Remember Remember the 5th of November…is actually a British Holiday…

This is the one day of the year where every person who has seen V for Vendetta thinks they know about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot…and most people I speak to..don’t.

So…let me explain.

The Gunpowder Plot took place in 1605 when a group of 13 Catholics led by a man by the name of Robert Catesby, decided that James I was treating the Catholic people of England no better than the previous monarch, Elizabeth I, who persecuted Catholics. So naturally these 13 men decided that an act of terrorism would definitely be the way to go to get their point across. They didn’t like being persecuted so…why not blow up Parliament and the King as well? Well…that escalated quickly…

To carry out their plan, the conspirators got their hands on 36 barrels of gunpowder…hence the name Gunpowder Plot. They stored it in a cellar just under the House of Lords and were planning to ignite it…blowing up the building as they did. However one way or another (some suggest that the King’s officials knew about the plot already and some others say that one of the conspirators sent a letter to a member of the House of Lords) Unfortunately for our friend Guy Fawkes, who was one of the conspirators, he was the one standing in the cellar with the gunpowder when the King’s officially stormed in and found him. He was captured, tortured to give up the names of the other traitors as well as his own confession and later killed by being hung, drawn and quartered in the Tower of London.

Despite the fact that the traitors’ attempt to blow Parliament sky high was foiled by the royal authorities…the reigning monarch in the Great Britain only enters Parliament once per year, during the opening ceremony, and when they do, the building is thoroughly searched before hand.

November 5 has since become known as Bonfire Night in the Great Britain. It is often asked with a tongue in cheek attitude, whether the people of the Great Britain are celebrating the failure of the plot or the attempt itself. The citizens of Great Britain have huge bonfires where they burn “Guys” meant to look like Guy Fawkes to celebrate the failure of the plot. Fireworks displays are also common.

So..as you can see, the connection to V for Vendetta (the loose comic book film adaptation) is loose if that. Basically V, the main character wear a Guy Fawkes mask in order to remain anonymous in his attempt to overthrow the fascist government that has over taken 2020s UK. He uses Guy Fawkes as a face to attach his idea to that the government must be overthrown…by violence. He explains his plot by saying “Remember Remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot, I can think of no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” People tend to cling to the idea of the movie and of the holiday without remembering that the main character believes that blowing up buildings full of people is the way to get what you want. Following in the footsteps or brainwaves of V or of Guy Fawkes is very dangerous. While V may have been inspired by Guy, he hides behind the identity of a failed terrorist and allows his followers to do the same. The anonymous movement on the internet has also occasionally used the mask as their symbol. Don’t don the mask if you don’t know what it represents. I agree that V for Vendetta is an excellent and thought provoking film, even if its connection to the real historical event is a bit loose. The terrorists of 1605 weren’t anonymous and they were terribly punished for their treason. If you watch the film knowing the context of the mask, they are really quite different. One inspired the other but that’s really all. Enjoy the movie though! I will be celebrating Bonfire night with a Sparkler bath bomb from the originally British company Lush, the bath bomb was inspired by the bonfires that are set on 11/5. Happy Guy Fawkes day everyone! I’ve posted some informational links below!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_for_Vendetta_(film)

http://www.bonfirenight.net/gunpowder.php

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Movie Review: The Reluctant Dragon

Hey there Sifters! I thought I would write up another movie review! I’ve been stopping by my library and taking out old often forgotten Disney movies and documentaries. Last time it was The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story. This time it’s the Reluctant Drago. This is a movie that was made entirely to explain the behind the scenes magic of how a Disney Animated film is made at the Disney Studios. Some parts of the movie are shot in black and white and others are in color. It’s a very witty film with a grand appearance by Walt Disney himself in the end of the film. In true Disney fashion, the behind the scenes magic is told through a story. The film begins with a man and his wife, who wants him to take the story The Reluctant Dragon to the Disney Studios and pitch it as a film. He is quite doubtful that it will work but his wife makes him go anyway. Hilarity and education occur simultaneously as the gentleman attempts to hide from his studio guide who is supposed to be walking him around the studio before taking him to meet Walt.

The gentleman goes through the sound effects department, the storyboarding department, the animation department, the sculpting department the ink and paint department and more. He keep accumulating souvenirs as he evades his overly eager guide. In the end, the audience does get to see the story of The Reluctant Dragon.

It’s an amazing film that I think everyone who loves Disney movies and the behind the scenes magic should see. It’s got great bonus footage if you get the right edition and it’s fantastically entertaining as well as educational. It has all the charm of the 40s, which is when it was made and getting to see Walt on screen is always a real gem. My favorite part was getting to see how the multi-plane camera worked. I knew the basic concept but had never really seen it in action. It was nice to get to see how massive they really were.

The film is unique in that it tells two stories, the story of the man on a mission from his wife to pitch The Reluctant Dragon and the actual story of The Reluctant Dragon, which is just darling! It’s an animated short about a Dragon who wants to write sonnets instead of fight against the knights of the kingdom. The cartoon itself is in full color even though some of the live action scenes are in black and white. The live action and animated characters are charming and reflective of their time, the story is wonderful and it’s an amazing look at the making of an animated film as done by the best of the best. I definitely highly recommend tracking down a copy and watching it, it’s Disney magic at it’s finest during an era right before animation fell apart for a bit because of WWII, which gives it an interesting context.

Thanks for reading and keep Sifting Through Shelves!

Interview with Logan Sekulow: Director of As Dreamers Do

In addition to seeing the As Dreamers Do film, I was lucky enough to interview the director of the film and ask him a few questions. He was so kind and it’s clear that Logan has dedication to the Disney story! Enjoy!

Kaitlyn: What was the research like for the film? Where did you do most of the research?

Logan: I’ve been a huge fan of Walt my whole life and I had specifics points I wanted to hit. Much of the extra research was done by my screenwriter but I knew the beginning the end and a few specific scenes. The Mouse scene, the projector scene that were largely fictionalized but then moments like recreating Alice’s wonderland were the most amazing. It was a real time travel experience for me. Lots of research but Wendy (screenwriter) and I are just big fans so it helped.

Kaitlyn: Did you film in Marceline, MO?

Logan: No – we almost did but our schedule had us shooting in January. January in Missouri is bad news – of course we ended up having the coldest winter in 30 years in Tennessee where we shot. Also – we shot most of the film in Franklin, TN. It’s a largely unchanged civil war era town. So in someways it was more authentic than Marceline. I still would love to go there soon though and show the movie.

Kaitlyn: How did you know you found the perfect Walt?

Logan: We got the audition tape from Olan and everyone else – which some were great – were just not even in the same zone. Olan was great on camera, looked a decent amount like Walt and just had the perfect attitude – not to mention he’s just an amazing actor. I hope we can put of the tape one day.

Kaitlyn: Do you intend to make a post Mickey movie?

Logan:  Good question. I hadn’t but due to the success of this one there is interest. I have a few projects I still and to do and we may get too it. I think getting Olan on board for a sequel may be tough right now. I’ve talked about doing a making of the Haunted Mansion movie. That I would love.

Kaitlyn: I think the Disney family would be incredibly touched by the movie, have any of them seen it?

Logan: People at the Walt Disney family foundation have seen the movie. I haven’t heard directly from any of the family. The foundation couldn’t approve the movie due to their connection to the Walt Disney company – however I heard really kind things from them. Disney legend Alice Davis came to our UCLA screening – she was an imagineer and worked directly with Walt. She enjoyed it – so no official word, but only positives from anyone in the company.

Kaitlyn: What was the most difficult part of the movie to uncover since most of this story is so unknown to the public?

Logan: It isn’t hard to find. Just people haven’t been exposed to it. The hardest thing was deciding to believe. Historians have their versions where they claim Walt was elaborating and changing things to make a better story. We just said forget that theory – if Walt said it we are taking it as gospel.

But characters were difficult. We had photos of most but their speech and movements was up the writer and actor. Even Ub Iwerks was very hard to find audio recordings etc.

Kaitlyn: How difficult is it to shoot a movie about Disney given how strict the company is? I would love to see more of these from fans of Disney history! Did you need to get the rights to anything?

Logan: Short answer – we are unauthorized. We are telling a story a man who has passed away and was a well known public figure. No one owns history. I get much more into detail – but no. Everyone we know on the inside of Disney really loves the film and actively supports it.

Kaitlyn: Has the positive response to the film inspired any new ideas?

Logan: Yes. More than you can imagine. I’m both the most worn out and most excited about work I have ever been. The next few movies – this one I said expect magic.. well from Logan Sekulow expect insanity.

As Dreamers Do: Movie Review

I recently saw an amazing film made by a gentleman named Logan Sekulow, written by Wendy Ott and starring Olan Rogers and released by Vision Films. The film is a biopic about Walt Disney called As Dreamers Do. The film tells the story of Walt Disney from his early days moving to Marceline, MO until he first drew Mickey Mouse. It covers his often glanced over childhood and introduces the viewer to his family and friends. It tells the not always happy story of the genius before success strikes. His journey was definitely not easy, but the film is incredibly inspiring.

The movie does an excellent job with one foot on the side of documentary and one foot on the side of a period piece. The film is narrated by Travis Tritt and all of the music is original. It feels like someone who truly knew Walt when he was alive is sitting with you telling you the whole story. They did a lot of filming on site in Misosuri and there was clearly a lot of research done into both the characters and the story. The authenticity is fantastic!

I got to watch the movie early because I pre-ordered the digital download of the film and I also got the commentary. The director is clearly passionate about the project and put a lot of work into it. The writing is great, as is the acting from the whole cast. Young Walt just makes me want to hug him and take him to Disney World to show him what his dreams and his art become. Olan Rogers, who plays Walt as an adult has all the enthusiasm that we have grown to believe Walt possessed and his relationship with Roy in the film is nothing short of a real brotherly relationship. They but heads at times but when it really comes down to it, they care deeply for one another.

The film is having several premieres throughout the country and the pre-sale of the film has ended, however, the film is set to have a full release but there has been no set date as of yet. The official website for the movie is www.waltmovie.com. When you go to the site, the trailer automatically plays and I guarantee, you will immediately be sucked into the story. I am an avid fan of Walt and all things Disney history and this movie told a beautiful story of a man who changed the face of entertainment, but as of the end of the film, he just doesn’t know it yet. The movie also has a Facebook page that keeps fans updated on the premieres with photos from the viewings and is a great way to interact with the amazing people who made this film. This is by far the easiest and best way to keep up to date on the happenings of the film; when they decide on a release date for the movie, this will be the place it is posted first. If you don’t want to miss out on the movie, I highly suggest following them on Facebook and signing up for email alerts from the filmmakers on their website.

 

(Photo is from http://www.facebook.com/waltmovie)

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story Movie Review

IMG_6283I finally got to watch the definitive documentary on two of the most famous behind the scenes men at the Walt Disney animation Studios, the Sherman brothers. Even if you don’t know much about the brothers themselves, you know their music. They are responsible for a lot of the great Disney songs of the time before Walt’s passing and even a few afterwards. They are most famous for their music in Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book and the theme songs for the Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World in the theme parks. Their songs get stuck in your head whether you want them to or not. (My apologies now for It’s a Small World being stuck in your head for the rest of the day). But one of my favorite parts of the film is where Dick is talking about It’s a Small World and how it’s a prayer for peace as opposed to a silly novelty. Listen to the lyrics in their entirety some time.

Like all true behind the scenes work done about Disney, it’s not all about the music and the pixie dust. The story of Bob and Dick Sherman or The Boys as they were called around the studio is rather tragic. As close as they seemed as a song writing dynamic duo for the ages, they are incredibly distant. In fact, after they stopped writing for the studio, they stopped speaking or really interacting outside of that required for polite society gatherings until the making of the documentary. Their sons barely knew each other until they sort of rediscovered each other while making this film. It’s a very true representation of what naturally happens when you put two very brilliant people in the same room for too long.

The movie tells of their struggles to succeed apart from one another in their respective fields of composition and writing. Dick wanted to be a composer for concert halls and Bob wanted to write the great American novel. Their father finally challenged them by saying that if they put their talents together he bet that they couldn’t come up with a good song. Well, we all know what happens when we are challenged…and so the dynamic musical duo of Disney was born.

It’s a beautiful story of how even if people don’t get along personally, they might still be brilliant business partners. It also does an amazing job of describing the phenomenon of the emotional artist. It’s well known that while all artists have art as their creative outlet, it’s occasionally hard for us to keep our emotions in check and sometimes artists lash out at those closest to them. You get the feeling that the results of artists are beautiful but the artists themselves can be hard to live with. IMG_3039

It’s also unfortunately clear that Walt was one of the things that held the Sherman brothers together and when he passed away, it was too much for the boys to handle and that was definitely on of the things that drove them apart. They no longer had the magical glue that inspired them to create such beautiful music. It’s beautiful when they say that they believed they were writing songs that would not last. They believed that they would fade into history when in fact, they are so beautifully simple and singable that they have become timeless treasures. They are still surprised at how much their music is engrained in the hearts of people of all ages all over the world. Unfortunately we only have one of the great Sherman brothers alive with us today. Bob Sherman passed away in 2012, but he left a collection of paintings here as his legacy along with his music. He used painting as a way to cope with the intense pain of having fought in WWII and the results are breath taking.

I loved every part of this movie and it was truly an eye opening experience to learn about the difficult story of the legendary Sherman brothers, or the Boys. There are so many beautiful stories in the film and it’s a great companion to another Disney documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty. Both tell the hard but true story of the great Disney heritage that we still enjoy today! I sifted through quite a few library shelves to find this one and I’m sure glad I did. “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day”. Keep sifting through shelves!

Jersey Boys Movie Review

So…fairly shortly after it came out into the theaters, I saw the film Jersey Boys with my roommate. Now, I will admit, I don’t listen to Frankie Valli, or any of the old Four Season’s records often. I know the music, it’s just not in my iTunes repertoire. I also had never seen the Broadway show before seeing the film, so I was basically just going in totally blind. I had no idea what it would be about, who it was about (despite the Tony win…I know…I’m a bad Broadway nerd) or anything about it. I was only sort of excited about seeing it when I approached the theatre. However, with amazing music, incredible acting and a fantastic cinematography style and story, I’m SO glad I went to see it.

I will definitely be purchasing the soundtrack. The music was worth the price of admission. Given that I had never heard the Broadway show soundtrack, I don’t know what songs were missing or if they were in the right place or anything, I just know I loved the music and it really added to the film. I felt like I could very well have been sitting in a bar where they were playing that night. I really appreciate that the used the Broadway actor who played Frankie Valli, he’s incredibly talented and his voice is just flawless. You can tell he’s classically trained and knows how to use and protect his voice. They don’t make them like that anymore. That’s what my roommate and I kept saying on our way home from the movie. Music like that, where it was innocent (or at least it sounded it at first) and told a story in 4 minutes or less is incredibly rare these days and it makes me weep for the music industry.

The acting was superb. The roles called for scenes of intense conflict, thick accents, and chemistry of incredible camaraderie. All four actors were impressive but I was most impressed with Christopher Walken of all people and the actors who played Frankie, and Tommy DeVito. I don’t assume that anyone will get an Oscar nomination for this one, basically based on the time of year that it was released but I remain optimistic that they will be recognized somehow.

The writing and the story was gripping and engaging. I was never bored and I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on. It was nice to be able to follow the story without knowing a lot about the band and having never seen the show. The film tells the story of four boys from the wrong side of New Jersey who become the men who form the iconic group the Four Seasons. I never would have thought that the group would have had such a complicated and violent past. It tells of their struggles with money, trust and intense lies ad betrayal. I will definitely be looking for a book that tells the story in even greater detail, because now, I’m hooked.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet and it’s still playing at a theatre near you, do yourself a favor and go see it. It’s an incredible story with amazing acting and music. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable movie and I hope it gets recognized as such. I hope you enjoyed my review and keep Sifting Through Shelves!

Photo from http://www.impawards.com/2014/posters/jersey_boys_xlg.jpg