Not so nice in Nice

July 14, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, RELIGION |

Constantin Meunier, "The Removal of the Cracked Melting Pot"

Bastille Day on the Côte d’Azur, and some truck-driving, rancorous loon has deliberately ploughed through the revelling crowd, killing 80 or more people and spreading terror. Driving through my town on a sunny day, listening to “Melting Pot” by Blue Mink, I can’t help feeling dazed and confused. We at The Varnished Culture prefer love to war, art to violence, culture to confusion, but it seems we can’t have column ‘A’ without column ‘B’.  How about Voici à Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité! Anyway, while there is no credible evidence as to motivation yet, we can take a wild guess, we guess: see…

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Better Never Than Late

July 7, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, POLITICS, RELIGION |

Joan gets the Call (by Jules Bastien-Lepage, 1879)

July 7, 1456: an ecclesiastic court of appeal acquits Joan of Arc of all and any ‘crimes’. Only hitch: she’d been burned at the stake on May 30, 1431.  Some French folks maintain that Jeanne d’Arc was the last thing the English cooked properly. George Bernard Shaw, who wrote Saint Joan (she was canonised in 1920), called her “the most notable Warrior Saint in the Christian calendar, and the queerest fish among the eccentric worthies of the Middle Ages.” In GBS’s play, the final scene has King Charles VII of France encounter Joan in a dream, circa her successful appeal.  He tells her:…

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The Last Supper

May 28, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, CRIME, RELIGION, Ulalume |

"the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.'

Milan, 1999, 28 MAY Leonardo’s The Last Supper was restored this day to public view after 22 years of restoration, roughly 501 years after the great artist completed it. You can clamber over the crowds and see this acme of Renaissance fusion (christian myth and enlightenment art) at Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, a scene recounted in the books Matthew and John, where Jesus, looking serene after a tasty lunch, gives all the apostles indigestion with his infamous accusation. Leonardo (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was not only a polymorphous genius, he was also reputedly quite crafty.  All the…

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Morality Tales

September 24, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, RELIGION |

It’s one of the oldest plots: to grab the gold, you must renounce love.  Here is a sprinkling of morality tales on film.   The Box If you pick up the box that landed on your doorstep, open the button unit and push the button, you will receive one million dollars (tax free, and at early 1970s values in real terms) but at the precise moment of pushing the button, somewhere, someone you don’t know will be killed.  Woo Hoo! Give us that box!  Many might not believe in the veracity of this bizarre offer but when a gentleman like the one played by Frank…

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Shadowlands

 (dir. Richard Attenborough) (1993) “We read to know we are not alone”…so we appreciate the intellectual tug of love between lonely but accomplished Clive Staples (Jack) Lewis of Magdalen College, Oxford and lonely precocious poet Joy Gresham (“the Jewish Christian Communist American”) in this simple, sad and beautiful film, easily Attenborough’s best (and a lot shorter than his Oscar acceptance speech for Gandhi, or so it seems). William Nicholson adapted his earlier TV and film scripts with additions based in part on the lovely book by Joy’s son, Douglas (“Lenten Lands”) and the script is wondrous – tasteful, literate and…

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