Sunday, 26 August 2007

Amazing Grace & V

It's been sometime since I last been here, I have returned back from Syria after a holiday that left me amazed in a lot of ways and I had so many ideas for things that I wanted to write about in this blog, unfortunately (or fortunately) every time I think of what to write I feel it either too personal or too cheesy to share!

Getting back to work to a diminishing department (due to holidays, sick leaves and market crashes) and an expanding work load didn't really help the creative process either and I ended up leaving my cosy little virtual corner here for more than 2 months!
Having been checked upon by my favourite blogger Abufares, and kicked off my comfy sofa by my other half to get back to this place I finally mastered the will power to turn my PC on and start typing again.

The minor issue of a topic that hindered me for so long was resolved quickly by the happy coincidence (although some argue that there is no such thing) of going on a movie binge yesterday and watching 2 films one after the other, as it happened, I picked one on impulse (from a store called Impulse at Euston station) and the other was a web order. Now as it happens, the two films couldn't have been more different on the outside, Amazing Grace tells the story of William Wilberforce, the man who brought about the end of the slave trade in the British Empire; V for Vendetta a film which depicts a bleak view of the future when the state becomes the instigator of fear as a way to control its subject rather be answerable to them.

I did say that these two films were so different, but there is a common thread that joints them together, over a stretch of almost 200 years, the first recites one of politics finest real hours while the latter speaks of its imagined worst.

Amazing Grace tells of a time, when people had the power and the will to change, when being 24 didn't stop you from being a Prime Minister (William Pitt) and standing against the whole parliament to abolish a trade wich at the time was the equivalent of arms or oil trade these days was something that you dedicate your life to and in the end, after 20 years of struggle, you succeed in doing..

V for Vendetta is almost a negative view of Amazing Grace, it is closer to our modern days, politics is a dirty game and people have lost the will and the spirit to fight. V, our hero masked as Guy Fawkes, is not driven by the good intentions of William Wilberforce but rather pursuing a darker path for revenge. Unknown, unloved and unseen, V's brutality reflects that of his time, his plan that took 20 years in the making is that of killing and destruction; love and tenderness are just words that don't have a meaning in his world.

Both films are strong in their own way, both deliver a message of ideals and struggle. Both reflect the same country but in different times, neither fails to reflect the basics of human decency. Both start from a dark surrounding and end in a blaze of triumph, the first finishes with a hymn and the second closes with a bright V of Victory, Valour and a Vision marked across the London sky.

There are still so many things to say about the films but I just realised that if I can easily stay all night and fill many pages without saying all so I’ll just finish with the words of Amazing Grace, Christian hymn, maybe; gospel music, at its best; exclusive to some, not at all..

Amazing Grace"

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.


abufares said...

Welcome Back!
You should review movies professionally as your reviews will certainly make me look for these titles.
A movie I've seen on DVD recently was able to climb on my all-time-favorite list is Apocalypto by Mel Gibson. If you haven't seen yet, please do. I would love to read your review.

The Syrian Brit said...

Welcome back..
I still would love to hear about your trip.. cheesy or no cheesy, we want to hear it all!!..

Abu Fares, I really must urge you to reconsider your view of 'Apocalypto'.. There is no doubt that it is an epic by any description, and I do not dispute its 'artistic' excellence, but it contains so many inaccuracies and and down-right lies it is criminal!..
Here SOME links to comments from scholars and experts on Mayan civilization, as well as others..

and so on..
(Otherwise, just 'google' the word 'Apocalypto', and read some of the reviews..)
(So sorry, Syrian in London.. I do not mean to hijack your blog, but I really feel very strongly against the claim that the European conquestadors brought 'civilization' to South America.. What they brought was genocide, starvation, disease, and poverty!..)

Syrian in London said...

Salaam Abufares
I have the film on my to watch list, not at the top though. Once i get there i will look forward to talking about it with you!

Syrian in London said...

ًWow Syrian Brit, now you're making more eager to watch the film to see for myself as I can't possibly give an opinion before hand.
As for hijacking my blog, please feel free at any time :-)

As it happened, your blog about your trip basically summed up all that I wanted to say, and made me think whether this is an expat’s view in general to how things are now back home.

Thanks for the visit & do drop by next time you're in London!

abufares said...

I'm participating in the hijacking process Syrian in London, but please allow me to handle the Syrian Brit mano a mano.

Syrian Brit, I'm already aware of the "few" historical inaccuracies of Apocalypto. I assure you that I believe them to be more of a technical nature.

I did not find anything in the movie even remotely suggesting that the Europeans brought civilization to Central and South America. Au contraire, in one brief yet potent scene, it conveyed the idea that "from bad to worse". The Mayans,like almost all before and after civilizations used brutality and oppression, politically and religiously. Did it not stir any feelings of deja vu in you. Don't you think we are going through the same process right now?
In light of the above, I still love this movie.
Please Syrian in London help me out. Watch it soon, write a review.

The Syrian Brit said...

Ya Abu Fares.. Ya Abu Fares.. P-lllease!.. Wikipedia??... I quote National Geographic, and several top archeological experts.. and you qoute Wikipedia?!...
I do not dispute that the movie is quite stirring and very interesting from a purely artistic view, but hitorically, it is simply criminal.. My main objection is really to a comment you have made on my Blog, referring to Apocalypto as the best movie ever made about the World history... For a start, the Spanish did not reach America until some 400 years after the demise of the Maya as a major civilization!..
And what about the last scene in the movie??.. The serene calm sea, and the Spanish galleons approaching silently and smoothly?.. To me, that suggested that they are bringing peace after the chaos.. civilization to replace brutality and lawlessness.. In fact, the Spanish Conquestadors brought death and genocide, destruction, starvation, syphilis, and other perils!.. and if you want historical comparison.. well, wasn't peace and prosperity to replace oppression and brutality what Bush promised for Iraq?!.. So, yes.. WE ARE going through the same process..
As I said before, if this was just another mythical epic, I would have no serious problems with it.. and clearly, from an artistic point of view, it is a fantastic production.. but not as a historical movie..
My dear Syrian in London, sorry once again for hijacking your blog.. just tell us to p*** off we outstay our welcome!.. (7akem ne7na ma mnin3ata wish!..)

abufares said...

Syrian Brit
I interpreted that scene you mentioned differently. I felt that the message meant: "you thought you were in trouble before??? You haven't seen anything yet."
I stated on your blog that it's one of my favorite all-time movies and that I consider it the best historical movie ever and I reconfirm my position. Probably, its minor inaccuracies and its superb artisitic qualities made it universal in a sense. It's about civilization and it metaphorically applies to all.

The Syrian Brit said...

Abu Fares,
I must admit I did consider your version for interpretting that scene.. However, I felt that was so 'un-Mel Gibson'.. certainly totally unlike the 'new' Mel Gibson, with his new-found religious ideas and beliefs..
Nevertheless, I think we are in agreement that the movie is an epic in terms of its impact and artistic excellence. However, I still do not agree that it is a historical document, and I am still of the belief that it contains so much 'White Supremacy' connotations as to make it rather difficult to swallow..
I guess that is one thing that we will have to agree to differ upon..
Thank you for an interesting debate, Abu Fares.. and thank you, Syrian in London, for allowing us the space to do it..

abufares said...

Syrian in London

Shoot us out of our misery. Watch the damn movie, give us a piece of your mind and put an end to our childish squabbles. BTW, it was indeed a good debate.
AND, SiL do you like chocolate? Ice cream? m&m's? a good bottle of wine? (p.s. I'm trying to bribe you so that the review goes in my favor)
IN TRUTH, SiL... I would love to have all of the above with you :-)

Syrian in London said...

Dear Abufares & syrian Brit, this has been a most intresting discussion & I have already bought the dvd (couldn't wait till I borrow it) & planing to watch it tonight & hopefully comeback to u this weekend.
Now abufares, trying to influance me? Shame on u (I love chocolate anyway) ;-)