The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday, M

Whales Weep Not
By D.H. Lawrence

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of
     the sea!

And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
on the depths of the seven seas,
and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
and in the tropics tremble they with love
and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
Then the great bull lies up against his bride
in the blue deep bed of the sea,
as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life:
and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale-blood
the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom-tip, and
     comes to rest
in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she-whale's
     fathomless body.

And over the bridge of the whale's strong phallus, linking the
     wonder of whales
the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and
keep passing, archangels of bliss
from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the
great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.

And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale-
     tender young
and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of
     the beginning and the end.

And bull-whales gather their women and whale-calves in a ring
when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood
and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat
encircling their huddled monsters of love.
And all this happens in the sea, in the salt
where God is also love, but without words:
and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
most happy, happy she!

and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin
she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea
she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males
and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.


Okay, fine, so it is not fair to call Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home a nautical film. But I like Lawrence anyway.

I said I'd post about Master and Commander beyond "Mmm, Jack and Stephen are so adorable together," so ...

I haven't read the O'Brian novels, so I can't talk about character development in the film versus the books, nor about the fact that the film is apparently sort of a compendium of a couple of novels. I understand that in the original Far Side of the World it was the Americans whom the British were fighting, not the French -- gee, can't imagine why they changed that for a Hollywood audience *g*. (I did note that the French in the film were portrayed as rather swarthy enemies, but I think I will not try to analyze the current English-speaking-imperialism-is-good trend in entertainment.) Suffice to say that, as someone who has liked the LOTR films vastly better than I ever liked the novels, changes in any bookverse don't bother me unless they seem utterly stupid and pointless.

I found M&C extremely entertaining, despite the fact that there's not a single female character who says two words and the vividness of the gore in battle scenes (my children had wanted to see the film from the commercials, but after watching a little boy get his arm amputated in the first fifteen minutes my husband and I both leaned over and whispered "no way" to that). I'm not entirely certain why there were children on the ship -- I don't know British naval tradition, don't know jack about Nelson, and I'm not sure that real aficionados would be content with the film, though I've been told that the costumes, weapons etc. are all period-authentic. So there were things I had questions about that other viewers might know from the books or from having watched Horatio Hornblower etc.

Crowe was superb, and I'm not particularly a fan of his, but Paul Bettany is the character with whom it's easiest to identify for audience members who don't see themselves as powerful naval captains, and he's wonderful, though a bit hard to get a handle on: his character's a doctor, clearly not in the war for the war, and for awhile he and Jack are so at odds that I thought maybe he was spying for the French, since there was some suggestion that the French had inside information about the location of the Surprise, the English ship. Stephen's great pleasures in life are healing people, discovering rare animals during their voyage (they stop at the Galapagos in my favorite visual sequence of the film, which should tell you how little warfare on the high seas does for me), and playing music with Jack, which are utterly delightful scenes and rife with innuendo if you're looking for that sort of thing.

Considering that Jack is supposed to be a sort of godlike naval commander, I didn't find him nearly as annoying as most action heroes and his priorities change somewhat when people close to him are hurt or killed, though there is one awful to watch sequence where he has to make a decision about the fate of a crewmember where it's easy to identify with the people on the ship who hated his guts afterward. Jack isn't idealized; he's egotistical, rather too confident at times, and quite a snob which I suppose is realistic for someone in his position, but he's also aware of what the life is like for people not in officers' positions and amusing when he's happy, so I liked the balance.

The special effects were amazing and I absolutely believed that the scenes had been filmed in the midst of a terrible sea battle, though there are so many characters that it's hard at times to figure out, through the waves and shooting, who's been wounded. The visual details are superb as well -- the closeups of swords, teacups, etc. do not seem forced to create setting but fit right into the action. There's a lot of blood, a lot of dirt and general ickiness belowdecks, no romanticism of the life except for a few moments of the upper class folk drinking toasts in full uniform and regalia. The goriest sequence involves a man performing surgery on himself, which I couldn't even watch.

The film feels long -- it's over two hours but nowhere near the length of, say, The Two Towers, which felt a lot shorter than it was -- but it doesn't drag, just has lots of ups and downs in the action like many war movies. I really enjoyed it and the audience I saw it with, mostly people who'd gotten passes from A&E hyping the new Horatio Hornblower films, were enthusiastic and applauded at the end.

ETA: My notes on the entire series of Patrick O'Brian books are here.

Friday Five:
1. Using one adjective, describe your current living space.
2. Using two adjectives, describe your current employer. Entertaining, whimsical.
3. Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pastime. Cerebral, literate, imaginative.
4. Using four adjectives, describe your typical day. Disorganized, frustrating, rushed, unambitious.
5. Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life. Passionate, engaged, peaceful, creative, leisurely.


1. What is your favorite death scene (movies and/or tv)? Why? Boromir's in The Fellowship of the Ring, movie version. No one here really needs me to explain this, do they? (I refer you to my fan fiction, if so; go to my memories, look up A/B and all will become clear.)
2. Name the top three filmed death scenes of all time, in order. (The list doesn’t necessarily have to include your favorite.) The murder and visual aftermath in Crimes and Misdemeanors; the deaths we never see in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Thelma and Louise; and the end of Life of Brian. Because, really, the moment of death on camera is almost always overrated.
3. How many times has your favorite character died? Dream sequences can count. Who is it, and how did they die each time? ONCE. Any character who died more than once by definition is not my favorite character. I have stopped feeling anything when characters die in genre television; they can kill Spock, Buffy, Xena, etc. as many times as they want and I will giggle. Give me a situation like the end of Space Cowboys or even the cheesiness of Armageddon before subjecting me to multiple deaths by the same character.
4. How do you, as a viewer, feel if a show kills, then resurrects a character? I mean, if someone can’t stay in the ground, do you feel it “cheapens” the emotional impact of their death? Or do you now not get upset if a character dies? Absolutely. See above. I pretty much lost interest in Buffy the day she came back. Even the holographic return of Madeline in La Femme Nikita pissed me off, though I thought they dealt with the psychosis of it pretty well.
5. Death stories - love 'em or hate 'em? Can you give a two sentence reason? Stories in which people die, either by accident or by sacrifice, can be incredibly moving and really get at the core of what makes life important. But "death stories" nearly always strike me as gratuitous and shallow. So overall I'd have to say hate 'em, which is not to say that some of my very favorite scenes have not involved character death.

A very happy belated birthday to shrinetolust!

And big hugs and thanks to friede and her friends -- she knows why.

Awesome new mood icons by pamelajoy.

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