18/01/2012 § 1 Comment
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in Coriolanus,
a modern adaptation of the tragedy by Shakespeare, with
Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave and Jessica Chastain costarring.
Opens January 20, 2012.
18/01/2012 § Leave a Comment
“Verily, among all the benefits which men derive from the favour of the Muses, none other is so great as that softening of the nature which is produced by culture and discipline, the nature being induced by culture to take on moderation and cast off excess. It is perfectly true, however, that in those days Rome held in highest honour that phase of virtue which concerns itself with warlike and military achievements, and evidence of this may be found in the only Latin word for virtue, which signifies really manly valour; they made valour, a specific form of virtue, stand for virtue in general.
And so Marcius, who was by nature exceedingly fond of warlike feats, began at once, from his very boyhood, to handle arms. And since he thought that adventitious weapons were of little avail to such as did not have their natural and native armour developed and prepared for service, he so practised himself in every sort of combat that he was not only nimble of foot, but had also such a weight in grapplings and wrestlings that an enemy found it hard to extricate himself. At any rate, those who from time to time contended with him in feats of courage and valour, laid the blame for their inferiority upon his strength of body, which was inflexible and shrank from no hardship.
He made his first campaign while yet a stripling, when Tarquin, who had been king of Rome, and then had been expelled, after many unsuccessful battles, staked his all, as it were, upon a final throw. Most of the people of Latium and many also of the other peoples of Italy were assisting him and marching with him upon Rome, to reinstate him there, not so much from a desire to gratify him, as because fear and envy led them to try to overthrow the growing power of the Romans. In the ensuing battle, which long favoured now this side and now that, Marcius, who was fighting sturdily under the eyes of the dictator, saw a Roman soldier struck down near by. He ran to him at once, stood in front of him, defended him, and slew his assailant. Accordingly, after the Roman general had won the day, he crowned Marcius, among the first, with a garland of oak leaves.”
Plutarch, Life of Coriolanus.
The basis of the Tragedy of Coriolanus by William Shakespeare.
18/01/2012 § Leave a Comment
“My name is Caius Marcius, who hath done
To thee particularly and to all the Volsces
Great hurt and mischief; thereto witness may
My surname, Coriolanus: the painful service,
The extreme dangers and the drops of blood
Shed for my thankless country are requited
But with that surname; a good memory,
And witness of the malice and displeasure
Which thou shouldst bear me: only that name remains;
The cruelty and envy of the people,
Permitted by our dastard nobles, who
Have all forsook me, hath devour’d the rest;
And suffer’d me by the voice of slaves to be
Whoop’d out of Rome. Now this extremity
Hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope–
Mistake me not–to save my life, for if
I had fear’d death, of all the men i’ the world
I would have ‘voided thee, but in mere spite,
To be full quit of those my banishers,
Stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast
A heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge
Thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims
Of shame seen through thy country, speed
And make my misery serve thy turn: so use it
That my revengeful services may prove
As benefits to thee, for I will fight
Against my canker’d country with the spleen
Of all the under fiends. But if so be
Thou darest not this and that to prove more fortunes
Thou’rt tired, then, in a word, I also am
Longer to live most weary, and present
My throat to thee and to thy ancient malice;
Which not to cut would show thee but a fool,
Since I have ever follow’d thee with hate,
Drawn tuns of blood out of thy country’s breast,
And cannot live but to thy shame, unless
It be to do thee service.”
Coriolan Overture by Beethoven
The Tragedy of Coriolanus by William Shakespeare
18/01/2012 § Leave a Comment
“…think with thyself
How more unfortunate than all living women
Are we come hither: since that thy sight, which should
Make our eyes flow with joy, hearts dance with comforts,
Constrains them weep and shake with fear and sorrow;
Making the mother, wife and child to see
The son, the husband and the father tearing
His country’s bowels out. And to poor we
Thine enmity’s most capital: thou barr’st us
Our prayers to the gods, which is a comfort
That all but we enjoy; for how can we,
Alas, how can we for our country pray,
Whereto we are bound, together with thy victory,
Whereto we are bound? alack, or we must lose
The country, our dear nurse, or else thy person,
Our comfort in the country.”
Volumnia, mother of Coriolanus,
The Tragedy of Coriolanus by Shakespeare.
Scene illustration by Gavin Hamilton.
08/01/2012 § 1 Comment
It is with great excitement that I look forward to the release of Red Tails, the retelling of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, on January 20. The film was produced by George Lucas, directed by Anthony Hemingway and stars Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding, Jr.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American pilots in the United States armed forces and served in World War II, facing remarkable adversity and racism within the military as well as society at large. After African American soldiers were denied the opportunity to fly in World War I, Congress forced the War Department to begin training African American pilots in 1939, and forced the Army Air Corps to form an all-black fighter unit in 1941. The 99th Pursuit Squadron was formed in March 1941 and the unit was eventually expanded into the 332nd Fighter Group when the 100th Fighter Squadron, 301st Fighter Squadron and 302nd Fighter Squadron were added. The group saw action in Europe and North Africa, and are well-known for their excellence flying escorts for heavy bombers. The nickname “Red Tails” came from the distinctive red paint the pilots had applied to the tails of their planes.
The main reason for my excitement is my personal connection to the Tuskegee Airmen. My great uncle, Col. Edward Creston Gleed, served as the 302nd Fighter Squadron commander during WWII. He personally had two confirmed kills, while his squadron accounted for almost one third of the aerial victories recorded by the 332nd. He also served as operations officer for the 332nd. As you can expect, my family is exceptionally proud and very excited to see his story brought to life on the big screen. I can’t wait.
05/01/2012 § 1 Comment
Very excited the release of W.E. is fast approaching. Financed, directed and co-written by Madonna, the film is primarily about the Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the British throne in 1936. Ardently loved by Edward, yet fiercely hated by many (and a suspected Nazi sympathizer to boot), Wallis has long been an intriguing character to me. Scandal, indulgence, fashion, luxury and passion. The makings of a great story. I’ve also been hearing wonderful things about Andrea Riseborough as Wallis and I look forward to her performance.
I’ve never known one person so utterly possessed by another, as he was by her.
W.E. opens February 3, 2012.
05/01/2012 § 2 Comments
“I’m not a beautiful woman. I’m nothing to look at,
so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else.”
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of York
James D’Arcy and Andrea Riseborough as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,
wearing costumes from the film W.E. by Arianne Phillips,
photographed by Tom Munro for Vanity Fair.
[W.E. costume designer Arianne] Phillips’s business was to discover the precise detail of Simpson’s fashion aesthetic. She started at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, Paris’s Musée de la Mode et du Textile and London’s Victora & Albert Museum – the three great repositories of Simpson’s attire. In the film, Riseborough has around 60 costume changes, including three wedding dresses. Most famous was the pale, “Wallis”-blue Mainbocher dress, in which she wed the Duke of Windsor in 1937. The original is in the Met but, said Phillips, has not lasted well: “We were lucky enough to see it, but, unfortunately, the colour has faded into a dingy bluey-green.” So the dress Riseborough wears is a replica hired from Cosprop, a London-based costumery. The other 59 outfits, however, were not so simple: “She was a client of haute couture in Paris in its heyday, the Thirties” said Phillips: “so I had to figure out how I was going to recreate it. The problem was my whole budget could have gone on making one dress.”
So Phillips hustled, using her fashion-world contacts. The Duchess was a client of Madeleine Vionnet – “who has been cited as the mother of couture” – and a rifle through the company’s archives, held in the Louvre, revealed precise details of what Simpson had bought and when. Phillips took her findings to Vionnet’s owners, and – hey presto – they agreed to make four new couture dresses for the film. Perhaps the most beautiful is the sparkly silver dress used in a scene where Edward and Wallace host a benzedrine-enlivened cocktail party. “I wanted something twinkly for that scene, for all the intoxication and jazz. I’d seen the original in the Louvre and fallen in love with it.”
Wallis Simpson was also one of the first clients of Christian Dior, and the house remade three dresses for Andrea Riseborough based on Simpson’s originals. And in the very last scene – set in the Seventies – Riseborough wears Dior from a recent collection designed by John Galliano. Other companies persuaded by Phillips to pitch in include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Roger Vivier and Dunhill. The hats were by Stephen Jones and recreations of outfits by another designer beloved of the Duchess, Schiaperelli, were made by Phillips and her team. Incorporating so many fashion collaborations into the costumes for a single film is, admits Phillips, unusual. Yet, it was by far the best way to recreate the world of a woman whose appetite for luxury was so very voracious.
From Inside Wallis Simpson’s Wardrobe by Luke Leitch for Telegraph.com
“Wallis and the Duke both made a lifestyle out of presentation. . . . It was a beautiful façade,” says Phillips. “He said that because she never got a title he gave her jewelry to make her feel royal.”
From Windsor Dressing by Krista Smith for Vanity Fair.