Film: Battle for Sevastopol
While translation, or the lack thereof, remains an item of often animated discussion in the world of books, it is less of an issue in film: books, you see, cannot be subtitled. So the Russian-Ukrainian film Battle for Sevastopol was able to make it to Hong Kong in just a year.
The somewhat mistitled film tells the story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Ukrainian Soviet sniper during World War II. The film opens when she is on tour in the USA in 1942, and introduced in a greeting line to none other that Eleanor Roosevelt. When told that the 25-year-old Pavlichenko had 309 confirmed kills, the First Lady asks, “You killed 309 men?”, Pavlichenko answers, “Not men, Fascists.” The unlikely pair strike up a friendship and Pavlichenko is invited to stay at the White House. [more...]
Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia by Victor D. Cha
It is unfortunate that Victor Cha chose to overlay his otherwise interesting history of the development of America’s Asian alliances in the early Cold War years with international relations theory and academic jargon more suitable to journals that only professors read. After reading the initial chapters where he discusses “determinants of overdependence,” “entrapment fear,” “undercommitment pathology,” “conditions for distancing,” and separates multilateralism and bilateralism into “quandrants,” I nearly gave up. I am glad that I plodded on because much of the rest of the book is thought-provoking, especially when divorced from the academic models. [more...]
Otello: Opera Hong Kong, 14 October 2016
Watching a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello in the current political climate can be profoundly depressing. It is hard to listen to Iago’s second Act Credo
I believe in a cruel God
who created me in his image
and whose name I invoke in anger ...
I believe with a steadfast heart
that the evil I think
and which emanates from me
is by destiny’s decree...