The Price of Secrets

The Secret Scripture  (2017)  Rated: PG-13  Runtime: 108 minutesM Scripture 2017.jpg

Genre: Drama-Mystery-Romance

els – 6.5/10

IMDb – 6.6/10

Amazon – 4.4/5 stars

Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 4.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 3.4/5

Metacritic Metascore – 37/100

Metacritic User Score – NR/10

Directed by:  Jim Sheridan

Written by:  Sebastian Berry, Jim Sheridan, Johnny Ferguson

Produced by:  Noel Pearson, Rob Quigley, Jim Sheridan

Music by:  Brian Bryne

Cast:  Rooney Mara, Aidan Turner, Theo James, Eric Bana, Vanessa Redgrave

To understand this movie, a smidgen of background knowledge germane to WWII Irish history is needed, or else the story becomes unhinged from the plot with cryptic scenes sprinkled throughout the movie that will bewilder and flummox the viewer. At the start of WWII in 1939, Ireland declared its intent to remain neutral towards the Allied and Axis powers, and they did officially remain neutral throughout the war, but provided assistance to the Allied powers when and where possible.  The Irish government feared joining the war on either side would reopen the recent wounds inflicted by their civil war fought in the early 1920s; by the fascists and the anti-fascists, the pro-Brits and the IRA, the pro and the anti-treaty proponents, and they all remained active in Ireland up to, and beyond WWII.  The IRA was particularly anxious to curry favor with the Germans, to obtain their aid in the form of money, influence, and weapons; endeavors precipitating various IRA acts of war within and beyond the borders of Ireland.

Roseanne McNulty the elder, played by Vanessa Redgrave, and Roseanne McNulty the younger, played by Rooney Mara, parcel out a story of love and loyalty, unrequited love and betrayal, death, cruelty and denial; which, during war leads to Rose’s incarceration, or to use a less judgmental word, confinement, in an Irish mental institution for nearly 50 years. The institution was less about care and rehabilitation than an exercise in control and dominance; keeping Rose docile and quiet, but in the end, not able to lessen her romantic love or boundless spirit, just her hold on reality. Rose the elder maintains a record of her captivity, mysterious inscriptions in her bible, that becomes the source of her deliverance from past; bringing closure in the kindred form of a believer and a redeemer.

The directing, writing and acting are all exceptional.  Only the improbable conclusion lessens the impact of the story but it still works even though you see it coming a mile away.  Catch up on your Irish WWII history and then watch the movie.

Explorations: 2

E Lexington

Lexington (CV-2) burning and listing during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Commissioned 1927, scuttled 8 May 1942. Carried 2971 crew and 78 aircraft.

 

The Battle of the Coral Sea, Pacific Theater, WWII 4-8 May 1942. This was the first major naval battle between Allied forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy, involving aircraft carriers. The battle was also a first where the two navy’s ships never saw or fired on one another directly.  The battle was carried out almost exclusively by aircraft fighters and bombers launched from the carriers.

The allies entered the battle with 2 fleet carriers, 9 cruisers, 13 destroyers, 128 aircraft, and various support ships, while the Japanese had 2 fleet carriers, 1 light carrier, 9 cruisers, 15 destroyers, 127 aircraft along with various support ships. Ship losses were, greater, by tonnage, on the allied side which included the Lexington aircraft carrier, 1 destroyer, and several smaller ships totaling 42,497 tons.  The Imperial Navy lost 1 light carrier, 1 destroyer and several smaller ships equal to 19,000 tons.  The Allies lost 543 men while the Japanese lost 1029.

The Battle of the Coral Sea was to have profound and positive consequences for the Allies in one month, at Battle of Midway; by keeping 2 of the Imperial Navy’s carriers out of action in this upcoming naval battle.

Additional information for the Battle of the Coral Sea:

  1. Battle of the Coral Sea, by Charles River Editors, CreateSpace Publishing, © 2016.
  2. The Coral Sea 1942, by Mark Stille and John White, Osprey Publishing, © 2009.
  3. The Battle of the Coral Sea, by Office of Naval Intelligence, CreateSpace Publishing, © 2009.

War in Paradise

Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener; published by Curtis Publishing Company, copyright © 1947.B South Pacific

James Michener, an adopted child of a Pennsylvania Quaker, instilled his fictional Tales of the South Pacific from his garrisoned experiences as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy during the latter half of his WWII tour of duty. From 1944-1946, he was stationed mainly on Espiritu Santo, a small island on the eastern edge of the Coral Sea, as a naval historian, but he frequently visited other tropical islands in the area.

The short stories collected in this book, which Michener won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, probe the symbiosis and bonds between the American G.I. and frequently, female Pacific Islanders. The tales revolve around mostly the same characters, with a commander generally filling in as the first person narrator, and a few common plot lines such as a forthcoming, but fictitious island invasion.

Michener’s descriptive prose can be captivating and luxurious, sometimes almost hypnotic, such as the sketch of the local song birds on the protagonist’s lover’s plantation in the poignant love story, Our Heroine:

…Their harsh cries were modified by the delicate chirping of a graceful swallowlike bird that flew in great profusion among the cacao trees. This gracious bird was sooty black except for a white breast and belly.  Gliding and twisting through the shadows it looked like a shadow itself. Then bursting into the sunlight, its white body shone brilliantly…

The composition is good, probably better than anything else he wrote later in life but it does not reach the level of a master story-teller such as what Joseph Conrad attained in his Heart of Darkness or a Jack London story, for instance: All Gold Canyon:

…The red-coated many-antlered buck acknowledged the lordship of the spirit of the place and dozed knee-deep in the cool, shaded pool.  There seemed no flies to vex him and he was languid with rest.  Sometimes his ears moved when the stream awoke and whispered; but they moved lazily, with foreknowledge that it was merely the stream grown garrulous at discovery that it had slept…

Tales of the South Pacific is the antithesis of Michener’s future product; short stories versus monstrously thick and wordy novels, crisp and straightforward plot lines versus cloudy and cumbersome themes, and finally a compassionate acknowledgement for his reader’s attention rather than a dismissive condescension for those not willing to commit to consuming his turgid volumes of fictional excess.

Michener wrote one good book: Tales of the South Pacific.

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