Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Tudor Queens of England

The Tudor Queens of England is a 2009 book written by David Loades.

The books traces the lives of 14 Tudor Queens:

-Catherine of Valois 
-Margaret of Anjou
-Elizabeth Woodville
-Elizabeth of York
-Catherine of Aragon
-Anne Boleyn
-Jane Seymour
-Anne of Cleves
-Catherine Howard
-Catherine Parr
-Jane Grey
-Mary, Queen of Scots
-Mary I of England
-Elizabeth I of England

I give this book a 2/5. It didn't stand out that well for me as a read. Nothing really that would hold your attention or offer you facts that you didn't already know. The only new thing that I learned in this book was scrapes of information on the Tudor's claim to the English throne. The only good point in this story is that they divided the sections well and placed the information correctly. I would only suggest this book for SHORT reads.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Goong T

Goong T is a 2006 parody of the Korean Drama Goong S (also known as Prince Hours) by the sub Super Junior group, Super Junior T.

Eeteuk (Park Jung-soo) - Prince Eeteuk

Eunhyuk (Lee Hyuk-jae) - Prince Eunhyuk
Heechul (Kim Heechul) - Lady Hwang Jini
Kangin ( Kim Young-woon) - Eunuch Kang 
Sungmin (Lee Sung-min) - Lady Heebin
Shindong (Shin Dong-hee) - Prince Eunhyuk's Friend

The plot behind Goong T is similar to Goong S in the aspect that is based on the fictional world of a constitutional monarchy in present day South Korea and the story of a commoner that becomes a Prince. Lady Heebin, the most powerful woman in all of Korea, plots to place her son, Prince Eunhyuk, on the throne. Lady Heebin is quite fond of her son and treasures him dearly. She loves to play with her son, especially to look at the 'T' shaped mole on his stomach that he inherited from her.

But all does not go well for Lady Heebin when the 1st heir to the throne, Prince Eeteuk arrives. Prince Eeteuk is the son of the former Queen who was chased out of the palace for doing "bad" things. And as the first born son, Eeteuk is to inherited the throne blocking Eunhyuk from achieving the crown. She begins a plot to over throw the ill-fated son of the previous Queen.

Lady Hwang Jini, third daughter of the Prime Minister of Korea, is engaged to Prince Eunhyuk. The Prince loves his fiance dearly although his feelings are not returned. Jini falls for the dashing Eeteuk after he saves her when she falls off the balcony. The feeling is mutual and the two begin a love affair. Violent feelings between the 1st Prince and the 2nd flare up when Eunhyuk catches the lovers in the act of making out.

The 2nd Prince's devilish friend, Shindong (described as the Prince's friend with no other life), constantly harries Eunhyuk's rival for the throne. Shindong devises a plan using Eunuch Kang ( The Eunuch, who has a crush on the evil crony, is bribed by ticket to see a movie with his unrequited love) to break up the happy couple of Jini and Eeteuk. This ultimately fails with Jini's resolve to remain with Eeteuk forever and that nothing will stop them from being together. The Crown Prince cements this promise with his lady love by kissing her forehead. This forces the sad Eunuch to admit that they are a 'beautiful couple'.

Lady Heebin is forced to apply the dark arts in order to stop Eeteuk from taking her beloved son's "rightful" place. She uses a voodoo image to curse the poor prince which ultimately leads to his death (via the cursed image). After killing Prince Eeteuk in cold blood, it is revealed by the Court Lady and Prince Eunhyuk that Prince Eeteuk is in actuality the biological son of Lady Heebin. Prince Eunhyuk is in fact the son of the exiled Queen. The Court Lady (who had been a staunch supporter of the previous Queen because the Queen had taken her in and raised her well) had switched the two babies at the request of the Ex-Queen in revenge for the Lady framing the former Queen and casting her out of the palace for crims she didn't commit. To prove their point, Prince Eunhyuk shows the 'T' shaped mole he supposedly inherited from his "Mother" which turns out only to be made of marker. Upon realizing this Heebin checks the deceased prince lying on her floor who indeed has the mole and it's REAL. The brokenhearted Heebin cries over the loss of her biological son. And thus ends the dramatic tale of Goong T.

I give this movie 4/5. I found that the plot very entertaining in the allotted 40 minutes of the show. A funny thing to remember is that all the actors are male (with the exception of the Court Lady). In my opinion Eeteuk played the perfect fairy tale prince. He played the concept of being the a thorough romantic exceptionally. His performance in this will win him plenty of fans girls (as it has done with yours truly). Lady Heebin who played by Sungmin was fabulous. I feel that Sungmin did his role superbly and to make it all better he actually looked like a beautiful FEMALE royal figure. Eunhyuk is played a very wonderful evil and spoiled prince. I'm glad that they chose him for that role. Heechul could have worked on his role a bit more and the look of the character looked a bit shabby. This show doesn't have the budget of a major motion picture and not that historically accurate but it still very entertaining and funny with lots of drama and romance. If you're bored, I suggest you try this out for lots of laughs.    

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette is a 2006 film directed by Sophia Coppola based from the book written by Antonia Fraser on the life of the Last True Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. 

Marie Antoinette won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design   

Marie Antoinette starts with Maria Theresa choosing her youngest daughter Maria Antonia to marry the Dauphin of France, Louis Auguste, in order to cement an alliance between Austria and France. Maria is taken to a small island in the Middle of the Rhine where she is to give up anything that is Austrian (even her favourite dog) and trade it for something French. After this ritual is done she is no longer Archduchess Maria Antonia but is now Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France.

Marie meets her new husband the shy, Louis Auguste. The couple are quickly married but the marriage remains unconsummated. The sexless marriage is not her only concern, Marie begins to find that life in Versailles is difficult, finding no privacy, always having servants and attendant follow her. The courtiers don't like her because she is Austrian and a foreigner and mock her for not providing France with an heir. 

All of the Court is gossiping about Louis XV sex life with Madame du Barry. Du Barry was born of low birth and is only welcome at court because the King bought her the title of Comtesse. She is disliked among all the women of the court because of her low birth and haughty nature. Marie snubs Du Barry and refuses to talk to her. She is convinced by her Mother to say at least something to the Comtesse in order to please the king. She complies but says that she will never speak to Du Barry again after this.

After many attempts to seduce the Dauphin and failing each time, the Dauphine begins to wonder what is wrong with her. She begins to buy and buy and buy. She becomes a shopaholic. Thinking that all of these fancy gowns and lavish shoes will make her prettier and more attractive to the Dauphin and everyone else. She begins making louche friends and getting into plenty of trouble because of it. The group sneaks out of the Palace and into Paris, where she meets Count Axel Fersen for the first time. 

Louis XV dies and Louis Auguste becomes King Louis XVI of France and Marie becomes Queen Marie Antoinette. The France that Louis inherits is restless because of high taxes. Marie continues with her frivolous spending and now Louis throws in his lot with the Americans against the English in the American Civil War. 

Marie Antoinette's brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria, comes over to visit to advise Marie on her spending and parties but really it's to help solve the marital bed. He manages to solve the issue and Louis and Marie have intercourse resulting in the birth of a daughter, Marie-Therese.

Marie starts spending nearly all of her time at her paradise, The Petit Trianon. Completely ignoring her social responsibilities as Queen. During her time at the Trianon, she begins an affair with Axel Fersen. 

The country is heaped in debt and the people blame it all on Marie Antoinette. They begin a propaganda war that still lingers today. The Queen no longer like she social scene preferring to stay with her family. Her Mother soon dies and shotrly after that she gives birth to a son, Louis Joseph and a daughter (who soon dies).

An angry mob storms the Bastile and heads for Versailles. The King sends all of the nobility out of the country but he stays. And Marie, as his wife, believes it's her duty to stay with him. The crowd storms Versailles in search for the Queen (with the intention of killing her) but she has already fled to the King's apartment. The crowd calls for the Queen's blood. She goes onto the balcony and bows to the crowd causing some to go "Viva the Queen". 

The royal family is taken from Versailles to the Tuileries. The final scene shows Marie Antoinette's room; destroyed.

I give this movie a 4/5. I really liked this movie because of it's less "mouth to mouth" narration and more "heart to heart". You can understand what Marie Antoinette was feeling and I think Kirsten Dunst did a good job of that. Sophia did a pretty good job on this movie. A negative of this movie was that it ignores the politics surrounding France at the time. The cast was nice. Everyone worked well with each other. The eensy-weensy thing that ticked me off  was that I thought Jason Schwartzman didn't have the girth to play Louis XVI. This movie won't teach you a history lesson but it will show you a side of Marie Antoinette; the human side.     



Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nicholas And Alexandra

Nicholas and Alexandra is a 1971 film based on the life of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorvna. The movie was based on the book by Robert K. Massie.

Micheal Jayston - Nicholas II
Janet Suzman - Alexandra Feodorvna
Roderic Noble - Tsarevich Alexei
Tom Baker - Gregory Rasputin

Nicholas and Alexandra won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design

The movie begins with the birth of Tsarevich Alexei during the Russo-Japanese war. Although told by many of his advisers to back out of the war with Japan Nicholas is adamant to continue this war because he now has a son to fight for. Even his Mother suggest so!

When Alexei is diagnosed with hemophilia (that Alexandra, through her Mother's side, gave him), Alexandra is distraught. She seeks the help of A "saint" name Gregory Rasputin. He manages to "save" Alexei which gives Alexandra the idea that he is a holy man. Alexandra becomes dependent on Rasputin much the the hatred of nearly everyone around her and the Russian people, who no nothing of Alexei's disease. 

Russia is filled with civil unrest. The people do not want to continue in the war and the factory workers are hostile about their conditions. The people decide to petition to the Tsar (they do not know that he already left because Alexei was bleeding) but they are only met with gun fire. This day is known in history as "Bloody Sunday".

As Alexei grows up, he become rebellious against his condition. He wants to play and run but if he can't because it might trigger the bleeding if he merely bumped into something. The Tsar highers a sailor by the name of Nagorny to look after his son.

The movie also shows Russia's political instability. With the assassination attempt on Stolypin to the fall of the Duma. When World War I starts the reign of Nicholas II falls into the gutter. Nicholas decided to take charge of the army from his more experienced cousin, leaving Alexandra as regent. She is in the control of Rasputin who in fact has the REAL power. Rasputin is so hated that two men; Grand Duke Dmitri and Prince Felix Yusupov, lure Rasputin to a party and the precede to murder him. The troops are poorly armed and more men die each day. the people DEMAND that Nicholas abdicates. He does and also for his son. He wanted to protect Alexei. Thus the monarchy falls.

Lenin takes power and he places the royal family in Siberia. The Russian civil war begins and the royal family has to be transferred again; this time to Ekaterinburg. The royal family is seen optimistic all except for Alexei who has become quite pessimistic. With the White Army fast approaching to save the Tsar. The Bolsheviks order the family to be executed. To make the family happy, the guard sends the undelivered letters from Tsar family and friends.

The family is then lead to a quiet room where they think they are about to leave. As men enter the room, Alexei kisses his father on the cheek. The guards pulls out the rifles and aim it at the unsuspecting family. The girls scream and Alexandra tries to make the cross before a hail of bullets descend on the family. The final scene shows the bloody and bullet filled wall.              

I give this movie 4/5. I didn't like Janet Suzman as Alexandra. I thought her acting was marvelous (especially close to the end) but she just does not looked like Alexandra to me. I did however love the fact that they portrayed Nicholas not only as a Tsar but as a fool. Nicholas was a "fool" in a sense even though he had was still a good Tsar. It's rightly shows the mistakes that Nicholas makes in his reign. This movie represents a point of view that is indeed mostly truthful. At first when I watched it I didn't really enjoy it but when went back to watch ALL of it, I thought it was quite potent. The movie is a long one but still worth while. I tried to do my best on the plot summary but the movie is quiet in depth and has a lost more than I could write about in this "short" summary. It is a rich movie for knowledge. I would recommend this to most people but you would have to watch the movie more than once to appreciate it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Women of Windsor: Their Power, Privilege and Passions

Women of Windsor: Their Power, Privilege and Passion is a 2006 book written by Catherine Whitney.

This book rotates around the lives of the Queen Mother, Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon and Anne, Princess Royal.

Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon marriage the Duke of York, Prince Albert brought her out of an obscure Scottish family of nobility. Their marriage was a happy one producing two children: Elizabeth and Margaret. Together they were known as "we four". The model for the perfect family. Elizabeth was a well liked figure and earned the nickname "The Smiling Duchess" because she was always seen smiling. The Duke of York is suddenly placed on the throne when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicates in order to marry the divorcee, Wallis Simpson. Elizabeth never liked Wallis and although her husband wanted to meet up with his brother, she was adamant that he should not come here with her. As a queen Elizabeth proved her self able and was much loved by the public.

Elizabeth (the younger) and Margaret were raised in a family of care and love. Elizabeth was nicknamed "Lilibet" after her failed attempts at saying her name. Elizabeth was a stern and duty bound child while Margaret was lighthearted and bubbly. When she was 13 she had met a handsome boy and was instantly smitten. He was Prince Phillip of Greece.  During the Second World World, Elizabeth desperately wanted to help. After much pleading her father finally allowed her too.

Philip asked Elizabeth's hand in marriage when they were older and she wholeheartedly said yes. But it was illegal for an heir to marry without the permission of the King. George VI didn't particularly like Phillip but eventually he allowed them to marry. The marriage was a "happy" one. Elizabeth was certainly happy but Philip was not. He did not like walking a step behind his wife. He often took long trips away from her and was rumored that he had had affairs. It didn't matter to Lilibet. Her loved followed along the lines of "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". He made sure that although she was the head of state, he was master of the home.

When George VI dies, everyone in his family is heart broken but most of all; Princess Margaret. Margaret consoles in Peter Townsend. Their friendship slowly blossoms into love. In 1953 he divorces  his first wife and proposes to Margaret but Elizabeth being the traditionalist that she orders them to call it off even though most of the public wanted to marriage to go through. After a bunch of rebound relationships, Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones.

People originally saw Princess Anne as a stubborn and "ugly" child. She was always wanting to get away. And her favourite was was through horses.She loved riding. She was over shadowed by her brother and her parents were not the most affectionate. She only gained recognition because as she grew older she became quite a beauty. She believed that beauty didn't define people and hated the attention from the press.

On November14 1963, Princess Anne married Mark Phillips. Anne showed her self to be a tough woman and did a rather good job holding off a kidnapper that was asking for a ransom.  They both loved horse riding and both had won many award for it so the two decided to start their own horse farm. Their marriage soon lost its flair and Anne returned back to her charity work. The two later divorced and remarried.

Elizabeth had a hard time dealing with her son's bachelor lifestyle. She decided that he needed a wife and off he was looking for a wife. He chose Lady Diana Spencer. Although she was pretty and seemed diminutive she was in fact a strong willed and emotional woman. She and Charles never really got along most importantly on Charles mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles. Elizabeth did try to sympathize with Diana but she was beyond helping Diana and Charles divorced. On August 21, Diana died in a car accident in Paris, leaving the rest of the royal family in muddles with themselves and the public.

The book ends with the sad deaths of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. Will the house of Windsor produce most women worthy of recognition as these?

I give this book a 3/5. This book was quite easy to read unlike most of the biography books you tend to read. It had a nice flow. The information was quite informative. Primarily this book would be more for the Elizabeth than the Diana fan kind of book. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a more up-to-date image on the monarchy in England.