azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 05:23pm on 06/08/2010 under
[profile] bluemeanybeany has the most fantastic Sapphire and Steel vid up on youtube, The Ground Beneath Her Feet. It captures all the eerie awesomeness of the show, while magically making it visually exciting and fast-paced. And for those who like that sort of thing, it has distilled essence of Steel-angst at about 90% proof.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (sapphire&steel)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 07:49pm on 20/09/2008 under , ,
I'm late with this, but [livejournal.com profile] antisoppist gave me an S, so here are some burblings.

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azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 11:34am on 30/03/2008 under ,
Last night I watched "The Great Escape: The Untold Story" on youtube, which is a strange little programme, part documentary, part reconstruction of the real-life events behind the film The Great Escape. The programme quoted from the transcript of the interrogation of the guard who shot Roger Bushell, the original Big X, who had planned and organised the escape. The guard claimed that when he was given the order he had said that this was wrong, whereupon his Captain had told him it was a direct order, and he must carry it out. The guard had reasoned that if he refused, he would be shot for disobeying orders, and someone else would simply do the shooting. And then he added "But I have always known that I would answer for this, this deed I did not wish to do."

That sentence made me shiver, because it seemed so terrifyingly right. I don't know if you can call it a narrative kink of mine, exactly, because it's a little too abstract, more like a philosophical position than a kink. And it doesn't derive its power from being something I believe to be true about the world - I think people often get away with doing things they know are wrong, whether or not they wished to do those deeds in the first place. But as part of a narrative, as part of a story about responsibility and consequences, it resonates with me on multiple levels . And it struck me that it's one of the reasons why I find Sapphire and Steel so satisfying, because you could write that sentence over the series as a kind of motto: "I would answer for this, this deed I did not wish to do."

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I knew most of the facts that "The Great Escape: the Untold Story" recounted, but there were still a few nuggets that fascinated me. For instance, when those 76 men escaped, it was seen as such an appalling propaganda blow that the Germans diverted an astonishing 100,000 troops to look for them. Hitler threw a hissy fit on hearing the news and insisted that all those who escaped should be shot, in direct contradiction of the Geneva Convention, which states that it is the duty of captured soldiers to attempt to escape. Voices of reason within the High Command persuaded him that if every single escaper were shot, the Allies would know that Germany had broken "all the rules of war." Accordingly, Hitler modified his order to "more than half". Himmler decided that the actual figure should be fifty – apparently his desire for nice neat round numbers led him to overlook the point that if it shouldn't be obvious that the men had been killed deliberately, then fifty was a stupidly non-random number to choose – and drew up a list of those who would die. The death certificate for every single man stated that he had been shot while trying to escape, a transparent lie that the British top brass of Stalag Luft III immediately exposed, when he forced the Kommandant to admit that not a single escaper had been injured rather than killed outright during the many so-called escape attempts. After the war, the British moved heaven and earth to track down the exact chain of command by which the orders to kill had filtered through, and executed various people involved. Including the guard who shot Bushell in the back of the head.

I also watched a program on youtube about the making of the Great Escape, which included a gem of a little interview with Donald Pleasance, who had actually been shot down himself during the war and ended up in Stalag Luft I. He complained humorously that when he tried to give the filmmakers the benefit of his experience, they refused to believe that POWs would ever have used rude words to armed Nazi guards, and he soon learned to keep his mouth shut about what the camps had actually been like.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 09:41am on 28/03/2008 under
Yet more Sapphire and Steel, for interested parties

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azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 11:43am on 27/03/2008 under
Last night I showed the kids episode one of Sapphire and Steel, awaiting with interest the reactions of the modern generation to Life on Mars-era TV (I grew up with this stuff, and I want them to think it's good too!). Much to my relief, they were both gripped. We hadn't even got past the pre-credit sequence (the part where Rob is sitting downstairs doing his homework all on his ownsome, while his parents sing songs and play games with Helen up in her bedroom), when the eldest said thoughtfully "Is that his sister? So she's the lovely girl and he's the horrible boy?" "Exactly!" I said, thrilled by her sensitivity to sub-text, and immediately after was stricken by maternal guilt that she should recognise so quickly the dynamics of exclusion. They both thought the nursery rhymes were really creepy, they both sniggered at the crap plague-ridden peasant, and they both clung to me with pleasurable terror as Helen headed off alone to the bedroom to start chanting forbidden nursery rhymes. Afterwards I asked them what they thought of it and they said "Spooky", "Exciting", and "Really weird". So I regard that one as sold.
azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 02:56pm on 25/03/2008 under
I've been ill for the past couple of days - genuinely ill, with throwing up and lying stricken in bed and everything! - which would normally mean that I got a good chunk of reading done. However, now that we are firmly in the Age of the Internet, I curled up with the laptop instead, and discovered that some kind soul has put the entirety of Sapphire and Steel up on youtube. Sapphire and Steel is ideal for watching when one is ill. It's slow-moving and spooky and gives you lots to think about, and the general weirdness is greatly enhanced by a slight temperature. I liked Assignments 1 and 2 the best, partly because I find old nursery rhymes and the Great War totally fascinating in their own right, so any spooky story spun around those themes automatically has my attention; and partly because they didn't seem to suffer quite so much from what you might call "delaying tactics" as the later Assignments (Assignment 3, about the travellers from the future who are unkind to animals - oh noes! - is just plain embarrassing, both in terms of truly awful special effects and a truly awful morally-muddled rant about scientific experimentation on animals. This would have been bad enough whoever delivered it, but since it was given to Steel, who we have just seen blatantly ignoring the emotional needs of Mr Tully's cat in the preceding Assignment, I can also declare it OOC.)

I thought I detected a sub-text to Assignment 2 (no, not that kind of sub-text. This is me. Get your heads out of the gutter), which I shall thoughtfully place behind a cut, in case any of you feel inspired to rush over to youtube and get yourself a dose of S&S '70s skiffy strangeness.

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