Saturday, March 16, 2013

Upstairs, Downstairs: Guest of Honour

Hey guys! Here is a video of a British TV series called Upstairs, Downstairs. Personally, I find this series fun and entertaining, and here is an episode titled Guest of Honour. It is about a visit the king pays to a British family. I'll explain it after the video.

The TV series "Upstairs, Downstairs" is a British drama  television series made in the  70´s  based in the period of time between 1903 and 1930, and it  is about a high class family, the Bellamys, who lived in London. The name of this series has a meaning, and it is the difference between the people who live upstairs (the Bellamy  family), and the ones who live downstairs (their servants). The show can show us a lot of things about how was life in Britain back then, specially  the social and technological changes. "Upstairs, Downstairs" was nominated and won several national and international awards, such as Golden Globe, Emmy Award,etc.

Something that really surprised me is how the servants are so well-treated, which is a proof of how the British were totally against slavery and respected the people that worked for them. Also, most servants had the Saturday afternoon off. Even though the servants were really respected, they rarely got visits from the people upstairs, but in this episode one person did go downstairs. In this series we can also see the different technological advances that were developed around this time, like television, newspapers, etc. Queen Victoria had recently died, and Edward VII was king. The perished queen thought that he was a foolish young man, but he was now king and had married Alexandra of Denmark.Edward VII was the firs British monarch of the House of Windsor. He was king of the United Kingdom and the British dominions and Emperor of India  from January 22,1901, until  his death in !910.In the Edwardian Era  there were important changes in society and technology, such as powered flight and the rise of socialism. Edward fostered good relation with other european countries.  Another thing we can appreciate is that as peace just began to spread before WWI, the different forms of entertainment were developing, like going to watch football matches.

In this episode,"Guest of Honour", they tell the servants that a really important personality was going to come home for dinner and to play cards, and that personality was no less than the king himself. This generates a series of events for both downstairs and upstairs people because they wanted everything to be perfect for the ball. They needed the best food,the best service... they needed the best of everything they could get. The guest list, the seating arrangements and the after dinner activities were really important things to be taken care of. The noble hierarchy was something really important, specially in those social events: The place where every one is seated is important,  who is next to who,... This shows us the importance of the king for the nobles and all the people in the kingdom. But, something happens that night: Sarah ( a former maid at the Bellamy´s house) goes into labor...creating a chaos.

I felt identified with Mr. Angus Hudson, the butler and head of the staff ( from downstairs) because I think that he had really good leadership qualities for maintaining order within the staff members. Also, he seems to be very intelligent, since he knew who he had to tell it was the King who was coming and when he needed to tell who. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Modernism in the Arts

Modernism was a movement in the arts that happened in the 19th and early 20th centuries, just before the horrors of World War I.It was characterized by a rejection of rules and traditions, always experimenting with new techniques, models, forms, etc. Trying to move forward. In this blog I'll talk about some pieces of art related to modernism. Enjoy!

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) France
“L’ennemi” (“The Enemy”)

My youth was but a dark-aired hurricane,
Pierced by an eye of sun from time to time;
So ravaged was my world by bolts and rain
That in my garden few red fruits still climb.

Now at the autumn of the mind I stand,
And here I am to toil with rake and spade

If I am to renew this flooded land
Of grave-sized holes the burrowing rains have made.

And who knows if my dream-grown flowers shall reach
Beneath this soil now scrubbed into a beach
And taste the mystic foods that heal their parts?

Ache! Ache in me! What lifetimes Time devours!
And the dark Enemy that gnaws our hearts
Strengthens his blood by draining us of ours.

I really liked this poem by Baudelaire, even though it's a bit hard to understand because of all the metaphors it includes. What I understand is that The Enemy is the aging process of a man, that ends in death: "Strengthens his blood by draining us of ours." This is just like aging drains a man of his energy, making hi feeble and taking his youth away.

"Luncheon on the Grass "(Le déjeuner sur l'herbe)

 This is an oil on canvas panting by Edouard Manet created in 1862 and 1863. This picture  generated different emotions and thoughts in its time, not because the women are naked, which was something usual in paintings, but because they were prostitutes, and that wasn't really acceptable.They were with two dressed men in a rural setting. This situation  even prevented this painting from appearing in a great exposition in the Salon,but Manet had the opportynuty to exhibit it  in the Salon des Refusés, where many other paintings were exhibited . Another kind of paintings that developed during Modernism times was cubism.

Charkes Ives: "The 4th of July"
Charles Ives was an American modernist composer.This song was composed in 1919  and it´s  titled 4th of July . This was obviously a way of Americans to represent their patriotism during Modernism. It starts all slow and quiet, just as the first talks of liberty and independence began. Then it goes to a stronger music representing the fights, and then to music that represents the happiness and joy of liberty, freedom and having a nation of your own. Charles Ives was an experimental composer. He liked to add familiar melodies that meant something to him personally; that´s why we can recognize some parts of this song.