No news from the hospital about the next lot of surgery – so wait-on! I know Bristol was pretty badly hit with the snow over the past few days – so my guess is, that like the rest of our great UK infrastructure, the hospital ground to an undignified halt. Interestingly here in Ilchester we’ve had hardly any snow at all. What fell last Sunday night had all but disappeared by Tuesday evening. Snow to the left of us and snow to the right - but here? None! Well, none worth speaking of anyway. And today – through the study window – it’s a bright, blue-skied sunny morning with just a hint of snow on the Wiltshire downs to the east.

So – the Tom Cruise film – Valkyrie. Amazing casting. I think Cruise is the only American actor (certainly the only one on a prominent rôle), the film is otherwise crammed full of British talent. Kenneth Branagh, as Major General Henning Von Tresckow has a small but powerful part as one of the key conspirators in the 1944 plot to assasinate Hitler. The ubiquitous Tim Wilkinson plays General Friedrich Frome and and gives us a magnificent example of just how endlessly versatile this man is – how he escapes media attention and widespread aclamation I do not know – especially when the same also-run twerps of low talent manage to get themselves on self-publicicing tv chat shows again and again. Wilkinson swings from being the powerful ‘you-can’t-touc-me’ senior Wehrmacht general to a man torn apart with indecision and moral uncertainty. Eddie Izzard – an unlikely candidate you might have thought for a top army oficer’s part – is quite unrecognisable as the cross-gender comic. He not only looks the part in his smart blood-red edged uniform, as General Erich Fellgiebel but works the miracle of combining teutonic arrogance with emotion and doubt. Bernard Hill (“gis a job” from “The Boys in the Black Stuff) has a notable cameo rôle as a General in Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and Danny Webb has a small but vital part as a back-room communications officer (Captain Haans). Webb is one of that company of well tried and tested actors, who rarely, if ever getting the leading rôles, but nonetheless perform a vital part of the action. I can almost guarantee that if you don’t know the name, you will know the face. He appears in so many films and tv productions, usually playing some small minded, weasley, slippery, low-life character with shifty eyes. His track record certainly earned him the part in this film. And then of course there’s Bill Nighy as General Friedrich Olbricht. Anything Nighy touches is gold – here again is a Wehrmacht General riven with doubts and trepidation, the fabric of who’s life is being ripped apart by prevarication, doubt and mistrust of his fellow conspirators and always in fear of his life. No wonder, I suppose, as both he and General Frome are executed before the end of the war. And finally worthy of praise and attention – and a million miles away from Priscilla Queen of the Desert is Terence Stamp playing Ludwig Beck a leading anti-Hitler retired general. Stamp looked frightening as a drag queen – and somehow rather unsavoury – in this part, although we know he wants rid of Hitler and is therefore one of the “good guys” he manages to weave into his character a sense of brooding menace.

Operation Walkürie failed. The bomb went off, but Hitler survived it. The conspirators were arrested and either committed suicide (Beck) or were summarily shot (Col. Graf Claus Von Stauffenberg) or were later hanged. It’s a familiar story of heroes and villians of plots and betrayals. Cruise plays the central rôle but is really over shadowed by this panoply of excellent home-grown talent. A film well worth seeing. The Valkyries are of course most familiar to us in Wagner’s opera – one of Hitler’s favourites evidently.

The Valkyries ("Choosers of the Slain") are beautiful young women, mounted upon winged horses and armed with helmets and spears. Odin needs many brave warriors for the oncoming battle of Ragnarok and the Valkyries scout the battlefields to choose the bravest of those who have been slain. They escort these heroes, called the Einherjar to Valhalla Odin's hall. The Valkyries are also Odin's messengers and when they ride forth on their errands, their armour causes the strange flickering light that is called "Aurora Borealis" (Northern Lights). Some of the Valyries are Brynhildr, Göll, Göndul, Gudr, Gunn, Herfjoturr, Hildr, Hladgunnr, Hlokk, Hrist, Sigrdrifa, Sigrún, and Svafa.

Have a good weekend.

Comments on this entry:

  1. Must share with you the fact that we, too, had very little snow and that our’s had all gone by Monday evening! We too had snow to the left and right of us, but none for us to play in boo hoo. Must be something to do with the position of the hills – they must offer protection. Lovely to hear from you today and glad you now have your next appointment date.

    — Heather · Saturday 7 February, 2009 · #

  2. Dear Graeme

    Good luck for today (Monday).

    As for not much snow, we had loads in London, over a foot deep and in places it is still on the ground. You were lucky to escape! Both our front and back gardens looked a picture. Raining today, which should clear the pavements and roads of the filthy mess of what little grit our Council put down. In fact I never saw a gritting lorry for the whole of last week!

    Take care and no doubt Fiona will keep everyone informed.

    Bye for now.

    — Irene Dougherty · Monday 9 February, 2009 · #

  3. Well the snow caught up with us yesterday and I woke to 4 inches of it this morning. Got wet feet clearing the car as it was up to my ankles. Glad we have underfloor heating in Chaplaincy.

    Margaret Reid · Monday 9 February, 2009 · #

  4. we saw Valkyrie a couple of weeks ago & enjoyed it, though i am not a great Tom Cruise fan,I can recommend Gran Torino Clint Eastwood stars & directs bit of a slow start but builds to a good view .All he best for Monday

    — george · Sunday 8 March, 2009 · #