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Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

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Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Old 06-01-12, 12:32 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by Mister Peepers
I'd be surprised if it did.
Haha. Just playing. I think I'll go by IMDB genre as my guide. ALVH is listed as: Action | Fantasy | Horror | Thriller

Not sure how many I'll get around to watching. Even if it's just a few, will try to make it a point to watch some of the more popular war movies and biographies I've never seen - there's a lot of them.
Old 06-01-12, 12:37 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by gp1086
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Counts?
We allowed X-Men: First Class last year strictly as a Wild Card on the basis that it's a period film and a new release several participants were going to see anyway. If you want to count it strictly as a Wild Card this year only, be my guest. Just remember it's not part of your official list, so don't use it for any other checks. That basically allows you to make note of the fact you saw it, but not to boost your totals with it. It's a sort of non-compromise, really.
Old 06-01-12, 05:25 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

The nice thing about having a rough night during a challenge is that at least I can distract myself with movies. I started this year's challenge with Bronenosets Potyomkin [Battleship Potemkin], streamed from HuluPlus. I reviewed it on Letterboxd:

This has been on my To See list for ages. I can't say for sure when I first heard of it, but sometime around 15 years ago I learned that the train station shootout in The Untouchables was an homage to this and that was enough to pique my interest. At long last, I've finally seen it and I can easily understand why it has been held in such high esteem for so long.

The opening episode, "Men and Maggots," plays like a typical silent film. From then on, however, I found myself less attentive to the staged theatrics of the cast and more captivated by the sheer scale of the film. The term has become so commonplace as to lose some of its value, but if ever something were "epic," this may be it. Look at the mutiny on the deck of the Potemkin or the enormous stream of mourners at Odessa and the slaughter there. Scene after scene had me wondering just how, in 1926, a production of this scale was accomplished.

Likewise, during the climactic showdown between Potemkin and the admiral's fleet, I found myself fixated on the attention to detail of the preparations for battle. So often in such stories, our perspective is on the bridge where command decisions are made. Not so here. Instead, we're never privy to the bridge and it's a bit unclear just how a command structure was agreed upon post-mutiny. It may be tempting to say such matters are irrelevant to the story, but I would posit that instead the absence of attention to them is actually a relevant demonstration of the revolutionary fraternity. The mutineers act as one, rather than as subordinates.

Only in John Ford's firsthand documentary The Battle of Midway can I recall seeing such attention to detail. There are parts of the ship showcased in this film that are scarcely even acknowledged to exist in most others, including in documentaries! It all creates such a sense of realism that even though I was cognizant of the shortcomings and manipulations of the character-based narrative, I was incapable of escaping my awe long enough for them to take me out of the movie.

I came closest during the famed Odessa Staircase sequence, partly because I kept looking for the moment that I would recognize from The Untouchables and partly because when it came, the mother's applying fake blood was so obvious that it seemed incongruous with the otherwise (mostly) realistic portrayals of violence in the film.

Much has been made of director Eisenstein's attention to editing, intending his film to evoke as much emotion as possible. Historically, it represents a watershed achievement in propaganda, demonstrating the potential for film's impact on our social consciousness.

I've been reading Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, also set during the Bolshevik Revolution, and while I have seen David Lean's film of that book, I found myself recognizing more of Pasternak's work here. The spirit of revolution is almost palpable throughout, with several fist-pumping moments of triumph.

Battleship Potemkin isn't merely a "first draft" of how film could work. It is a genuine masterpiece.
Bronenosets Potyomkin [Battleship Potemkin]
Recreation of a specific Historical Event (Mutiny of the Potemkin)
Decades: 1900s (1905)
Historical event of different countries - Russia
War - Takes place in different countries - Russia (Bolshevik Revolution)
Old 06-01-12, 09:45 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
BTW, I forgot to actually add Musical to the checklist until just now.
I'm not seeing it.
Old 06-01-12, 09:47 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by davidh777
I have a bunch of these History sets and I'm sure a lot of them have repeated components. My shelf space would be ecstatic if I could figure the definitive version of each and toss the rest, but until then my Trevor-like OCD forces me to keep them all.
Yeah, I think about getting rid of some versions of releases, or the DVDs if I have the BDs, but if there is even one second of differences in the feature or the extras, I feel like I have to keep it.

But for space-savings, I (think I) am to the point where I can ditch the packaging and just put the older disc(s) in sleeves in the newer release.
Originally Posted by MinLShaw
The nice thing about having a rough night during a challenge is that at least I can distract myself with movies.
While I hope and pray for good nights for you, I'm glad we have Challenges ~340 days a year for you now.
Old 06-01-12, 12:09 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

What about Martial Arts films set in the old dynasty periods? On one hand, they're set in a certain historical "moment in time", on the other hand, they're not "historical" as they never really happened.
Old 06-01-12, 01:21 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by Trevor
Yeah, I think about getting rid of some versions of releases, or the DVDs if I have the BDs, but if there is even one second of differences in the feature or the extras, I feel like I have to keep it.
I got a DVD double feature of Death Bed and Castle Freak, along with the single movie of Castle Freak in the Full Moon mystery box. I hate the cover of the double feature and like the Castle Freak cover. In theory, I shouldn't care and I don't have enough shelf space for everything but I still kept both DVDs.
Old 06-01-12, 04:36 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by Trevor
While I hope and pray for good nights for you, I'm glad we have Challenges ~340 days a year for you now.
Thanks. Thankfully, there's also Twitter. I think I know at least one Crohnie in each time zone, so there's always someone with whom to commiserate.

Originally Posted by Screwadu
What about Martial Arts films set in the old dynasty periods? On one hand, they're set in a certain historical "moment in time", on the other hand, they're not "historical" as they never really happened.
They're comparable to Westerns. If it's heavy on supernatural content (like, say, Big Trouble in Little China) then save it for the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge or maybe even the Horror Challenge. As long as it doesn't seem appropriate for one of those challenges, then it's okay here as long as the setting is clearly sometime in the past.
Old 06-02-12, 04:36 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

My second selection was Hell Is for Heroes. Here's my review, as posted on Letterboxd:

My family owned a consignment shop for 20 years. This DVD came in several years ago, but it never sold so when its time was up, I snagged it. I grew up liking reruns of Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker, so I was interested to see him in this. Finally, after having the DVD for several years, I got around to watching it for the third annual DVD Talk Historical Appreciation Challenge.

The opening credits alone yielded two surprises. "And Introducing Bob Newhart" was a curious thing to see. He's been around for so long that I forget there was actually a beginning to his career (though technically, The Bob Newhart Show had already been on TV before this film opened in 1962). Also interesting for me was that the score was composed by Leonard Rosenman. I only know him from his score for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. There's actually very little music in this picture; I would guess about 12 minutes or so, tops, but I certainly recognized a similarity between this and his Trek work.

I've never been particularly fond of war movies because they tend to be rather generic and banal, and unfortunately this one is just as guilty as any other. The Interwebs tell me that screenwriter Robert Pirosh was in the U.S. Army during World War II, and that he collected information about skirmishes along the Siegfried Line that served as the basis for his fictionalized story. The Interwebs also tell me Pirosh was supposed to direct the film, but left after finding himself incompatible with star Steve McQueen. McQueen also seems to have rubbed everyone the wrong way. His reluctance to participate or be around anyone is pretty clear on the screen and inadvertently the on-set misery imbues it with one of its few genuinely interesting elements.

Still, I'm a sucker for the tragically hopeless underdog story. Be it Glory or Shaun of the Dead, there's something about the human spirit of perseverance even in the face of certain death that I find fascinating. Beyond the obvious nobility of sacrifice, there's always the opportunity to speculate about oneself. Could I carry on in those kinds of situations? So far I've been fortunate that it's merely an abstract curiosity but I know every day around the world, our brothers and sisters are made to find out for themselves.

There is a sort of "futility of war" message here, but it doesn't seem willing to assert itself over the "heroism of sacrifice" theme. It's left to us the viewer to decide whether to applaud or pity the doomed protagonists.

I found myself liking the characters, and I wanted to care about them but it felt as though the film was just going through the motions. It felt as though the film was a chore for all involved, like the cinematic equivalent of that last album an artist records to finish off their contractual obligation to a label they're desperate to leave.
Hell Is for Heroes
DECADE - 1940s (1944)
WAR - Takes place in an American war (World War II)
Old 06-02-12, 10:07 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

I took the 1st off because of a huge amount of unused vacation. That let me mini-marathon the last day of the MYO and, I'd hoped, help jump-start the Historical but it was not to be. I spent the day playing video and board games with the grandkids which was still a win but not a viewing one.

I *did* manage to squeeze in the 2 documentaries King and 1968 with Tom Brokaw. Those really took me back. I was "coming of age" during the latter part of the 60s, saw and remember all of this happening, but didn't truly understand the impact many of those events would have on our nation until years later. My parents *never* discussed politics or national policy in front of my sister and me. We were left to find our own way through the morass. Sometimes I don't know if that was good or bad.

On a lighter note:

My copy of Maverick - S1 came in yesterday! It's been over 20 years since I've seen any episodes of this series and I couldn't wait to watch a few. I managed to watch the first episode last night and it was *great*!! I'm already wanting S2 (kind of like when I left the theater following Return of the King saying "I want The Two Towers *now*!"). That first episode already has everything in place that made Maverick one of the great and unique westerns. I'm planning more episodes today.
Old 06-02-12, 06:54 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Salon Kitty was sleazy fun but beneath the nudity, pig slaughter, and eccentrities there was a meatier theme of emotional sexuality versus lustful intellectual control/persuasion; either that or I became delirious from the strong content and dreamed it in a frothing mouth spasm. Salon Kitty is not for everyone but glad I checked it out; and I think multiple reviewings will reward deeper content. Although as a long time vegetarian I frown on the albiet brief animal bit. It was sort of like Salo's tamer but more musically inclined bohemian cousin.

Last edited by Undeadcow; 06-02-12 at 07:01 PM.
Old 06-02-12, 10:06 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Dear Gladiator,

Why did you betray me by advertising Academy Awards on your box and enticing others to recommend you when you are a mediocre action drama that fails on both accounts? Yes, you are pretty but a tease.
Old 06-02-12, 11:28 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

can I get a ruling for Chinatown? Never seen it so not sure if its based on "another period" of time or if it was contemporary. thanks.
Old 06-03-12, 12:15 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

I watched Kelly's Heroes for the first time tonight and it was not at all what I expected, but I loved it. I went into it expecting a serious war film, but got a light-hearted, care-free film full of comedy that worked. Donald Sutherland stole the show for me, but I also loved Carrol O'Connor's character even if it was over the top and almost cartoonish. Highly recommended and the run time of 144 minutes seems more like 30 minutes.
Old 06-03-12, 02:15 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

I got off to an excellent start with some great documentaries and and interesting western. Despite some silliness, the documentaries about C.S. Lewis (narrated by an actor playing the writer) and Cleopatra (music and camerawork to rival a second-tier melodrama) were fun and conveyed quite a bit of information. The Art of the Steal looked into the often outrageous Art World and the appropriation of the Barnes Collection by Philadelphia. I love learning more about art and its industry, but I often feel saddened at the politics and money that surround it.

I also watched Saddle the Wind which was interesting and could have been longer to delve into its characters.
Old 06-03-12, 10:13 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

This morning I watched the WWII drama, KINGS GO FORTH (1958) with Tony Curtis, Frank Sinatra and Natalie Wood and only when I went on IMDB to look up the actors' ages did I realize that today is Tony's birthday. I love when that happens.

Other Tony Curtis films I can watch from my collection that are eligible for this challenge:
THE VIKINGS (1958)
THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH (1954)
BEACHHEAD (1954) which I watched for the Action/Adventure challenge
THE SON OF ALI BABA (1952)
THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF (1951)
KANSAS RAIDERS (1950) in which he plays one of the Dalton Bros.

Oh, and (everyone in unison):
TIME FOR A STICKY ON THE LIST THREAD!!!!
Old 06-03-12, 10:53 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by BuddhaWake
can I get a ruling for Chinatown? Never seen it so not sure if its based on "another period" of time or if it was contemporary. thanks.
It's definitely a period piece. Made in the 70s, takes place in the 30s. I'd count it.

Also - one of the best films ever made. You're in for a treat.
Old 06-03-12, 11:05 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

I started off the challenge by revisiting an old favorite, VERA CRUZ, Robert Aldrich's nihilist Western that established the template for spaghetti westerns (everyone's corrupt, no one can be trusted, strong anti-hero in Burt Lancaster). The BluRay release was better than the DVD, but not as good looking as I hoped it would be.
Old 06-03-12, 07:10 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by Undeadcow
Dear Gladiator,

Why did you betray me by advertising Academy Awards on your box and enticing others to recommend you when you are a mediocre action drama that fails on both accounts? Yes, you are pretty but a tease.
I remember leaving the theater when it opened feeling very underwhelmed. I was so cognizant of all the artificiality of the production that I could never get into it. It never felt like an organic movie to me; more like a demo for the next generation of video games. The thing I took away from Gladiator was conviction that Braveheart really was the last of the true epics. We'll never again see a production like that, where most everything is done for real with actual people and practical effects on real locations.

Originally Posted by BuddhaWake
can I get a ruling for Chinatown? Never seen it so not sure if its based on "another period" of time or if it was contemporary. thanks.
Originally Posted by Jeffy Pop
It's definitely a period piece. Made in the 70s, takes place in the 30s. I'd count it.

Also - one of the best films ever made. You're in for a treat.
^What he said.

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Oh, and (everyone in unison):
TIME FOR A STICKY ON THE LIST THREAD!!!!
We go through this every challenge. You can request this yourself! All you have to do is click the little red triangle icon on any post to send a message to the moderators. Moreover, I already requested it. Since I don't have moderator access, that's all I can do.
Old 06-03-12, 07:24 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Late last night, I decided it was time I finally got around to watching my DVD of the 1999 TV mini-series, Joan of Arc. Here's my review, as shared on Letterboxd:

I don't even know how long I've had this in my library, but it's been several years. I finally got to it around 1AM when I realized I couldn't sleep. Productions like this always trouble me because I'm enthusiastic and modestly knowledgeable about the subject matter. I can be easily mollified if they get something right, or I can fixate on when they get something wrong.

This 1999 TV mini-series is a mixed bag. I'm of the mind that its primary shortcomings are the limitations of the television format and that it succeeds in many places in spite of those limitations. The DVD bonus content is restricted to some cast & crew bios and a few pages of production notes. What I've gleaned from them is that this project began with writer (and lawyer, they wish you to know) Michael Alexander Miller conducting research about Joan of Arc and writing the screenplay on spec in the aftermath of his mother's passing in 1994. There were several small bits of the story that jived with my understanding of Joan's life, and I feel relatively confident attributing those touches to Miller.

However, the production notes also make note that CBS brought in Ronald Parker "to punch up the story," which I'm almost certain is code for "make palatable for TV viewers who need to be spoon fed." The parts of this mini-series that rang falsest are almost certainly feeble efforts to pander to Joe Sixpack, and they reflect the very kind of "No! Make it better!" meddling that characterizes almost every TV or film project rooted in historical fact.

I'm unfamiliar with there being such hateful strife between Joan and her father, for instance. The subplot carries on throughout the mini-series until its entirely contrived and inexplicable resolution in the final act. Joan has returned home to lick her spiritual wounds but has yet another ugly confrontation with her father. In their very next scene together, it's the next morning and all of a sudden they're wanting each other to know how much they love one another? WTF? It could only be the work of a network shill whose marching orders were to manipulate the 25-49 demographic.

Most of the first episode is full of very awkward exposition, and I mostly just shrugged at that. The seemingly small detail I can't accept or forgive, though, is a scene in which Joan discusses the saints visiting her with her local priest. In the record of her trial, she was explicit that she never spoke about the saints with anyone until she arrived in Vaucouleurs and offered the information to help compel Robert di Baudricourt to agree to send her to Charles. There was no obvious storytelling need to contradict the historical record on this point, and the fact that they did again only serves to make me mindful of the clumsiness of those who think themselves empowered to "improve" upon truth.

Moreover, I'm unfamiliar with any collusion between Charles VII and Bishop Cauchon to use Joan. Cauchon's machinations were solely his own, reflective of his pro-English partisanship. But, of course, in 1999 I'm sure someone at CBS was certain that Joe Sixpack needed to see a clearly defined "Joan vs. The Bad Guys" structure, so Cauchon's inappropriate and illegal Inquisition was married to Charles's conspicuous silence after her capture.

On the whole, I'm somewhat accepting of "creative license," but in this case I feel that the known record is compelling enough that there was no need for such ham-fisted "improvements." Being constructed as a four-episode TV mini-series necessitated allowing for commercial breaks, as well, which imposed a logistical obstacle to the storytelling. Most of the segments end with an obvious shot designed to make us not change the channel during the obligatory commercial breaks. As it aired, I'm sure it played as tension-building but presented as single work on DVD, it just feels silly every twelve minutes for the music to swell as the camera fades out and back in.

The cast is terrific, though, particularly Leelee Sobieski as Joan and Peter O'Toole as Cauchon. The depiction of Joan's actual trial is genuinely captivating, driven by their performances. O'Toole gives us a conflicted Cauchon, with more apprehension about what he's doing than we believe the real Cauchon felt, but here is an example where creative license can work. There's no obvious contradiction between his facial expressions and what we know of the real Cauchon, and O'Toole sells it that this is a guy who is very mindful that he has to be able to present the sham of a trial as somehow being legitimate. Everything there works especially well.

At first, I wasn't a fan of the camera work and editing, but after enough footage it began to remind me of documentary reenactments, such as those in History Channel specials. I was still mindful of the limitations of the budget and the primitive work that yielded, but somehow it became almost endearing in a way. I credit that to director Christian Duguay, whom I'm told by the production notes worked in documentaries early in his career.

What works far less well, unfortunately, is the attempt to replicate the end of Braveheart. Of all the times I cringed at the clumsiness of the story, that was easily the worst because it was as obvious and uninspired as it was just outright lazy.

I can only wonder what Miller's original work looked like, before Parker "punched it up." I suspect if CBS had had confidence and vision, my review would be significantly more favorable.
Joan of Arc [1999 TV Mini-Series]
GENERAL - Bio Pic
GENERAL - Folk Hero/Mythological
GENERAL - Film About Women's History (prominent woman, feminism, etc.)
Watch a film that takes place during five different centuries prior to the 20th Century (15th Century)
Watch 5 movies about historical events of different countries (France)
BIO PICS - Bio Pic of a War participant (Hundred Years' War)
BIO PICS - Bio Pic of a Historical Person
BIO PICS - Watch a Bio Pic about a prominent woman, minority or LGBT figure
WAR - Watch 5 movies that take place during different countries' wars (France - Hundred Years' War)
Old 06-03-12, 07:39 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Is The Other Boylen Girl a good movie or is that just my Natalie Portman obsession messing with my head again? The world may never know.
Old 06-03-12, 08:00 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

I went and watched Snow White and the Huntsman today- would that fit into any category for the challenge?
Old 06-03-12, 10:00 PM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by JOE29
I went and watched Snow White and the Huntsman today- would that fit into any category for the challenge?
"Snow White" is a European fairy tale that existed in various iterations for quite some time before the Brothers Grimm presented their version in 1812. It's really more fitting for next month's Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge, but I suppose one could argue that fairy tales are part of "mythology." I haven't seen the movie so I can't speak for its tone. If there's much supernatural content (i.e., magic mirror, etc.) then it's probably not an appropriate choice here. If it's played more as a straight period piece, though, then I suppose it's okay (this year anyway) to count toward Folk Hero/Mythology.
Old 06-04-12, 12:13 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by MinLShaw
"Snow White" is a European fairy tale that existed in various iterations for quite some time before the Brothers Grimm presented their version in 1812. It's really more fitting for next month's Sci-Fi/Fantasy Challenge, but I suppose one could argue that fairy tales are part of "mythology." I haven't seen the movie so I can't speak for its tone. If there's much supernatural content (i.e., magic mirror, etc.) then it's probably not an appropriate choice here. If it's played more as a straight period piece, though, then I suppose it's okay (this year anyway) to count toward Folk Hero/Mythology.
It's got a bit of both in it. Fantasy things plus some good battle scenes, storming the castle things going on. It has a Lord of the Rings feel to it from time to time.
Old 06-04-12, 12:27 AM
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Re: Verily, Behold! The Third Annual Historical Appreciation Challenge Be Upon Us!

Originally Posted by JOE29
It's got a bit of both in it. Fantasy things plus some good battle scenes, storming the castle things going on. It has a Lord of the Rings feel to it from time to time.
Yeah, sounds more appropriate to next month's challenge. You can claim it as a Wild Card under the "X-Men: First Class Clause" (as someone else is doing with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter this year). Just don't count it toward your checklist. Sound reasonable and all?

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