Heaven’s Kingdom Extended

I’ve been trying to think of a movie to cover for this week and I think I have one. It’s one of my favorite films. Well it actually takes up two different places on my list of favorites. I’m talking about Kingdom of Heaven and the subsequent director’s cut. The one that’s higher up on my list is the director’s cut because of the fuller story. There were things explained better in the director’s cut than in the theatre released version.

Either version that you watch is set in the time around the Second Crusade. This is the story as told by IMDB.

It is the time of the Crusades during the Middle Ages – the world shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East. A blacksmith named Balian has lost his family and nearly his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama. Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend the city against staggering odds. Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin, a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as Balian’s father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. In Jerusalem at that moment–between the Second and Third Crusades–a fragile peace prevails, through the efforts of its enlightened Christian king, Baldwin IV, aided by his advisor Tiberias, and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin. But Baldwin’s days are numbered, and strains of fanaticism, greed, and jealousy among the Crusaders threaten to shatter the truce. King Baldwin’s vision of peace–a kingdom of heaven–is shared by a handful of knights, including Godfrey of Ibelin, who swear to uphold it with their lives and honor. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son, he also passes on that sacred oath: to protect the helpless, safeguard the peace, and work toward harmony between religions and cultures, so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. Balian takes the sword and steps into history.

Of course with a film that covers one of the Crusades, Religion does play a large part of the movie but I think that it’s done very well. It tries to cover aspects of religion from multiple sides and doesn’t try to show one above the other. Of course some of the actual discussions would probably not been done at that period of history but of course this is a modern film about a historical event. But any kind of discussion should be happening and I think that this film is a great start to it. Since we do not truly know any of the characters (yes even Saladin) we see them in a different light. And surprisingly many of them can be found in an actual historical picture. It is interesting when you find out who is real in this movie.

I don’t mean it was interesting to learn that Baldwin IV was a real person. I was surprised to find that Balian was an actual historical figure. He was also considered the saviour of the people of Jerusalem in much a similar way as the film. What was changed for this film was his history. There is too much to cover here so I will just say that after watching the film you can have so many different things to research, if that kind of thing fascinates you. History is much more interesting than fiction and it is up to those who want to know to find the differences in this movie.

So I guess what I am saying about this movie is that it is not just for watching it is also a stepping stone for more discussions than I think I remember a film having in a while. I thank you for reading this and I hope you enjoy the movie. Until Monday. Have a good weekend.

Giving Answers Without Questions

This recommendation is going to be a little interesting since what I would like to share maybe a little hard to find. It’s a documentary made by Stephen Fry and Ross Wilson. Its called “Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive“. It was originally shown on British television and, as you can see by the link, has been released on DVD. The problem is that the DVD is Region 2 and will not play in your average American DVD player. I am sure there are other ways you can see this documentary and I will let all who are interested find it on their own.

But of course now the question arises why should someone take the time to find this documentary or even purchase it. Well for starters I wanted to watch it just to placate my need to garner more knowledge. There is a great amount of information on Bi-polar disorder and key signs of the disease. There are discussions about what age you can diagnose and the different ways it can be diagnosed. There is also a discussion on how the diagnosis has changed over the years. The last given through the first person experience of Stephen Fry who is going back and asking new questions that he has.

Having his personal story being the driving force behind this documentary I think adds something that is usually lost when done other times. When I have seen other programs that try and have a personal feel to them the focus tends to be more emotionally driven and less about the actual facts about the subject matter. I am not saying that taking things from an emotional perspective is bad but I do think that their are subjects where facts need to be considered on the same plain. Where this documentary gets its drive from is hard to say. I think it comes from a combination of the inquisitive nature of Stephen Fry and the depth of the subject matter.

The fact that there are so many different ways that Bi-polar disorder can manifest itself gives a number of questions to the larger list. We learn how it showed itself in Stephen Fry and he spends the two hours (broken into two episodes for television) talking to others about the time when they first noticed symptoms and signs. In the second half he also discussed the idea of treatment. I found this part particularly interesting because he looks at this from the side of a man who has never taken medication but who may need it. This opens up to a lot of information not just on medication but there is even discussions of more alternative ways of controlling the ups and downs of the disease.

There is so much more that I could say but I do not want to give away to much. I will say though that if you, or someone you know, suffers from or may suffer from that this is an excellent beginning point for research. I know it has given me a few answers about myself and obviously it has raised a few as well. I hope those who watch it find it informative. But also don’t feel that you have to have a tie to Bi-polar Disorder before viewing this. It is always great to expand our own knowledge base. And as always thank you for reading this.

A thing to listen to

For the first week of this idea I think I am going to recommend something that I have recently started listening to. Its the podcast version of WNYC’s Radiolab, a show from NPR. I am not sure how many NPR channels actually carry it so some people may have never heard of it and others may not have listened to an episode. The thing is that I have and I really like this show, or podcast.

There are really two episodes that really got me to think that I had made a good decision when I decided to subscribe to the podcast. The first was an episode about color. The thing that got me intrigued was how they answered a question that I had when I heard the subject. I wanted to know how the hell they were going to cover the topic of colors without being able to show things visually. Well they answered that question in two ways. The second half of the episode was used to cover subjects about color where the verbal description of the object gave you enough to go on.

Now the first half of the episode was where they did the most interesting thing. It actually came in on the second story where they covered how we see a rainbow. Well actually it was how many different creatures saw a rainbow. They were looking at how our eyes compare to other eyes. Which when they were talking about any of it you couldn’t see how they could explain it without video. Though there was a point where they get into the area of vision that we can’t perceive, so they were discussing a part of vision that would be difficult to cover even on video.

But their fix was to substitute one sense for the other. Because both sound and light are both waves it was an interesting idea to take a choir and have them sing the differences in vision. Each color that can be seen was assigned a different area of the musical spectrum. For example when they discussed a dogs vision you had only two major voices that could be heard since dogs can only really see blue and green (another thing I learned during the show). So, as the amount of colors that could be seen by a creature the more voices you heard. I will say that the sound that accompanied the creature with the widest range of color vision is just amazing to hear. Sends me into kind of a nice bliss point.

Oddly enough bliss was the topic of the other episode that really enraptured me. (cheesy transition I know but it worked, I hope.) Now this one is different from the other one in that it is more of the usual kind of reporting that you can find on the show usually. I fear that a remark like that sounds more boring than I would like. There is a style to there story telling that can enrapture you and let time slip by as you listen to their stories. This one stood out to me strictly for the subject matter again. The idea of making an hour long program about something as hard to define as bliss is in itself intriguing to me. And the wide range of topics that you can cover under that original heading is amazing once you listen to it. The fact that they could find things like that make me want to see what else they explore.

So I enjoy this podcast and if this sounds interesting I hope that you will check them out. If you aren’t doing anything major this weekend maybe check out one of these episodes. Or just check out their website and find something that suites your taste in topics. And always thank you for reading.

Short & Sweet & More

This one is going to be short and sweet today. In trying to figure out what to write for this week I’ve decided to add to the content on this blog. I am going to start posting every Friday but this time it will have more of a theme. I am going to make recommendations for things to either watch, listen to, or start reading over the weekend. I am still trying to figure out how much I am going to say about each thing but I think that it is going to depend on what the thing is. Some things will need few words while some may need more. I will at least tell you why I like it. I will, hopefully, not tell you that you need to watch, to listen to, or to read but I will, hopefully, tell you enough, and say it well enough, to pique your interest.In a way a new add to my revolution of ideas.

So I am now going to Bookend your weekend. This should be a good new chapter for this blog.  Thank you, as always, for reading.

A New Type of Funding

As I research a way to get my own ideas to come from my head and into reality, I keep running into the idea of funding. Well I can’t say I keep running into it as it is a constant spectre that reminds me of the difficulty of taking on such life changing ideas. I mean that keep running into the areas where it is the biggest issue. From equipment, to travel, to the cost that I will have to brunt in my own life as the ideas I have are so large and difficult to do against a second job. So I have been looking for a way to fund a couple of my ideas.

My search has brought me to that mecca of public funding, Kickstarter. There is something very right with what Kickstarter (and other websites like it) is trying to do. Bringing people wanting to fund projects that they like with the projects needing funding is not really a new idea but just the ease at which everyday people can do is new. I mean when was the last time that you could help fund a major motion picture.

The wide variety of projects that you find that actually made it to their “fully funded” point shows that there are a lot of people willing to help. And many of those have even gone further than the original asking price. The only problem that I have with Kickstarter is that they are an all or nothing operation. I do think that with at least half of the asking price that someone could find other means of funding. That being said, from the perspective of a person who intends to avail myself of their services, it is a good idea to be able to test an idea before you get too far into it.

What I mean is, I can see how many people would be willing to listen to my idea for a podcast by seeing how many are willing to help finance it. I know that there is a step back as there are some that are willing to listen but not donate. Look at the funding for NPR as a good example. But if you have many people willing to put forth a little money they are also willing to help promote by telling people. I still think that word of mouth is still the best way to promote something at first while you build up your audience. People trust friends and family more than they do advertisers.

I can’t think of much more to say about Kickstarter at this moment and I think that it is better to go and see for yourself. So click here and gain your own opinion. And maybe help out some startup that you think will help change the world for the better. Thank you as always for reading. See you next week. And I will keep you apprised of my try.