fredag 28. januar 2011

Robben Island

Robben Island was a prison for political prisoners from the period between the 17th to the 20th centuries. The prison was first taken in use by the Dutch settlers that are the ancestors of the white minority in South Africa today. The name Robben Island is Dutch for Seal Island, and the island is only a few meters above sea level caused by an ancient erosion event.

The prison has been the home to many South African politicians that have fought for the South African people’s rights.
Among those prisoners were Nelson Mandela and the current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. They fought against the Apartheid regime in South Africa, and Nelson Mandela was the first black president in the country. Before the Island was used as a home for prisoners during the Apartheid, it was the base for a colony by the Dutch settlers. During the World War Two the island was the first point of defence against an attack on Table Bay. Right before the war it was considered that the island should be made into a holiday resort, but this did not happen. It was reserved for military use and later a maximum security prison.

Robben Island is about 12 km outside the coast of South Africa and Cape Town. Totally separated from the rest of the world these prisoners sat in small cells for years without any contact with their families. The reality at the island where long days with manual labour when they were not sitting alone in their cells. Many of the prisoners became blind after working long days outside with white metamorphic rocks that reflected sunlight.

Today Robben Island represent something else than it did 30 years ago. Those who spent decades there fought for freedom, democracy and equality for their people. That is what the prison and the island itself stands for today. We can find Robben Island as one of the places on UNESCO’s World Heritage List among many other unique places all over the world. Today there is a museum on the island where the prison used to be, and they have kept it all authentic. It is possible to visit Nelson Mandela’s cell and see what condition these prisoners lived under for several years.

torsdag 20. januar 2011

9 11

9/11 was the date when many thousands Americans dialed 911, more than usual. It stands in memory as milestone, and was a change in American history as we know it today. This film 9/11 tells the story from the inside, from a firefighter’s perspective and role.

Two French brothers had for months been filming for a documentary that was meant to be a film about the life off a firefighter at the New York fire department. Instead it turned out to be a chocking and real documentary telling a strong story from an insider’s perspective on the event of 9/11.

In the movie we get to know Tony, a rookie at the Manhattan, New York fire department. The two French brothers have decided to follow him on his way to becoming a real fire fighter. Tony seems to be a white cloud as the guys at the house call it. There are white clouds and there are black clouds. The white clouds are rookies on duty without experiencing fires for a long time. The black clouds are the opposite, and when they are on duty it seems to always be a huge fire somewhere.
“Be careful what you wish for” the guys always tell Tony, because they can see that he is waiting for his first big challenge.

On September 10 the French brothers are making dinner for the fire department. They are all sitting around the table eating a leg of lamb. They only made three, and I bet on of the fire fighters could eat one each. Despite the lack of lamb, they where all having a great time, and the brothers really felt as one of the guys. This memorable night was everything the next day wouldn’t be. Almost without worries and not a thought of what was waiting them the next morning.

On the morning of September 11, one of the French brothers was with the chief just checking a gas leak. That was when a plane was seen flying over New York City and crashed into the World Trade Center. Everyone was looking against the two towers, Manhattan and New York’s trademark. It was as taken out from a movie, but this wasn’t a movie, it was real.

Not more than fifteen minutes later the center was filled up with fire fighters from all over New York that wanted to help the civilians inside the Trade Center. As they entered the center, one of the brothers saw a woman on fire, but he didn’t want to film it, because he thought no one should see such a horrible sight. Some people where helped out from the building and brought into security, but many thousands died. As time went by the started to hear big cracks as people jumped and landed on the ground.

On the other side of town, Tony the rookie was sitting as the only one left at the fire department taking calls. It was unbearable sitting there alone not being able to do anything knowing that his “brothers” where risking their lives inside the World Trade Center. Tony said in an interview after the film was done that the reason he wanted to be a fire fighter was because he wanted to save lives, but after this he was prepared to go to war if he had to. Go to war to kill.

In this picture fire men are carrying the pastor out from the tower that just collapsed.

After a while on more plane hit the building next to the World Trade Center, and soon the Twin Towers would be leveled with the ground. People all over New York where in shook, and running around trying to get a hold of their loved ones.

Both the brothers where involved in very dangerous situations that day, but they both survived as all the other fire fighters at the department. They caught it all on tape; the people running around in the streets, fire men in their uniforms sitting dusty and covered in blood after trying to save as many lives as possible, and the World Trade Center falling to the ground. They filmed it all from the inside, and that is what makes this documentary so special. The solidarity at the fire house and the Americans united in the streets, no matter race or skin color.

In the film you can see the pastor praying when he stands inside the lobby helping the other fire fighters.
The memory of those who died that day should never be forgotten and we should work hard in the future to prevent something like this happen again. This day was not only a loss for USA, but for the whole world. We all remember what we did that day, and how the fear wouldn’t disappear for a long time. This film tells a story that should be told and I highly recommend it.

Photo from this site.

tirsdag 18. januar 2011

C.S Lewis and Tolkien - Friendship, Authorship and Disagreements

The Chronicles of Narnia is in all a series of seven novels written by C.S Lewis between the period from 1949-1954, and published in March 1956. The film we watched in class before Christmas brake is based on the first book in the series; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The story in this movie takes place in World War I, a war that C.S Lewis experienced. His friend and famous author of The Hobbit, John Tolkien (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) did also live through World War I. Though they both wrote fantasy novels, the content of their books where very different. Something else they both had in common and they used in their books, was the way World War I was fought. There were no guns or rifles, only swards, bows and arrows and that sort of weapons.

They were close friends but had their disagreements. Tolkien turned C.S Lewis over to Christianity while Lewis helped Tolkien expand his fictional writing. They both used Christianity as an underlining theme in their books. Tolkien meant Lewis used it way to obvious, while he on his side tried to bury it deep so it wouldn’t be too obvious to the reader, something he managed to do better than C.S Lewis.

Tolkien believed that Lewis should leave the theology to the experts and to the church, rather than writing popular theology and comparing Christ to a lion. In The Chronicles of Narnia he uses Aslan a symbol of Christ and his return from death. These blasphemous assertions from Lewis’ side Tolkien did not think very highly of.

These underlining themes in their writings were not the only conflicts going on in their friendship. After Tolkien turned C.S Lewis to Christianity Lewis’ further choice of religion caused a foundation that lead to disagreements. C.S Lewis chose Protestant Anglicanism instead of the Catholic direction that Tolkien was a part off. Lewis’ choice on its own did not cause any arguments, but the fact that he chose to use an anti-catholic tone in his writing, something that upset Tolkien. C.S Lewis was very fond of Jean Calvin, the founder of a very protestant direction. His followers were called Huguenots.

The two of them where members of a group of consisting of men that shared the same interests, expecially the history of the English language was something they both found interesting. But Lewis drifted apart from both Tolkien and the others when he entered a relationship with a woman called Joy Gresham, and the two friends lost contact.

Shortly added together it is safely to say that they had a turbulent friendship and they both had their own and strong opinions. I believe that they cared about each other very much, but their strong personalities, religious view and personal issues at least drifted them apart.
I found the information for my entry at this page: