Friday, 18 December 2009

The best books, plays and films of 2009: your advent favourites

Live from the Moon, Michael Allen (I.B. Tauris) - ‘I've just started PhD research looking at the impact and influence of the media on US space policy. There are many great narratives around the Cold War Space Race, but most of the new material written to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Moon Landing was derivative and/or hagiographic. While Allen is not perfect, and his facts are a little shaky at times, he does put a new lens (quite literally) on the Mercury-Apollo achievements of the Americans, and presents a neat contrast with the Russian competition. His narrative is lively, his love of film and TV obvious, and his sociological musings make sense. Not the best-ever academic history book, but accessible and a good read.’ (Marc Shanahan, Research Student in Politics and History, Brunel University)

Agincourt, Juliet Barker (Abacus) - ‘The book not only brings history alive and the campaign of Henry V, but details the whole amazing effort involved in taking a force from the English shore to France and the incredible management of the job.’ (Richard Vobes, entertainer, film maker and professional podcaster, The Vobes Show)

Fidel and Che: A Revolutionary Friendship, Simon Reid-Henry (Sceptre) – ‘It helped me to understand that period of Cuban history.’ (Sidonie Sakula-barry, A-level student)

The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca at the Theatro Technis in Camden – ‘A really tense and gripping play about the life of a family of women in Andalucía, written three years before Franco came to power and Lorca’s last play.’ (Kathryn Parsons, A-level student)

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo – ‘I took my family to see it at the National before its transfer to the New London Theatre. We were a group aged 8-40-several and all of us found something deeply moving and rather wondrous in the production. Great acting - and puppetry doesn't even begin to describe the way the horses are brought to life on stage. This play will live long with me and my family.’ (Marc Shanahan, Research Student in Politics and History, Brunel University)

Prick Up Your Ears by Simon Bent at the Comedy theatre – ‘The play got the balance between comedy and tragedy just right. Despite Matt Lucas not starring, Con O'Neil did a great job - probably better than Matt Lucas would have done.’ (Sidonie Sakula-barry, A-level student)

‘Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon is a brilliant study of how one generation's neuroses and pathologies shape those of the next. Set in Germany in the months before the First World War, it suggests that malice, envy and random brutality were the stuff of everyday life, reinforced by the baleful influence of religion and class. Masterful.’ (Hugh Costello)

1 comment:

Russel said...

At the International School of Toulouse, we’ve got a library of 150 or so feature films related to historical themes. The most frequently borrowed by students this year were as follows:

Most Frequently Borrowed
A Knight’s Tale (Medieval Warfare, Chivalry)
Marie-Antoinette (French Revolution)
Land and Freedom (Spanish Civil War)
Cinderella Man (The Great Depression)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Holocaust)
Sophie Scholl (Opposition to the Nazis)
Downfall (Fall of Hitler)
Valkyrie (Opposition to the Nazis)
Goodbye Lenin (Life in the Soviet Bloc)
The Lives of Others (Life in the Soviet Bloc)

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