Category Archives: Europe

La Marseillaise Casablanca

Released in January 1943, when the most important battle of the war, the battle of Stalingrad, was still raging, with Normandy still a year and a half in the future, and the tide not yet turned against Hitler’s war machine. Most of Europe and North Africa was under the jackboot of Nazi tyranny. Many of the actors in the scene were actual refugees who had fled from the Nazis, so the emotions were real. This celluloid moment may capture the spirit of hope and resistance better than any other. It is a true testament to the power of movies.

In real life Jean Moulin, murdered by the Gestapo in 1943, became the symbol of the French Resistance.

 

Christmas Greetings from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade – Spain 1937

The XV International Brigade, nicknamed Brigada Abraham Lincoln, fought against Franco for the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Composed primarily of volunteer battalions from Britain and America, but also Canada, Ireland, the Balkans, France and Cuba, the 15th fought valiantly, and suffered heavy casualties, at Jarama, BruneteTeruel and the Ebro River. Here is the Christmas greetings card sent out by the XV International Brigade and comrades in the Republican Army in 1937….

intl-brigades-xmas-card

 

Del Berg, a 100-year-old veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who was its last known survivor, passed away on February 28, 2016. NY Times Obituary
Read John McCain’s Tribute to Berg: Salute to A Communist
 Watch The Spanish Earth:

Malle, Moreau and Miles – Elevator to Modernity

This masterful scene from Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows (1958) is a quintessential example of 20th century post-war modernism. It’s all here– the near perfect intersection of film (a noir at the leading edge of the French New Wave), music (the atmospheric jazz score was improvised by Miles Davis in a single, all-night recording session), the electrified urban landscape (lit by neon, headlights, arcades and storefront displays), fashion (notice the various representations as Moreau walks in front of the arcade) and finally, dripping sensuality (Jeanne Moreau and Miles Davis fused in sexy melancholia ultimately climaxing in a downpour of rain and thunder). What cool is made of….

Have a martini….

Burning Down The House

Woke up in a much scarier world this morning. Europe now descends on a backward trajectory toward its pre-WWII form of division, rivalry and xenophobia, with Britain and Germany facing off and France stuck in the middle. First Brexit, next America? Divisive rightists, people like Le Pen in France, Wilders in the Netherlands, Hofer in Austria and Donald Trump, with their poisonous nativist rhetoric, just got a big blast of wind in their sails. There is a reason why democracy was feared as mob rule for 2000 years! This clip from Frankenstein captures the spirit of the age quite nicely…

Hegel wrote: “The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” It’s looking more and more these days like the dusk will come too late….

And yes, that is David Cameron being tossed over the ledge…serves him right!