Friday, March 16, 2012

The Winds of War & Harmony In Charts of Author Herman Wouk, Director Dan Curtis.

The last few evenings have seen us deep into a set of DVDs of The Winds of War, a 1983 TV mini-series adapted from the novel. We had both seen the series in the '80s. What prompted a desire to see it again was my husband's remark that the Winds of War hypnotic theme music, composed by Bob Cobert, had been playing in his head on and off for a while.

Here it is:

We both recalled having enjoyed the mini-series, albeit on different sides of the Atlantic. In spite of its grim subject matter we decided to take another look.

For passing readers who haven't seen or read The Winds of War, its time span covers the late 1930s to the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Its sequel War and Remembrance takes up the storyline from there. It is told from the perspective of a career US naval officer "Pug" Henry, played by Robert Mitchum, and his family - wife, two sons and a daughter; and a young Jewish woman and her uncle, a scholar and author working in Italy, doing research for a book. As the story unfolds we see them witness and respond to the gradual escalation of world powers into war. Sounds a bit dry? Not at all. It presents world-shattering events through the eyes of ordinary people, while portraying historically iconic figures and events with meticulous care. Brilliant performances abound when we meet Churchill, FDR, Hitler and his Nazi co-horts.

Also starring in the mini-series: Ali MacGraw and Jan-Michael Vincent

I believe that Winds of War & War and Remembrance are stories everyone should watch or read at least once, preferably twice, in their lifetime, especially as the people who were alive at that time, or anyway those who were in their adult years, are mostly now gone, along with their memories. This presentation is much easier to take than a straight ahead historical documentary. It's chilling to watch the slow escalation into horror, but also engaging, involving and instructive. I do believe that, like a good wine, the mini-series has improved with age!

I'm finding the story even more striking this time around, possibly because the world has, during intervening decades, again changed, and not in a good way. Maybe I've changed too, and have more understanding of life in general from both UK and USA perspective these days. Acquiring and watching War and Remembrance again, once we've finished Winds of War, is now a must !

The special feature segment on the DVD set has interviews with Herman Wouk (far right), author of the novel from which the TV series was adapted, and also wrote teleplay; and Dan Curtis (right), producer/director of the mini-series.

The production posed a mammoth task, ranging as the book does across Europe, Britain and the USA. Herman Wouk was not happy with the idea of televising his novel. Adaptations of two of his earlier novels to movies, The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar, had not met with his approval. Winds of War and its sequel War and Remembrance had taken him, in all over 17 years of painstaking research, travel and writing. Winds of War alone is over 1000pages long. A gargantuan task of converting the novel faithfully and successfully confronted the two men, but between them, they did it. The mini-series won much acclaim.

It struck me, as I watched the interviews, that Wouk and Curtis must have had exceptional rapport. A look at their natal charts is in order. Astrodatabank doesn't carry data for either of these men, which is surprising. Without times of birth, then, I've set the charts for 12 noon.

(For brief biographies of of Herman Wouk & Dan Curtis see:

In Herman Wouk's chart it's no surprise that Sun and Mercury are in the writers' sign Gemini, and very significantly that Mercury in late Gemini is conjunct Saturn/Pluto in early Cancer.
I could hardly imagine a more appropriate astrological combination to match Winds of War: the darkness of Pluto, the discipline of Saturn and the writing talent of Gemini! His natal Moon, somewhere in Scorpio reflects the passion and dedication in his writing. As far as I can establish Mr. Wouk is still with us, aged 96 going on 97, living in Palm Springs, California; but his wife died last year, they married in 1945.

Dan Curtis (who died in 2006) had Sun, Mercury and Neptune in Leo. Sun conjunct Neptune in Leo, an ideal combination for a movie producer/director - Neptune rules photography/film and creativity. Leo is the sign of show-business.

I see one of the main areas of harmony and compatibility between these two talented men as being the Airy link between Aquarius and Gemini. Dan Curtis's natal Moon would certainly have been somewhere in Aquarius and Herman Wouk's Sun is in Gemini - a happily harmonious link, made even more so because Curtis's Aquarius Moon was likely very close to Wouk's natal Uranus in Aquarius.

In a 1988 New York Times article by Aljean Harmetz, reporting on the TV version of War and Remembrance there's a quote from Mr. Wouk on how he viewed Dan Curtis:
Mr. Wouk, who does not give interviews, wrote in answer to written questions: ''I liked Curtis from the outset for his energetic manner, direct forcible speech, pride in his craft, and fierce determination to do something magnificent. Still, he took a lot of getting used to, since Hollywood is his milieu, and I am a fish out of water in that jazzy setting.'' The novelist added that if he were to put Mr. Curtis in a novel, the character would have ''stormy energy, a powerful physical presence and an almost obsessive professionalism.''
I recognise from that description, Curtis's Jupiter conjunct Uranus in Aries in trine to his Leo Mercury and Saturn in Sagittarius....a Grand Trine in Fire signs.

Promo for Premiere

“Peace, if it ever exists, will not be based on the fear of war, but on the love of peace. It will not be the abstaining from an act, but the coming of a state of mind.”
~ Herman Wouk, The Winds of War.


Anonymous said...

Wow I was just thinking of this mini-series this morning, and it blew my mind when I saw that you had written about it?!!



Wisewebwoman said...

I don't often care for adaptations, T, but this one blew me out of the water.
I read the book which was gripping (I walked around with it)and the TV series was outstanding.
I may have it, must look around :)

anyjazz said...

Yes, the music is hypnotic. It is one of those few scores that go in a circle. There is no resolution to the melody. To end it they have to just stop it and then play a couple chords of finality. Years after I watched the series when it first ran, the melody was still running through my head.

Twilight said...

Tammy ~~ Oh! Synchronicity at work? :-)

There must be something in the Winds.... ;-)

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ It's one of the best, I agree. There were so many good ones back then, I loved them all. Mini-series must be too expensive to make nowadays, yet it'd be better to make one good one than the bagful of varied garbage we get on TV now.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~ I agree. Some movie and TV themes have that special quality - this one more than most.