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Posts Tagged ‘Norse mythology’

Avatar film poster (US)

Avatar film poster (US)

I’ve always meant to watch James Cameron’s Avatar, but have never been particularly enthused about the idea. It was on E4 last night,and I decided to take the plunge, as it were. The opening of the film has led to the following sentence, currently rather high up on the list of things I never thought I would write – did its creators want Avatar to be a fantasy/sci-fi Apocalypse Now? Jake Sully’s voice-over made me think that they may have been trying to create such an effect, mimicking Ben Willard’s opening monologue, and later scenes of the helicopters taking off to attack the People (the Pandora natives) were also reminiscent of Apocalypse Now‘s helicopters flight scene, set to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Now I really want to apologise to the makers of Apocalypse Now. This is Avatar‘s main problem – everything about it has been done before, and done better; . I expected very little from the plot, but it was even more unoriginal than I was expecting. It’s an adventure story built around an individual’s redemption, as he recovers from his brother’s death, and replaces that brother on a journey of exploration on a new planet, which has its own people and way of life. It had potential, but every character, be they from Earth or from Pandora is a stereotype – an extreme stereotype – and it’s impossible to care about them, as they are not developed as individuals. The plot is likewise obvious from the outset; Sully may assert that the purpose of the “old-school brief [was] to put you at ease”, but I beg to differ. (more…)

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Thus are the Vikings described by an Irish monk in the 800s, in a short marginal poem in the St Gall Priscian, where he expresses his relief at the stormy seas keeping the long ships at home in Denmark:

The wind is fierce tonight / it tosses the sea’s white mane/ I do not fear the coursing of a quiet sea/ by the fierce warriors of Lochlann.

Is acher in gaíth innocht,
fu·fúasna fairggae findḟolt:
ni·ágor réimm mora minn
dond láechraid lainn úa Lothlind.

(Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae known as ‘The St. Gall Priscian, St Gall Stiftsbibliothek MS 904)

Viking shipI went to the British Museum’s Vikings : life and legend exhbition very early last Sunday; the Saharan storms were yet to hit London, so I was confident that the marauders so feared by the anonymous monk would be present. In addition to a lifelong fascination with the Vikings, and with their mythology in particular, I was really looking forward to seeing this exhibition in the new wing of the British Museum. (more…)

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