Monday, February 27, 2012

Sweden's New Princess

 On February 23, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden gave birth to her daughter

 Her Royal Highness, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Duchess of Östergötland

Kitty In a Hole

Normally I don't find animals amusing, but somehow cats (I have 3) seem to be the exception : )

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

"You were made perfectly to be loved - and surely I have loved you, in the idea of you, my whole life long."

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Downton Abbey Confession #5

Whether you're master or servant,

upstairs or downstairs...

At the end of a long day, you realize that you're not as different as you thought.

The King's Speech

King George VI and Colin Firth as King George VI
"Be not afraid of greatness: 
some men are born great, 
some achieve greatness
and some have greatness thrust upon them."

~William Shakespeare, "Twelfth Night"
     That famous quote could probably apply to many great men and leaders over the years. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, William Wallace, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and so many many more.

     Although, the part of the quote I love the most is the first line, "Be not afraid of greatness." Now I think a lot of those men were probably afraid when it came to danger and almost death, but the similarities of all of those men were that they were all soldiers. Trained not to be afraid of the battlefield. If they went into danger unafraid and won their battles, they would have been honored for their greatness. If they went into their battles unafraid and died, they would have been honored...and remembered for their greatness.

     King George VI or Bertie as he was known by his family was a trained naval officer and participated (I don't think he was allowed to fight) in WWI. Yet his true greatness did not come in war or combat on the battlefield, but rather the combat inside himself. His terrible stammering and fear of others, then when finally was overcame, he led his country into the greatest victories of it's history.

~ ~ ~

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as Bertie and Lionel Logue
     The King's Speech begins in the late 1930s, just prior to WWII. Prince George Albert, the Duke of York (Colin Firth) has been asked to give the closing speech to the Great Exhibition. 

     Nervous and painfully scared, Bertie walks up the microphone...and can't say a single word. When he finally does it comes out as antagonizing stuttering.  His wife, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham-Carter), listens through tears and is determined to find help for her husband once and for all. Attempt after attempt is made with no results, except for Bertie's explosive anger. In one final act of desperation, she sees Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) , a speech therapist from Australia and asks for his help.

     The first visit between Lionel and Bertie is less than enjoyable, but eventually Bertie comes to realize that there might be hope for his stammering. He goes back to find his voice and ends up finding a very unlikely friend in the process.

~ ~ ~

     As the movie progresses we begin to see that Bertie's stammering was brought upon by abuse from his first nanny and even his father. He's use to being pushed around and told what to do. His youngest brother, Johnny, was an epileptic and was hidden behind their palace where he died of a seizure at thirteen.

     His oldest brother, Crown Prince Edward or David is his best friend, but his affair with the twice married American socialite, Wallace Simpson, is putting the King, Bertie and the rest of the country at edge. Edward's public relationship could do more damage to the royal family than he can imagine, but he is determined to have his way. If he marries the American divorcee' than he must give up the throne to the next man in line. His brother Bertie. And that is not what Bertie wants.

Bertie was born into greatness and now greatness is being thrust upon him, 
but he doesn't believe he can ever achieve it.

     Angry and afraid, Bertie confides in Lionel about this sudden change. Lionel from the beginning has believed that Bertie has the will power, the integrity, and the compassion to lead the country, but Bertie's painful past continues to haunt him and make him feel like he is useless. 

     This move is not about a man learning how to speak. It is about a man who is learning not to be afraid, of the past, of society, of sudden threats and above all, of greatness.

~ ~ ~

Helena-Bonham Carter and Colin Firth as Queen Elizabeth and King George VI
     The writing of this move is exceptional, but it's cast list is nothing short of incredible. I was a little wary about Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter playing the lead roles as King George and Queen Elizabeth, but they changed my mind 5 min. into the movie. 

     Colin Firth as Bertie gave so much in this performance. He moved me to tears on several occasions and showed a man with immense courage and compassion strong enough to lead his country into war.

     Helena Bonham-Carter was petite, pretty, and so tough! Yet, that was how Queen Elizabeth (or the Queen Mum as she was later known) has always been remembered. With the exception of Lionel Logue, she is the only person who believes in her husband and is completely loyal and faithful to him, no matter what life throws at them. A wonderful role model for woman.

~ ~ ~

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue
     And now, we get to Lionel Logue. I've always liked Geoffrey Rush and so I was excited to see him in this movie. He was funny and personable, and just seemed like the type of guy you could talk to for hours. There was such a genuine kindness and relaxed presence about Logue, which is probably what you want in a doctor, but the best thing about him is his never wavering trust in Bertie's leadership abilities.

     Lionel and Bertie come from two opposite backgrounds which is what made their friendship so unique in the first place. Although Lionel is respectful, formality has a limit in his office and he insists that Bertie and Elizabeth respect his rules of informality and bending of social class ideals. 

     Over the course of the movie, we see Bertie and Lionel's relationship progress from prince and commoner, to doctor and patient, to friends and companions. Lionel's rather unorthodox way of helping Bertie, through various exercises, singing, and simply listening to him has a very endearing affect in the film.
~ ~ ~

     On the outbreak of war with Germany, Bertie is called upon to make a speech to declare England's second emergence into war. Now as king, greatness is thrust upon him. His people need reassurance, they need to know that their king is with them.

     With only Logue by his side helping him through his 3 min. speech, Bertie completes it flawlessly. Cheers ring out all over Buckingham palace and his family and counselors inside are overcome with joy. Bertie finally did it. He had overcome his fear, he had let go of his past, he had achieved greatness.

Greatness is not found in battle victories, but rather the victories found in one's self. It is found in friendship with unlikely people and the courage to see past your flaws. It is found in love and compassion and never wavering faith. King George VI lead Great Britain through WWII and not in fighting it's battles, but inspiring courage to those on the home front and hope for everyone praying for victory.

King George VI

Friday, February 10, 2012

Layout Love

New Valentine's Day layout! I love it!

At first I wasn't sure about the picture of Matthew and Mary, but the more I look at it, the more I like it : )

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Diamond Queen

Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day

June 5, 1953

Has there ever been a lovelier queen??

Monday, February 6, 2012

Downton Abbey Confession #4

My God, this is a gorgeous man!

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley
I think I may have mentioned that more than once on here...but hey, the truth still remains.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Your MASTERPIECE Downton Abbey Personality is...

Anna Smith 

You are Anna Smith, head housemaid of Downton. You are basically the best employee ever. Competent, practical and tough, you can handle anything life throws at you - whether it’s rude colleagues, secretive romantic partners or surprise dead bodies in the workplace. Your kindness and loyalty are to be admired, and that Bates fellow should really recognize what a catch you are.

Click on Anna to find if you're master, servant, friend or foe.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Downton Abbey Confession #3

Downton Abbey's most hated duo should probably deserve a double confession.

 Everytime I see O'Brien I want to take a hair straightner to those UGLY curls of hers!

And I just wish Thomas would straighten out. Literally. 'Straighten' out. 

Because, lets face it, he is evilly gorgeous

I just thought this was a cute picture.

Technical Drama is over...for now

I have managed to survive two days without my computer! This is a big deal seeing as I'm addicted to my computer. My power supply cord died out on me a couple of days ago and so I had to order a new one.

Now it's back and works, and all is well with my world. Better more, seeing as my car is finally fixed, so hopefully all my technology needs have been taken care of....

I really hope I didn't jinx it now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven
 Between the time span of 2000-2006 there was one British actor that every girl in the world was completely and totally in LOVE with (I being one of them).

Orlando Bloom.

From the moment he stepped onto the Hollywood scene playing the wise and courageous elf Legolas in The Lord of The Rings franchise, he took the world by storm. His fame skyrocket with each film and he went on to play Will Turner in Pirates of The Caribbean and Paris in Troy.

Kingdom of Heaven I had heard about, but for some odd reason I was constantly getting it mixed up with Troy (probably because both movies came out at the same time), and because Troy had Brad Pitt in it, I had no desire to see either film. Last year I finally decided to watch both, but Kingdom of Heaven ended up having the biggest impact on me.

~ ~ ~

Orlando Bloom as Balian de Ibelin
      The story starts in France in the 12th century during the Crusades. Balian de Ibelin (Orlando Bloom), a poor blacksmith, has just buried wife who committed suicide and had to be buried outside of the city. The suicide was caused by the miscarriage of her child, so Balian is in deep grief and remorse at the lost of his unborn child and his wife who is now an outcast.

     In the midst of his grief a Crusader, Godfrey de Ibelin (Liam Neeson) comes across Balian and straight out tells him that he is his bastard son and therefore heir to his estate and fortune in Jerusalem. Balian is anything but thrilled at this shocking discovery and bids Godfrey and his companions to leave him alone.

     After they leave, Balian contemplates his mystery past and might be future when the very strange village priest (Michael Sheen) starts badgering him about his wife. When he doesn't let up, Balian gets angry and starts to fight him, ultimately killing him. Balian is horrified at what he has done and immediately sets out to find Godfrey. When he finds him, he asks if he can go to Jerusalem to have his sins forgiven. Godfrey assures him that he can and so Balian follows him to Holy City.

Liam Neeson as Godfrey de Ibelin
 Along the way, Godfrey teaches his how to fight, which becomes useful, as they are attacked and Godfrey is seriously wounded. Shortly after they make it to Jerusalem, Godfrey dies, but not before he gives his son his blessing and knights him by saying these few words:
"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath. "
 Then he proceeds to slap him in the face and tells him "And that's so you remember."

     After that is when Balian's life in Jerusalem begins. He meets the king's beautiful sister Princess Sybilla (Eva Green) and her power hungry Crusader husband, Guy de Lusignan (Martin Csokas). Hollywood made a love affair out of Balian and Sybilla's relationship, although it wasn't accurate. Sybilla was very much in love with her husband, but hey, who can say no to Orlando Bloom?

     Up to this point I had actually found the movie quite boring and the action and violence really gory and unappealing. I was also beginning to fall asleep, but I had met just about everyone in the story...except for this king they called 'Jerusalem' so I stayed up and watched a little longer.

I was glad that I did too.

Edward Norton as King Baldwin IV 
 (Sadly I couldn't find a matching poster for Baldwin)

     King Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) is the most extraordinary character in the whole film. More than just a king and warrior, he is also a leper and he is dying. His body is covered in bandages and his face is hidden by an elaborate silver mask. The only part of him you see is his startling blue eyes. As soon as Balian walks in, Baldwin tells him of Godfrey's loyalty to him and encourages Balian to follow in his path. Baldwin also gives him advice about how to properly manage the estate and how to lead others:

"None of us know our end, really, or what hand will guide us there. A king may move a man, a father may claim a son, but that man can also move himself, and only then does that man truly begin his own game.
Remember that howsoever you are played or by whom, your soul is in your keeping alone, even though those who presume to play you be kings or men of power. When you stand before God, you cannot say, "But I was told by others to do thus," or that virtue was not convenient at the time. This will not suffice. Remember that."
~ ~ ~

Eva Green as Princess Sybilla
     This is an incredibly long movie and it would take me forever to write about it, but after Balian is knighted is when things start getting interesting. He manages to bring his father's dying estate back to life, falls in love with Sybilla when she comes to see him, help Baldwin stop a war between the Muslims and the Christian, and eventually becomes a very powerful leader.

     As much as I loved Balian as a strong and noble leader, King Baldwin IV is my favorite. Leprosy was one of the most feared diseases at that time and yet Baldwin still manage to rule Jerusalem with knowledge and compassion. Edward Norton did a great job at being able to act through that exquisite mask and his eyes completely penetrated you. The portrayal of Baldwin is actually the only accurate portrayal in the movie, therefore making it the best character all around.

     Baldwin's death (which was beautifully done) is a catalyst for the Muslims to gain revenge on the Crusaders and now Balian must take up the wise words from Baldwin and lead a small army of the just knighted men and boys and defend the 'Kingdom of Heaven.'

     They end up losing and the Muslims take over Jerusalem. Balian and Sybilla (who has left her husband) head back to Balian's hometown in France. While Balian is looking around his old blacksmith shop, Richard Coeur de Lion (King Richard I of England; Richard the Lionheart) rides up to the shop and asks him if he knows of the whereabouts of Balian de Ibelin.

Balian replies, "I am the blacksmith."

Richard says, "I am the King of England."

Balian once again replies, "I am the blacksmith."

     After Richard leaves, Balian and Sybilla decide to ride up the hills, but only after Balian takes one last look at his wife's grave.

~ ~ ~

    I found the movie to be beautifully done and the acting exceptional. I've seen the standard and the Director's Cut and by far the DC is the best, although it's very long.

     Orlando Bloom did an amazing job! This is by far, in my opinion, his best role. He played a very generous and courageous man, who knew what was right and did it. It took me a while to get use to Eva Green. Sometimes her performance came off as too modern and it didn't seem accurate in some parts. Although, she did a very good job and her best scene was her goodbye to her brother while he is dying.

     The movie is rated R because violence is very strong and the battle scenes are intense. The love affair between Sybilla and Balian was actually quite low-key, which was good. It didn't become a major part of the movie.
     The Crusades was a very hard and tough time in history. The basic idea was to 'murder in the name of God' on all sides. Christians, Jews, and Muslims all fighting for this one city. Hollywood tends to romanticize the Middle Ages and make seem like an incredible and romantic time in history. It was actually one of the worst times in history and that came across very strongly in the movie.

"We defend this city, not to protect these stones, but the people living within these walls"
 ~Balian of Ibelin; "Kingdom of Heaven"
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