Thursday, July 17, 2014

London Calling #1

I'm collecting things, ideas, travel tips, and such on a Pinterest board but it also occurred to me that I could share some of the other things I'm reading and watching to get ready for our trip in September.

It's All Happening

This is one of those films that mostly an excuse to showcase a studio's talents.  With a thinly disguised "story" about an orphanage needing to raise money and plenty of British talent which, frankly, doesn't make for much of a film because the songs are, for the most part, forgettable.  Not that this is the first or only film that did this sort of thing, trying to feature some of the best of the best of their artists.  Goodness knows, MGM made more movies than I can number doing precisely this sort of thing.  It can work when you have great songs but even talented performers can't make mediocre songs memorable.  So, in the end, this is a waste of talent. I didn't finish this movie humming a single tune. Why else watch a musical if the tunes aren't going to carry you away?

Anna Boleyn

I couldn't resist watching this German silent film about Anne Boleyn, a peculiar choice for a trip to London, I suppose, but it was fun.  The interpretation of events was amusing.  In this film, "Anna" has no interest in marrying the king, there is no love on her part for Henry. Rather, he sets his desires on her and she, as the cover implies, wants nothing better than to escape his lust.  The movie definitely plays loose with fact.  Smeaton is jealous of Anne's feelings for Norris and plots her downfall which underplays the role of the others at court.  Jane Seymour, the next queen, is especially amusing because, in this, she is more conniving, eager to maneuver herself into the king's affections, in effect behaving as many of Anne Boleyn's own detractors claim she herself did.  So a curious choice and I confess I enjoyed it for what it is.  Also interesting is the story of Henny Porten, the actress who plays Anna Boleyn.  She was married to a Jewish man and refused to divorce him as the Nazis came into power. They were eventually left homeless but, when the war ended, Porten made more films, no longer blacklisted.

Secrets of the Tower of London

One of those great PBS programs and a lot of fun to watch, a perfect choice to prepare for our trip.  We absolutely plan on going to the Tower of London because I wish to see the Crown Jewels and Rob the arms and armory.  I suppose it's a bit morbid to also wish to see the place where Anne Boleyn was imprisoned but I will focus on the thought that she also spent the moments before her coronation.  There is something tragic in knowing her career as Queen of England was book-ended by staying in the same chambers.  Anyway, one of the first places we planned to visit is the Tower of London so it makes sense that, when I had an opportunity to watch this, I made it a high priority.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

You can read my review of this book here.  At the end of the review is a list of other books I am planning to read. If you see one that you want to recommend to me, I would appreciate it.  You know how it is when you have too many choices.  And I didn't even list all of the choices I have on hand.  But I started with this one, a thick tome, because I am on bed rest and wanted to fill the time as best I could.

So more movies next week.  Maybe another book.  Maybe not.  We'll see how much time I devote to reading.  Not sure which British themed book I'm reading now?  Just check out the "Currently Reading" list to the left.


  1. I loved London-themed things, especially London-themed movies! I can't wait to visit there someday. I bet you are so excited!

    1. Neither Rob nor I has ever left the continent so we're pretty excited about this first sojourn out of the country.

  2. Thanks for the Secrets of the Tower of London video -- I requested it from the library. A newer feature there is the exhibit on the Royal Mint: We're excited about that because Isaac Newton ran it, later in life.

    I'm considering using London Walks as a tour guide on our Tower of London day: As much as anything, I'd like to skip the queue!

    1. Rob and I have London Walks marked as something we want to do. My step-sister gave me London Tower advice. Preorder your tickets and get there first thing in the morning. Then go straight to the Crown Jewels. The rest of the tower exhibit can be enjoyed after but you'll deal with fewer crowds if you hit the jewels first.

      She further suggested that we hit the "places" in the morning--museums and such. Then the afternoons/evenings would be for walking around neighborhoods to do some people watching. I know I adore eating at cafes for that reason.

      I'm trying to decide which park to explore. There are so many wonderful choices. I don't know if we can hit more than one, given how many other things we want to do. I've been wanting to start really planning things out but my knee is prohibitive. Standing in front of my white board with a map pinned on the wall beside it can't be done right now. It's soooooo frustrating. At least I know where we'll be staying.