Shakespeare’s Henry IV on stage in Stratford


This videio from England is called Trailer | Henry IV Parts I & II | Royal Shakespeare Company.

By Gordon Parsons in Britain:

Theatre: Living Histories — Henry IV

Thursday 24th April 2014

The RSC productions of Henry IV parts 1 and 2 give a sense of the compromises politics impose on human nature which transcends the centuries, says GORDON PARSONS

Henry IV part 1
5/5

Henry IV part 2
4/5

Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Stratford-Upon-Avon

The RSC’s recent dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies is testament to the company’s courage in competing with their house dramatist’s own theatrical handling of history.

Now Gregory Doran’s productions of Shakespeare’s treatment of the interplay of personalities and politics demonstrate dramatic genius at its height.

These plays tell the story of a king dogged by the guilt of his usurpation of the crown. He is beset by successive internal rebellions and seemingly cursed by a son and heir who prefers the company of a dissolute bunch of merry rogues and who is dismissive of the demands of state.

Rich in characters and language, both plays work like two movements of a dramatic symphony.

The first focuses on Prince Hal — mentored by the “abominable” misleader of youth Falstaff — and his rivalry with Hotspur, who is high on the drugs of honour and war and the son the king would have preferred.

Understandably, Alex Hassell’s Hal finds his Eastcheap companions more fun than the tensions of a court ruled by his father, an impassioned, intolerant and conscience-stricken king in Jasper Britton’s portrayal.

However skilfully Shakespeare weaves together comedy and crisis, play-acting and warfare, the character of Falstaff dominates.

Antony Sher, with the matted grey hair and spherical build of an impish troll, revels in his scabrous wit and sheer joy in his shady lifestyle. Even when reluctantly forced away from the comforts of his bar-room boozing and whoring onto the battlefield, his determination to survive by any means wins through.

The second play provides a change from major to minor key. Time has taken its toll. Rumour has undermined comforting certainties and the King is mortally ill. Where open battles had decided issues in the first part, now deceit and betrayal thread through the political dealings.

The self-proclaimed youthful Falstaff has become a man aware of his own frailties. Now clinging to forlorn hopes that Hal, his “sweet boy,” will reward his long-held expectations, he is destroyed by his erstwhile companion’s royal rejection: “I know thee not, old man,” the prince tells him.

We are left with a sad awareness of the compromises politics impose on human nature.

Major scenes in both plays capture the central themes. In the first, Falstaff’s roleplaying as Hal’s father remonstrating with his wayward son signals the prince’s true nature while in part two the Gloucestershire garden scene, in which impotent old men rehearse memories of youthful exploits, underlines the dying fall of life colouring the action.

Among the magnificent large cast, vignette cameos from Paola Dionisotti as the put-upon tavern landlady Mistress Quickly and Antony Byrne’s frenziedly drunken Pistol make their mark.

Highly recommended.

Runs until September 6. Box office: (0844) 800-1114.

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Hitler’s holocaust in Ukraine, documentary


This video says about itself:

The Killing Fields – Einsatzgruppen – The “other” Holocaust

****This video contains disturbing images ****

Holocaust deniers seem to think that the Holocaust is all about whether people were gassed or not in the death camps. Before the extermination camps even started operation, the Nazis were already shooting hundreds of thousands of men, women and children all over Eastern Europe.

Deniers will say that the images and clips in this video are all manufactured by the Soviets, totally disregarding historical documents and the eye-witness accounts of victims, bystanders and even the testimony of the perpetrators themselves.

By Clara Weiss in Germany:

French TV documentary: “Shoah by Shooting—SS Death Squads in Ukraine

22 April 2014

Earlier this year, the 2008 French television documentary “Shoah by Shooting—SS Death Squads in Ukraine,” by Romain Icard, was released on DVD with German subtitles by Absolut Medien. The documentary describes the journey of the French Catholic priest Patrick Desbois through Ukraine in his search for the mass graves of some 1.5 million murdered Jews.

The release of the DVD coincides with the German- and US-backed coup in Kiev that brought to power an extreme right-wing regime that includes neo-Nazi forces. The documentary underscores the criminal character of a policy of relying on fascistic forces.

The Nazis occupied Ukraine in the summer of 1941 and were expelled by the Red Army two-and-a-half years later. During the period of German occupation, the war and the mass murders carried out by the Nazis and their Ukrainian collaborators took the lives of between five and eight million people. Another one million Ukrainians were deported to Germany to serve as forced laborers. The Soviet Republic was plundered and savaged. Hitler planned to resettle 20 million Germans on the territory of Ukraine.

At the time of the attack on the Soviet Union, the Nazi leadership had already decided on the annihilation of European Jewry. The systematic murder of the Jews became an integral part of the occupation.

In Lithuania, the Nazis and their collaborators liquidated over 90 percent of the Jewish population. In Belarus, the Nazis murdered a quarter of the total population—800,000 people—including more than 90 percent of all Jews. In Ukraine, an estimated 1.5 million Jews were murdered—over half of the total Jewish population of 2.7 million.

As the director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum explains in the documentary, “Ukraine is and will remain a vast cemetery.”

The Catholic Church played an important role in supporting the Hitler regime, together with other fascist regimes in Europe. Through its backing for Desbois’ work, the Vatican sought to erase the traces of its crimes. Nevertheless, the research carried out by Desbois, whose own father was held as a French prisoner of war in Ukraine and later informed his son of what he had seen of the Holocaust, is of great importance. Many crimes of the Nazis in Eastern Europe have not been fully explored and the sites of most of the mass graves in Ukraine were unknown until Desbois’ investigations.

Through systematic interviews, beginning in 2004, with thousands of eyewitnesses and survivors of the Holocaust, most of whom had never been questioned before, Desbois and his team were able to locate some 700 mass graves. The results of the research by his organization Yahad in Unum, which is also active in other countries in Eastern Europe, have been compiled on a web site.

At the moment, Yahad in Unum’s Internet map of mass graves is not working properly. Was the site hacked by some anti-Semite?

In total, some 1,200 mass graves have now been identified in Ukraine.

The majority of Ukrainian as well as Belarusian and Lithuanian Jews were shot by the dreaded Nazi SS strike forces (Einsatzgruppen) in mass actions, with the Ukrainian police playing an important role.

The most powerful scenes in the documentary are the interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses of the mass murders. Desbois encounters many of the survivors in impoverished rural areas that are more evocative of the 19th than the 21st century. “The Holocaust in the East remains in the memory of the poor,” he comments.

Desbois conducts most of the interviews with villagers who were between 8 and 15 years old during the occupation. These survivors remain marked by the horrors they witnessed as children, when the German occupiers terrorized the entire population and murdered their Jewish neighbors.

Temofis Ryzvanuk, a poor farmer from the village of Bakhiv (in the Lutsk region), observed a mass execution at the age of 14. “Everyone was afraid here,” he tells the interviewer. “We were terribly fearful of the Germans.”

Ryzvanuk relates how Jewish men and women were forced by the lash to dig their own graves, only to be mown down by machine guns. “They were stripped naked. Men and women without distinction. After they killed them, they laid them head to head next to each other to save space…They were stacked like sardines.” German officers drove by during the executions and honked.

After questioning other villagers, Desbois was able to determine the location of the mass grave in which an estimated 9,000 people were buried. Grave robbers have searched there recently for jewelry and dental gold, leaving skulls and bone fragments strewn over the ground.

The mass executions were carefully planned. SS officers of the strike forces often drew up sketches of the executions in advance.

Desbois carried out particularly thorough research in northwest Ukraine, which is today one of the poorest regions of the country. Prior to the war, more than 150,000 Jews, almost half of the local population, inhabited the region. The area was also called “Jewish land” and was a cradle of Jewish culture. During the Holocaust, all of the Jews there were liquidated.

Resistance against the German occupation was brutally put down in “revenge actions.” Thousands of Ukrainians—the populations of entire villages and rural communities—were burned alive. Nadia Stepanova, whose father was burned along with other villagers in a church, describes the attack on the area:

“The German soldiers came from Lutsk to occupy the whole region. There are almost no houses there anymore, if you noticed. There was resistance against the Germans. After the shooting, they came into the village. They stayed overnight and in the morning rounded up all the residents.

“They separated the Jews and drove them to a ghetto. Then they separated men on one side, women and children on the other side of a barn. We thought, now it’s over. We thought we would all die, burn, as was the case in other villages.”

Her husband, Misha Stepanov, leads the film team to two mass graves of murdered Jews. He relates that trucks full of Jews were brought to the spot. He estimates that around 1,000 victims are buried in the two nearby graves, with many children among the murdered.

Leonid Kvil, who was just seven at the time, watched the executions. “They killed them, collected their clothes and brought them to the ghetto in the city,” he says. “Then they threw more Jews on top of the dead. Some were still alive. And it began again. They killed them and then brought new victims. They all came from the ghetto. This went on for two days.

“They covered the grave. It was still moving after six months, with blood seeping out. The Germans took jewelry, earrings, they took everything. It…[the blood ] flowed out three or four hundred yards. It flowed down to the river. It was awful.”

After their defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943, the Nazis were in retreat, as the Red Army began to retake the occupied territories. SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered that all traces of the war crimes of the SS and the Wehrmacht be systematically erased. In the course of so- called Operation 1005, hundreds of thousands of corpses of murdered Jews were disinterred from their graves and burned.

Often, Jewish survivors were forced to take part in these actions. Desbois spoke with Dr. Leon Wells (1925-2009), one of the few Ukrainian Jews to survive and a man who testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in the 1960s. He was forced by the SS to burn corpses and then examine the ashes for gold. (A detailed interview with Leon Wells can be found on YouTube.)

In the forest of Lysinitchy, where 90,000-100,000 Jews were murdered, the burning of corpses lasted up to six months.

The documentary indicates that the Stalinist regime in the Soviet Union had partly encouraged anti-Semitic sentiments in the Ukrainian population, and that following the starvation of millions of Ukrainian peasants resulting from Stalin’s forced collectivization (1929 to 1932), many, especially in rural areas, subsequently greeted the Nazis in 1941 as “liberators.”

At this point the documentary adopts a pronounced anti-communist stance. In fact, it was the October Revolution of 1917 and the victory of the Bolsheviks in the civil war in 1921 that brought an end to the anti-Semitism of the Czarist regime and the mass murder of Jews. Tens of thousands of Jews had been killed during the civil war in Ukraine by both the White enemies of the Bolsheviks and the regime of Symon Petliura.

The Soviet government, led by Lenin and Trotsky, fiercely opposed anti-Semitism. The incitement of anti-Semitism by the Stalinist bureaucracy, which began particularly during the Moscow trials in the 1930s and culminated in the anti-Semitic purges of the late 1940s and early 1950s, was one of the most egregious expressions of the counterrevolutionary nature of Stalinism.

After the Second World War, the Holocaust was treated in the Soviet Union solely under the category of “crimes against the Soviet people.” A “Black Book” on the systematic murder of Jews, assembled by the Jewish intellectuals Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg from 1943 onwards, was published only in 1946. It was pulped in 1948.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the independence of Ukraine, a systematic rehabilitation of Ukrainian anti-Semites and Nazi collaborators has taken place. President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power in 2004 in the Western-backed “Orange Revolution,” made the glorification of Symon Petliura and Stepan Bandera, head of the fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists during the Second World War, official government policy. He authorized public monuments for both men.

The Fatherland Party of the new Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and the far-right Svoboda party, which has several ministers in the coup government, both revere right-wing Ukrainian nationalists and fascists.

Berlin and Washington support this policy and are working directly with fascist forces to prepare for war against Russia and impose massive attacks on the Ukrainian working class. The documentary on the Holocaust in Ukraine is an important reminder of the monstrous deeds of German imperialism, which has now returned to the scene of its former crimes.

A day after the New York Times published a front-page report purporting to show the involvement of Russian Special Forces in protests in east Ukraine, its report, titled “Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia,” has been exposed as a blatant fabrication: here.

The New York Times responded yesterday to the exposure of its fabricated report alleging that Russian Special Forces are stirring up protests in east Ukraine against the pro-Western regime in Kiev: here.

Evidence for Russian Involvement in Based on Shoddy Journalism: here.

US Vice President Joseph Biden’s two-day visit to Ukraine has ended with a resumption of the Kiev regime’s military crackdown against its political opponents in the southeast of the country and a dangerous escalation of US threats against Russia: here.

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New giant horse sculptures in Scotland


This video from Scotland says about itself:

11 March 2014

A fantastically clear, calm evening in central Scotland and the perfect time to admire the Kelpies as building work continues and the surrounding area takes shape. Looking forward to the grand opening in April when the Kelpies will be centre stage for the launch of the John Muir Way.

Music courtesy of last.fm featuring Intuíció playing Isten áldja édesapám.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday 22nd April 2014

Huge horses’ heads open as Scotland’s newest cultural landmark

A pair of gigantic horses’ heads sculpted from 300 tons of steel, Scotland’s newest cultural landmark, will be open to the public today.

Titled The Kelpies, the 98ft-tall sculptures in Falkirk were inspired by Scotland’s history of working horses which once pulled barges along the nearby Forth and Clyde Canal.

Created by Glasgow artist Andy Scott, the Kelpies form the centrepiece of the new Helix Park development close to the M9.

The artist said: “I have always been fascinated with horses and the heavy horse was at one time the driving force in industry.”

The sculptures were brought to life over the weekend with an inaugural firework display.

A canal link to the North Sea is expected to open up the inland waterways to more boating traffic and it is hoped the Kelpies will draw up to 350,000 visitors each year, bringing £1.5 million of extra tourism revenue.

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Unjustly convicted boxer ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies


This music video is called Bob Dylan – Hurricane (original). The lyrics are here.

From the Canadian Press:

‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

April 20, 2014 / 8:04 am

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former American boxer imprisoned nearly 20 years for three murders before the convictions were overturned, has died at his home in Toronto.

Media reports say he was battling prostate cancer.

The Hurricane‘s autobiography, “The Sixteenth Round,” was published in 1975 it helped raise awareness for his case. Also in 1975 Bob Dylan wrote the song ‘Hurricane’ based on the book.

According to CTV, Carter was arrested in 1966, along with acquaintance John Artis, for a triple shooting in New Jersey. His conviction was quashed in 1985, with the help of a group of Canadians who fought to keep his case in the spotlight.

Eventually, Carter moved to Toronto, where he helped to form the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. He served as the association’s executive director from 1993 to 2004.

in 1999 Norman Jewison made the movie ‘The Hurricane’, Denzel Washington played the lead role.

See also here. And here. And here.

On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe. Despite the legacy of civil rights, some doors remain firmly closed. And across the US, schools are resegregating: here.

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Northern lapwing inspires music composer


This video is about a northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) at its nest.

Today on Dutch radio, for the first time a new piece of music by composer Henk Doeke Odinga was played.

This composition, for piano and clarinet, is about northern lapwings.

Both the sound and the movements of these birds inspired Odinga.

The music starts with part of the French national anthem, the Marseillaise. That is because, if there is a harsh winter in the Netherlands, lapwings migrate south to France.

You can listen to the music here.

You can download the music here.

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Libyan artists in danger


This video says about itself:

Tadrart Acacus, UNESCO World Heritage Site

21 July 2009

Tadrart Acacus is a desert area in western Libya and is part of the Sahara. It is situated close to the Libyan city of Ghat. Tadrart means ‘mountain’ in the native language of the area (Tamahaq language). It has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art. The Acacus has a large variation of landscapes, from differently coloured sand dunes to arches, gorges, rocks and mountains. Major landmarks are the arches of Afzejare and Tin Khlega.

Although this area is one of the most arid of the Sahara, there is vegetation, such as the callotropis plant. The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

Now, four years after the making of this video, both this ancient Libyan art, and today’s Libyan art and its makers are in danger.

After George W Bush invaded Iraq, 90% of that country’s artists were killed or fled to other countries.

Something similar happens now as the consequence of another so-called ‘humanitarian’ war, the NATO war on Libya in 2011.

From Magharebia (Washington DC, USA):

Libya Chaos Impacts Artists

By Asmaa Elourfi, 17 April 2014

Interview

Benghazi — With Libya’s capital of culture facing daily bombings and assassinations, artists are left in a perilous position.

To get a handle on the situation, Magharebia met in Benghazi with Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi, a 42-year-old actor, playwright and songwriter. He began his theatre career in the ’90s, before later performing at events in Tunisia and Morocco.

As al-Obeidi explains, Benghazi’s “chaos and insecurity” is taking a toll on the city’s famed cultural and literary activities.

Magharebia: As an artist, how do you see the situation in Libya now?

Ahmed Bouakeula al-Obeidi: Writers, poets and intellectuals fully realise the deteriorating security situation and have their own visions about it. They only wait for calm to prevail to present their ideas on how to deal with these issues.

This is because artists are the closest ones to the street; in my opinion, they are the real mirror of the street.

Magharebia: What’s keeping writers and actors from proceeding with their careers in Libya?

Al-Obeidi: There are many obstacles, but the fact that theatres are not fully prepared for theatrical troupes is the main obstacle.

Writers have their own very profound imaginations, but the entities concerned with writers are not playing their roles as they should. For example, Benghazi, which is the cultural capital, has its own literary experiences and elements, and is known for its art, creation and culture, but its literary production is very modest.

Magharebia: What are your latest works?

Al-Obeidi: I’m now writing another play titled “I’m without Address”, a monodrama depicting the condition of Arab citizens following the revolutions, the ambiguity they live in, the concepts that have changed and the schizophrenia they live. The play is being rehearsed now by al-Mashhad al-Masrahi theatrical troupe in Morocco. I’ve also released, at my own expense, my first collection of lyrics and popular poetry.

Magharebia: What do you see for your country’s future?

Al-Obeidi: Building Libya is not an impossible wish. We have to reach national reconciliation and put aside hatreds and clean our hearts before we can talk about building the state or institutions.

We as Libyans are Arabs, and we depend too much on traditions, habits and tribes, and this is a double-edged weapon.

If we can utilise all of these capabilities, we’ll reach the shore of safety and the country and future generations will rest. However, if we proceed with retaliations, hatred and double standard policies, we’ll continue in this dark tunnel.

Magharebia: What part does an artist play in this?

Al-Obeidi: Their role is important and vital. They have to work day and night to get their ideas across using all peaceful means. They have to embody their visions through their works of art because the street is now looking for an alternative to solve the crisis, and here comes the role of the pioneering artist who can reach all categories of society with his/her distinguished style.

This is because the artist is loved by all, and stands at the same distance from all; therefore, the artist shouldn’t deal lightly with his assigned role in society, as he is responsible before history.

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Ancient underwater forest discovery in Gulf of Mexico


This video from the USA is called Alabama‘s Underwater Forest.

From the Houston Chronicle in the USA:

Divers collecting funds to film ancient, hidden forest discovered in Gulf

By Carol Christian

April 17, 2014 | Updated: April 18, 2014 1:12am

A team of scuba divers is trying to raise $15,000 to make a documentary about a hidden, ancient underwater forest in the Gulf of Mexico.

To enlist the public’s help, they turned to Kickstarter.com, a popular platform for crowd-source fundraising.

By early Thursday afternoon, just one week into the campaign, they had raised more than $10,000. Under Kickstarter rules, they must meet their goal by their own deadline — in this case May 1 — or they get nothing.

The forest is a half-mile-square area of 50,000-year-old cypress stumps perfectly preserved under the ocean floor off the coast of Alabama. When the wood is cut, it has a “cypressy” smell, and sap oozes out of it, Raines said.

“That’s 50,000-year-old sap coming out of these trees,” said team member Ben Raines, a former reporter for the Mobile Press Reporter who is now executive director of the Weeks Bay Foundation in Fairhope, Ala.

Rewards offered by the team to Kickstarter donors range from access to high resolution photos, for a $10 contribution, to a chance to dive at the site, for a $2,000 pledge.

“We got our first taker today,” Raines said Thursday of the $2,000 donation.

Money raised beyond the goal will allow the team to do more filming and prepare special graphics, Raines said.

Others behind the documentary proposal are Chas Broughton, owner of Underwater Works in Fairhope, Ala., and Eric Lowe, the photographer for above-water shots. Raines is the underwater photographer.

The forest’s existence has generated intense interest around the world since its discovery was announced a couple years ago, Raines said.

Its exact location, about 15 miles off the coast, has been kept secret to prevent harmful disruption to the site, including commercial salvaging of the stumps, he said.

The Weeks Bay Foundation is working on a federal designation as a marine sanctuary for the ancient forest that divers have described as a “magical fairy land,” Raines said.

Those who have seen it now believe the forest was uncovered in September 2004, when Hurricane Ivan hit Alabama after pounding the Caribbean, Raines said.

“Ivan had 90-foot waves associated with it, the largest waves ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “We think they scoured the bottom. Waves have as much power underwater as above the water.”

Now that the cypress stumps have been exposed to oxygen, they are starting to decay but fortunately, Raines said, cypress wood decays slowly.

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85,000 historic films on YouTube


This video from the British Pathé archives says about itself:

Clothing of the Future. Wonderful film showing what the fashion designers of America predict women will be wearing in the year 2000 AD. These predictions were made in 1939 so some 61 years before the Millennium. Not sure they got it right really!

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

British Pathé uploads 85,000 historic films to YouTube

Thousands of hours of historical footage showing major events, celebrities and simple day-to-day life from 1896 until 1976 has been uploaded to YouTube

By Matthew Sparkes

1:26PM BST 17 April 2014

British Pathé, the newsreel maker which documented all walks of life on video during the 20th Century, has uploaded its entire collection of moving images to YouTube.

The archive of 3,500 hours of footage was digitised in 2002 thanks in part to a grant from the National Lottery, and is now freely accessible to anyone around the world for free.

The unique collection of video covers major events, famous faces, travel, sport and culture and is a wealth of information on the First and Second World Wars in particular.

Scrolling through the archives reveals everything from the tragic: Emily Davison throwing herself under the King’s horse,

Here, the Daily Telegraph journalist ignores new historical research, saying that suffragette Ms Davison did not intend to commit suicide

the Hindenburg disaster and the Hiroshima bombing, to the downright unusual, such as Southampton University’s 1962 attempt to launch a flying bicycle.

Founded in Paris in 1896, Pathé launched in Britain 14 years later. It single-handedly invented the modern television news format but ceased recording in 1970. After that it was sold several times, at one point to EMI, but launched as an independent archive in 2009. Two years later it opened a YouTube channel and has today announced the final step in digitising and uploading its entire collection to Google’s video sharing platform.

Alastair White, general manager of British Pathé, said: “Our hope is that everyone, everywhere who has a computer will see these films and enjoy them. This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten. Uploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that.

“Whether you’re looking for coverage of the Royal Family, the Titanic, the destruction of the Hindenburg, or quirky stories about British pastimes, it’ll be there on our channel. You can lose yourself for hours.”

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