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Article ID: 4839
Age Group: Adult
Posted: October 27th. 2002
Witch Cinema 11
by Peg Aloi
Hello witch cinema mavens! Lots of exciting news to report this month. I trust you are all enjoying the thrilling season of late autumn (or late spring, for our friends Down Under) and looking forward to the cinematic treats the holiday season will bring.
The next installment in J. K. Rowling's story of the young wizards and witches of Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, opens next month. Sadly, Richard Harris, whose delightful portrayal of Dumbledore the wizard warmed many hearts, will no longer be able to continue his role as he passed away following a struggle with cancer on Friday, October 25, 2002. He did complete work on this film and on parts of the third one before he fell ill. This fine and prodigious talent will be sorely missed. I was able to view a trailer online and it looked every bit as amazing as the first one! Look for our review as soon as it opens! I trust many of you will book your tickets for the first midnight showing!
The other blockbuster sequel to look forward to will be Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in December. I have a friend with an excellent home entertainment system and I hope to view The Fellowship of the Ring just before the second film is released. I for one am glad the second film's title has not been changed following the September 11th attacks; eerily prophetic or no, I have been strongly opposed to any form of censorship aimed at preserving anyone's feelings at being reminded of this horrific event. Films have appeared post --9/11 in which footage of the World Trade Center towers (filmed before they were destroyed) has been digitally edited out! Or entire scenes featuring the twin towers (as in Spiderman) were cut entirely. I find this appalling. There is no way for any of us to forget this event, nor should we try. And I think any image which shows us the Manhattan skyline as it was is worth preserving.
A few scary films have been released recently in time for Hallowe'en. So far The Ring is doing very well.. I have yet to t see the Japanese original this film is based on, but I hear it is also worth seeking out. The inferior feardotcom was also loosely based on this story. Naomi Watts, the Australian actress who wowed audiences in Mulholland Drive last year, is very effective in The Ring as a young single mother caught up in a deadly mystery surrounding a video tape that appears to cause the sudden deaths of those who view it. The film has some interesting things to say about the nature of death and hauntings. The scary Brian Cox is also great as a disturbed horse farmer. I recently saw They, produced by Wes Craven. It's a story of kids who experience night terrors who grow up to be terrorized and later abducted by the things that scared them in childhood. Scary, if a bit implausible, and the reliance upon special effects was a bit much for my taste. Scary in a whole different way is the shocking new documentary by Michael Moore, Bowling for Columbine. Those familiar with Moore's earlier work (Roger and Me and The Big One) will recognize his penchant for going after big business and government bureaucracies that keep the working man down, In this harrowing but often hilarious exploration of violence in America, Moore takes on Wal-Mart, the store where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold bought the bullets with which they shot their classmates and teachers at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. He also visits the home of Charlton Heston, president of the National Rifle Association, and questions him about his appearance at an NRA rally in Littleton TWO DAYS after the Columbine shootings. This film will make you cry, and laugh, and think about the perpetual state of fear Americans seem to live in, which, Moore argues, is perpetuated by the media and the government.
Several new films have been released on DVD which I think are worth searching out for your Samhain week viewing, or maybe you are already thinking of ideas for Yule gifts? Recent releases include: John Boorman's beautiful, magical version of the Arthurian legend, Excalibur complete with outtakes and interviews with the filmmaker. Brad Anderson's spooky story set in an abandoned mental hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts (formerly known as Salem Village!), Session 9 is truly scary and subtle. The rarely-seen vampire flick from the 1970s Ganga and Hess is now available on DVD, and is highly recommended for its fine acting (Duane Jones, the star of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead is incredible in it), elegant photography, and haunting musical score. You can also find Donnie Darko, a charming, memorable film which was one of my favorites last year. A teenager suffering from schizophrenic dreams and visions sleepwalks one night and wakes up near a highway; when he returns home he finds a jet engine has fallen on his bed. It gets weirder from that point on! A fine ensemble cast including Drew Barrymore (also an executive producer on this film), Noah Wylie and Patrick Swayze, this film will stay with you...
Speaking of early Yule shopping, I can' t think of a finer gift for the pagan in your life than the new CD release of The Wicker Man soundtrack! This compilation is from the ACTUAL master studio recordings for the film, NOT, like previous releases, dubbed from the movie effects tapes. Although some of the songs are not the versions that appear in the film, some of them, I think, are superior in quality, particularly "Willow's Song" and "The Tinker of Rye." In addition to the songs (imagine hearing "Corn Rigs" and "Gently Johnny" all the way through! Sheer heaven), the CD includes incidental music. The soundtrack, composed by American musician Paul Giovanni and performed by young British and Scottish musicians, is one of the most well-loved soundtracks in recent history. Said the actor who played Lord Summerisle: "The music to The Wicker Man is quite extraordinary. I think it is probably the best music I've ever heard in a film; all of the songs are so totally different from each other, and yet they sum up the atmosphere of the scenes perfectly. What Paul Giovanni achieved is quite amazing and absolutely beautiful. I think it is stuning, I really do, and the more I listen to it the more beautiful and extraordinary I believe it to be." (Christopher Lee, 2002)
Well, there you have it! The CD is available from Amazon.com, but UK folk (and those who want to support smaller companies) may want to order it directly from the distributor, Silva Screen records. You can check out their website at www.silvascreen.co.uk. I ordered a review copy and received it very quickly!!
There is a real buzz about this film now, because of the American remake (written and directed by Neil LaBute and reportedly starring Nicolas Cage) and Scottish sequel "tentatively titled The Riding of the Laddie and starring Christopher Lee and Ewan Macgregor) currently in production. I recently learned of a festival to be held in Dumfries, Scotland (where the film was shot on location) next summer, and at the same time an academic conference will be held (the first of its kind!) I can hear skeptics saying, "An academic conference? Sweet Mother of Mithras, do these people have nothing better to do??" Well, apparently not. Having just returned from a conference at the University of East Anglia, also dedicated to exploring one small portion of the world of movies and TV ("Blood, Text and Fears: Reading Around Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), I can say the obsessive researching of details and endless speculation regarding meanings and interpretations of this amazing show knows no bounds. (I do have some things to say about how the current season is going, but I need to get caught up on my viewing first! The VCR is a wonderful invention). The conference was great fun, by the way. I heard some great papers and met some wonderful people, most of them way more obsessed with Buffy than I am! I gave a paper entitled "Leaves of Dark Willow: Beyond the Metaphor of Magical Addiction" and received some nice compliments on it. I also met up with a number of fellow attendees also interested in contemporary paganism, one of whom taught a course on Celtic Paganism at Harvard which I took several years ago! I also met Stephanie Zacharek in the flesh, a senior film critic at salon.com, who used to review films for the same newspaper I do now. To find out more about the academic take on Buffy, check out www.slayage.tv, where you can also find links to the conference website. The Wicker Man conference has more information at this website: www.the-wicker-man.co.uk.
Do I plan to attend this conference? Well, yes! Even as it falls smack in the middle of my annual retreat to Brushwood. But I see it as an event not to be missed. Any of you well-heeled witches out there who want to sponsor a poor pagan academic...aw, never mind. Send those extra pennies to Witchvox! And watch your karma improve...
I will be spending this late fall and winter winter season deep in thought, no doubt researching and writing more about the world of witchcraft in cinema and television, and making the world safe for witchcraft! And when the weather is bad and the cabin fever sets in, I will rent my favorite witchy movies...won't you join me? Here's my top ten list to get you through the dark, introspective days ahead:
So look for these gems, and don't forget the hot apple cider!
- The Wicker Man (a cult classic! "It is time to keep your appointment...")
- The Devils (brilliant, subversive, eclectic Ken Russell! Based on the heresy trial of Urban Grandier and Aldoux Huxley's book The Devils of Loudon)
- The Craft (ever wonder why so many teenage girls are interested in Wicca? Wonder no more...)
- Practical Magic (Nicole Kidman, Sandra Bullock, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest kick butt in this charming tale of modern witchcraft)
- Sorceress/Le Sorciere (a French wisewoman faces the Inquisition; in French with subtitles, or get the English version; but make sure not to rent the DUBBED version!)
- Eyes of Fire (creepy, magical, fascinating)
- The Crucible (Winona rules! But Arthur Miller rules more)
- The Dark Secret of Harvest Home (hard to find this mini-series on tape; get the book by Tom Tryon, too, entitled simply Harvest Home.)
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail ("How do you know she's a witch?" "SHE LOOKS LIKE ONE!")
- The Blair Witch Project (I didn't think I'd like this on video, but I caught it on BBC Four the other night and it's every but as chilling on TV...please, no hate-email from people who hated this movie; I'll just put my fingers in my ears and hit the delate button and go "la la la la.")
Until the next turn of the wheel, dear viewers...
Media Coordinator - The Witches' Voice
Monday, October, 28th 2002
Email: [Staff Email]
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Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
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