2010年12月8日 星期三

Idea Page (Civil War)

Idea Page (Louisiana Purchase and Indian Removal Act)

Book Talk

Soldier's Heart

Book Cover
     Soldier's Heart is a historical novella written by Gary Paulsen. The novella tells the story of a 15 year old boy, named Charley Goddard, who lied about his age to join the First Minesota Volunteer, which is under Union control, to fight the Confederacy in south. The time period is set in 1861 which is the time when the American Civil War started. The story take the reader through the Charley's perspective about the reality of Civil War, including the brutality of war and the hardship of soldiers in combat. At the end of the book, the author tells about Charley's life after war, and the trauma left on Charley by the war.

    The story start when 15-years-old Charley Goddard decided to join the Union army to fight the Confederacy. Charley, at that time, had no idea what a war look like and decided to fight in order to understand it. Charley later convince his mother, who also had no idea what a war look like, to let him join the army. Charley than lied about his age to the admission and get enlisted into the First Minesota Volunteer.
Battle of Bull Run
    Later, the story take the readers to the daily life of Charley in the army. In the letters Charley wrote to his mother, he claim that the army are boring and the food weren't very good. Charley also mention about the inexperience officers that was elected by the men. Charley than told his mother about the war. Charley and his men were all claiming that the war will be easy, and the south will surrender way before they see some action.
    While Charley was on the way to their new camping place, Charley's mother start to think about war and the consequence of war. She wrote to Charley about the consequences of war, but Chaley ingored. While on the way to their new location, Charley and his men were welcomed and cheered by peoples. They were treated as heros. When Charley and his regiment were changing train in order to keep going, Charley met a black slave who give him a piece of cake and thank Charley for what they are doing.
     Later on, Charley had his first taste of war in the Battle of Bull Run, which Charley found out suddenly the reality of war and the violence and death in it. The Union lost the battle, and Charley witnessed the death of thousands of soldiers and wish all would stop.
In Gettysburg
     After Bull Run, Charley and his regiment stay at a camp near Washington. There, Charley and his fellow soldiers steal food from farms and build log to prepare for winter. Some of Charley's fellow soldiers caught up with disease such as dysentery, and some of the men died. Charley later fought in another battle with Rebels near Washington. In that battle, Charley met Nelson, a new replacement of the Second Minesota Volunteer. Nelson was shot in the stomach during that battle and he know that the surgeon won't be able to fix him because stomach wound require a lot of time and skills, so Nelson shot himself.
     Charley later on  fought in an battle near Richmond. This time, a Confederate cavalry launched an attack on Charley and his man, but were soon shot to pieces under Union fire. After they defeated the cavalry, Charley and his men were soon attack by another regiment of infantry. The two side than engaged in a hand-to-hand battle which eventually routed the South.
     Charley, at the last part of the book, fought in tthe Battle of Gettysburg, which Charley was severly wounded but soon recover.
     After Civil War, Charley return home. The book then take the readers on one of Charley's picnic. Charley found a revovler which he took from a dead Confederate officer. Charley was studing it, while his memories of war come back into his mind. He then put the gun away and stop thinking about it.

True or False
First Minnesota Monument in
The author, Gary Paulsen, stated that all of events in the book are true, including walls made of dead bodies in order to stop the wind. Charley Goddard is a real life character. Charley did lied about his age and join the First Minesota Volunteer. Charley did not fight in the Battle of Bull Run, but except for that Charley has fought every battles that was mention in the book. Charley, however, wasn't wounded in Gettysburg. He is also not one of the 47 men in the First Minesota Volunteer that survive after Gettysburg, for he had dysentery at was in the hospital. Charley later return home but died at the age of twenty-three because of his wartime trauma and wounds he recieved in war.

2010年12月5日 星期日

Movie Review

Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron
The Wild West through a Mustang's Eye

Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a 2002 animated film that was released by DreamWorks. It follows the adventures of a young mustang stallion, named Spirit, living in the 19th century wild west. The film, written by John Fusco and directed by Lorna Cook and Kelly Asbury, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. In contrast to the way animals are portrayed in an anthropomorphic style in other animated features, Spirit and his fellow horses communicate with each other through sounds and facial expressions. Spirit's thoughts are narrated by his voice actor Matt Damon.                 --from Wikipedia


Inside the DVD

The film starts with a brief introduction featuring a bald eagle gliding over the homeland of the mustangs, which resembles several western US National Parks. There is then a scene showing the birth of a Buckskin Kiger Mustang, the main protagonist, Spirit. Spirit soon grows into a stallion, and assumes the role of leader of the herd, whose duty it is to keep the herd safe.

Young Spirit and his mother
Spirit is a courageous leader, but has a serious mischievous streak and a high sense of curiosity. Spotting a camp one night not far from his herd, the stallion is unable to control his curiosity and moves towards it, as he's never seen humans before. To Spirit's surprise, the humans (possibly wranglers) are vicious. After a long chase, he is captured and taken to a US cavalry post. During this time in the movie, the army is fighting the Indian Wars and taking over the soon-to-be western United States. There he encounters "The Colonel" (based on Colonel Custer). The Colonel attempts to tame the mustang, but Spirit manages to outwit all who attempt to ride him. During this time, a Lakota American Indian named Little Creek is also brought into the fort and held captive, through the night and day they become friends. Through a series of events, Little Creek and Spirit escape the post. Little Creek's own paint mare, Rain, meets them, along with other Indians who loosely capture Spirit.

After returning to the Lakota Indian village, Little Creek ties Spirit and Rain together, much to Spirit's dismay. Rain willingly shows Spirit her world. Spirit begins to understand their ways and falls in love with the mare. His affections for Rain, however, do not soften his yearning to be free.

Spirit and his girlfriend, Rain

At the end of their time together Little Creek decides that Spirit should never be tamed and frees him. As Spirit asks Rain to come with him to his herd, a Cavalry Regiment led by the Colonel attacks the Lakota village. Rain is shot by the Colonel, knocking her into the river while Spirit knocks the colonel off his horse, saving Little Creek's life. Spirit dives into the river to try to rescue Rain, but is unsuccessful and they both plummet over a waterfall. Having both survived, Spirit comforts Rain on the riverbed until cavalry scouts tear him away. After finding Rain critically injured just as Spirit is being led away, Little Creek vows to free the mustang once and for all in accordance with his life-debt; and follows the men after tending to his own mare.
Spirit and other stolen horses are put on a train and taken to the work site of the Transcontinental Railroad where they are put to work pulling a locomotive engine up a mountain when attempts to tunnel have failed. Spirit realizes that if the track extends along its present course it will infringe on his homeland. Spirit breaks free from the steam engine and causes it to fall down the steep hill where it collides with another locomotive, causing a boiler explosion which starts the camp and woods on fire. Little Creek appears and escapes the wildfire with Spirit.

Ending scene where Spirit and Rain
say goodbye to Little Creek, the Lakota Indian
The next morning, Colonel and his men find Spirit and Little Creek. A climatic chase scene ensues on winding rock passages that lead to a canyon where the two again outsmart the Army. Spirit also makes a "freedom" jump which amazes The Colonel. The Colonel stops one of his men from shooting the two and exchanges nods of respect with Spirit before they part.

Spirit races back to the rebuilt Lakota village with Little Creek. Spirit finds Rain still alive, nursed back to health by the Indians. Little Creek decides to name the Kiger mustang "Spirit-who-could-not-be-broken". Little Creek, knowing it's for the best, sets Spirit and Rain free. Eventually, the two horses joyfully meet up with Spirit's own herd. Viewers then see the eagle as he flies up into clouds shaped like horses.
--from Wikipedia

Production Staff
Directed byLorna Cook
Kelly Asbury
Produced byMax Howard
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Mireille Soria
Written byJohn Fusco
Narrated byMatt Damon
Matt Damon
James Cromwell
Daniel Studi
Music byHans Zimmer
Bryan Adams
Editing byClare De Chenu
StudioDreamWorks Animation
Stardust Pictures
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
From Wikipedia

My Feedback
The Smile
It had been a long time since the last movie that has impress me so much. In truth, I haven't seen such well-made animation for a very long time. The animations nowaday are mostly focus on comedy and humor, which, saddly, coruppted those annimations into a themeless and somewhat retarded piece of garbage. At this point, I have to say that the advancement of technology really corrupt human and make human lazy and regress. Indeed, 3D computer animation did impress people and make people marvel at the advancement of technology. However, the technology will be worthless if the film, which a lot of them do nowaday, is mostly goofing and has little theme.

Spirit, in other hand, is of a completely diferent story to me. Although it is traditionaly animated and some may think of it as old fashion, this type of animation brought us the cherish of the past when most of the animations are hand-drawn, especially when all of sudden that 3D computer animations are all over us. When watcing the film, the view throughout the camera, with the combination of the touching background music, is truly breath-taking. Also, Spirit contain varies important themes. It is a combination of love, home, freidship, wilderness, freedom, valor, and nature. It is really impressive in the way the director express these various themes through the film, and yet keeping the film pure and full of fantasies. 

Spirit and his friend, the Eagle
I've watched many animations, including some of the famous Disney animations like The Lion King, when I was still young (about 6-10). However, out of all these films, the one and only film I remebered the most is Spirit even though I only watch part of it for only one time. When I saw this film accidently ( I was browsing through the movie channel) 8 years later, this struck me as pure and full of fantasy, yet still contain many themes that inspire people. It is so pure and simple that seems to brought the audience back to a pure and innocent child that has nothing in his/her mind except for various imaginations and fantasies. I've to say that there isn't one negative comments I can think of toward this movie. This film brought back the feeling that I once posess as a child but was long lost, and I am very thankful for that.

Also, the music is one of the best soundtrack I've ever heard in various movies. The music is a very important element throughout the film. There weren't much dialog between characters. Therefore, background music became important in subsituting dialog. The music gives the feeling of the Wild West and the nature. The soundtrack seems to also contain the themes in the movie. In my opinion, it suit the film perfectly. Another thing that interest me is that the way the animal character communicate. Unlike other animal animation, they use sounds and expressions to communicate, and I think it is pretty new and true for animals.

In conclusion, Spirit is a really unique and impressive film. It has no sequel, which makes it the more special and mantain its quality. There have been over hundreds of animation, but the only one that impress me the most is this. Therefore, I wish truly that whoever read this review must watch the film, for the ones that watch it already watch it again.

P.S. Sorry if it is to long. I have a lot to say bout it.

2010年12月3日 星期五

Music Sharing

The Day the Sun Stood Still

From Frank Wildhorn's musical "The Civil War"
Sung by Travis Tritt

We were young and bound for glory
Itchin' for a fight like you
Bringin hell and purgatory
To the boys who wore the Blue
And I thought I'd seen it all
Till the day night wouldn't fall
Oh how the sun did blaze
Wouldn't go down for days
I got shot and lost my rifle
When the first wave hit the rise
And the guns rolled out like thunder
And the black smoke burned my eyes
And I watched it all unfold
Just the way the Bible Told
Joshua's endless day
Keepin' the night at bay
And the soldiers kept a' comin'
Till the ground looked like a sea
Of Blue and Gray
And I watched them from a distance
Wondrin' if I would've fought or run away
The day the sun stood still
How they beat the bloody drums
And the seconds moved like hours
But the sunset never comes
And the cannons shake the ground
And the bullets test your will
Even shadows found no cover
On that Godforsaken hill
The day the sun stood still
And I watched them lean their shoulders
To the fearful hail of lead
And I prayed for night to save us
And I cried and bowed my head
But the sun just kept a' creepin'
'Cross a cold indifferent sky
Castin' a deadly glow
On all the men below
All the hours in a lifetime
Don't add up to one whole minute
In that sun
And the heroes and the cowards
Look the same when they have fallen
By the gun
The day the sun stood still
And the North and South looked west
But the evening star was sleeping
And the daylight wouldn't rest
Out on the killing floor
The red sun on the hill
Shinin' down on all the dead men
With a strange and eerie chill
The day the sun stood still
Do not judge what your brother does
Till you've walked a mile
Rank by bloody file
Who's to say if you'll run or stay and fight?
The day the sun stood still
Is just beneath the skin
In the soul of every soldier
Every battle that he's in
The day the sun stood still
Will haunt your dreams at night
And stalk your every sunrise
Though you will not know it till
The day the sun stands still
How they'll beat the bloody drums
And the seconds move like hours
But the sunset never comes
And the cannons shake the ground
And the bullets test your will
Even shadows find no cover
On some godforsaken hill on
The day the sun stood still

In honor to the ones who fought and died for their will

Music video on YouTube with footage from the movie "Gettysburg"
Click here.