Thoughts on Mythic Structure: The Ordeal

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This is Part 7 of my series on the hero’s journey, or monomyth.

1. The ordeal is the first major confrontation with the main forces of antagonism.

After undergoing many tests, forming alliances, figuring out enmities, gaining some respect in the extraordinary world of the adventure, it is time for the hero to experience her first major battle against the antagonist(s).

2. This generally occurs at the mid-point of the story.

The ordeal is not interchangeable with the climax of a story. This is the major crisis, not the end of the journey. It doesn’t have to be at the mid-point. It’s fine if the ordeal occurs later, but it’s important to remember this is not where the story ends and that it’s not necessarily the last confrontation with the forces of antagonism.

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Award for Most Unfairly Maligned Best Picture Winner: Shakespeare in Love

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This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Click HERE for a list of the other posts for Week 4: Pictures and Directors.

I knew my declaration in last week’s post, naming the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility the best adaptation of Jane Austen’s work, would be a tad controversial. (Though not nearly as much, it turns out, as I thought it would be. Nice to know I’m not alone in my regard for that film.)

THIS WEEK, however, I’m certain some people will want to sharpen their pitchforks.

I’m going to defend Shakespeare in Love’s 1998 Best Picture win.

(Get your torches lit!)

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Emma Thompson’s Screenplay for Sense and Sensibility: The Best Austen Adaptation?

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This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Click HERE for a list of the other posts for Week 3: The Crafts.

I can already hear cries of “blasphemy!” just because the title of this post. (I did put a question mark at the end!)

I would venture to guess if you polled Jane Austen fans, the most popular adaptation of her work would far and away turn out to be the 1995 six-part BBC TV mini-series of Pride & Prejudice, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. It is certainly the adaptation that kicked off the now-20 year long resurgence of Austen’s work.

As lovely as that series is, and as perfectly cast as it is, it doesn’t quite do it for me as far as capturing the Jane Austen novels I love so dearly. I know when people hear Austen’s name, they think first and foremost that she wrote romances. I, on the other hand, would argue she did not write romances at all. She actually satirized the romances of her day. Her stories are survival stories, where marriage is the only respectable way for most of her heroines to escape poverty. Even in her novel Emma, that features a heroine who is wealthy and of the highest rank in her small sphere, there are two secondary characters–Harriet Smith and Jane Fairfax–for whom marriage is a vital matter of economic survival and respectability.

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Preston Sturges’ Missing Best Director Nomination

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This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Click HERE for a list of the other posts for Week 2: The Oscar Snubs.

Screenwriter/director Preston Sturges was awarded an Academy Award, in 1940, for his screenplay, The Great McGinty.

So why did I choose him as my subject for the “Oscar Snubs” topic of this blogathon?

Preston Sturges was also a great, underrated director, who never received a Best Director nomination.

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Buster Keaton Enters The Twilight Zone

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This post is part of The Buster Keaton Blogathon, hosted by Silent-ology. Click HERE for a list of all the participants!

My first viewing of a Buster Keaton movie came in a roundabout way: during the early 1970s, my mother liked seeing rock concert films of the Woodstock variety. She would drag me and my sister to see them, under the theory that young people like rock music. (Perhaps we did, but that did not necessarily include liking concert movies, which we found horribly boring.)

One of these movies was playing as a double feature with a documentary film called Four Clowns, about four silent film comedic stars: Keaton, Charley Chase, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.

Now, why anyone would think to pair a documentary film about silent film stars with a rock concert film remains a mystery to me to this day, but I’m grateful to the person who did it. While I had seen Laurel & Hardy sound films on television, I had never seen any of their silent work, and this was also my very first experience watching Buster Keaton.

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31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Child Actor Nominees/Winners

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This post is part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled, Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen. Click HERE to see more posts from Week 1: THE ACTORS.

I remember so clearly when Tatum O’Neal won Best Supporting Actress at the tender age of 10. I was around 12 years old at the time, had seen the film, LOVED it, loved her in it. (It remains one of my favorite movies and performances to this day.) My parents were very strict about sticking to my designated bed time when I was a kid, but for some reason were always lenient on Oscar night. I think they knew they were raising a budding cineaste.

I recall watching the ceremony on a little 9 inch black and white TV in my bedroom and jumping up and down on my twin bed when her name was announced.

She was a kid–like me! AND SHE WON A BIG AWARD! THE BIGGEST AWARD IN THE UNIVERSE! (I was probably not aware of the Nobel Prize at the time–or, at least, not cognizant of its importance relative to the Oscar.)

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I’m a Project REUTSway Winner Two Years in a Row!

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In November 2013 I participated in Project REUTSway, a short story contest held for the first time by REUTS Publications. Two out of my three submitted stories were chosen for the anthology, Fairly Twisted Tales for a Horribly Ever After, which was published in October 2014.

The first version of contest had participants twist a well-known fairy tale with some kind of horror element: vampires, zombies, demons, werewolves/shapeshifters. This year, instead of fairy tales, the contest theme was world mythology. Each week a different culture was featured: Egyptian, Celtic, Asian, and Eastern European. Each challenge had a twist.

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It’s Barbra vs. Barbra in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever

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This post is part of the Dueling Divas Blogathon 2015, hosted by Lara at Backlots. To read all the contributions to this blogathon, click HERE.

SPOILERS FOLLOW:

Generally speaking, I’m not terribly fond of musicals. But the handful I love, I really love. The 1970 film On a Clear Day You Can See Forever is one of them, and a big reason is Barbra Streisand’s tour de force in a dual role, as the same woman in two different lives.

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever was based on the Broadway musical of the same name, written by Alan Jay Lerner, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Burton Lane composed the music.

Initially, the movie was not one of Streisand’s (or director Vincent Minelli’s) most highly regarded films, but it seems to have grown in reputation over the decades. Perhaps its ESP/past lives/New Age-ish themes were a little too advanced for the time. Also, the movie adaptation pared down many of the musical numbers from the Broadway version. (This, I have to admit, is another reason why I probably really like this film. It doesn’t feel like a musical–it’s more like a movie with some music in it.)

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Miriam Hopkins as the Anti-Scarlett: Virginia City (1940)

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This post is part of the Miriam Hopkins Blogathon, hosted by Silver Screenings and A Small Press Life/Font & Fock. Click HERE for a list of all participants.

SPOILERS FOLLOW FOR VIRGINIA CITY.

When this blogathon was announced, people jumped in right away and grabbed up Miriam Hopkins’ best-known films. Even though the rules of the event said duplicates were O.K., I wanted to pick a film a bit outside the box.

When I looked up the 1940 Western Virginia City, I found out Miriam’s co-stars were Errol Flynn and Randolph Scott, and the movie was directed by Michael Curtiz. As a huge fan of Westerns all my life, I couldn’t believe this one had never found its way onto my radar. So I chose it as my topic.

I was a little concerned, though. With two power-house male stars, I was afraid Miriam was consigned to the role of The Girl the Men Fight Over, with a minimal impact on the film’s story.

I’m happy to report that’s not the case at all.

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Contrary to Popular Opinion: Jezebel, or, The Fashion Faux Pas of Doom

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This entry is part of the Contrary to Popular Opinion blogathon, hosted by SisterCelluloid and MoviesSilently.

Since I can’t discuss what I dislike about this film without revealing huge spoilers, please proceed only if you’ve already seen the film or you don’t care about spoilers.

There are so many reasons why I should love the 1938 film Jezebel.

Can’t get much better than this cast: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Fay Bainter, Margaret Lindsay. Both Davis and Bainter won Academy Awards for their roles as Best Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively.

It’s directed by William Wyler, who, in my opinion, is unfairly looked down upon by modern critics because he is not considered an “auteur.” But to me, he is one of the great directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

One of the screenwriters is John Huston: I mean, come on.

I love historical dramas, even problematic ones like Gone with the Wind. Of course, since Jezebel is set in the antebellum South, like Gone with the Wind, it shares some similar problems, i.e. racism in its depiction of African American characters and the institution of slavery.

Also like Gone with the Wind, Jezebel is generally beloved, and considered one of the great films of the 1930s.

I totally loathe it.

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Random Thoughts on Downton Abbey’s Season 5 Premiere

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Cheerio, Downton Abbey fans! Spoilers follow, of course.

1. It’s difficult living down the reputation of being a husband-stealer among farmer’s wives.

Poor Edith. (Another spoiler alert: I’m going to say that a lot in this post.) The woman visits Mr. Drewe, who farms for her father, just so she can see her secret love child, Marigold. Mrs. Drewe, who swallowed the whole “child of a dead relative she never knew about” story, thinks Edith has the hots for her hubby. The fact that Edith once got caught in a passionate embrace with another married farmer may have contributed a wee bit to her suspicions.

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Thoughts on Mythic Structure: Approach to the Inmost Cave

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This is Part 6 of my series on the hero’s journey, or monomyth.

1. This stage of the journey is when the story begins to coalesce around a major confrontation with the antagonist.

The part of the journey that falls under “Tests, Allies and Enemies” can take up quite a bit of the story after the hero crosses over into the world of the adventure. But now everything has to begin to come together and focus on the main battle against the forces of antagonism.

It’s at this point where the main task in The Wizard of Oz changes from “off to see the Wizard” to “acquire the Wicked Witch’s broom and bring it back to the Wizard.” The Scarecrow says, “But we’d have to kill her to get it!” It’s when the Ghostbusters realize there’s more going on than just random ghost sightings, and that an ancient Babylonian god is returning to destroy humanity.

In other words, this is when sh*t starts to get real for your hero.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 16 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

This was an exciting year for me, blog-wise! I was Freshly Pressed for the first time with my post Zimbio Quizzes are Ruining My Life. Then later in the year I was Freshly Pressed again, with the post The Strong Female Character: I Do Not Think That Means What Some People Think It Means. So thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive responses to these posts.

Wishing each and every one of you a happy and healthy new year!