Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mumbles & Grumbles - Seventh Son

On our local movie theatre's schedule this week is Seventh Son, said to be based (almost imperceptibly as far as I can tell) on English author Joseph Delaney's 2004 Young Adult novel The Spook’s Apprentice ( U.K. style), titled in the USA The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch. The novel was first in The Wardstone Chronicles series; whether the film adaptation will also be first of a series remains to be seen. The movie Seventh Son itself will, as far as I'm concerned, remain to be seen!
"In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between supernatural forces and humankind. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges), the last of the Falcon Knights, had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), many years ago, but now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory. In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return. He has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man's only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son".
(See here)
Having read a little about the source material, the author and his English Lancashire background, I don't relish sitting through a film with mangled indiscriminate accents and nothing at all to anchor the tale to its origins.

The original story is grounded in historical fact. The area of mid-Lancasire in which the tale was set by Mr Delaney is famous for its medieval witches. Fully documented witch trials in Lancaster in 1612 lend authenticity. Joseph Delaney used real, though slightly adapted, local place names in his books, and culled the bare bones of his themes from local legends and ghost stories.

Half a century before Joseph Delaney's book was written, Robert Neill wrote his locally famous novel, Mist Over Pendle, first published in 1951, reprinted several times since. Now, there's a novel which ought to be made into a movie! It'd have to be done by the BBC for TV though, not by Hollywood! This a serious novel, dark and brooding in atmosphere - yet entertaining too. I read it long ago, when I lived, for almost a year, in the very area of Lancashire where witches once did what witches do. My parents, at the time, had a small cafe/snack bar in a town where Pendle Hill was nearby, clearly visible. Around 1959/60, between my stints working in hotel offices, I went to live there with my parents for a while, found a job as secretary/telephonist in a Rolls Royce Gas Turbine engineering factory in town, and was made familiar with the area's colourful local history. That part of Lancashire, around a town called Clitheroe, has the warmest, nicest set of inhabitants I've ever found, some gorgeous, rich Lancashire accents too. If locals do retain bits of witchy DNA, it has worked out well!

Back to Seventh Son. Knowing the land in which the film's source material was originally set, and the accent that goes with it, I could not stomach hearing Americans Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore using mangled hybrid accents, nor any of the younger, London born actors doing the same.

Films hardly ever portray their source novels closely, some even change the entire setting of a tale - but there are certain lines that ought not to be crossed, for me anyway. Among Rotten Tomatoes' reviews Variety's film critic Peter Debruge describes Seventh Son as: "An over-designed, under-conceived fantasy epic in which even topnotch contributors can't get the chemistry right, leaving Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore looking silly". I suspect even that critcism is way too mild.


mike said...

Witches and warlocks, the definition typically provided by those of "faith", have suffered throughout history. An unknown quantity of suspects were taken-down by extreme measures of testing...oops, they died, guess they were innocent! The label of witchcraft was as good a method as any to decrease the non-Christian population.

Like you, I lived in an area (Massachusetts) for several years that is rich with historical witch lore. Very sad tales of persecution and mass-hysteria, the collective gone insane. I've always thought Christianity to be a mental illness, completely dependent on good vs evil, condemnation, the culling-murder of the non-believers, and the American era of witchcraft is a stunning example. However, there appears to be some innate, perhaps genetic predisposition toward humans' requirement to identify miscreant behavior not appropriate toward group-think.

From Werner Herzog Inspirationals:
"Life in the oceans must be shear hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of a hell that during evolution some species - including man - crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue."

I rarely venture into the good-evil genre of movies-books unless they have a comedic flair...or toned-down for children...LOL. Books such as "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis, are more my style. Your sidebar quote of Terry Pratchett's is from "Good Omens", which I did read and enjoy. My kind of witchcraft reading.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Your observation there appears to be some innate, perhaps genetic predisposition toward humans' requirement to identify miscreant behavior not appropriate toward group-think remains good even in our 21st century world:


Witches and other magical practitioners tapping into archaic magical lore might be using, albeit cack-handedly, a part of something yet to be discovered about our universe...likewise astrologers (and you and me) :-)

A touch of comedy does help when approaching the unknown, and subjects capable of growing very dark. Terry Pratchett has to be Master of that particular genre!

LB said...

Twilight ~ Thanks for the review. Guess that's one movie we won't be seeing on the big screen. We might rent it from the library though.:)

mike ~ Humans (even non-'Christian' ones) can take anything and misinterpret/corrupt it for their own purposes, even a message as loving and all-inclusive as the one Jesus tried to teach. It's a human challenge, not one unique to Christians or even to religion.

Any time you get a group of people together (either acting out their collective and/or personal shadows) there's bound to be trouble.

Politics is another example. We do much the same thing whenever we view a particular candidate, party, country or group of people as being *good* (morally or ethically superior) in contrast to the 'other' or others, who are therefore less worthy of basic respect and compassion.

Here in the US, it's this same dualistic thinking which continues to perpetuate our broken and corrupt system, every time we vote (out of loyalty) along political lines or for the lesser of *two* evils.

mike (again) said...

LB - Religion has been responsible for more death on this globe than any other cause and Christianity has been at the top of the list since inception. Religious belief drives human affairs including politics and commerce. In an unexplainable twist to the founding of the USA, most current citizens believe the USA to be a Christian country operating on the foundations of that religion. REALLY?! Yes, I agree that it's a human trait, hence my comment regarding predisposition and Herzog's quotation. Humans are extremely proficient at providing the sermon that few practice, while claiming adherence.

I would prefer to vote for my ideal candidate(s), but considering reality, I don't mind casting my vote against the greater of two least the vote won't be wasted.

mike (again) said...

Thanks for the links, Twilight. Hard to believe that people are still hunted, jailed, tortured and-or murdered for their perceived evil. I often read about astrologers in some countries that are tried and prosecuted (usually prison) for their beliefs. I'm sorry to say that you, your blog, and your commenters would not exist in some countries.

Even in the most civilized and first-world countries, belief or the lack of, can determine many of our fates. Under the current astrology, the deciders-in-chief are gaining.

LB said...

mike ~ I understand and share your disappointment in those throughout history who have done and continue to do terrible things while claiming to be Christians.

It's why I'm not a member of any church, though I remain open to the possibility. It's also why I'm able to embrace the greater truths common to many of the world's religions and systems of belief and to likewise respect the rights of those who choose not to believe.:)

mike (again) said...

LB - I think we are on the same page, but approaching from different directions.

Obama is getting heat from a comment he made at the National Prayer Breakfast:
"Conservative critics are in hysterics thanks to a few short remarks made by President Barack Obama on the subject of Christian history during Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast. Addressing religiously motivated conflict abroad [ISIS], Obama said, 'Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.'"

And here is the FOX version:
"President Obama lumped Christians and murderous Islamic terrorists together: Here’s some of what he said, 'unless we get on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place -- remember that during the crusades and inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ … So, it is not unique to one group or one religion; there is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.'

Lumped? My bad. He practically blamed Christians for the religious fanatics who are burning men alive. Burying children alive and crucifying young boys."

Obama's comment brings us full-circle to how the predominately Christian USA started the CURRENT, 21st century, religiously motivated conflict abroad.

LB said...

mike ~ It's true. Throughout history, people all over the world, of various faiths and belief systems (including atheists and pagans), have committed acts of dehumanization and violence in order to further their personal or group agendas.

And every day, throughout history, there have also been courageous individuals (pagans, atheists, people of all faiths and belief systems, *including* many notable Christians) willing to speak and act on behalf of the victims of poverty, sickness, war, violence and injustice, out of compassion and conscience, hoping to leave the world a more peaceful and just place for us ALL.

I watched a very moving interview yesterday, with Shafi Khan, a friend of the Muslim students recently murdered at UNC. In it, he also addresses the issue of dehumanization based on religious beliefs:

I especially loved what he said at the end of the interview, when he talked about how ALL lives matter, which is a far more inclusive way of living and thinking and one that doesn't dehumanize 'the other', whether we're Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Shinto, Sikh, pagan, atheist or a practicing 'witch'.:)

While we absolutely need to get to the truth and root of any religious or political hypocrisy, the larger point I hoped to make was that this polarization -the pitting of any group, tribe, race, culture, class or religion against another-only perpetuates the greater problem, which is common to all humans.