Sunday, January 20, 2008

Stiff upper lips and bloodshed

In interviews, authors are often asked what sort of atmosphere they need when writing. Some authors need silence. Others play music. I might be in the minority on this, but I usually have a movie going in the DVD machine. A dead quiet office is disturbing to me for some reason, and I find myself singing along to music. A good film, one I've already seen several times, seems the best ticket for me. I pop in the movie, look up from time to time at the screen, and then go back to pecking away at the keyboard. I am probably the victim of a media-saturated society. As an adult, I should be able to sit quietly and concentrate on my work, but I find utter and complete silence uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I locked myself in my office to put in some hard work on Bad Alchemy. As usual, I put a film into the DVD player. The theme of the day, quite by accident, turned out to be the royal military.

The first film was Zulu, the bayonet and spear flick which first introduced Michael Caine to the world. The overt attraction of this film is the non-stop stabbing and shooting. A small contingent of British soldiers hold their ground against an overwhelming Zulu force. More subtle is the gentle commentary on class and imperialism which one need not particularly notice in order to enjoy the film. My wife tricked me into presenting an absolutely terrible paper on this film at an academic conference ... but that's another story.

The second film in the stiff upper lip double feature was Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Proper English gentleman running sabers through French sailors. There was far less in the way of subtext, compared to Zulu, but he nautical cannon blasting death action was top notch.

Last weekend's movie was Lost in Translation. Next weekend? Who knows?


Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I like to load the CD changer with 70s/80s metal & hard rock or alternative country like Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, etc. If no one else is home, I crank that sucker up. One of the best things about living in the boonies is that there are no neighbors to bitch about the noise.

Anonymous said...

I love Zulu and remember from it that the Zulu attack in the shape of animals horns with the two ends out front.

Master and Commander was pretty good too.

Just saw 3:10 to Yuma. Good western. I liked that there were no americans in an American western.

I write in relative quiet. With kids I take what I can get. Usually I work on an outdoor porch.

Jim Born

Steve Allan said...

I'll sometimes put a DVD in the computer and "watch" the movie in a small window in the corner of the computer screen while I write in Word in another window. Gotta love the widescreen monitors.

John DuMond said...

Zulu is an excellent movie. Coincidentally, today is the anniversary of the Battle of Rorke's Drift, which the movie depicts.