Favorite Horror Films: Part 11 — Cat People

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Cat_People_poster

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In 1942, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Torneur, advanced the making of horror films by expanding the possible topics and boundaries. This extraordinary film is not one that relies on a standard “monster”; instead, Torneur employs psychological suspense and subtle development of terror.

This film offers a sophisticated and understated treatment of sexuality and its impact on people. The main character, Irena, a fashion designer, born in Serbia, and played by Simone Simon combines the modern world of high fashion in New York City with the old world beliefs that she is descended from people who are shape-shifters and who turn into big cats when sexually enticed and aroused. Torneur builds a new variation on the established theme of lycanthropy, in which a male changes into a wolf. Additionally, the film demonstrates the tension between science and superstition, the modern era versus the medieval times, and religion versus secularism.

While to a contemporary audience, this movie might seem dated and subdued, I believe it still carries great impact in its study of horror that is felt rather than seen, slowly created rather than visceral, and suggestive rather overt.

Cat People did very well at the box office, but it received a mixed range of reviews at the time. Since the 1940s, it has come to be seen as one of the more important horror films of the 20th Century.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend watching Cat People.

Jaguar

(https://en.wikipedia.org)i

Let Us Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing!

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(https://pixabay.com)

50 years ago, the human race set foot on the moon, the culmination of a journey begun in 1961 with President John F. Kennedy’s call for the U.S.A. to gather around this project, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too” (JFK). He made the challenge, and the United States of America accepted it.

The moon landing remains the most extraordinary scientific and technological achievement in the history of the human race.  We should celebrate this event, remember its importance, and strive to achieve more. Let us remember the importance of science and its possibilities.

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newspaper-433589_960_720(https://pixabay.com)

 

As a very young teenager, I was enchanted and enthralled by this voyage, and I felt optimistic about what we, as humanity, could achieve. The television show Star Trek embraced the humanism that was inherent in this project, and science and was part of this spirit. I remain optimistic about our possibilities, even in the face of science deniers and the horrible rise of right wing fascism. We still can unite, and we still can achieve. I believe that, and I hope for it.

Remember this achievement, let humanity recognize its interconnection, let us understand the crucial importance of science, and let us set our sights on returning to the moon and beyond!

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(https://pixabay.com)

 

Works Cited:

https://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/ricetalk.htm TEXT OF PRESIDENT JOHN KENNEDY’S RICE STADIUM MOON SPEECH.

Quotations On The Environment

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(https://pixabay.com)

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”

                                                                Theodore Roosevelt

 

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(https://pixabay.com)

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

                                                                Mahatma Gandhi

 

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Climate change is happening, humans are causing it, and I think this is perhaps the most serious environmental issue facing us.”

                                                                               Bill Nye

Rest In Peace, Stephen Hawking

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Renowned scientist, philosopher, and author Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. Mr. Hawking was a brilliant thinker, someone whose accomplishments put him with the pantheon of great intellects, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.

At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with the disease ALS and not expected to live for more than a few years at most. His longevity, despite facing a terrible illness, demonstrates his tenacity.  He forged new ideas in science and wrote about those ideas in works that brought such thinking to nonscientists, including, but not limited to,  A Brief History of Time and The Universe In A Nutshell.

He remained optimistic about the future of humanity, especially if we can successfully make our way into space.

The human race was fortunate to have had such a mind. They are indeed rare.

Rest In Peace, Stephen Hawking. (1942-2018)

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(https://pixabay.com)

Favorite Horror Films of the 1940s: Cat People

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Cat_People_poster

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

In 1942, producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Torneur, advanced the making of horror films by expanding the possible topics and boundaries. This extraordinary film is not one that relies on a standard “monster”; instead, Torneur employs psychological suspense and subtle development of terror.

This film offers a sophisticated and understated treatment of sexuality and its impact on people. The main character, Irena, a fashion designer, born in Serbia, and played by Simone Simon combines the modern world of high fashion in New York City with the old world beliefs that she is descended from people who are shape-shifters and who turn into big cats when sexually enticed and aroused. Torneur builds a new variation on the established theme of lycanthropy, in which a male changes into a wolf. Additionally, the film demonstrates the tension between science and superstition, the modern era versus the medieval times, and religion versus secularism.

While to a contemporary audience, this movie might seem dated and subdued, I believe it still carries great impact in its study of horror that is felt rather than seen, slowly created rather than visceral, and suggestive rather overt.

Cat People did very well at the box office, but it received a mixed range of reviews at the time. Since the 1940s, it has come to be seen as one of the more important horror films of the 20th Century.  If you have the opportunity, I recommend watching Cat People.

Jaguar

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

 

Quotations on Imagination

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(https://pixabay.com)

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Albert Einstein

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
Jonathan Swift

 

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“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.”
Carl Sagan

 

Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is now available on Amazon:

Amazon link

The book trailer follows:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

Favorite Science Fiction Films of the 1950s: The War Of The Worlds

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https://en.wikipedia.org

I have been discussing horror films primarily in my blog, but I want to extend my examination to science fiction movies also. Certainly the two genres have much in common, especially in their examination of very real social issues through the motif of the creation of fantasy worlds. They also differ in their focus on monsters or unseen fears in horror and on the dangerous use of technology in science-fiction.

The 1950s was a decade  that saw the emergence of science-fiction films into the public consciousness, especially reflecting the twin fears of the Cold War: of communists and of nuclear annihilation. These were the kind of enormous social anxieties that played well in the genre of science-fiction.

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https://pixabay.com

In 1953, H. G. Wells’ classic novel The War Of The Worlds was adapted into a contemporary American setting in their feature film. A previous incarnation had been the 1938 Radio production for the Mercury Theater on the Air by Orson Welles. This was the famous production that had sent much of the United States into a panic, thinking that the country was being invaded.

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http://www.openculture.com

In post World War Two America, after having experienced an attack on native land by a foreign country and being one of the major forces in a global war of unprecedented scale, the time was correct for a newer adaptation of the novel. The world had suffered devastating losses with a conservative estimate of the dead at 56 million. Immediately upon the ending of that war, NATO and the Soviet Union faced each other in an often silent but still hugely dangerous new kind of conflict.  Fears of a new invasion and of complete destruction permeated the country. This 1953 movie, made by Paramount Pictures, produced by George Pal, and starring Gene Barry, addressed those concerns directly.

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http://scifi.stackexchange.com

Shot in Technicolor and set in California, the film employs sleek new special effects, although dated by today’s standards, and shows powerful alien spaceships from Mars attacking Earth.  The planet’s powerful military defenses are useless against the superior technology of the invaders. (This point, which was a crucial theme against England’s colonizing of countries with lesser technological abilities, was dropped from this film.) Neither God nor the figure of the young scientist, who would save the world in other movies, had any impact on the invaders.  Even the atomic bomb, which had been used to force the surrender of Japan in World War Two, had no ability to break the Martians’ defense. The world is saved only by germs in the environment to which the Martians have no immunity.

It is a powerful film, and a reflection of the fears of that time. If you enjoy science-fiction cinema, take a look at this movie.