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The Tree of Life won the prize of Palme d'Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, getting polarized reactions to the director, Terrence Malick's style. Some critics uphold his artistic and technical skills while some disapprove of his fragmented and non-linear narrative. For an amateur filmgoer like me, bizarre”is the first word that comes to my mind when watching this film. Bizarre though it is, the film is unforgettable with some poetic shots leaving indelible impressions on me.

I. A Visual Manifestation of the Book of Job

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding. . . . who laid the cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Book of Job 38)

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「享受吧,一個人的旅行」(Eat, Pay, Love),作者(Eliazath Gilbert)以第一人稱的角度,娓娓道來她的自我追尋。副標題(OneWoman’s Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia)揭示這是一個女人的故事,她的追尋橫跨了義大利、印度及巴里島。故事的主角Lisa在三十幾歲出頭時,就已擁有時下美國女性該擁有的一切,包括有成就的丈夫、鄉村別墅、以及成功的事業,然而她卻感受不到滿足與喜悅,反而因困惑與驚恐而被受煎熬。故事從這裏開展,接下來就描繪她如何放下世人所欣羨的成功表象,轉而去追尋自己真正想要的東西。她用一年的時間,到三個不同的國家旅行,體察三種不同的文化,也發掘出最真實的自我。她在義大利體驗愉悅(pleasure), 在印度發掘虔誠(devotion), 最後在巴里島找到世俗享樂(wordly enjoyment)及靈性超越(divine transcendence)兩者間的平衡。

以西方文學的類別來區分,本書可視為是一本成長小說(Bildungsroman),主角從匱乏到富足,從中學習人生的寶貴經驗(from rags to riches)。此中的匱乏,可以是實際的物質或金錢,亦可以是心靈的枯竭。故事開始於主角的一無所有,必須赤手空拳面對世間的挑戰,但經由勇氣與智慧,或得到貴人的相助,最後終能享有成功的果實。此文類的代表作有狄更斯的大衛考伯菲爾,伯朗特的簡愛等。Lisa從離婚的一無所有,到最後在巴里島找到真愛的過程,就是一部成長小說的典範。用「三」這個數字,代表的是平衡、和諧與禪定。東方的佛教徒或瑜伽行者,在修行時手上的念珠有108顆。108這個數字是三位數,總合加起來是9,亦是三的平方數。西方基督教有三位一體(Holy Trinity)的說法,意思為聖父、聖子及聖靈,可見三所代表的吉祥意涵。作者將她的追尋分成三部分,以呼應它在宗教上的神聖意涵。Lisa在三個不同的文化中,看見潛藏於本性中的渴求,也釋放了真實的自我。透過三種文化的洗禮,她得到了真正的平靜和喜悅,這正是宗教的最終意義----讓世人離苦得樂。

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  • Jul 04 Mon 2011 12:33
  • 父愛

在西方的文學傳統裏,父與子經常處於對立矛盾的關係。天神宙斯(Zeus)必須打敗自己的父親(Cronus)才能稱霸於奧林卑斯山(Mt. Olympus)。伊底帕斯王命中註定會殺死自己的父親,娶自己的母親而後繼承王位。希臘三大悲劇詩人之一Euripides所寫的悲劇Hippolytus中,亦涉及父親(Theseus)對兒子(Hippolytus)的猜忌與不信任,最後導致忠貞的兒子被控與後母(Phaedra)有染,含冤而死。父子之間的爭戰衝突亦是現代電影經常探討的主題。從李安的「推手」到最近坎城影展的得獎影片「永生樹」(The Tree of Life),探討的都是父親的價值觀,強加於兒子身上時,所造成的情感暴力、傷害與束縛。

有別於父子矛盾如此熟悉的主題,本文要列舉一篇英詩來探討父親那種說不出口,卻真實細膩的愛。

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     Some readers accuse Amy Chua’s Chinese way of parenting as child abuse while some identify with it. What’s the essential part of Chinese parenting that raises such controversy? To begin with, the demand for excellence imposes great pressure on children, which has a lot to do with the Chinese conception of success. To prepare kids for future success is the grave responsibility of Chinese parents. As Amy claims, “nothing is fun until you are good at it.” The only way to gain fun for everything is through tenacious practice, without which you can never achieve anything significant and therefore you cannot possibly have fun from it. She asserts the value of rote repetition: “Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence” Through rote learning, kids will have a good command of such skills as math, piano or ballet. Only when they get praise or admiraiton can they feel satisfied and confident. And it is the very confidence that makes the once boring activity fun.

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Conversations with God (與神對話) by Neale Donald Walsch is a morale booster meant to encourage the wretched people struck hard by fate. It may well be called a modern version of the Book of Job. Job is a God-fearing and righteous man, just as Neale is an ordinary, law-abiding guy. Yet, both are afflicted with misery for no reason --- the one suddenly deprived of all the possessions and cursing in dust and ashes, while the latter breaking his neck in a car accident, losing his job and becoming a  homeless bum struggling to stay alive. Both have consoling friends to help them weather through the difficulty. But Job's are beguiling, God-blaspheming ones while Neale's are kind-hearted ones who help him survive the harsh living condition. Both stories deal with a complete loser full of anger and bitterness toward God. Both have the theme of redemption embodied through the repentace for human ignorance. Through God's enlightening words, both characters are awakened from their dark world and regain their life.

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speech at Stanford, 2005

 

In the commencement speech, Steve Jobs relates three stories of his life. The first one is about connecting the dots, the second, love and lost, and the third, death. His speech is inspiring in that it comes from his personal experiences instead of quoting others’ views.

For the first part about connecting the dots, he confirms the value of pursuing one’s real interests, which, though impractical then and there, will turn out valuable in the future. He gives his dropping in on the calligraphy course as an example, illustrating how important it is to follow one’s heart instead of others’ opinion. Here are his insights on trusting the inner voice:

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Based on Roland Barthes’ analysis of the flood in Paris, 1955, this essay aims to examine the ravage of tsunami in Japan, 2011 with a similar semiotic approach.

The big flood brought by a massive tsunami of March 11, 2011, caused numerous deaths and serisous damage in the northeast coast of Japan. Despite the trials and agonies inflicted by Nature, the flood takes on two implications--- festivity and solidarity.

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海明威於1899年出生於美國的伊利諾州,從小喜歡釣魚或打獵等戶外活動,他熱愛大自然,也因此他的作品多有人與大自然接觸的經驗。此外,他本身也相當喜愛拳擊、鬥牛以及足球,是位喜愛運動的作家。高中時期開始,海明威在寫作方面逐漸嶄露頭角,並擔任學報編輯。高中畢業後,他不顧父親的反對,堅持不就讀大學,而在堪城星報(Kansas City Star) 當記者。數月之後,他辭去記者一職,參加了美國軍隊,希望能在前線親身體驗第一次世界大戰。雖然海明威身材健壯,但由於視力不好,被分發到救傷隊工作。在戰場上,海明威充分體驗到戰爭的殘酷與無情,人類在死亡邊緣的無助與渺小。也因此他早期的作品都與戰爭相關。在一次大戰之後,他繼續擔任作者一職,先後在多家報社工作,並開始了他的寫作生涯。在這期間,他陸續發表了一些作品,但成績並不是很理想。直到1926年,海明威發表了一部長篇小說《旭日又升》(The Sun Also Rises) ,藉由故事表達人們在戰後感到失落與茫然。這部作品讓他開始嶄露頭角,隨後的《戰地春夢》(A Farewell to Arms) 、《戰地鐘聲》(For Whom the Bell Tolls)和《老人與海》(The Old Man and The Sea)都是相當受到喜愛的長篇小說。其中又以晚期作品《老人與海》最受到肯定,海明威因這部小說得到普立茲獎與諾貝爾文學獎。

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I. 引言

希臘神話中,有著名的三朵花,分別是水仙、風信子和秋牡丹。它們的模樣色彩,和今日見到的大不相同。拿水仙來說吧,古希臘的水仙是銀紫色的,跟現在的黃、白色差別甚大。但這不影響我們對它美好的想像。為何希臘神話對這些花情有獨鍾,並為它們留下傳誦千古的一頁呢? 答案有二。第一是地理環境的因素。地中海的風情,有的是崎嶇的丘陵、嶙峋的島嶼、湛藍的蒼穹與壯闊的大海。在如此肅穆的氛圍中,偶爾望見從岩壁處伸展出的彩色花朵,那種驚喜,就像是得到上天的禮物。花的神話於焉誕生,目的是要讓珍貴稀有的東西永垂不朽。第二個原因是贖罪。在遠古文化未開的時代,血祭時有所聞。當農作欠收導致飢荒時,就必須犧牲個人,將他的血灑在大地上以祭祀大地。因為人須要吃的一切取之於大地,我們是被大地所滋養;當大地變貧脊的時候,我們須要反過來滋養它.”There must be a deep connection between themselves and the earth and that their blood, which was nourished by the corn, could in turn nourish it at need.” 花之神話的誕生,無非在掩飾這種殘忍的謀殺。在神話的歌詠中,美男子的死變得如此淒美不朽,我們再也感受不到血祭的殘酷野蠻!

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第一次為母親登台演唱畫面出現在四分鐘處

 

卓別林英國著名的喜劇演員以及反戰人士,也可說是默片時代中最具影響力的人,不僅自編、自導、自演,最後還自己發行電影,一生從5歲到88歲可以說全部貢獻在演藝事業中。卓別林最為人所熟知的形象就是圓頂禮帽,希特勒式的八字鬍,柺杖,寬鬆褲子,大號的鞋子,以及幽默的企鵝舞步。他以詼諧逗趣的角色穿梭在工業急速發展、一切機械化的電影場景中。這樣反諷時事的手法正是他的電影成功受到人們重視的原因。

在「卓別林與他的情人」這部傳記電影中,我們看到一代笑匠的笑淚人生、情愛生活,和對人道主義的支持。他的複雜人生,不是上述這些刻板形象可以涵蓋的。小勞勃道尼飾演片中的主角卓別林,並因為本片同時入圍了奧斯卡和金球獎的最佳男主角提名。 導演李察艾登布祿為了加強影片的深度和層次,特地剪映許多卓別林的知名影片,如「城市之光」、「摩登時代」等,讓觀眾在現實和虛幻間一賭默片大師的風采。另外卓別林的親生女兒裘拉汀卓別林也在片中詮釋卓別林苦難的母親。 而凱文克萊、影帝安東尼霍普金斯也在片中客串演出,是另一種向大師致敬的方式。

根據卓別林的自傳,我們得知一位天才演員的產生,背後有多少的心酸血淚! 以下這段文字,是他難忘的童年回憶,描述他如何在五歲時初試啼聲登上舞台,代替他母親表演,而後一鳴驚人,開啟往後的演藝生涯:

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