Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Clash of the Titans

I was up after five but it is now 6.30 am and I am just about to get going again after insisting on reaching the latest target on game of patience when I should sell be attending other matters. I have risen early in preparations for rising at a similar time on the morrow for the latest Travel Lodge special offers. I will shortly commence to write about five films seen recently on TV all of which I have seen in theatre or previously on TV but for a variety of reasons were selected to view again but they were not anticipated to have challenged mentally or emotionally but would mark time for a battery recharge or I was too tired to concentrate on anything else. Laziness is a curse of old age couple with the lack of physical staying power.

Last night the temperature was scheduled to have reached the lowest on record here in the North East in areas where snow has already fallen and settled. It was bitterly cold when I went out early evening for milk, a stock on sprats and some lettuce and bought a small pack of cherries for £1 and then undid the holding line on the weight with some small bars of nutty chocolate and as with last years this is the time, when Winter is at its sharpest and the slippery slide began followed by tempting additions as I commenced to watch cricket in what proved to be one of the best sunny and warm periods of the year in early April. I will get a hot drink and watch news about the weather at 7am while I commence the writing of the five films in the order that takes my fancy. It was cold down to -12 not a record but tonight is scheduled to be even colder

Thinking and writing about Family History and World War II time over the past week makes it appropriate to begin with a Sherlock Holmes, the first to be set outside of Victorian Baker Street and no I do not mean the recent incarnations, but Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror 1942 when in the midst of World War II the UK was at its lowest point, a General Winter of discontent and there icy winds from the artic East blew hard over Europe.

There were Nazi sympathisers in place throughout the UK to take over the running of the country once the planned invasion was successful. It was generally believed that had the invasions taken place before the second front against Russia had commenced then it would have been touch and go that the resources then available to us. The enemy would have been difficult to have withstood. There was also the voice of Lord Haw Haw, the name for the English speaking German propagandists who broadcast to the UK and Empire from 1939 to 1945 although the most regular and prominent was William Joyce a senior member of the British Union of Fascists who was captured and hanged. There was also Tokyo Rose who performed same role in the Far East and Pacific.

In the film there are a number of broadcasts which describe acts of Terror and sabotage shortly before they occur. Holmes is brought in by Members of a kind of coordinating and managing War Council to try and stop the horrors. One of Holmes contacts is murdered but before he dies he mentions the word “Christopher“. Holmes Basil Rathbone and Watson Nigel Bruce go to Limehouse to see the wife of the murdered helper where they are challenged by working class locals who resent the intrusion of someone one like Holmes with undertones of the uneducated working man who had espoused Fascism in the East End before the War against the rational middle class although there was just as strong support within the middle and upper classes and it is nom secret that the British press still reflects a right wing bread and circus fascism barely veneered in its editorials, enthusiasm for page three girls and dangerous hypocritical morality. The bastards are still at it.

Holmes appeals to the patriotism often the device of unscrupulous politicians in inappropriate circumstances but here he was calling to wider audience of cinema goers of the day to respond to the national emergency and make whatever individual contribution was within their means. The national lack individuals of the necessary calibre at the present time in a situation where the general education, understanding and communications systems are such to render the average politician in effective outside of Westminster. In this instance the catalyst for participation is not the outsider Holmes but Kitty, the local wife of the Murdered man who rallies the majority from hostility and apathy into action.

Through the help of these supporters and Kitty “Christopher” is tracked down as an ancient no longer used dock to the Thames but Homes Watson and head of nationals security appears to be captured by a leading British Nazi and one of henchmen but in fact Homes has prepared for this and the table are turned with the help of the locals. However using Kitty posing as thief she ingratiates herself into the home of the man. Meade who had temporarily captured Holmes and allowed to escape to try and find out information which will lead to the identification and capture of the individual inside the Council who is the traitor and also the location of where the German invasion is to take place.

The location is communicated and under direct orders from Downing Street the hostile resentful and sceptical Council members accompany Holmes to a location on the South Coast where the Meade, the would be British Nazi Party leader has assembled his other associates all in uniforms ready to take command of supporters in various parts of the UK once the invasion force lands.

It is at this point that the inside man is revealed as a leading Member of the Council who is unmasked as an impostor who replaced the original individual 24 years before. He had been in charge of defence movements and had arranged for the force to be deployed north to await the invasion force. However his instructions have not been put into effect arising from the direct communication between Holmes and Downing Street. The film portrays British planes returning from successfully attacking the German invasion fleet and aircraft and the conspirators arrested. Unfortunate Kitty is shot and killed by Meade who is himself gunned down by troops.

Earlier Homes had worked out that the broadcasts were being pre-recorded in the UK and then flown to Germany with the intelligence information for the next terrorist activity. The recoding was then played as a Live Broadcast from within Germany just before the terrorist attack took place. On intelligence that he life of another member of the Council was under threat Holmes goes to the home of a Council Member deep in the countryside who for some extra ordinary reason then goes out on an air raid warning job although there appears to be no one else about

For him to assist should circumstances dictate. Holmes approaches him as Meade who is also in thee area is making his way to an aircraft which is landing nearby. Holmes had worked out that shortly before each broadcast and horror attacking there had been raid of a few planes which had attracted the attention of the RAF. He had surmised this was a distraction for a separate plane to fly to the prearranged destination, land to collect the latest intelligence on target with the broadcast. In this instance the Council member feigns surprise and shoots towards Meade and the Plane which immediate takes off and Meade disappears into the gloom. The film concludes there is an East Wind coming Watson. Such a wind never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter. But its Gods own wind none the less and a greener, better, stronger land will be in the sunshine when the wind is cleared. Amen to that.
Painting the enemy as Devils is common but in the Dennis Wheatley novel based To the Devil a Daughter, the devil is a reality. I saw the film in theatre as well as on TV in the past and the all star cast brings a credible dimension in the days when horror suspense movies relied on audience imagination more than CGI creation of fantasy.

The film also relies on the audience accepting that it is possible for a fanatical former priest to establish an order of nuns who worship the devil adorned by inverted crosses. The story begins with Richard Widmark an established author attending an exhibition with his agent played by Honor Blackman and her lover Anthony Valentine Widmark is approached by Denholme Elliot to meet his daughter who is arriving from Germany for her once a year birthday with her father. The man explains to Widmark knowing of interest in the occult that the assignment is to look after the girl at his London riverside home until collected by father because of an occult threat. With remarkable insight Blackman is fearful and urges her client and friend not to become involved.

The background is that nearly eighteen years before, the girl played by 15 year old Natasha Kinski is born by a “natural” Caesarean to a mother willingly participating who understandable dies and the girl is then baptised in the blood of the mother. She is then raised by Christopher Lee as the devil worshipping priest and his consort within the nunnery until adolescence and then in a ceremony she is placed on an alter and stimulates sexual intercourse with a statue of the devil while Lee has actual intercourse n behalf of the devil with his consort. The woman gives birth by a similar method to that of the girl, a few days before her eighteen birthday and the most important night of the occupy year. The woman gives birth to a grotesque creature of the devil. The intention is that at 18 the girl will be baptised again in the blood of the creature and become the devil on earth enabling a new generation to be switched on although how she will do this is unclear.

Her father, played by Elliot is a drunk weakling who when he discovers what is happened is horrified but is visited by the spirit of his wife who warns that if he betrays her and the destiny of her daughter he will perish in a ball of fire and presents him with a an artefact as symbol of the pact of secrecy and obedience he has entered into. Lee takes charge of the “pact” which secreted in the altar of a church used by the cult. There is a scene of Elliot having sex with a young woman at the ceremony of his daughter and the conception of devil suggesting that part of the pact was to enjoy the experience of the young woman at their regular ceremonies. As the eighteenth birthday approaches he recants and hires Widmark to thwart the plan. However Widmark and Elliot underestimate the powerful force with Lee is able to generate.

At his home the girl appears to experience the horror of he birth of the devil at night and it is evident that she has memories of other situations in which she has participated in a trance like condition. First Lee sends a powerful auto suggestion via the phone, he holds a rope which turns into snake on the hand of Elliot in order to reveal where the girl is located. He is then able to send a message to girl to leave the home where she is being looked after by Blackman who stabs the woman to death in the head in order to leave the home and be picked up by an agent of Lee.

Widmark after being threatened over the phone by Lee goes to see a Bishop friend to gain access to ancient work on the occult held in the church library after reading up on the subject in his own references library. Here he reads the pages which are recorded a being read by the priests many years before but where the Library has a record as require by the church of all those whom read otherwise banned books. From this he understands what is happening only too late to save his friend and Valentine is understandably devastated and horrified with Widmark for allowing the situation to develop this way together with his own guilt for getting involved when Blackman had repeatedly warned against doing so,

Valentine insists on accompanying Widmark when they visit Elliot to find him seated in a protected circle against the power of the devil and he refuses to advise on the location of his daughter until they have retrieved the pact, They go in search of he church and first find it has moved with Frances de la Tour as a Salvation Army Major who has taken over the church, They find the church as advised by Elliot and here Valentine is mistaken by Lee for Elliot and is consumed by fire. Widmark takes the pact artefact to Elliot who realising it is broken reveals the location of the ceremony at an ancient church site.

Here Lee has created a circle with the blood of the woman who gave birth to the girl who eh has placed on an altar in the middle. Oddly the act is performed on his won without the entourage. He warns and also attempted to bribe Widmark from interfering. It is at this point that the film had its controversial moment in which the girl said to be eighteen years is played by the 15 year old Kinsky, appears full frontal naked as a potential gift to Widmark if he allows the ceremony to go ahead. Widmark hold, a stone with the protected blood to enter the circle which he then throw at the end of Lee to give him time to pick up the clothed girl from the altar outside the circle. The film ends ambiguously because as he leaves the circle Lee disappears and the girl with blood on brow looks at him in way which suggests he may have been too late.

Kinsky the daughter of German Actor Klaus Kinsky who she did not see from the age of ten had been spent her adolescence in a German Commune in the early 70’s and afterwards spoke of being exploited when she was too young to appreciate the long term implications of her appearance in the film. One wonders what her mother was up to.

Wheatley was one of the prolific writers of his day. He showed no aptitude for school or creative work as a child and young man joined the Merchant Navy. He served in the army in the First World War and experiences a chlorine attack at Paschendale and then saw service at Ypres and in France. After the war he joined the family wine merchant business and went into a depression when the business commenced to fail, remarried and commenced to write.

It was in the second World War that he held a important role for the Government coordinating strategic deception and cover plans including how to cope with the anticipated invasion which he covers in his work Stranger than Fiction. He presented a paper to the War Cabinet in Total War. He wrote over 80 fiction and non fiction works which books about the cult contained in a number of the series for example the Molly Fountain Mini series included the Satanist in addition to the Devil a Daughter. The Devil Rides out was part of the Duke of De Richleau series. And part if he Gregory Sullust series included they used Dark Forces and the Witch of the South Seas. The Irish Witch part of The Roger Brook Series. There were three fiction works on the occult on their own and a science fiction series. Six books in total were made into feature films He died in 1977 aged 80.

I have seen Clash of the Titans, I am convinced in theatre but I cannot find my review at the time. In ancient Times the Gods led by Zeus divided up the world/universe with Zeus controlling the land and sky Poseidon the sea and Hades the underworld. Hades was tricked by Zeus which eh resents at what appeared to him to be banishment and a lack of power.

Zeus was responsible for the creation of human beings whose prayers sustained him in strength and power but where the human felt they were not getting a good deal from their subservience.

Pete Potlewathwaite plats a fisherman who finds a floating coffin in which here id a live child but whose mother is dead. He brings up the child as his own and a s art of his family when he marries and heroes a child/children of the marriage.

When on a fishing expedition and admiring the great status of Zeus they are horrified to see soldiers from the city of Argos bring the statue down which falls into the sea. This rouses the wrath of Hades who appears in the form of a being reminiscent of supernatural creature in the series The Island but who then sends a bolt in the direction of the fishing boat which destroys the family leaving the son free. The son Perseus is captured by soldiers from Argos who take him to the court when the wife of the King in particular is in great defiance setting herself and her daughter above the Gods,

Hades has approached the other Gods on Mount Olympus to plead that the rebellion of the human cannot be allowed to go unchecked and Zeus in part from guilt at the earlier actions causing his brother to be left in the Underworld allows him to put humans in their place his way. The immediate consequence of this is his appearance at the Argos Court where he first eliminates the guards leaving only Zeus unscathed and then turns the Queen into an old woman/skeleton. He then poses a chose to the King of surrendering his daughter to the Kraken a sea based giant monster controlled if not spawned by Haddes, if the total population is not be obliterated.

Perseus initially does not accept that he is anything other than human but when there it appears established that he is the son of Zeus and that he and his mother was cast adrift in the ocean. He makes it plain that he wants to be regarded and to act as a human and that he is hostile to the Gods in general because of what happened to his adopted family. Having said this he is assisted Lo a beautiful young woman condemned to being ageless as gift from Zeus for refusing his advances,

At one point she delivers a special sword and at another she is responsible for providing him with Pegasus the flying horse. He also has a meeting with his father who begs him to up a position on Mount Olympus with him after having rejected him but when his son says he wishes to continue as he is; he does accept a gold coin, the fare for Charon, the Ferryman of the Underworld.

He also attempts to prevent the sacrifice of Andromeda, the daughter of the King by visiting the three women who function with one hand held eye, the Stgyian witches and he also then goes on a quest to encounter the gorgon Medusa. On his way he and soldiers from Argus encounter Calibos the form King whose wife was taken by Zeus and who cast the woman and child adrift. He has been given powers by Haddes to help his vengeance on Perseus and when they fight and his arm is severed it is turned into the fist of several giant scorpions. Just when the party appears out numbered by these creatures a race, the Djinn arrives who are able to control the beasts and then use them as a means of transport,

He then uses the coin from his father to enter the Underworld and encounter Medusa who after fighting he cuts of her head. Meanwhile back in Argos the mob have yield to incitement to surrender up Andromeda who is attached to a sacrificial structure for the Kraken. She is saved by Perseus with the help of Pegasus and the use of Gorgon head to send Haddes back to the Underworld.

Andromeda presses Perseus to stay and be king but he says she will make great Queen. Zeus also appears and expresses the hope that his son is now ready to join him on Olympus but Perseus says he is content in human form. Previously Lo has given her life to enable Perseus to gain the head of the Medusa and free Andromeda and as a reward for returning Haddes to the Underworld and returning the world to the previous harmony Zeus brings back Lo so that his son has a companion and the two fly away on Pegasus.

The film was original made for Theatre is conventional 2 D. It was then remade in 3D with the consequence it provides the internal dimensional view without the gimmicks of things flying in and out of the screen in d a distracting way. This also provided an alternative ending in which Perseus develops a relationship with Andromeda which is brought to life with rescuing her from a certain and horrible death. He says he will return but first flies to Mount Olympus to advise his father that he does not wish to be a god before flying off, we presume back to Andromeda. Lo has remained dead something which she had intimated she longed for having lived for so long and seen all her contemporaries and love ones dies, an experience which Perseus could empathise through the loss of his family.

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