~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Bewitching Elizabeth ~ Monday, May 01, 2006

We watched "Bewitched"--the new film version--on Friday night. Despite some amusing moments, generally speaking, it was terrible. Inconsistent, incoherent and generally puzzling in the context of how the rules of the world worked (if, indeed, there were any rules at all).


I also watched the first part of the HBO/BBC two-parter "Elizabeth I" (or a name to that effect), starring Jeremy Irons and Helen Mirren. I really liked it. For once, Irons actually played a somewhat normalish character (well, it seems like it has been a while, at least--not that I've been following his career closely. Takes me back to his "Brideshead Revisited" days). At any rate, I really liked this episode a lot, but it kind of haunted me afterwards and made me feel sad. I was moved by the relationship between Bess and Leicester (sp?)--its yearning restraint, its frustrations, and the way that the genuine, deep love endured between them despite many and various tribulations and fallings out.

~spoiler warning, though I'll try to be vague about it~
Which brings me to my main issue with it, narratively speaking--for I know that though the story itself is conjecture, they undoubtedly had to at least follow the sweeping details of ER I and Leicester's lives, so they're stuck with making the most of it they can. But, narratively speaking, after part one, they had reached a point in the story that made me unwilling to continue with it. I suppose I will watch the second part, but I'm not eager for it.

Don't get me wrong--I think they did the best they could with the material, and no doubt stretched the facts somewhat in order to maximize the drama and irony of the major turning point/showdown, presenting a significant victory in one context that is offset by an equally devastating loss. But now that things have changed, I'm sad for the loss and not really as interested in seeing where it goes from there (maybe because I already have a notion of where it does go, and am not sure that I want to see it enacted).

But all the same, I really did like part one very much and definitely recommend it.

Other interesting bits, again gleaned from the avalanches of magazines under which I find myself at this point:

A recently released book, _Killing Hitler_ by Roger Moorehouse, about the many assassination attempts that were made on Hitler. The most amazing, meticulous and poignant of the more than forty plots (at least of those detailed in the article) was by a fellow named Elser. This was in the late 30's (after Poland but before so many of the atrocities that were to follow), and he was apparently working alone. He tracked Hitler's movements during the annual commemoration of the Beer Hall Putsch and determined an ideal location in which to plant his bomb.

Then, for the next year (until the next commemoration), he painstakingly enacted his plan. He worked at a quarry from which he filched explosives, and then worked out how much he would need by conducting experiments in fields near his home. Once he had worked out those details of the plan, he moved Munich, where he dined nightly at the beer hall where he would plant the bomb. He made sketches and sussed out the ideal location. Then, over many weeks, he would have a late dinner, hide in a storeroom in the building until the place closed. Then, he would work all night by flashlight, cutting a hole in a pillar, planting the bomb and then ensuring that the door over it was undetectable. He cleaned up after himself meticulously, and even ensured that the bomb casing was lined so that if someone knocked on it, the pillar wouldn't sound hollow.

He had purchased a long timer for the bomb and he set it going three days before it would detonate, having timed things precisely, so that it would go off at about the midpoint of Hitler's speech. He, in the mean time, planned to be safely out of the country when the actual explosion took place.

But--there was urgent business Hitler needed to attend to in Berlin. The fog at the airport meant that the flight he would have taken was no longer a possibility--so he would have to catch the overnight train. And so, he made his speech early, and left for the station a mere thirteen minutes before the bomb detonated.

Unfortunately, Elser also did not consider the full implications of the escalating international situation. The border he had previously scouted was now patrolled, and so he was caught by two guards, who, upon discovering the incriminating evidence, apprehended him.

Ironically and most sadly of all (at least according to Moorhouse's speculation, via Bethune's article), Hitler's narrow escape from the bombing might well have been a key turning point in the development of Hitler's megalomania. It also aparently bolstered support and sympathy for Hitler and the Nazi cause.

The story fascinated me. I wonder what could have motivated Elser to do as he did--to basically orient his life around this assassination attempt? What were the events in his life that would have inspired such an implacable (and accurate) conviction that Hitler needed to be eliminated--it must have been profound for him to have reshaped his life (working at the quarry, moving to Munich, hiding and working by flashlight every night, ironing out every tiny detail of his plan) in such a way and with such a purpose? From what I've read, his conviction originated in his dislike of the Nazi regime policies and propaganda. From as early as '33, he refused to perform the Nazi salute. But such unwavering focus--which in other contexts would seem creepy or disturbing (i.e. if this were an attempt on some celebrity or whatever) just seems poignant and powerful, given his intended target.

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 8:42 PM::::


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Anduril Elessar
Susan Deefholts

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