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The Martian January 29, 2016

Posted by heidi skarie in Movie reveiew, Uncategorized.
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Being a science fiction writer and hearing that The Martian was a good film with Matt Damon as the star, I had to check it out. I’m glad I did. It was an enjoyable movie with an urlinteresting premise and lots of drama.

Astronaut Mark Watney is thought to be dead when he’s caught in a terrible storm on Mars and ends up being left behind by his crewmates when they head for home. He finds himself stranded on Mars without enough food to survive until a rescue ship can come for him. He has to use all his skills to find a way to signal earth, stay alive, and grow his own food.

The story is based on real science and the Watney is a funny, smart man who we enjoy being with as the viewer.

The film won two golden globe awards for best motion picture and best actor.

The story behind the movie is also interesting. The book, the movie was based on, was written by Andy Weir, an American software engineer. It was written to be as scientifically accurate as possible. It was first published as a free serial on Weir’s personal blog and received feedback from the readers. At the reader’s request it was eventually made into an e-book that sold for 99 cents. It shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller science fiction list. An agent contacted Weir and it was sold to a large publisher. Four days later Hollywood called for the movie rights. It all happened so fast even the author had a hard time believing it.

Here is the trailer of The Martian.

Another Youtube I ran across was an interview with Matt Damon, Andy Weir, and Dr. Jim Green (from NASA). In this interview we find out that elements in the movie are already being developed by NASA. The people who made the movie visited NASA to make it as real as possible. Here is a link to the youtube.

Do you think we’ll someday go to Mars and set up settlements? If we do, would you want to go there?

Weir’s first work to gain attention was a short story called The Egg that was adapted into Youtube videos. Here is a link to one of the youtubes if you’d like to see one. It’s an interesting story exploring soul’s experience after a person dies.

The Egg:


The Monuments Men and the Value of Artwork March 13, 2014

Posted by heidi skarie in Movie reveiew.
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11174399_detThe Monuments Men didn’t get great reviews, but I went to see it anyway because I’m an artist and interested in the history of art and because this was a part of World War II I didn’t know anything about.  The film is based on a true story.  Near the end of the war with Germany, the Reich was falling and seven American men (who were museum directors, curators and art historians) were assembled as a platoon to rescue artwork stolen by the Nazis and return it to it’s rightful owners.  There were about five million pieces of artwork stolen, covering a thousand years of history.   Many of these pieces had been taken from the home of Jewish people.   Hitler had plans to build a huge museum to display the artwork, but lost the war before he could.

The film assembled a group of well-known actors including George Clooney (who also directs it), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, and Cate Blanchett and many others.  Unfortunately, with so many characters I found it hard to feel close to any of them.  However, the movie held my attention because it was like a mystery.  The platoon had to figure out where the pieces had been hidden.  It was also a race against time.  Could they find and save the art before it was destroyed?

The mission seemed impossible as the artwork was hidden behind enemy lines and Hitler had ordered it to be destroyed.  The platoon was set down in Normandy, and then separated into groups as they set off to find, save, and even defend the artwork.

One thing that made the film interesting to me was seeing all the painting and sculptures.  In one scene you see an entire mansion full of amazing sculptures, in another a cave full of paining, in yet another pieces that are part of a church altar.  We also see a cave full of paintings torched.  It’s hard to imagine anyone burning these priceless pieces.

Here is a link to the preview of the film.

After seeing the film my husband came across an article that told about the recent recovery of 1,500 pieces of the artwork in Germany. They were by such master as Picasso, Renoir, and Chagall and thought to be lost during the firebombing of Dresden in 1945.  Cornelius Gurlitt has had them for nearly seventy years.  He is the son of Hildebrandt Gurlitt, a well-known Germany art dealer. Hildebrandt bought many of the paintings for a pittance from Jews fleeing Germany and had control of the Degenerate Art exhibition.  He passed the artwork to his son when he died.

One thing the movie didn’t mention was that Hitler only liked classical art and regarded the Impressionist, Cubist, and Modernist pieces as degenerate.   He held the Degenerate Art exhibition to show people what not to like.

To me it was interesting that all this artwork was found by chance after all these years at the same time as The Monuments Men was at theaters.

Here is a link to the article.


The film and recently discovered Masterpieces raises some interesting questions like: Is artwork worth dying for?  How much is lost when a society loses their artwork?    What is the value of art?  Clooney’s character says the art inspires and defines a society.  Do you agree or disagree?