Saturday, January 28, 2006

How Fake Are the Accents?

That is the first part of my whistle stop tour of Britain and Britishness complete. I have sat through all 114 bone crunchingly sentimental americanised minutes of "How Green Was My Valley". Filmed in 1941, so midway through WW2, presented issues which the American film producers through they could sermount. Instead of having to brave the horrors of the atlantic and come to Wales, they instead built a replica welsh village in the Santa Monica Mountains which lead to the film being shot in Black and white so flaura and fauna looked almost in place. But surley they could ensure the accents were correct - could they eck! I had to endure a lifetime of badly done non american accents that twanged into a mix of irish american with a few rolled r's. That said they had some cracking welsh singing throughout which, according to the Internet Movie Database, was all done by real welsh people and it certainly showed! Anywho a brief synopsis. Typical flashback film that starts with a man about to consider walking away from a village in wales, his valley. Flashback twenty years to him as a boy. He grows up seeing the true power and influence of Trade Unionism and how the issue of strike could split families (reminded me alot of Brassed Off, theme wise!) and it took the strong willed Mother to take on the minors and injur herself to reunite her with the split family. Whilst all this goes on the young chap is befriended by the new minister ( I suspect Methodist because the chapel looked Methodist and it was all acapelo singing of hymns (the Methodists, for many years refused organs in church seeing them as organs of the Devil) I new the tunes but not the welsh translations!) who guides him through childhood, horrific injury which possibly injured the young lad, education (and all the intelectual snobbery that came with the boy from put villages going to the town school and because of this the teachers & pupils picked on him verbaly and physicaly)and finaly going to work down the pit. This friendship became close and warm, whilst the relations between the minister and church went downhill as the minister was pushed into stating his view on the strike (which lasted around 30 weeks) and he came down on the side of trade unions which saw some elders deciding he was out of his place there and got him removed. The end of the film sees the boy able to walk, the dad killed in a pit disaster, the boys out of work for demanding too much pay and the minister leaving with a heartbroken lady weeping after him. All in all a rather grimly slushy film that was too much singy and wide shots in a space that wasn't really bult for it. As someone brought up on a diet of more "socialy realistic" films like Brassed Off, Kes etc then I was amazed at the lack of "grit" shown by the film and also the fact that the men got excited for going to sing for the Royal Family. It seemed a film riddled with inaccuracies of how life must have been preffering rose-tinted to harsh reality. I await with interest to read the book and see if it is as syrupy though. So there we have it - our starter for 10 was a rather cronic film about Wales that wasn't even shot in the country....let's hope for some more success with the next item, the English! Take care Y'All John

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


spirituality as a concept is a very random and evolving concept. Twenty or thirty years ago it would have been of a revivalist, in the Billy Graham , style and yet now it is more placid and thoughtful. This new essence of spirituality is a terribly exciting one, it is slowly evolving towards a post-denominational age back towards denominations that are built upon firm foundations but need to be fluid in their day to day practice. This is an exhilerating prospect because it has more potential to carry a wider section of people (rather than just young rable rousers) with them into a greater and wider understanding of how to live out the christian live through worship, mission and praise. But how, you bellow at me, can I claim such things. Well if we examine the very way that spirituality is different to spoon fed religion then we hit upon the personal experiential journey that is not tied to any denomniation or outlook at first. That reads harshly at first, yet if you re-read it then in reality whatever group is stimulating that persons religion is a means to the end and not one you would fight to your dying breath for. Thus, once you are steadfast in your faith you need to look further and develop rather than explore and often this is where the denominations should be really kicking in. The refocusing of the methodist church onto "Our calling" and the similar escapades with the Church of Scotland all show a realisation that we are no longer monoliths of christian religion, instead we are all there to offer a vital peice of the fabric of modern christian living but we need to define who and what we are. Anywho, a decent programme for you to all enjoy which I heard on Sunday evening. Something understood is a rather old fashioned arts-based exploration of spiritual issues, often from a christian perspective. This weeks was along the exploration of spirituality and I most enjoyed it. If this has whetted your appitie then please click here to listen to it. Take Care Y'All John


Happy Burns night everyone! Indeed that great day of drunkeness and 18th centruary social poetry is upon us. As the general sheninigans kick off it made me think about the nature of Britishness, in light of Gordon Brown spekaing on the need to celebrate it. Therefore I am going to traverse all the four countries that make up the UK and review an arts item from each. The list looks like: 1) North Ireland - Loyalists (Book) 2) Scotland - Soil and Soul (Book) 3) Wales - How Green is Your Valley (welsh) 4) English: The study of a people - Book Then to reach a form of conclusion at the then end of it all. Well nowt else to comment on at the moment because I am going crazy at work, but thought would trailer whats' coming next to ensure you keep coming back. Warm Regards John