LOOKING AT THE SPREADSHEET OF THEIR family tree, I noticed it was quite full. Their family tree showed generation after generation going back hundreds of years. If I would have mine done it would have a few gaps in it. With my deceased relatives who immigrated from basically three countries, I am aware of the ones who grew old here in the states. However, the ones who remained behind are only known to me by faded photographs lying in a drawer. None of my relatives were smiling in the photos. How I wish I knew more about them and the life they had growing up. There were a few photos of my relatives dressed in bulky winter coats with fur trimmed collars and elaborate embroidery down the front, engulfing the buttons and buttonholes. One of the photographs had three family members standing side by side with a small pony behind them. How I wanted to know what the story was about the pony; was it their pet? Were they at a farm or a zoo? What if they had survived and made the trip to the states, settling down and starting a family? I always thought about the relatives I would never have because of relatives dying before having children. A group of my relatives had died during the wars. I HAVE VERY FEW FAMILY MEMENTOS or keepsakes that were handed down to me. There are only 2 items that came from overseas, a small engraved silver wine cup and a gold coin. The cup’s story told to me was it only had been used during special family occasions. More than likely it would have held some type of wine. As for the gold coin, I never heard a story about it except how old it was, and some family members believe it belonged to a great, great, great relative of mine. All these deceased relatives can be traced down to me, yet I do not have any of their history. I so want to know what they did, what they ate, what they wanted in their lifetime. Imagine if I knew some of their stories and was able to trace them back to some type of historical event; wouldn’t that be awesome? Seeing the Eiffel Tower being erected, or the Winter Palace being built; I would so enjoy knowing the history of that time that cannot be found in any textbook. If you want to see history come alive and maybe spark a thought inside of you then watch this amazing documentary. WISHING TO FEEL A DEEPER CONNECTION to his deceased relative, director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings franchise, King Kong) and his team poured over thousands of decaying World War I film clips from Britain’s Imperial War Museum, hoping to bring some of them back to life in a way that had never been done before. Simply stated, this historical war film was extraordinary. I have seen movies and film clips about World War I, but I have never seen actual footage that looked so natural. Usually actual footage that old has scratches and light distortions; but, the path Peter painstakingly took created a sense of dialog and a sense of the times. The story to this film is the minor aspect of it; pretty much everyone has some familiarity to World War I. However, to see this actual footage enhanced to such a high level made me feel like I was seeing something brand new. Peter introduced this documentary and encouraged the audience to stay after the credits to listen and watch him explain some of the things they did to create this visual masterpiece. I highly recommend you stay afterwards to see what people did to keep this portion of history alive.
3 ¼ stars
Advice given that was so simple and easy to remember; I can still hear it after all these years. I was talking to the wife of a married couple about what kept their marriage together. She said there were times you just had to keep quiet and not complain when you sometimes had to do something you really did not want to do. This was not earth shattering by any means; but it really resonated with me. I now cringe when I think about all those times where I used to complain about going to a restaurant I did not like or going out with “their” friends who I found annoying. There really was no reason I needed to let everyone know I did not want to be there. Whether it is the passage of time or maturity, I am so glad I do not act out like that anymore. I understand the importance compromises and sacrifices have in every relationship. Dating someone who enjoyed country western dancing meant even though I felt like a lopsided goofball while two-stepping, I kept doing it so I could be their dance partner. It is funny as I just wrote that I was remembering a couple I knew who got divorced because the husband did not like his wife being away from home as much as she was for her job. She was a flight attendant who was doing this even before they got married. Separation can be tough for any couple; imagine those individuals who are in a relationship with someone in the military. If you want to see an example from a long time ago you can see it in this autobiographical film. MISTER Brittain, played by Dominic West (The Wire-TV, Pride), believed Oxford was no place for his daughter Vera, played by Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, A Royal Affair). Though she had dreamt of going there, Vera would find her heart being distracted by a young man and the impending war. This film festival nominee was based on Vera Brittain’s memoir; I have not read it yet. However, after seeing this beautifully filmed period piece I want to read her book now. It was interesting to see the effects of World War I through a woman’s point of view. The cast which also included Kit Harington (Game of Thrones-TV, Pompeii) as Roland Leighton and Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Smoke-TV) as Edward Brittain were all especially good in this romantic drama. I will say the story started out a bit slow and predictable for me; however, Vera’s acting skills kept me involved in her plight. The look and feel of this movie was gracefully lush and when I found out it was based on a true story, I only had more fondness for Vera’s incredible life. There were brief scenes that had blood in them.
Since we just had our first measurable snowfall, I recall how much fun I had building forts out of snow. The best kind of snow to use was one heavy with moisture; it would make a funny scrunching sound as it was being squeezed tight. Once the fort was completed, my friends and I would separate into two sides and start a snowball fight. Usually the winning team would get to destroy the opponent’s fort. There was never any hatred involved or wishing someone harm. If anything each of us would use our imaginations to come up with exotic or fanciful ways of winning. I claimed my snowballs were stun balls, causing anyone hit by one to be temporarily paralyzed until the end of the game. Coming across this Oscar nominated movie based on a true story, it really sent a clear message to me for this holiday season. It was December 24, 1914 and the most horrific war to date was raging in Europe. Converging together on the battlefield were fully armed German, French and Scottish troops. Every soldier was cold and weary while their respective commanders were looking for some weakness to exploit in defeating the enemy. However something happened when a stray cat wandered into the fray. I found this story to be a hopeful example of what can be achieved when people put aside their differences and become human again. Not only did I find the acting well done, I thought the casting of actors was exceptional. For example, Diane Kruger (National Treasure, Troy) lovely as Danish soprano Anna Sorensen; Benno Furmann (North Face, Curse of the Ring) as German officer Nicolaus Sprink and Ian Richardson (Dark City, Becoming Jane) as religious figure L’eveque. In the middle of a grotesque war to find an oasis of humanity, this film was a surprise treat. The bottom line for me has nothing to do with a person’s race, religion, sexuality or country; it simply is a matter of being a decent human being. This was an astonishing, inspiring story; I was grateful it had been turned into a movie. French, German, English, Latin with subtitles.
3 1/3 stars — DVD