Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gods and Generals: A Review

A human life, I think, should be so well rooted in some spot of a native land, where it may get the love of tender kinship for the face of the earth, for the labours men go forth to, for whatever will give that early home a familiar unmistakable difference amidst the future widening of knowledge. The best introduction to astronomy is to think of the nightly heavens as a little lot of stars belonging to one's own homestead.

                                   -George Eliot

 Perhaps you are aware by now of the fact that I am somewhat of a history buff. :)  I love historical dramas about important times in the past.  Last school year my sisters and I were learning about the American Civil war, and so our dear mother had us watch a whole bunch of movies on the subject- for which I am now very grateful- and Gods and Generals was among them.
  Needless to say, I didn't like it at first. Actually, I didn't even expect to like it; I'm not sure why, since I've always had a fascination with history and already had an interest in war movies, but I wasn't expecting much from this one. And after watching it for the first time, I didn't really like it very much. It was a long, boring, three-hour educational movie with hardly any ladies in pretty dresses and no handsome soldiers. Well, I have since learned that as a general pattern, I usually don't like movies very much the first time I watch them. But then if I watch it again a year or so later, I might love it! There are many examples to back up this theory: Jane Eyre, The Young Victoria, King Arthur. So I suppose it's just a weird thing with me. :P
  Anyway. My sister and I were recently listening to this soundtrack, and so moved were we by its beauty that we decided to watch the movie again and see if it was better the second time- and of course I probably don't need to tell you that it was. By degrees. :)
  I am now of the opinion that with the exception of The Blue and the Gray- which of course is the best Civil War epic ever made :)- this is most likely the best Civil War movie I have ever seen. The movie basically follows three men: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Joshua Chamberlain- and three battles towards the beginning of the war: Manassas, Fredericksbug, and Chancellorsville.

Main Characters:

  First of all, you've just got to love Robert Duvall. I tried disliking him. It just doesn't work, people. He is an incredible actor and there is simply no denying it. He was a MUCH better Robert E. Lee than ol' Martin Sheen in Gettysburg- which is the sequel to Gods and Generals, although it was made first and so I guess Gods and Generals is technically a prequel or whatever- and I actually found myself really liking his character. (What did I tell you? It's impossible to dislike him! Or at least, very difficult. :) He wasn't in the movie as much as Joshua Chamberlain and Stonewall Jackson, but I think his was an excellent performance and he did a very nice job in the role of the Confederate general. (But even though he was Robert E. Lee, he still kind of seemed like Gus McCrae of Lonesome Dove- some people are just like that. :)

That's quite a beard. You could set a teacup on that beard.
 While there are three main characters: Robert E. Lee, Joshua Chamberlain, and Stonewall Jackson, General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson is the man the story follows the most, and he's also who the audience gets to know the best. He was a very strong character, a devout Christian, and a very capable and wise leader. (I also love his southern accent. I have a special fondness for southern accents.) The scene where he was shot by his own men in the dark was simply tragic, as was his death scene. His wife Anna, whom he affectionately called "Esposita" was at her best at his deathbed, I thought, and it was very touching when she told him he would "soon be with the blessed Savior". For most of the movie, I wasn't overly fond of her and though she was kind of weird, but I really liked her in that scene. That scene was one of my favourites, because even though it was so sad, he knew he was ready to be with his Savior and he and his wife both accepted it. Another one of my favourite scenes was the morning before the battle of Manassas (I think) when General Jackson was praying in the field.

  "Esposita" there was a little weird and she didn't really say much, but overall she was a kind and loving wife and quite a nice character. I also absolutely loved her dresses! 
"You are the first brigade!"
 This scene gave me chills! I basically loved it whenever General Jackson would give speeches to his men because his words were so powerful and it was just so EPIC!

He looks kind of like a puppy dog. But that's okay.
 Joshua Chamberlain was also a very noble character. Before this, I'd only seen Jeff Daniels in Because of Winn-Dixie, and this was a very different role from what he played in that movie but I thought it was a very good one. I did notice that he changed his voice from the way he usually talks, which was a tiny bit odd, but he's such a good actor that it didn't really make much difference to how well he played the character. We don't see Joshua Chamberlain until almost an hour into the movie, and he's the only northern officer who's really a big character- Winfield Hancock and Ambrose Burnside are shown some but not very much- because the movie is kind of more about the southerners than the northerners. Gettysburg is more centered around him and his men, and so because I've also seen that I feel like I know him more in this movie too. He's also extremely poetic- just before the battle of Fredericksburg, he recites this really long passage of poetry or something- I'm not even sure what it is- about Ceaser, at which point in the movie my mother said, "These guys are really smart."

  I really liked this scene where he first tells his wife (actually, she kind of guesses) that he's going off to war. Al right, maybe it's because she recites a Lovelace poem, but really, I do like the scene! We don't see much of Mrs. Chamberlain because, well, she stayed home like all the rest of the women, and my sister Sadie calls her "his weird wife", but I think she's a very strong and loyal wife and I really like the character.

Other Characters:

One of the few inaccuracies: her hair is down. Arrggggg! And don't even get me started on the other girl's hair.
 A little side story was this family, the Beales from Fredericksburg Virginia. I'm actually not sure how they're all related because we don't really get to know them very well, but I'm pretty sure they were all somehow related because they were always together. Anyway, they were a very nice southern family, and Mrs. Beale was extremely poetic- actually, most everyone in this movie is somewhat poetic!

General Jackson's friendship with Jane (who is Mrs. Beale's granddaughter) was cute....I guess. No really, it was, it was just a little bit weird, but that can easily be got over. Jane was a reasonably cute little girl and they were very sweet together, and SPOILER ALERT! when she died it was indeed very sad. When the doctor came and told General Jackson of her death and the men were talking among themselves, saying they had never seen him cry before this, it was kind of  " a moment", as my sister Sadie put it. One of my most frequently quoted lines is when Jane first approaches General Jackson at Moss Neck Manor on Christmas and says, "General Jackson, do you know what these decorations signify?" Although I admit I do over-exaggerate the accent. :P

  I really liked these men of the "Stonewall" brigade: Lt. Joseph Morrison, Capt. Alexander Pendleton, Capt. James Smith, and..... I don't know the other one's name. They were very nice additions to the story, and I like movies with many characters and so I was glad we were able to get to know some of the soldiers besides just the generals.

 I also really liked the character of Buster Kilrain, the Irishman in Colonel Chamberlain's division. He is much more of a prominent character in Gettysburg and I had actually forgotten how little his role was in this movie- the two movies kind of melded themselves together into my memory so that it was hard to remember where one ended and the other began- but I was still very glad to see him. In Gettysburg he calls Joshua Chamberlain "Colonel darling", which I thought very adorable. And we all know how I love Irishmen. :)

 Colonel Chamberlain's brother Thomas provided some very welcome humour to the movie. He too is more prominent in Gettysburg, which is in general more about Joshua Chamberlain's division and the battle of Gettysburg. In Gettysburg, Colonel Chamberlain is constantly telling him not to "call me Lawrence" (which is his middle name, and apparently the name used by his family because that's what his wife calls him too), which is quite funny. He was clearly the jovial younger brother and was not as steady and prudent as Joshua Chamberlain, but he was altogether rather endearing and probably the most humorous character.

  Probably my favourite scene in the entire movie was the battle where the Irish brigades from both sides were fighting each other. This is the only picture I could find that had any correlation whatsoever to the scene, but it does succeed in showing how sad some of the Irish were to have to fight against their countrymen with whom they had no quarrel. It was especially sad because this Irishman fighting for the south was at first very angry and fighting wildly, but then as the battle progressed and the northern brigade began to lose, it was as if he just couldn't do it anymore and he broke down crying. It was so sad! I had tears in my eyes. Also, the music during the scene was Irish bagpipes, which only added to the tragic effect. It was a very well done battle on the movie maker's parts.

 As you probably know, most war movies have beautiful soundtracks. :) This has actually become one of my favourite soundtracks, because I love fiddle music and bagpipes and the two of them together are just gorgeous. This is my favourite song from the soundtrack, These Brave Irishmen. Sink me if it doesn't bring tears to your eyes!

 Gods and Generals is rated PG-13 for sustained battle sequences, and it also contains some very mild language. It has a lot of long battles- yes, thank you Mary- and so if you don't really have a great interest in history and the Civil War you might find it rather boring. However, I highly recommend it as a very well made and moving historical drama.

 "It is well that war is so terrible, lest we should grow too fond of it."     -Robert E. Lee

Billy Yank and Johnny Reb trading across the Rappahanock.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Audrey Assad: Show Me

You could plant me like a tree beside the river
You could tangle me in soil and let my roots run wild
And I would blossom like a flower in the desert
But for now just let me lie

You could raise me like a banner in a battle
Put victory like fire between my shining eyes
And I would drift like falling snow over the enemy
But for now just let me cry

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy, bend and breathe me back to life
But not before you show me how to die

Set me like a star before the morning
Like a sun that steals the darkness from a world asleep
And I'll illuminate the path you've laid before me
But for now just let me be

Bind up these broken bones
Mercy, bend and breathe me back to life
But not before you show me how to die
Not before you show me how to die

So let me go like a leaf upon the water
Let me brave the wild currents flowing to the sea
And I will disappear into a deeper beauty
But for now just stay with me
God, for now just stay with me

  This is one of my favourite songs by Christian artist Audrey Assad. I'm not entirely sure what the lyrics mean, but I still think they're beautiful. One of the things I really love about Audrey Assad is that her lyrics sound like poetry, and since I am such an avid admirer of poetry, I have decided that we shall be friends. :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Elevensies Tag

I have been tagged by Melody of Regency Delight! I've never done this sort of tag before and I am quite excited about it. :) Here are the eleven questions:

1) What email server is your favourite? (You know, Gmail, Yahoo, ect.)

  Um.....Windstream, I guess? That's what my family uses, and I'm really not familiar with any other servers.

2) Which place in your own country do you most long to visit?

  The Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan, the site of Somewhere in Time. Also I would love to visit Colonial Williamsburg again, even though I've been there twice, because now it seems like a second home to me, and I've made some friends there I should be very pleased to see again. Plus, it's like stepping back in time into a little colonial village, and it doesn't get much better than that. :)

3) Who was the last person you emailed?

  Well, I don't really email a great deal....I mostly send letters instead, for old time's sake, and just because it's so much more personal and quaint. Plus, I am not unreasonably proud of my handwriting....*wink*. Heh. Seriously, I hardly email at all. I emailed an image to Miss Dashwood at Sink Me! yesterday, so that would be the last person I emailed.

4) Who was the last person you talked on the phone with?

  Heh. Well, I have a rather irrational fear of phones- that is, I answer the phone, but I feel extremely uncomfortable calling people- so I usually don't talk one the phone unless I absolutely HAVE to, which is not often. Last night at around nine thirty I received a very cordial recoded message from a very cheerful and overly enthusiastic Nature's Sunshine agent, who told me to have a "sunshine day", even though it was nighttime. After he had finished his lengthy presentation- with me laughing all the while- I gave him a polite "Yee-haw!" and hung up. So I suppose he was the last person I talked to on the phone. :P
  Oh, and I have a funny story about talking on the phone! When my sisters and I answer the phone, we're supposed to identify ourselves so that whoever's calling doesn't think they're talking to our mother- for example, "hello, this is Emma." My sister Sadie, however, doesn't like to say "hello, this is Sadie" because she says she trips over all the S's, and so for a while she would answer with MY name instead- and the funny part was that people would think she was me! Once our cousin called and she answered and he thought it was me for a long time, and then he said, "You know, you sound a lot like Sadie on the phone." It was so funny!

5) What is your favourite candy, chocolate excluded?

  If fudge counts, then there you are. If it doesn't, I would probably say maple sugar candy. I've never really  been much swayed by candy, especially hard candy, but I do really like homemade candy and maple sugar is kind of homemade. Sort of. :P

6) Within the next...oh, say, six months, what are you looking forward to the most? (As in, general life event.)

   My annual dance recital is coming up in June, and I'm quite excited for that because I have a legitimate solo for the first time ever! :) My class is performing Pas de Quatre, which looks like this:

I'm dancing the part of the dancer who's turned away from the audience.

 As lame as this may sound, I'm also looking forward to being finished with school soon...but in the next six months? Hmmm. I suppose I'm just looking forward to summer and all the excitement it brings for my family (we own a farm market :) and watching movies with Sadie (like East of Eden, come July.....) and just making the most of life!

7) Hardcover or softcover books?

  Hardcover, I suppose, although it really doesn't make much of a difference as long as it's in reasonably good shape. Also, it really depends on the book. ;P

 What's your favourite quote about....

8) Friendship: "My friends are my estate." -Emily Dickinson

9) Music: "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent."  -Victor Hugo

10) Books: "The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid."  -Jane Austen

11) So, you're standing in a group of three people (this includes you) where one person is a friend-ish acquaintance and the other person you don't know so well. You're not really adding that much to the conversation, but then the person you don't know so well criticizes one of your favourite books/movies/ characters, ect. What do you do? Scowl and shut up, jump into defence, or other?

   Jump into defence!!!!!! Well, actually I would probably launch into a debate with the other person about the matter on which we disagreed, because they may have a point. I've been known to do it before.:)

 Well, that was fun! Thank you, Melody! And since I am now commissioned to tag eleven other people, I hereby tag....

-Sadie Ann


-Miss Elizabeth Bennet

-Miss Laurie

-Belle (and Addy and Emma)

-Miss Dashwood



-Miss Bea

Here are the eleven questions:

1. What is your favourite season?
2. Would you rather live in early 19th century England, or late 19th century America?
3. Have you ever seen any American Girl movies, and if so, which is your favourite?
4. Which would you rather be: divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good? :)
5. List your top three favourite literary heroes.
6. List your top three favourite literary heroines.
7. Would you rather live in a charming English farmhouse in the country, a large country manor, or a posh London townhouse?
8. What is your favourite historical drama? (For example, war movies, movies about important times in history, namely American history.)
9. Which prominent historical figure would you most like to meet?
10. What is your favourite era of fashion? (For example, the Regency, the Victorian period, the colonial period.)
11. Do you prefer wildflowers or "hothouse" flowers? :P

 Well, that's it! Have fun! (And you can tag me back if you want to, but if you do I probably won't tag eleven other people again because then it would just go on and on and on and on.........) ;D


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happy Birthday to Greg Wise!

                                       Today is Greg Wise's 47th birthday!

   Greg Wise has been a favourite actor of my sisters' and mine ever since we first saw him in Sense and Sensibility several years ago. Since then, I have had the pleasure of seeing him in several other period dramas and I've always been very impressed with his acting skills.
  Greg Wise was born on May 15th, 1966, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and is the son of distinguished architect Professor Douglass. Because it was assumed that he would be an architect, he studied architecture in Edinburgh, but after a while went to Glasgow to study drama.  He did his first professional job on stage, starring in the musical "Good Rockin' Tonight"  and some of his first films were Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Feast of July (1995). View his IMDB page here.

Period Dramas

                              Sense and Sensibility as John Willoughby

  This is one of my very favourite movies ever, and also the first movie I saw Greg Wise in as the young and handsome Willoughby. I know Willoughby is a not a very nice character, but it's almost difficult to entirely dislike him the way Greg Wise plays him! I thought he did a very nice job in making the character seem believable- even though we don't by any means approve of what Willoughby did, we still feel somewhat sorry for him. At least, I do. In short, I think this was an excellent performance!

                         Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty as Major Cotard

  This is probably my favourite of Greg Wise's roles. Major Cotard is a bit of a dandy and at first seems a bit uppity- which he is- but he really is a  very honourable character despite his rather arrogant demeanor, and I just love his French accent! : ) Also he looks reasonably good in regimentals- but then again, regimentals will do the most for most men! Greg Wise is one of those people who looks remarkably handsome with gray hair.....just an observation.: ) Major Cotard was an excellent addition to the Hornblower cast and I am only sorry that he could not stay longer!

                            Cranford as Sir Charles Maulver

   This is rather a smaller role, but all the same Greg Wise was quite charming as always. Lady Ludlow's assistant, advisor, friend- whatever you want to call him- Sir Charles Maulver isn't very trivial to the story of Cranford, but he was still a very nice character and Cranford just wouldn't have been complete without him!


     Greg Wise is married to actress Emma Thompson  and they have a daughter named Gaia Romilly.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

True Friendship

  Here is a paragraph I read this morning in Christy, the novel I am currently reading, in which Christy tells about her growing friendship with the mountain woman Fairlight Spencer. I've known this story for a long time, because the TV series from the 90's has been in my family since I was very young, but I was never a huge fan of the series; the casting isn't that great and it just doesn't  capture the spirit of the novel. The book, however, is just amazing and I would highly recommend reading it if you haven't already! I thought this bit was very inspiring and so I decided to share it with you all.

  Christy, chapter 17

    Now I realized why these mountain people were shy with strangers. They had never learned the citified arts of hiding feelings or of smiling when the heart was cold. Friendship was dangerous to them because they had built up no protection against it. Once they let you in it must be into the deep places of the heart as Fairlight had with me. Though I had known he only four months, already I was far closer to her than members of my own family or girl friends whom I had always known.
   She was teaching me about true friendship too. Through Fairlight's eyes I came to know a quality of friendship which bore little resemblance to the casualness of our relationships back home. The mountain type of friendship was a tie of substance between people with a sort of gallant fealty about it. It had to do with a time in the past when there was no more final bond than a man's pledged word; when every connection of blood and family was firm and strong, forged in the past, stretching into the future.
   And so this kind of friendship was for life- yes, and for eternity too. One would never deceive or defraud a friend, nor allow him to be in need so long as you had one coin, one garment, or one meal to share with him. His sorrow was your sorrow; his joy, your cause for rejoicing too.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blog Party and Giveaway at The Story Girl!

Hello, my darlings!

  Hayden at The Story Girl is hosting a blog party and giveaway! I have never participated in either and so I am quite thrilled and excited about it! Hop on over to her lovely blog and join in the festivities.

Here are the Tag Questions!

First: Name 5 childhood memories that bring a smile to your face

  (I had trouble narrowing it down to just five!)

#1 Going mini-golfing every Fourth of July with my family and Grandparents. (This is actually something that we still do every year.)
#2 Drawing on the road with chalk with Sadie and our neighbours and laughing hysterically at one thing or another!
#3 Taking trips with my sisters and cousins to my aunt's house and always having such great fun!
#4 Watching 102 Dalmations with Sadie when we were home alone, making bets about what was going to happen (that's another story!) and eating an entire half a pie by ourselves. : )
#5 Nearly fainting laughing over Chicken Little (!?) when my cousins spent the night at our house.

Now, the questions:

1. Was there a particular game you played with your siblings all the time?

 I wouldn't say there was a particular game, but we used to play in our treehouse in the woods behind our house very often. It was especially fun when our cousins came over, and then we would go all out and dress up and think up really dramatic storylines and get quite carried away.....: ) Also, my sisters and I loved to play Barbies in our basement, commonly known as "Barbie land", where we set up entire towns and sometimes played all day!

2. Did you have a special toy/item that you dragged around everywhere you went?

  My favourite toy was- and still is- definitely Elbert, my white stuffed bunny whom I received for Christmas when I was but two years old. He has a personality all his own, he can be quite ridiculous and he is terribly funny. He makes my sisters and I laugh all the time and I'm afraid he's sometimes rather blunt but he is such good fun and I don't know what I'd do without him! And I would never drag Elbert, thank you very much. : )

3. Was there a movie/TV show that you were obsessed with as a child?

 Oh, yes! Several years ago, I think when I was ten or eleven, I was first introduced with National Treasure, and if I've ever been obsessed with anything that was definitely it! I've always loved history, so naturally I found it very interesting, but there was also that mysterious element to it that made it just fascinating to my eleven-year-old self. It was my favourite movie EVER for several years. When I was really little, about three, I went to see Finding Nemo with my older sister and my aunt, and so that was my favourite movie for a while.

4. Did you have an imaginary friend?

   Oh, several. I remember one I named Ellen who was my best friend, and then there was a Betsy and another one I can't remember the name of. At one point I had a whole collection of friends and families who lived in an imaginary village I called Little Dublin, because they were all supposedly from Ireland (?). Perhaps I was a rather strange child, I admit, but I had such fun coming up with all their names!

5. What did you want to be when you grew up?

  Well, I think when I was really little I wanted to be a ballerina, and then I wanted to be Amish, and then I wanted to be a detective like Nancy Drew. Then I wanted to be a writer like Anne of Green Gables, and then for a while I thought I'd like to sing in the Metropolitan Opera, or be an actress. Those are some of the many ideas I had!

6. Who was president when you were born?

  William J. Clinton.


7. Any song associated with your childhood?

   When we were very young, my sisters and I used to listen to lullaby tapes at bedtime, which we have long since given away, but if I were to hear them again I'm pretty sure they would take me back.....: ) Also, I grew up watching musicals, and so songs from movies like Hello, Dolly!, Meet me in St. Louis, The Harvey Girls and The Music Man remind me of when I was little, and so do the songs from Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper. I was an ardent Barbie movie admirer back then- I still am, kind of, although they don't make them like they used to! : (

8. Something that scared you as a child?
  Cows. I know, pathetic. I suppose it was because I wasn't raised with them (like both my parents), and I just wasn't used to them at all, but I just remember being utterly terrified by the milkman's big, noisy cows whenever we went to his farm to get milk. Also, I was afraid of the dark, but most everyone says that, and I'm still reluctant to answer the phone!

9. What's the food that you like now but back then just wouldn't eat?

  Back in the day I wouldn't eat anything green, except peas, I think. Now, even though I don't particularly like them, I can *tolerate* things like spincah and asparagus. Other than that, my tastes have mostly remained the same.

10. Was there any Christmas or birthday gift that you really, really wanted and went crazy about?

  I flatter myself that I have never gone crazy about anything- even though maybe I have : ) I can't really remember anything in particular I received that I had really, really wanted- I usually was just so pleased with whatever I got- but when Sadie and I were about eight and ten or thereabouts we both saved up to buy A Life Of Faith dolls, and we were really excited about that. I think I may have gone a bit crazy when the big box finally arrived! We both still have them, of course, though they don't get as much attention as they used to. Mine is Millie Keith (although I have recently re-named her Ada Clare : ) and Sadie's is Kathleen McKenzie.

Millie Keith/ Ada Clare. (Her hair was so ridiculously long and got so tangled under the care of my ten-year-old hands that we took her to our neighbour, who is a hairdresser, for her to cut it! It helped a great deal. For a while, that is.....)                                                                                                                     

Kathleen McKenzie (needless to say, she doesn't look much like this anymore, unfortunately!)

And those are the questions! I would like to thank Hayden at The Story Girl for hosting this excessively diverting blog party!                                                                                                                     




Sunday, May 5, 2013

JJ Heller: Where I Land

This has been one of my favourite songs ever since I first heard it last spring- and so likewise, I think of spring whenever I hear it. JJ Heller is one of my favourite contemporary artists, and this is probably my favourite of her songs. I was just thinking about it earlier and how I hadn't heard it in such a long time, so I decided to share it with y'all. I hope you enjoy!

You're different from the way I thought You'd be
But here You are, in front of me
So full of light, I watch it overflow
A lovely mystery

And I am lost for words
You're more than I deserve

You have a way of stirring up my soul
Did You know
When You hold me in Your arms the way You do
It feels like coming home

And I am lost for words
You're more than I deserve
And when I cannot stand
You are where I land

And when the years have stolen youth away
I will stay
You will be the keeper of my heart
Until my final day

And I am lost for words
You're more than I deserve
And when I cannot stand
You are where I land

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