‘The earth had been pulverised, blown and blasted out of all semblance of what it once was. Not a blade of grass, not a tree or bush showed the slightest sign of life. The area was a jumble of tremendous craters and shell-holes... piles of swollen bodies of horses and mules... a wrecked tank here and there... filthy, putrid lakes and mires...screaming, blasting shells were falling about us. We ran, we gasped our way through this hell.’ – Private Bert Bishop, 55th battalion
This week, aside from seeing photos of what I missed re that Jude Law play I couldn’t get to see, the lesson appears to be those that don’t know history are doomed to make American-made films about it and then make me watch them. Yikes.
First there’s this interview with Patty Jenkins this week, of all weeks, where she’s talking about the Wonder Woman film: ‘I thought the First World War was especially exciting. Most of our society doesn’t know anything about WWI, which was such an interesting war.’
Only if you’re a cloth-eared American, dear. Yesterday, thousands of people attended pre-dawn services at memorials across Australia, New Zealand and the world, honouring the fallen and injured in all wars, but especially the 102nd anniversary of the ill-fated Gallipoli landings.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the march in Sydney yesterday: ‘An estimated 100,000 people lined the heavily-barricaded streets from near Wynyard to Hyde Park to honour the 120,000 Australians and New Zealanders who have lost their lives in wars in the past 120 years.’
Americans might not know or care, but it’s a big deal here. The Australian War Memorial states that 'from a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.'
In human terms, no-one in Australia was untouched by grief in the aftermath. In cultural terms, precious few Australians are entirely unaware of WWI.
The sadly late, forever great John Clarke summed it up in an episode of The Games, when asked by an insensitive type why Gallipoli was a thing, pointing out it was a massive military failure. ‘I know,’ says John Clarke, quietly but bluntly. ‘That’s why I have no great-uncles.’
And that sums it up. That’s why I was there yesterday morning, for the great-uncles and for all the other cousins and branches of the family that were struck from existence in Ypres and Passchendaele and all the other muddy pits of horror.
It’s never not moving or meaningful, these memorials. I choke up every time. Me. But it’s our thing, and why should I expect the Americans to know, care or understand? Or take it seriously or show any sensitivity?
Maybe if Americans, in general, paid just a little more attention to history (and other cultures) they might a) make better movies and b) stop electing Nazis (well, they did elect he-who-shall-not-be-named as their representative, so, you know, ceding of the high ground there, chaps).
Meanwhile, from the near weekly ‘what fresh fuckery is this’ Chris Pine files, I read that he’s going to be playing Robert the Bruce now.
What and the fuck now? Were there no Scottish actors available? And it’s for Netflix, so I’m sure it’ll be all perfectly fine (rolls eyes and imagines biscuit tin lid brought to life). I do hope that it turns out okay, as the Scots are such a gentle and forgiving race. I mean, you’ve seen Trainspotting 2, right?
I wonder where they’ll film it. Please not the ancestral lands, they’ve suffered enough.
Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to sit tight and bite down hard the way I do when Outlander diddles with my clansmen (and the ’45). How bad could it be? I’m sure such an important part of Scottish history and culture will be treated with sense and sensitivity (she says, thinking only of The Goodies).
Ack. Why can’t he be a nice boy and do a Broadway play and read bedtime stories like Chris Evans? But no. Why must I absolutely adore the train-wreck that is Chris Pine, and not someone sensible and caring like Chris Evans? It’s always the bad boys, isn’t it (let me tell you about my great-x-n grandmother who was transported for the love of a bad boy).
Not that young Christopher is a bad boy as such. He’s just gleefully erratic. One never knows what he’ll do next these days. Like play a Scottish king (what, he couldn’t be bothered with a run at Macbeth?). Ah well, it’ll be interesting, at least, to see what he does. Always that. Because I do adore him, the little dear. Bold choice, darling. Very bold.
Meanwhile Tom Hardy is entirely unsurprising in being surprising. Even if the story isn’t true, and I dearly hope it is true, no-one on the entire planet, not one, spoke up and said they wouldn’t believe a tale about Tom Hardy collaring a bike thief. It’s just the kind of hijinks Tom Hardy gets up to (when he’s not reading children’s bedtime stories). It’s the sort of crazy thing we expect from Tom Hardy. And we love him for it.
So the windmills of my mind were flaming wrecks like Catherine Wheel fireworks or a bit of Acme kit after I read all that yesterday evening when I finally got online. The laptop decided to start working again. It could probably smell other laptops on me, as I made no secret of looking for a new one. My grandfather used to lean an axe against a tree to ‘encourage’ it, and I do the same with my tech. It works more than it ought in a sensible, rule-abiding universe.
I was going to see Warhol today but it’s just been/being one of those days of feverish running about and getting nowhere fast. Love those kind of days. And I have been feverish. Only really decided to go to the dawn service (one has to commit to a walk) because I was up with a fever and a cockroach landed in my face (it was after my leftover chocolate).
Yes, a cockroach. It could smell my half-eaten freckled egg and it wanted. It’s Australia. As much as my new chum colleagues might recoil in horror, a large brown cockroach in the face is nothing, nothing, especially when one foolishly leaves the sugary goodies unsecured. At least it wasn’t a huntsman spider, is all I’m saying.
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