren't in prison or dead. I actually looked for him in the photos of the people gathered in Derry to hear Cameron's speech; I'm sure that wherever he was, it did him some good at least to hear the British government acknowledge its soldiers' actions. Justice may be cold comfort, but it is real, and it is a real component of reconciliation, just as real and important as apologies.

Elsewhere in the Dept. of Long Delayed Recognition, the Shinnecock Indians of Long Island, N.Y., have finally been recognized as a tribe by the federal government. It only took 32 years for Uncle Sam to acknowledge that, yes, they've been living in the Hamptons since at least the 1600s.


Via everyone, to make a segue, [personal profile] ephemere's post Itys, about anger and speaking out (with bonus Aeschylus quotation!) needs to be read by everyone.

And via [personal profile] oliviacirce, these posts focus specifically on writing: [livejournal.com profile] impertinence on policing our own racism before it leaves our heads, [personal profile] newredshoes on how to write with consideration, and [personal profile] petra recs a story that does it right.
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
"I have seen many things...I have seen Ireland ravished by invaders in search of gold. But I have seen the book, the book that turned the darkness into light. I have seen the Book of Kells."

On the one hand I really liked this movie quite a lot, and on the other I had one significant problem with it.

Awesome parts first! This movie is produced by the same people who did The Triplets of Belleville, which is one of the best animated movies ever in my humble opinion precisely for all the things that make it such an outlier (silence! Frenchness! wine-drinking! bicycles! I could go on) and was a co-production of France, Belgium and Ireland. It tells the story of the very young monk Brendan of Kells, whose uncle the Abbot has very strict ideas about how best to protect Kells and its community from the invading Northmen aka Vikings, and whose authority is challenged by the arrival of the master illuminator Aidan of Iona, at whose behest Brendan eventually meets and befriends Aisling, the spirit of the forest that surrounds Kells. The question quickly becomes--will Aidan and Brendan survive both the Vikings and the Abbot's disapproval and the ill will of the Dark One, Crom Cruach, to finish the Book of Iona, and in particular the Chi-Rho page?

I have seen the Book of Kells with my own eyes, and I don't think it's possible for me to understate the beauty of the Book, and the absolute awe which the achievement of its illuminators inspires in the beholder. Wisely, the movie doesn't attempt to recreate the Book directly; instead it relies on its impact on its viewers for its emotional impact, which is more than enough; at the end I was nearly in tears (yes, I do like books rather a lot). If you couldn't tell, this movie is very much of the How the Irish Saved Civilization school of thinking, with which I have few quibbles per se but which I was led to question in the course of the movie. More on that below.

Kells' greatest treasure )
starlady: (always)
Since, via [personal profile] jonquil, I learned that today is Lady Gregory's birthday, and since via [personal profile] toft, [personal profile] eumelia, and several others I have encountered the following meme, here is a poem which was (as the title indicates) partially written at her estate in County Galway. (And because I was there and at Yeats' tower in January 2006, have some photos of what remains.)


Coole Park and Ballylee, 1931

Under my window-ledge the waters race,
Otters below and moor-hens on the top,
Run for a mile undimmed in Heaven's face
Then darkening through "dark" Raftery's "cellar" drop,
Run underground, rise in a rocky place
In Coole demesne, and there to finish up
Spread to a lake and drop into a hole.
What's water but the generated soul?

Under the border of that lake's a wood
Now all dry sticks under a wintry sun,
And in a copse of beeches there I stood,
For Nature's pulled her tragic buskin on
And all the rant's a mirror of my mood:
At sudden thunder of the mounting swan
I turned about and looked where branches break
The glittering reaches of the flooded lake.

Another emblem there! That stormy white
But seems a concentration of the sky;
And, like the soul, it sails into the sight
And in the morning's gone, no man knows why;
And is so lovely that it sets to right
What knowledge or its lack had set awry,
So arrogantly pure, a child might think
It can be murdered with a spot of ink.

Sound of a stick upon the floor, a sound
From somebody that toils from chair to chair;
Beloved books that famous hands have bound,
Old marble heads, old pictures everywhere;
Great rooms where travelled men and children found
Content or joy; a last inheritor
Where none has reigned that lacked a name and fame
Or out of folly into folly came.

A spot whereon the founders lived and died
Seemed once more dear than life; ancestral trees,
Or gardens rich in memory glorified
Marriages, alliances and families,
And every bride's ambition satisfied.
Where fashion or mere fantasy decreees
We shift about--all that great glory spent--
Like some poor Arab tribesman and his tent.

We were the last romantics--chose for theme
Traditional sanctity and loveliness;
Whatever's written in what poets name
The book of the people; whatever most can bless
The mind of man or elevate a rhyme;
But all is changed, that high horse riderless,
Though mounted in that saddle Homer rode
Where the swan drifts upon a darkening flood.

--W. B. Yeats



Like many stories of the C20th in Ireland, Lady Gregory's is bittersweet. She was a great patron and friend of Yeats and many others in the so-called Irish Renaissance of the early part of the century (which many people note was actually an Anglo-Irish renaissance), but her son was killed fighting for Britain in World War I, leaving only her young grandson, and her estate house was eventually destroyed by Republican partisans.
starlady: (the wizard's oath)
Yup, another reread, this time of the much-maligned fourth volume in Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, partially in honor of the fact that the ninth, A Wizard of Mars, is due out some time this year.

Well, I say much-maligned because I think there is a general consensus that AWA is the slightest of the eight books in the series, but I have to say that even Duane's slighter books, such as this one, still manage to pack a decent amount of thinky thoughts in. On rereading, I can see that this book is Duane processing her having relocated from New York to Ireland after her marriage, and having been to Ireland, I think she gets a lot of the country right. Compared with the other books in the series, though, the narrative simply lacks punch; it's no where near as evocative or as urgent as any of the others before or since, and I'm not sure I could say why, unless it's the insistence that what's threatening Ireland is the past coming alive again (not that this might not be an issue in Ireland in reality, har har). Replaying old roles just inherently lacks pizazz, for all that Duane gives Irish legends her own spin with customary flair, and the ending is positively anti-climactic. There's interesting hints, though, of what is becoming more of an issue in the later books--Nita's fraught relationship with the Lone Power. Since in this book the Lone One is a hill with a malevolent eyeball that has perhaps one line of dialogue, as opposed to Its other sexy and/or wittier incarnations in the other books, that's a drag too. Worth a read as part of the series, and I'm glad I finally have my matched copy, but no great shakes. Though I will say, I do like how Duane has managed to write a nine-volume series that has stretched from 1983 to 2009 in which only about two years has gone by internally, while having each book be both of its time and yet perennial.
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
Seeing the old-fashioned cars in the FMA movie made me remember the morning in Dublin after the group left and something that happened. It was a brilliantly sunny day and I was wandering around the St. Stephen's Green area aimlessly. Well, I was walking down Dawson Street toward the Green and I passed a church on my right across the street (on the Waterstone's side) and there was a crowd of people waiting in front of the doors. A man in a very black tuxedo was standing at the top of the steps to the church. When I turned onto St. Stephen's Green North I realized it was a wedding because I saw the bride and her father riding in one of those old-fashioned cars (not open-topped). She looked very happy and her dress seemed very pretty--I couldn't see much besides the sheer lace covering her shoulders and her bouquet in her hands. So that man was the groom. I don't think I've ever seen a blacker tuxedo. It was really just nice, in the most un-cloying sense of the word possible. They had a beautiful day to get married on and I wish them all the best. But then, I wish everyone the best.

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starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
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