Saturday, November 17, 2007
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (original French title, Notre-Dame de Paris) is an 1831 French novel written by Victor Hugo. It is set in 1482 in Paris, in and around the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. The book tells the story of a poor Gypsy girl (La Esmeralda) and a misshapen bell-ringer (Quasimodo) who are both victimized by a corrupt priest (Claude Frollo). The book is largely a work of social criticism
The man who would tell Ingrid Bergman, "Here's Looking at You, Kid," at the conclusion of Casablanca (1942) was born Humphrey DeForest Bogart in 1899. He would become one of the twentieth century's greatest icons of tough masculinity, a complex blend of "good guy" and "bad guy" at a time when World War II had many Americans re-examining their personal codes of loyalty, honor, and character. Underneath his coarse exterior, Bogart, or simply "Bogie," betrayed an underdog vulnerability and a genuine desire to find the "right" answer in a world that was increasingly chaotic and off-kilter. The star was also well known for his celebrated marriage to co-star Lauren Bacall, whose sultry wit reflected his cynicism but who always drew out his romantic, heroic side.
Although Bogart became known for playing brutish characters from the wrong side of town, he was raised in the world of upper-middle -class New York City. He was eventually expelled from the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and joined the Navy for service during World War I. It was in the war that he suffered an injury which left his lip slightly paralyzed, resulting in the stiff and affected facial gestures which became one of the actor's trademarks.
Bogart began his career on stage in the 1920s and entered Hollywood by playing minor roles a decade later. But when Leslie Howard lobbied for him to co-star in The Petrified Forest (1935), he proved that he was well-suited for gangster or villain characters. He generally played this type until High Sierra (1941) in which he (with the film's screenwriter John Huston) developed a trope of masculinity which was complicated by ambivalence, pragmatism, and complex moral fortitude. Here, Bogart starred as Mad Dog Earle, an ex-convict on the run and destined for his own demise, who lays bare a particular emotional sensitivity through his sympathy for a simpler, gentler Joan Leslie. He continued to develop his star persona through this kind of role in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Casablanca (1941), both of which are considered his watershed films. Though he maintained a turbulent relationship with Warner Brothers, the studio which helped forge his image, Bogart made a comfortable fit with its house style which relied on the gangster genre and films which drew on the topical social problems of the day.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Archeologists in recent years have tried to resolve lingering questions over how he died and his precise royal lineage. Several books and documentaries dedicated to the young pharaoh, who is believed to have been the 12th ruler of ancient Egypt's 18th dynasty and ascended to the throne around the age of 8, are popular around the world.
In an effort to try to solve the mysteries, scientists removed Tut's mummy from his tomb and placed it into a portable CT scanner for 15 minutes in 2005 to obtain a three-dimensional image. The scans were the first done on an Egyptian mummy.
The results did rule out that Tut was violently murdered — but stopped short of definitively concluding how he died around 1323 B.C. Experts for the time though suggested that days before dying, Tut badly broke his left thigh, apparently in an accident, that may have caused a fatal infection.
The CT scan also provided the most revealing insight yet into the life of ancient Egypt's most famous king. He was well-fed, healthy, yet slightly built, standing at 5 feet, 6 inches tall at the time of his death. The scan also showed he had the typical overbite characteristic of other kings from his family, large incisor teeth and his lower teeth were slightly misaligned.
The unveiling of Tut's mummy comes amid a frenzy of international publicity for the boy king. A highly publicized museum exhibit traveling the globe drew more than 4 million people during the initial four-city American-leg of the tour. The exhibit will open later this month in London and after it will make a three-city encore tour in the U.S. beginning with the Dallas Museum of Art.