We had a great time in Alaska with family and friends. We biked the coastal trail, hiked up in Hatcher's Pass, went up to Lake Louise and spent the night in my parents' cabin, and did some of the Lynx Lake Loop by canoe up at the Nancy Lake trail system. It was great to be home for a while and see everyone, and especially great to be outdoors without burning up.
To try and keep a little sanity outside of school, Natalie and I have started watching the Criterion Collection in order. Last night we watched "La Grande Illusion", a 1937 French film by Jean Renoir. The film is about a couple prisoners of war during World War 1 in Germany and some of their escape attempts. The movie deals with the futility of war and treats all the characters from a humanistic perspective. I haven't watched many films that are this old, so at first it was kind of a struggle to get into it. Eventually we both caught up with the plot ended up loving it. There were definitely some laugh out loud moments and great scenes. Instead of typing up a full lengthy review, I'll just encourage you to watch it and make a list of some of my favorite bits of the movie:
-At one point while the French prisoners are putting together a theatrical production and are trying on wigs and women's clothing, one of them looks out the window at a bunch of young German soldiers marching on the parade field and states, "Out there children are pretending to be soldiers, in here soldiers are pretending to be children."
-Rauffenstein was definitely my favorite character. The film is really villian-less. He definitely looks like he will be playing the part of the bad guy, with his back injury and strict speech about escaping when the prisoners get to Wintersborn. Actually, the first shot of him at his desk in Wintersborn is almost frightening. By the end of the film however, the only real emotion you feel for him is pity. He is bound by duty and actually resents what he has to do. You also feel sorry for him because of status in the collapsing social order. It was refreshing to feel like everyone in the film was a real complex character, including the captors.
-I really enjoyed the escape scene with the flutes being played in unison, both Natalie and I cracked up at the French soldier earlier in the film who, watching the Germans out on the parade field, states, "I loathe fifes."
-There is a famous scene in the film that inspired part of Casablanca, where the French prisoners all break out in unison singing the French National Anthem during their play after discovering that a fort has been retaken. My brother in law always says that the U.S. has the best National Anthem, I would say the French is maybe a close second?
-If you have time, look up a bit of the history of the film itself. It was declared cinematic enemy number one by Joseph Goebbels upon release, and was eventually banned in France because of the potential effect it might have on morale. The original nitrate of the film was lost and thought to have been destroyed for decades and eventually restored only in 1990.
Anyway, the film is well worth your time. Next week we are going to watch Seven Samurai. I have seen Magnificent Seven, but never the film it was based on, so I'm excited.
Natalie is off picking pears this morning. We are living in Draper in the top floor of an old mansion and we are loving it. It doesn't have air conditioning, but it is finally cooling off and it is getting more bearable to be inside.
Don't know what I'm going to do now that Breaking Bad has ended until next summer.
Tomorrow night after school I am headed to Salt Lake to go see Serengeti, Jel, and wHy? It's gonna be great.