Category Archives: Holocaust

Tear-jerkers: Memorable plus Meaningful

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While discussing my recent movie reviews that were less than favorable, my friends

were suggesting I make a list of memorable and meaningful movies I would still

recommend despite sad, unusual or discouraging endings. This will help you to get

a better idea of my movie entertainment tastes and interests. Hopefully, this will

also spur some additions or explorations into movies you have not yet experienced.

 

I think that I may have overdone my expressing ‘dislike’ for “Gone Girl.” In the past,

while a younger and more adventurous woman, I may have hung on tightly to the

‘roller coaster ride’ of this fine, well-received movie. After all,  Jack Nicholson was

hugely entertaining in the suspenseful thriller movie, “The Shining.” Rosamunde

Pike was chilling in her portrayal of Amy, in “Gone Girl.” Reminds me how I did

enjoy Glenn Close’s psychotic character in 1987’s “Fatal Attraction.”

 

Lastly,  I hope to shed some light on the subject of movies, for ‘drop-in’s’ or new

visitors to my posts, who may think I am all sunshine and happy endings only!

 

Here is my List of Favorite Movies which are varied in subject matter, ‘genres’

and widely spaced in their production and release dates. They include ‘gooey’

love stories, star-crossed lovers,  along with ‘gory’ and intriguing plot lines.

 

1. “Deliverance,” a fine movie which featured great performances from both Ned

Beatty and Burt Reynolds. It was not pleasant, but it was informative and held my

interest throughout this feature. I am sure it won awards, too.

 

2. “Dr. Zhivago,” which probably did win an award for best song, “Lara’s Theme.”

If you loved this one, it may have been because you cherished the book, too. Julie

Christie was gorgeous, the scenery was captivating and I could not take my eyes off

of Omar Sharif. The historical element and the details were perfect, along with the

war-torn, epic love story.

 

3. “Diary of Anne Frank.” (No need to explain why this movie was significant. Along

with many of my mother’s friends thinking they chose exactly who should play this

role and Millie Perkins did an excellent job in the 1959 classic. The 2009 mini-series,

for television was a good one, to help bring awareness to another generation.)

 

4. “Casablanca,” made me fall in love with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

This iconic love story included historical features and another war story.

“Play It Again, Sam,” although a friend informed me, it never was included in the

movie. It is implied by both the main characters asking for him to play  the song,

“As Time Goes By,” more than once. It became a common expression, most young

people even know where it (sort of) comes from…along with Woody Allen using it

later,  in his film title.

 

5. “Flowers in the Attic,” recently remade, done well for television. This is an example

of a fascinating, dark subject, including incestuous behavior. It was a great book with

a well written script. Louise Fletcher, who did an outstanding performance in this

movie, also portrayed Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

 

6. “Love Story,” which brought my Dad and me together, reading it, first in the Reader’s

Condensed Version, which came to our house. Then, he went right out and bought the

full  hard book version. Our whole family went to see the movie, knowing we would need

tissues, enjoying Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal, in their roles.  “Not a dry eye in the (movie

theater) house.”

 

7. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which I jokingly say is to blame for my vastly

inappropriate husbands. Paul Newman and Robert Redford played the bank robbers, who

up until the very end, did not use guns to hurt people. The last freeze-frame of the partners,

coming out of their hiding place, to the Mexicans shooting their guns, is unforgettable. I

also, surprised my parents, by taking our Encyclopedia Brittanica out when we got home,

finding the “Hole in the Wall Gang” article there. They had thought it was a fictional story,

and later, proud of the efforts of both Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s philanthropic

projects: “Newman’s Own” foods (sauces, dressings and other products) and “The Hole in

the Wall” children’s ranch for those disadvantaged kids, other benefits like scholarships

available.

 

8. “Saving Private Ryan,” which is another sad story but it is more realistic than most

war stories. I point this out due to my brothers and others who enjoyed John Wayne’s

versions of war while growing up. The Viet Nam movies, such as “Apocalypse Now”

and “Born on the Fourth of July,” include violence, drugs, Agent Orange and some

powerful, memorable characters.

 

9. “Brian’s Song,” which won a few awards, I am sure. Brian Piccolo, along with

his best friend made sports and cancer a household subject to talk about. If it could

happen to a young, vital athlete, it could happen to . . . anyone.

 

10. “Flowers for Algernon,” which had the futuristic subject of how drugs could

potentially raise a person’s I.Q.  If you never saw this one, it is very well done. This

makes you appreciate the way science fiction can be gently inserted into a movie,

without being overdone. Matthew Modine plays the man with retardation, in the

newer 2000 version,  Cliff Robertson was the fine actor to watch in,  “Charly.”

Both were based on the short story, “Flowers for Algernon.”

 

11. “Clockwork Orange,” which was a book I was required to read in high school. Our

class went to see the movie together. It is not everyone’s “cup of tea,” but it was a break-

through movie with fantastic performances by a young Malcolm McDowell and directing

by Stanley Kubrick.  Anthony Burgess’ science fiction book was disturbing, but has

significance and meaning. Visualizing the book did not match how powerful the film was.

Our classhad great discussions after viewing this, about what personal rights criminals,

particularly juveniles, deserve. Where the boundary of “Big Brother,” (government and

courts) also begins and ends.

 

12. “Romeo and Juliet, ” which broke the ground rules of lack of male nudity prior to

this movie in the 70’s. I think you may know why anyone would like all versions of

this movie, since it is considered ‘classical’ to love Shakespeare.

 

13. “West Side Story,” with the Hispanics and Caucasians fighting over their areas

of the city or ‘turfs’ among rival gangs. A beautiful love story, with music and great

choreography. The movie’s ending could disappoint you, if you did not know it was

based on #12’s book and movie themes.

 

14. “Out of Africa,” which was absorbingly written by Isak Dinesen. It has Robert

Redford, Meryl Streep, many British actors and the scenery is outstanding. What a

magnificent love story!  The ending made my Mom and me weep in July, while we

watched this for our ‘umpteenth’ time. What I could not get over, this recent viewing,

was how young the two leading actors were, when they made this movie.

 

15. “White Fang,” other Jack London stories, have the naturalistic side of ‘survival of the

fittest,’ along with beautiful Alaskan and other frontiers featured. The 1991 movie, with

Ethan Hawke was ‘panned,’ by critics, given the “Rotten Tomato” award.

 

16. “Dallas Buyers Club,” AIDS and Matthew McConahey, along with the wonderful

supporting actors and actresses, made this a rich, intelligent, humor-sprinkled movie

about a serious subject. I liked Jared Leto’s sympathetic portrayal of a transvestite.

 

17. “Philadelphia,” with Tom Hanks. Need I say more? Fantastic movie, need your

tissues but I watched it again recently, it still ‘holds up’ to the test of time, my gauge

or ‘thermometer.’ Wide variety of actors, along with exploring our fears of HIV and

Aids in a movie. Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Philadelphia,” is hauntingly beautiful.

 

18. “Fargo,” the Coen brothers have done funnier, (“Raising Arizona” with Holly

Hunter and Nicholas Cage) but this one is the ONE that hangs in my mind, lingering.

If you were to compare it to anything else, in the way of ‘thrillers’ they would ‘pale.’

Great writing skills! Frances McDormand is excellent in capturing the Minnesota

accent and delivering a pregnant police woman realistic, classic  lines. William H.

Macy and Steven Buscemi are outstanding in their quirky parts.

 

19. “Steel Magnolias” had Julia Roberts dying. What else do you need to know? Many

famous actresses, including Dolly Parton, Sally Fields, and Shirley Maclaine bring

the comic relief. Good support from the male actors in this movie, also.

 

20. “Terms of Endearment,” with Shirley Maclaine, Jack Nicholson. Debra Winger

is dying. The family dynamics and the careful writing is a good combination, realistic

and gritty at times. Jeff Daniels plays the husband, who is not likable, a switch from

his typical roles.

 

I did not add a lot of old, classic and Iconic movies, since I know there are much better

critics of these, so please share… (like “The Count of Monte Cristo” or “In the Name of

the Rose.”)

 

What melodramatic movies do you enjoy, despite not always being popular with the

critics?

How do you like to escape into movies? Through romance, drama, action or historical

fiction or ??

Pause to Reflect

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I have had a wonderful day, half of it working. It went by quickly! The other half

of this beautiful June 6th day,  I spent walking around the unique and incredible

“Schnormeier Gardens.” This is a place to feel peaceful and harmonious with

nature. The owners allow people to visit only a short time every year. They have

a lot of Asian influences in their sculptures, the beautiful gardens and pagodas.

There is a Japanese garden house, a Chinese pavilion and 75 acres to explore!

Ted and Ann Schnormeier say this simple welcome to people,

“It has been said that a garden can have a soul… but only if it is shared with others.”

While my friend and I sat and reflected upon D-Day today and its being 70 years

ago, we thought: we are so lucky. We don’t have this drama, the horrors and

conflict of that particular WWII to live through. The honest, serious show of

strength that young men and women who were participants in this war is

amazing.

The fight to save our integrity and defend our freedom from the tyranny of

Adolf Hitler is one that cannot be easily comprehended.  The French people

still praise our efforts in the invasion of Normandy. We left a positive mark,

at least in this corner of the world!

Out to eat, with my good guy friend, Bill, he mentioned that I should include

President Eisenhower, then General, during this period of time. Bill considers

Dwight D. Eisenhower the ‘mastermind’ behind the WWII invasion of Normandy.

When I asked my good friend who had driven me to the special gardens

what she would have done, had she been alive during this time.

We were silent, watching the fountains of manmade waterfalls, splashing and

filling the air with its negative ions.

Breathing deeply and serenely relaxed, despite the serious subject at hand.

When the silence had lingered on for quite some time,  I decided to say,

“I would have volunteered to work on the home front, making factory life

my choice of supporting the war effort. I don’t think I have the fortitude or

inner strength to fight and kill people, even if my family’s lives were in danger;

or my own. I would try to talk my way out of death. I would have wanted

Peace to be the result, but not been brave enough to fight.”

While at work, I asked Melvin what his favorite movie about the D-Day part

of history would be. He reminded me that his overall favorite movie with

war is, Clint Eastwood in, “Heartbreak Ridge.” His second favorite is,

“Flags of our Fathers.”

After thinking for a few moments, Melvin replied, “Patton.” He reminded

me of some of Patton’s character and personality traits were. He also

explained that Patton had a grasp on historical wars, including the Romans.

He also said that while stationed in Chicago, he saw at Fort Sheraton,

a huge portrait of General Patton. He felt that George C. Scott did an

excellent acting job.

He also introduced me to another fact I did not remember or comprehend

its significance. This was that Omar Bradley was the last of the Five Star

Brigadier Generals. There had been only eight others. He led millions of men,

been the head of the United States Army and was a fine and outstanding

example of service to our country. He lived to age 88 years old, a life well led.

The two Generals , Patton and Bradley, had been important to WWII in so

many ways, but hearing Melvin wax on about them, filled my own pacifist

heart with pride.

I am so glad that Melvin was able to remind me, on a personal level of

the impact that having good men to lead the armed forces, meant the

difference in winning the war!

Melvin,  having met General Bradley, when he was older at an Army event

said he took the time to shake many men’s hands.

Melvin also told me that he would have liked to have been involved in

the war in Europe. He was blessed to have been a cook, in many places

traveling the world, from Hawaii, Germany, other jaunts in Europe with

day passes, along with asking to be in a quiet place in the Mid West to

complete his Army time, before retiring.

As we were on the subject of military service, Melvin shared that his older

brother had served during the Viet Nam War. He had been stationed in

Thailand, where his mail was postmarked. But, later, the family found out

he had been in Cambodia, in the ‘thick of things.’ It was not a pleasant time,

not many memories have been shared between the brothers. Melvin has

asked him to tell him more, one retired Army man to another, brother to

brother.

Melvin was so surprised that he and his family were never allowed to know

exactly what his brother’s experiences had been.

Melvin says that his brother was in Special Operations, in the Army. He

had sworn an “Oath of Secrecy.” The fact that he continues to be silent

about his participation in the Viet Nam War, along with being vague about

where he was during most of his time, impresses Melvin.

It also made a big impression on me! I know, for a fact, that I would not be

able to make a promise of keeping a secret from my loved ones, like his brother

did!

I would not recommend “Celebrating D-Day.”

The word “celebrate” doesn’t seem like the right choice.

I would hope that you would take time to pause and reflect.

If you were active in any military service or married to a member of the

Armed Forces, I salute you!

I hope and pray you did not lose a member to any war or skirmish.

In that case, I sympathize and honor the dead.

And, sincerely thank you.

National Days of Remembrance

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For the week starting April 27, 2014 until May 4, 2014, the United

States has set aside time to remember the people who were killed,

survived and helped rescue the Jewish and other ethnic groups that

were affected during WWII time period.

We have designated this week as National Days of Remembrance of

those who were ‘martyrs’ and ‘heroes’ of the Holocaust.

On this evening of Sunday, April 27th, in respect to the 27th day

of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, until the evening of Monday, Israelis

mark those moments in time, through prayers and thoughts of those in

the Holocaust. The term, “Yom HaShoah” is given for this period of

reflection. This was the time where protesting people were engaging in,

what is called, “The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.” If anyone is affiliated

with this, through family members and are more informed on this practice,

please feel free to add to the post, in the Comments’ Section. Thank you!

On January 27, 1945, troops entered a concentration camp in Germany,

where they found 11,700 prisoners. This camp with its gas chambers

and other horrors was called Auschwitz-Birkenau. Other camps, where

many people were tortured and killed, later surfaced and became known,

once the war in Europe ended.

In May, there will be a celebration of Victory in Europe, for WWII’s

ending. I have already made sure to include this day on my May Monthly

Calendar post. I cannot believe how time has flown and another month

has passed already!

My Grandmother Paula Haller Mattson came from Germany, immigrating

while a teenager. She denounced the behavior of Nazis and many times

denied her heritage, during the thirties and forties, since there was

more common knowledge here in the United States, even than in Germany,

at the time. She practiced English and did not sound “German” during

her adult life. She was a waitress at the Waldorf Astoria, where she

liked to say, “I waited on Kings and Queens, the Rothchild’s,

Vanderbilt’s and Presidents.” I believe she wanted to be part of our

country, assimilating more than her cousins, Elaine and Clara.

When I got married, my second and third cousins, came to my first

wedding. I noticed a distinctive difference in their accent, although

my Grandma had already passed away by then. Family was always important,

but becoming an American citizen, was equally special to my Grandma M.

The movie, “The Sound of Music,” told through the Von Trapp Family

Singers’ escape from Germany over the Alps’ story. This popular movie

depicted the foreboding atmosphere of the upcoming takeover and war.

More serious films, like “Schindler’s List,” which told about the

sympathy of other cultures towards the Jewish people are interesting

and deeply realistic.

Of course, reading history books, visiting the great Holocaust Museum in

Washington, D. C. and seeing documentaries will give you more accurate

pictures of the drastic takeover by Adolf Hitler of the German peoples

and troops.

When my brothers would watch Saturday morning movies, such as ones that

had John Wayne and others in them, my parents tried to discourage any

glorification of war, in their young minds. My Grandmother M. would get

angry when my brothers would play Americans against the Germans,

Cowboys versus the Indians and (from their cartoon views of “Rocky and

Bullwinkle”), somehow my brothers came up with the idea of American Spies

against the Russian Spies espionage ‘game.’ All of these were forbidden around

my grandparents’ house, along being within earshot of my parents’ house.

Being an English, World Literature and Spanish teacher, my Mom was pretty

strict in her use of language. One word we were not allowed to use often,

and it had to be very important to do so, was the word, “Hate.” She was

taught this by her mother, that most things in Life, can be expressed as

“not pleasant,” “dislike strongly,” or “prefer not to.” It is a great way

to raise children to be more open minded, whether it to be trying a new food,

learning about a different culture than one’s own or meeting unfamiliar

people. It is another way to show ‘remembrance’ and ‘respect’ to all

things, peoples and thoughts.

I like the way in “South Pacific,” the character played by John Kerr

sings, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.” This song is in reference

to prejudice is a learned experience, taught by the ones closest to the

children or young adults. Only after researching this song, did I find it was

considered very “controversial” and “downright inappropriate” for musical

stage productions.

Interestingly enough, it was also labeled, promoting “Communistic agenda!”

I am proud that the authors of the lyrics, Rodgers and Hammerstein, the

producers, directors and actors all said that they were ‘in it’ due to

the way it expresses these emotional viewpoints. I listened to this, along

with a lot of major musicals, in person, at theatres and on the stereo, where

my parents placed a stack of records to listen to, during relaxing, ‘television

restricted’ periods of weekends or ends of workdays.

Of course, I am going to be honest about this, teens learn ‘prejudices’

from their peers, even when you (as parents) have done your ‘darndest’ to

prevent them from this.

There have been people who are ‘brainwashed’ even as adults. Don’t think

my kids are, or ever were, “perfect!” Or that I didn’t have to ‘straighten

them out’ a few times!

Even professionals, pastors and teachers hold views that are bigoted and

close-minded. I had a family member who felt the Bible “said” the “Tribe

of Abraham,” meaning people with African heritage, were meant to be slaves.

I was appalled, argued when I was once involved in a holiday discussion,

home from college on Winter Break. My parents and brothers stood on my

side, basically telling the person to table the debate.

When the Viet Nam War or skirmishes began, my brothers were close

to Draft Age. My parents seriously (sorry, if this is going to bother

you), thought about relocating to Canada! Enrolling my brothers in

college, during this time may or may not have prevented draft, but

draft ended before they needed to be concerned with it, personally.

A song which includes, “How can people be so heartless? How can people

be so cruel?” was one of my favorite songs, sung by Three Dog Night.

It is called, “Easy to be Hard,” (1969).

We still have ‘enemies.’

We still have ‘hate.’

I hope you will take some moments in this next week, to reflect and

remember the Holocaust and other people who are continuing to be

scapegoats and persecuted in the world, sometimes with the governmental

support of a country.

Adding to this post, on Monday April 28, 2014.

Will you please keep those who endured the twisters in the states of

Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, those who lost family members, and those

who are hospitalized in your remembrances and thoughts this week?

So far there have been 17 deaths in these three states. There was a

little four year old girl, who was swooped up, carried a distance

and had her legs crushed… I hope you will be including her in your

thoughts and prayers, too.

Another twister came through on Monday night into April 29th, 2014.

The states of Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee had houses and

properties destroyed, along with unfortunately, 11 deaths.

All of these areas have had people volunteering to assist the people

who have had to leave their homes, along with sifting through the rubble,

looking for people.

Thanks for reading some more about this tragic weather situation!