Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart)

So, I feel like blogging about this despite the fact that it isn’t inside my usual blog-subjects. But—oh, well.

So, I’ve been a huge Astrid Lindgren fan for a long time. It started out with Pippi Longstocking and watching all the badly-dubbed old movies where Pippi somehow has a Brooklyn accent (go figure) and Annika sounds like she has a perpetual cold. Despite this, I wanted to be Pippi when I was a kid.

So, I’ve been meaning to read The Brothers Lionheart for a longtime, but the trouble with that is I can’t find it at my library and also I’m a purist. I don’t believe in changing characters’ names and such when they are translated out of one language and into another. The fact that Skorpan is named Scotty in the English books irritates me no-end.

But I digress: I watched Bröderna Lejonhjärta last night…in Swedish (with my limited knowledge of Swedish) and loved it. So, Bröderna Lejonhjärta is the story of young Karl “Skorpan” Lion and his older brother, Jonatan (in the book they’re ten and thirteen, in the movie they’re like ten and twenty). Skorpan is dying slowly of an illness and to quell his brothers fears Jonatan tells him stories of Nangijala (or Nangiyala in the English version), the land beyond the stars where all stories come from and where you go when you die.

While Jonatan is out one day, they’re house catches fire and Jonatan races inside to save Skorpan. He gets his younger brother on his back and jumps out the window in an effort to save him. Skorpan lives, but Jonatan dies in the fall.

A little while later, Skorpan dies of his illness. He wakes up in Nangijala and finds Jonatan there, fishing, and then they have a great time together and are happy and it’s all very lovely. But all is not well in Nangijala! The evil Tengil has taken slaves of the people, forcing them to build his castle and is keeping them in fear with a big dragon named Katla (built in England for 100,000 Swedish crowns and looking kinda corny, but whatever this movie was made in the 70s). When Orvar, the leader of the resistance movement Jonatan is part of, is captured by Tengil and imprisoned in Katla’s cave, the brothers set out to free him and save Nangijala.


Okay, the movie can be looked at as a straight-up children’s movie, except for all the death. The book itself was disliked by some because of its dark themes and its use of suicide (I’ll get to that in a bit). Though, apparently, Astrid Lindgren said that she got the quickest and most excited response from this book more than any of her others.

So, in the end, the brothers go to destroy Katla after beating Tengil. Jonatan calls it to him with the horn that Tengil used to control it. And…it breathes fire on him. So, yes, they are able to defeat Katla, but Jonatan is injured. At the campfire that night, Jonatan tells Skorpan, “Katla burned me. I’m becoming paralyzed. I can’t feel my legs and, soon, I won’t be able to feel my arms.”

Sidenote to reader: Dragon burns make you paralyzed. Also, my online translator is crappy, so these translations aren’t spot-on.

Skorpan: Won’t you get better, after you rest a few days?

Jonatan: This isn’t something you better from. [pause] Do remember the fire?

Skorpan: I never forgot it.

Jonatan: Remember when we jumped out the window, and I came to Nangijala [i.e: died]? I was thinking we could do that again, off that precipice over there, to go to Nangilima.

Skorpan: [blahblahblah something about the spirit of Nangijala] Then I will do it, like you did for me, so it’ll be like-wise.

Jonatan: Do you dare, Skorpan Lionheart? [or perhaps: Dare you, Skorpan Lionheart]

So, yeah, they jump and as they’re falling Skorpan shouts: “I see it! I see the light, Jonatan! It’s Nangilima!"

I really like this movie, despite the fact I had no idea what people were saying most of the time. You really didn’t need the words. I understood that the brothers really, really loved each other and I got that we had to save Orvar and that Tengil was bad and Katla was fearsome.

In the end, I really was moved by the fact that Skorpan chose to sacrifice himself, like Jonatan did for him in the beginning, so that they’d be together in Nangilima. I disagree with the critics who argue that this makes it seem that suicide is okay, because that’s not the point. The point was that they loved each other, and that love trumped everything, so that nothing else mattered. I think that’s an amazing thought, an amazing point: love is better than life. If goes beyond our own selfish desires. I love that.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fortress of Solitude?

These caves can be found in Mexico. I first saw this photo in a National Geographic article. I think they're amazing. Somehow, though, I can't help but be reminded of the Fortress of Solitude.

Council of Nicaea

Last Shabbat, my good friend Sarah got into a “heated debate” with her mother and brother over the Council of Nicaea. At the time, I was completely lost and hating that feeling, I spent the weekend educating myself.

Here’s what I learned:

The First Council of Nicaea has some weird stories moving around it. The most common one being that during the time of this Council they mucked about with the books of the Bible, adding things, editing things and generally moving things around as they please. I was intrigued by this idea of man manipulating faith, and decided to hit the books.

The first thing I did was find English translations of historical writings dating from the period of the Council. You can find them on this page (scroll down until you reach the Historia Ecclesia). I found that lots of cool people were around that time, writing about the Council. Like Socrates, for example. I found that all the writings went along with the letter that the Council wrote when they first began the meeting.

Here’s what they did at the Council: they set up a lot of rules (my favorites have to do with castrated priests and standing while praying), set up Easter and kick this guy Arius out of the Church.

Arius and his followers, the Arians, believed that Yeshua (Jesus) wasn’t with God in the beginning. He was just born and was pretty dang cool, maybe a bit cool than the other prophets, and that’s it. This idea didn’t swing with the Church, to say the least, and he was found a heretic.

The first mention of any changes being made comes from a preface in the Book of Judith inside of Jerome’s Latin Bible. The interesting point is, Jerome didn’t write his Latin Bible until years after the Council, and wasn’t even present.

So, where does this rumor come from?

Well, six years after the First Council of Nicaea, Constantine ordered fifty Bibles to be drawn up for the use of the Churches. He wanted this Bible to please both the Pagans and the Christians, perhaps hoping to unite the people of his kingdom. For this task he called upon Eusebius.

Eusebius was a fan of this guy called Origen who believed in the truthfulness of the Apocrypha. He used Origen’s letters and commentaries to help him put together the fifty Bibles. Two of these Bibles survive today, the Codex Vaticinus and the Codex Sinaius. They both use the Apocrypha as part of the whole and have some verses and chapters omitted.

Perhaps this is where the rumor starts? Perhaps where people begin to question the fullness of the Bible? Really, we’ll never know for certain. Far too much information has been lost. If you are interested in what I believe, then I believe that God is perfectly capable of making it so the books he wants us to read available. I think that, at the moment, the Apocrypha are wonderful accompaniment pieces to the Bible, and bring more meaning to other texts. Are the God-inspired, though? I don’t know.

Whether you believe the Apocrypha to be God-inspired or not I don’t think matters terribly, because all of us are trying to reach the same goal of living a Christ-like life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Little Wisdom from "Get Smart"

(while they watch an atom bomb explode)

99: Oh, Max! what a terrible weapon of destruction.

Max: Yes. Y'know, France, Russia and Cuba all have those weapons. We should demand they get rid of them!

99: What if they refuse?

Max: Then we'll have to blast them! Its the only way to keep peace.

I thought it was amusingly ironic given the circumstances of today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

I love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

I've watched this film more times than I can count and I never stop loving it. It's Jimmy Stewart's acting (which isn't really acting at all because you could tell me he was Jeff Smith and I'd believe you); it's Jean Arthur's Sanders being so damn vulnerable and touch all at once.


The only trouble with this film is it gets me excited, it gets me riled and it always leave me with lofty expectations of the American government. I always end up standing while watching it, or pacing the living room, like some deranged person. I get angry about the awful, underhanded people and get restless towards the end, with the filibuster. And when the movie ends on their happy note, my hopes are dashed because we can never have anything like that as long as man governs, because man is a creature of greed.

I guess, in the end, I am most bothered by the fact that nothing quite works this way in the real world. With the happy endings and politicians admitting the error of their ways. If I thought I could do a good job, I would try to be the real world [female] Jefferson Smith. I can't be clever enough, though, or neutral enough, and no one will ever be that good.

It's a crying shame.

Where are the Jefferson Smiths of this world?

An Introduction Before The Meaty Stuff

So, blogosphere, I've began a blog. And, yes, I know it's so very 2002, but no matter. I'm an opinionated person who lives under a rock and needs some place to vent. So, let's get one with it:

I am Ani Lark Morn. I like:

girls in white dresses with red satin sashes
art that isn't modern
henna designs
writing, writing, writing

animals, mostly the cuddly variety
the ocean

summer sports
Jim Croce
The Beatles
vintage fashion
Katherine Hepburn
Cary Grant

bright colors
old Polaroids
my mediocre vinyl collection
the smell of sandalwood
hot tea
Mary Pickford films
Nickolodeon shows
that part of concerts where everyone pull out their cell phones
and being content.