MThis is utterly brilliant.  Directed by Fritz Lang and written in collaboration with his wife Thea von Harbou, M is a German film, made and set in Berlin in 1931 – a city living with the constant presence of danger from a serial child killer. Based on factual records we’re asked not just who will bring him to justice but also what makes a person commit such terrible crimes?

The tension is chilling from the start; ordinary people go about their everyday lives but fear is everywhere, an unknown lurking threat.  Is it him?  Or him?  We’re a step ahead as we know who the killer is, Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) – but, the characters on screen don’t.  So as we watch we can see the growing hysteria that turns rightful anger into a witch hunt as innocent people are held in suspicion.   But who is going to stop him?  Will it be the public or the police, growing increasingly frustrated or the criminal underworld, who decide they had better catch him as there are now too many police on the streets. Continue reading “M”

The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad

I was horrified by the ending of The Odyssey.  The brutality of Odysseus taking his revenge on the suitors and the injustice meted out on the young maids asked to scrub away the blood and guts before they’re hanged had my eyes on stalks. Margaret Atwood, rather more eloquently, says that the image of the maids has always haunted her.  The Penelopiad tells the story through the eyes of Penelope, Odysseus’s mythically patient wife and the twelve hanged maids.

“Now that I’m dead I know everything” says Penelope in the opening line, and straight away we’re drawn in with her chatty, conspiratorial tone. Which is both best friend and wise elder. Continue reading “The Penelopiad”

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

9781509843701the prime of miss jean brodie_2_jpg_247_400

Published in 1961 this short novel by Muriel Spark tells the story of a maverick teacher and her favoured group of pupils at Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland.

On the surface Jean Brodie is fun and charismatic. It’s 1930 and under an elm tree in the garden, the ten-year olds are taught that goodness, truth and beauty rather than safety come first!  They learn of her travels to Italy and Egypt and of her first love, Hugh,  who fell on Flanders’ Field.  She thinks of herself as a romantic heroine, in love with love, she is “in her prime”  and promises her girls that if they will only listen to her she will “make of them the creme de la creme.”

Continue reading “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”

The General

the-general-1926-united-artists-film-with-buster-keaton-DKGEWYThis 1926 Buster Keaton film is the first on my To Be Watched list; to see if I can educate myself in film this year.

Based on The Great Locomotive Chase of 1862, during the American Civil War, this is an action fuelled romantic comedy; that sees Johnnie Gray (Buster Keaton), the engineer on ‘The General’, go behind enemy lines to save the women he loves, Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack).

Continue reading “The General”