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Monthly Archives: May 2012

You are in control of a young boy, old enough to be in love but young enough not to understand consequences. The boy knows of a legend that says he can bring his love back to life, but he has to travel to a forbidden land abandoned by all but massive, obscure titans whose existence is unexplained. A voice in a huge temple tells him he has to destroy them in order to cast the spell, but all he has is a stolen magic sword, his loyal horse, and determination. The boy handles the sword awkwardly, falls when he tries to jump or even run too fast, and he perseveres even when it becomes clear that with each monster he kills, he loses part of himself. In the end, he becomes the voice, which was using him to free itself from this land, or it becomes him, and he brings his love back to life, but only after having sacrificed himself and all the creatures of the forbidden land in a fit of rage that destroys what remains of once beautiful ruins.

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Why is it that the zeitgeist is so incredibly specific? The spirit of the age, as it were, doesn’t just give us politics, religion, gay marriage, Robin Thicke, and two ABC shows with “B” in the title any more. No, it gives us stories about Judaism, fathers and children, mystic speech, and the (impossible) desire for a language that doesn’t sicken and kill one generation after another.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about two new works that have exactly these themes in common – Ben Marcus’s recent apocalyptic novel The Flame Alphabet and the wonderful 2011 film Footnote, by the Israeli director Joseph Cedar. I don’t have time to talk about Ben Marcus’s book, and my friend Mike has already done a better job in his review of the novel. Instead, I want to talk about Footnote, which I think may be the greatest movie ever.

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