The man from earth jerome bixby
English Movies, Science Fiction

The Man from Earth directed by Richard Schenkman

220px-The_Man_from_Earth "The Man from Earth", has become a cult classic, for primarily one single reason

In an age when films and television seek to hold our, supposedly ever shortening, attention-span with ever more doses of action and shocks and thrills, "The Man from Earth" succeeds in holding our completely rapt attention with something which is supposedly, utterly, out of fashion – conversation.

Also, this film became a classic not with any production house backing but by the most democratic popularity of all – word of mouth. In fact, in an extraordinary move, its producers have publicly thanked P2P networks for making this film a success

If someone told you that a whole film can be confined to just one room, having a handful of characters sitting and talking for  the whole length of the movie, you might wonder who in their right sense would make a movie like this in this day and age, much less see it. "Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was a fluke, you may say…

It is here that your intuition might fail you. Because this will be perhaps one of the best movies that you will ever see. Not only will you be held in a complete grip throughout but at the end, you might realize that the best thrills that we get are not from high speed chases or a jump from a skyscraper, but from stimulating ideas – ideas that completely challenge what you think. Ideas, when presented by a skilled scriptwriter, can completely bowl you away. For don't be fooled, "The Man from Earth" is a roller coaster ride, from the starting scene to the end

Conceived originally in early 1960s by Jerome Bixby, of the Star Trek (original) fame and one of the best science fiction writers of all times, "The Man from Earth" was completed on his deathbed in 1998, making this his final work. Fans of science fiction will instantly recognize the imprint of the golden era of science fiction – which depended more on mind expanding ideas rather than on exotic unrelatable visuals

John Oldman is a departing university professor, who is thrown a farewell party by a handful of his colleagues, at his house. The departure is sudden and Oldman's colleagues want to know why he is in such a hurry to leave. Oldman isman from earth group reluctant but under pressure, he begins to tell his extraordinary story. He begins by asking his colleagues to suppose a hypothetical situation, a possibility – what if a Cro-Magnon man survived to this day, thus living for 14000 years!!! That's the spark that sets this film alight.

Among Oldman's colleagues is an archaeologist, a biologist, an art historian and a devout Christian and a psychiatrist. When such a pantheon of minds is confronted with a fantastic idea as agelessness, the setting is perfect for a firefight – of words. And it does not disappoint. Each person has his own unique take on the situation and everyone fights a duel between believing this fantastic possibility and their own prejudices and beliefs. Its extraordinarily stimulating to hear  the ideas that come forth. Everything is challenged – from history and the way we look at it, religion and what we believe, our ideas about our minds, our deep seated cultural beliefs. And tightly packed into ninety odd minutes, this is one long conversation that you wish will never end!! It is like a concoction of a high caffeine mixed with mind expanding drugs…

Slowly the utter shock at the onset is replaced by credulity followed by a grudging wonderment of the possibility. And then of course there is the dynamite climax. A climax that is as shattering as any Dan Brown could have dreamt of. And 2409_5 the way that this happens keeps you on the tenterhooks throughout. The script and the pace never slackens and as you are slowly drawn into the absorbing setting inside Oldman's house, the mood changes subtly as revelations and possibilities become even more fantastic and real at the same time.

Daylight is slowly replaced by flickering fireplace as the people inside the room face a life-changing dilemma – to overturn everything that they had believed in – about history, religion, beliefs, culture or to try and find a way to believe the whole story to be untrue. The struggle between letting the mind expand and staying within the comfort zone of common wisdom becomes fierce as the film rushes to the end.

This is one film that will make you hold your breath till the end by just talking to you.

Watch this!! That's the only thing I can say – you wont be disappointed even if your favourite movie till yesterday has been American Pie!!

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Hugo Chavez Revolution will not be televised
Documentary, English Movies

This revolution will not be televised directed by Kim Bartley and Donnacha Ó Briain

 
The_Revolution_will_not_be_Televised In an age of 24 hours television, when we have the whole world beamed to us by an almost inexhaustible array of channels, "This revolution will not be televised" poses some very uncomfortable questions about what we are fed everyday from the newsrooms of the world
 
A paranoid's favourite statement is – "We are being lied to". This being an affront to our superior intelligence, we choose to deny, even though we realize the kernel of truth in it. Or as Kurt Cobain put it succinctly – "Just Because You're Paranoid, Don't Mean They're Not After You"
 
When you see something like "This Revolution will not be televised", you realize that the paranoid is probably much saner than we thought. And you wonder what else is here that you think you knew, but probably don't know s**t
 
The setting of the documentary is the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela in which western influenced and financed groups and army elements tried to oust Hugo Chavez, the charismatic rebel president who had come to power on the back of a popular upsurge. Chavez was intended to become another bloody statistic in the long history of popular presidents in Latin America removed by force, the United States always being the alleged culprit. Look at what happened to Allende
 
Filmed by Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha O Briain, what was originally intended as a biographical sketch of the Hugo Chavez, turned into a fascinating look into the coup events as situations changed rapidly and drastically around them.
 
 

 
The filmmakers trace the whole coup attempt – from the inflammatory buildup by the private media, to street demonstrations in which mercenary snipers shot unarmed civilians to the chaotic events in which a section of the army backed by a US funded businessman took control of the government. It almost seemed like deja vu. images
 
It mirrored innumerable such events that has happened in the past – from Arbenz to Allende. The coup masters very smugly proclaimed that they have regained the control of the country that was theirs by right, which the upstart revolutionary Chavez had taken from them for a short time. All seemed according to script.
 
Then incredibly, completely against the tide of history, the coup was defeated. The South American continent, so used to being beaten down by its big neighbour north, saw something so unprecedented that it has become an example of hope for millions of people. The rebel army generals and the businessman put up as the puppet President were ousted from their new posts within just 2 days. Not by any armed insurrection or any military or armed intervention.
 
But by the common man on the street, who just refused to give up hope and just bscap0025cz5refused to give up on the president who had given them so much hope. Joining them was the common soldier, who had more in common with the population demonstrating for Chavez than with the generals leading them. The soldier, who  refused to obey orders and the common man, who refused to lie down again. These led to one of the most unprecedented moments in history
 
As to why Hugo Chavez inspired so much loyalty among the rank and file of the population and why he inspired such an abiding hatred in the elite which had ruled Venezuela for most of its history, is beyond the scope of this review. But just to give an idea, Chavez was the first non-white president in Venezuela since probably the Spaniards overran South America 500 years ago. And then refused to kow-tow to the elites, instead preferring to reach out to the impoverished mass. Chavez instituted a huge program of education and literacy along with a program to raise the political consciousness of the people. For the first time, the people were encourage to read the constitution and understand their rights. In short, Chavez gave to the 99% of the population a hope that they never thought existed.
 
And for this, he was hated (and still is) passionately by the ones he had ousted. Their power on the country was slipping. Hence the time-honoured tradition was resorted to – remove the elected president in the name of democracy or human rights, depending on the flavour of the season. In this case, both reasons werebscap0022rq3 used….
 
What this documentary does show starkly is this. It is so easy to subvert the media and what it shows us and 'educates' us that it is frightening. So much depends on the way the camera angle is shown – a crowd of 100 can be made to show 1000 and vice versa. People being shot on the streets – by the government or the mercenaries outside the view of the camera?
 
Chavez never banned the media, and even then was accused of muzzling free speech.This documentary shows what a sham "free speech" can be, when that term is used to slander and turn an event into what the media owners want. After months of calling Chavez to be everything from a tyrant to a dog on the street, after the illegal coup attempt was done, the media celebrated the event as a "Victory for Democracy" and more hypocritically "Victory of the people", without ever consulting the people
 
"This Revolution will not be televised" is unique because it was bang in the middle of the unfolding events and we are able to get an unique glimpse into the event from both sides. The events as reported in the private media and how it was actually happening.
 
revnot2 After the people revolted and refused to be cowed down. And then, when the soldier refused to fire on the crowd, the game was up. Chavez was rescued from the jaws of death by the paratroopers who remained loyal to him and brought back to a deliriously cheering crowd. And what does he do to the people who had him nearly killed in cold blood? Nothing. He lets them go."Victory for people" and "Victory for Democracy" indeed.
 
It is not only a fascinating watch that moves like a thriller. It is also a peek into how our "Free media" works. How a group's agenda is projected as the will of the nation. Its a stark pointer to the fallibility of the notion that a free enterprise is necessarily a free of bias enterprise.
 
And you wonder what else we have not been told and not shown
 
And you wonder, how many revolutions were not televised?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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Book Review, Science fiction

Fatherland written by Robert Harris

n21490 I had read Harris’ Pompeii before and had found the setting fascinating. So the first thing that drew me to Fatherland was the setting – an alternate history world where the Nazis had won the war. And pretty soon, you realize that in Xavier March, you have a hero in SS uniform who stumbles upon one of humanity’s greatest kept secret, a secret always suspected but one so horrible that its almost impossible to believe!!!
If the setting is fascinating, so is the pace of the story.

As March gets deeper and deeper into a conspiracy that is the very foundation of the Third Reich, you get a glimpse of the world that would have been if the Wehrmacht had not been stopped at the gates of Stalingrad. A world where Albert Speer got to design Germany the way he wanted to, a world where Third Reich seems all set to fulfil the prophesy of Hitler of being a “Thousand year Reich”, a world where Europe is under the rule of the swastika and the eagle, where Churchill and the queen live in exile, a world where Goering dies of natural causes and Heydrich still lives and Stalin fights an endless guerrilla war on the edges of what was once the Soviet Empire. A world where Jews have disappeared and Slavs work as maids and gardeners.

Its 1964 and its a Cold War and its between Germany and USA and the president of USA, a Kennedy is on a detente visit to the Reich. The reclusive Fuhrer’s birthday is about a week away. A body is fished out one early morning and Xavier March is called in to investigate. So starts a story that ends up much bigger that anyone could have imagined. March, a member of the SS, who is not exactly the ideal National Socialist is a man who needs an excuse to turn rebel and this is a chance he gets as the story unfolds.
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This is a story which is in many ways similar to Orwell’s 1984, in that  the state has become like Big Brother, except the level of technological surveillance has not not quite peaked yet (and unlike the terrifying spirit breaking world of 1984, the Third Reich simply kills you). March is similar to Winston Smith, with an undercurrent of rebellion and like Smith, March is lonely and desperate to seek even a glimpse of an alternate world.
What Harris does splendidly is that he creates an alternative world that is completely believable (Germany was close to getting an atom bomb at one time and them getting it is the turning point in this history). The way Hitler’s Germany permeated social life is shown here as it was – a society where children were taught that their loyalty lay first with the state and not with their parents. Harris, Robert
And I loved the portrayal of March – like Andrei Taganov in “We the Living”, he is a tragic hero who may have once believed but slowly and irrevocably becomes disillusioned  and in case of March, actively commits subversion against the state.
And I loved the ending – thank God it did not have a clichéd Hollywood ending, would have spoilt the whole feel of the book…
This is one book that may not have the power of 1984 but its not meant to be a social commentary. This is a book that is supposed to thrill you and set you to turn your pages. This the book does fantastically. You get to love the story, you get close to March and if you have even a passing interest in history, you would love the setting. Cheering for one of the SS is not something you can do everyday!!!

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