Star Wars: The Force Awakens Fan Review

starwarstheforceawakensmovieposterartwork-1The last time fans saw Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C -3PO and R2D2 together, emotions ran high with pride of victories. George Lucas brought to life a complex tale of open warfare fought on a galactic scale thirty eight years ago. The characters were swept up in the drama of Star Wars, some willingly, some reluctantly, but in the end, respective goals were met. The Death Star was destroyed. Luke faced his fears, reconciled his heritage, and brought his father back to the Light. The Emperor is gone. Darth Vader is gone. The celebration in the Ewok village on the Forest Moon Endor is a memory. The latest film is now in cinemas. The control of the galaxy is in the hands of the First Order. The New Republic and the Resistance threaten their power. Skywalker is a wanted man again. One of the best modern cinematic fables continues with The Force Awakens. It all happens a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

The heroes came together because of the need for a greater good. Each from different places in their life journey. The common bond is loss of roots. They are outsiders who wanted to be somewhere, and to be someone. They found acceptance and faith in each other. Now, the heaviness of battle is in their eyes. The death of friends, mentors, and comrades creates an emptiness inside heard louder and louder when the fighting stops. No matter what, life goes on, children are born, and family angst continues.

The Force Awakens storyline revolves around disappointment of a child taken by temptation. Han and Leia call their son Ben. Is he Benedictus? The blessed. How could they know he would become Ben-oni? The son of my sorrow. A mother can think as long as he is alive, there is a hope. The parents bear the pain of knowing he is theirs. They endure the shame of things as they are. What did we make together? Kylo’s redemption seems impossible.

The established and new characters are each on a life course that brings them together based on need. A need for power in some. A need for acceptance in others. A need for many to live free of hate and toil. The Skywalker family are working out karma with each generation. Theirs is to walk the paths of lightness and darkness. The Force flows strong through their ancestry. The ability to shape the will of others is godlike. Is anyone worthy of such powers? Can any human stay in balance with this at their command? This power does lend to them a solitary existence. Who are their equals?

Artwork by Elina Novak
Artwork by Elina Novak

New Characters

Rey – A scavenger, left behind to find her way alone. Vestiges of childhood in a homemade doll. Every sun down marking the wait in blasting sand and blistering sun. The heart of a lioness when charging her prey. The staff she carries is her spine exposed. Tis of ironwood and will not break. She is Nike, the goddess of victory. In BB8, she could find no truer friend. Courage will be their steady companion. Destiny has swept her out into the stars where she finds her soulmate. They spit and snarl at first, but once met cannot be separate for long. He wants her but, finds his power taken. She will best him this time. Can she coax Luke to step into the Light again? A Skywalker’s fate is to be among the stars. The Light is close. It is not your destiny to be alone. It was not a failure. It was the Force. It set you free once, let it find a home in your weary heart again. Let it in Skywalker. The fey elfin Rey, played skillfully by Daisy Ridley.

Artwork by Danny Gonzalez
Artwork by Danny Gonzalez

Kylo Ren – A panther, prowling in the night. The ghost of Vader brings comfort. Every step pulls him farther to the dark side. The heart full of passion. A warrior eager for battle. Behind the mask is a young man corrupted by want. The Force brings him courage and strength. He mistakes what a man can be and snuffs out life. He is Mars, the god of war. She bested you. She struck you with the Light. How could you take him? How could you blame him? The dark can be a great comfort; it is so warm and close. You are not meant to be alone. You were born in love. Why do you destroy it so eagerly? The capricious Knight brought to life by Adam Driver.

Finn – A stormtropper who makes a choice. In his first battle with orders to kill innocent villagers, he considers the consequences and cannot do it. He takes a chance and runs away. His actions bring him into the heart of the conflict. The challenges he faces escalate. When the fight is fair, he finds his courage and fights until struck down. He is afraid but moved through the fear to fight another day. Finn follows his conscience. Played with endearing anxiety by John Boyega.

BB8 – A heart of gold rolls along in this droid. What a joyful character. How brave to fly into battle. BB8, as R2D2 does, keeps secrets safe. They grieve the loss of companions. They accept things as they are and move forward. Andare sempre avanti e non fermarsi mai. Keep on going and never stop. Their instincts are superb and relate with as much, sometimes more emotional intelligence than the humans. The clunk, clunk, clunk of BB8 down the stairs following Rey into the rooms below the House of Maz Kanata was only one of so many charming moments. Keep up, stay close, and take care!

Artwork by WeGeekGirls
Artwork by WeGeekGirls

The curtain is drawn on the first act. We lost an old friend. The Star Wars saga continues to the delight of so many fans old and new. J. J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt have brought the story forward with much brilliance. The space ships, planets, creatures and droids fill the imagination. The villains and heroes are in place. The screenwriters, artists, technicians and special effects wizards present a flawless cinematic experience. Fans of old are thrilled to see Admiral Ackbar back in the war room. The trumpet fanfare heralding the overture to the Star Wars theme by Maestro John Williams reminded many of dreams awoken so long ago. We missed you so much and cannot wait to see the rest of the story.

@2016FrancesAnnWychorski

 

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The Concord Museum ~ Philosophers and Revolutionaries

Concord Museum 052Without hesitation, it can be said that no other town in Massachusetts can boast of being the remarkable birthplace to both the Revolutionary War and the resting place of Transcendentalism. Both events represent an evolutionary shift in self-actualization both as a nation and a way of life. Several weeks ago, Jared Bowen, reporter for WGBH TV, Greater Boston, aired a segment on the Special Exhibition: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation & the Shot Heard ‘Round the World: April 19, 1775. This is one of several exhibits on display at the Concord Museum in Concord MA. Long fascinated by this event, it was only a matter of days before I traveled to and toured the museum. The Concord Museum may be considered a first stop in town and a preparation for those visitors in search of forming deeper intricate connections to our Revolutionary War, the famed Writer’s and Philosophers of Concord and day to day life in the 1700 and 1800s.

The museum is laid out as a series of period rooms the visitor travels through. The front foyer is a soaring space of tranquility and light. The tour stats with a 15 minute video welcoming the visitor to the exhibit. Each room represents a different part of the history of the town. There is an outdoor courtyard and a small garden exhibit. The gift shop is charming and offers a wide variety of jewelry, literature, teas and keepsakes for everyone. This is a brief review of the museums exhibits and some of its contents.

Transcendentalism

This was a movement and belief crafted ever so sincerely from assembled persons of literary and philosophical note in and around this area in the 1830’s. From the Concord Museum:

Transcendentalism combined religion, philosophy, mysticism and ethics. Transcendentalists believed that:

  • All living things were bound together
  • Humans were essentially good
  • Insight was more powerful than experience as a source of knowledge

Those familiar with the Tao, will recognize many related beliefs and similar practices including reflecting that everything a person wishes to understand about the complex reality of life and life around us is to be explained by observation of the natural world. By recognizing that nature including the outer space of the solar system is the source of all inspiration and contemplation of such will bring about a state of equanimity. These are my personal observations having paid close attention to both noble beliefs.

The key players who practiced Transcendentalism in Concord are Nathanial Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Louise May Alcott and Margaret Fuller. All of them were well educated, traveled and from established families in Massachusetts Bay Colony. All came to Concord to write, reflect and commune with like minded souls.

Concord Museum 008Emerson’s Study

The exhibit for Ralph Waldo Emerson is essentially the original furnishings from his study. The Emerson House is directly across the street from the museum’s location. The room reflects his personality to a T. There was even an odor of stale paper and woodworms coming from the room. The fussiness of the carpet, the numerous photographs and prints of friends and admirers on the walls and the largess of the book collection sends a message down the generations as to who he was. I do believe he read every book on the shelf. He was the ultimate intellectual and advanced the idea of individual freedoms bound in Nature. Honestly, he is too brainy for me but devotees will love the experience of peering into his private study. It’s him.

Thoreau Gallery

Devotees of Henry David Thoreau ought to make this a must stop on their tour through Massachusetts. After a visit to Walden Pond, I highly recommend coming to the Concord Museum Thoreau Gallery. The stark contrast between the Emerson and the Thoreau artifacts will tell its own story. Could two people be more different in outlook and the expression of Transcendentalism? Perhaps not but it is well-known they were dear friends and collaborators all their days.

On display are the desk, chair and bedframe from the cabin. Also the walking stick, snow shoes, and telescope. These are his “tools”. These objects followers will know are the essentials of which he spoke of often. The one other object I did not know of was the Aeolian harp. While I have read of this ancient instrument, I did not realize it had earthly form still.Concord Museum 012

From the Concord Museum:

Aeolian Harp – Named after the Greek god of the wind, an Aeolian harp is a musical instrument placed in a window and played by the wind. Thoreau’s workmanship is evident in this rosewood harp which he fitted for his window.

Not only did he have this, he made it himself. I tell you my heart paused to wonder what sound could be heard from this ancient instrument for the winds. Thoreau is brother earth, the harp is sister wind. He loved her so well that she was welcomed into his cabin by her own song. His poem:

Rumors from an Aeolian Harp

There is a vale which none hath seen,
Where foot of man has never been,
Such as here lives with toil and strife,
An anxious and a sinful life.
There every virtue has its birth,
Ere it descends upon the earth,
And thither every deed returns,
Which in the generous bosom burns.

There love is warm, and youth is young,
And poetry is yet unsung.
For Virtue still adventures there,
And freely breathes her native air.

And ever, if you hearken well,
You still may hear its vesper bell,
And tread of high-souled men go by,
Their thoughts conversing with the sky.

This review is not impartial. To me this man is above all others in thought, action and intention. I had forgotten how much I esteemed his life and activities until I saw the harp. Only Thoreau would have honored nature thus.

Concord Museum 036Early and Mid-1700s Rooms ~ 1800s Bed Chamber & Dining Parlor

The rooms are remarkable for their attention to detail. Each piece has its own card with provenance. Provenance establishes the history of a piece including place of origin, materials, cost, sales receipts, owners and donors. A sense of life in a well-appointed home of the period can be found in these rooms. No detail is left out including tableware, fabrics, pottery, coins, quill pens, and wallpapers. It’s a dream for any collector or person curious about daily life. The rooms are arranged as they would have been in there day.

The Shot Heard Round the World, April 19, 1775

This was the exhibit I was drawn to see. Assembled in the upper galleries are a vast collection of artifacts from this day. Many of the objects have been borrowed for the occasion so as to give the viewer an hour by hour account of the activities of the people of Concord on April 18 and 19.

The first piece the visitor will see is the lantern. One of the pair, (the 2nd is lost) of original lanterns…”if the British went out by Water, we would show two lanterns in the North Church Steeple, if by land one as a signal” In the chronicle of the Revolutionary War, what artifact could be more symbolic than this humble, time worn lantern. This light, this signal set Paul Revere in motion and the rest is American history.

The room contains the drum of William Diamond from the battlefield at Lexington. There are numerous muskets, powder horns, letters, muster sheets, documents, maps and notes saved for posterity from that fateful day. There is a collection of flints found at the site of the shot heard round the world at the Old North Bridge. To fire a musket took an elaborate preparation of the powder and gun. A piece of flint was used to spark the powder. These were used by the minutemen that day repelling the British marching over the bridge to raid the town armory. The museum provided a guide directly in this space to speak with and fully understand the significance of the collection and its place in American Revolutionary history even my query on what would have been the home address of Paul Revere was answered, dear reader he was Paul Revere of Boston, in the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.

If the traveler comes by Concord, a stop at the Concord Museum is to be penciled in for the day. This is a not to be missed opportunity. The special exhibit is on display through September 21, 2014.Concord Museum 031

 

The Concord Museum ~ Daniel Chester French

One of the must stops in Concord MA for visitors is the Concord Museum. The museum is, of course, dedicated to the events and people who have made this town a fascinating place to explore and is indeed, “the gateway to Concord’s history!”

The reason for my visit on a warm, showery Sunday morning, was to tour through the Special Exhibition Galleries – The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World: April 19, 1775.

The design of the museum leads the visitor through a series of galleries on the way up the stairway to a room at the top and a surprise exhibit dedicated to Daniel Chester French (1850 – 1931). On display were several well-known pieces of sculpture including the Minute Man and Mourning Victory. However, it was the glass case containing the figurines that won all my attention.

The reader may be aware of my fascination with owls. Here in the case, are three carvings that are more than delightful to admire. They are of Parian porcelain. The description for the viewer is as follows:

Concord Museum 033Reveries of a Bachelor (Lonely Owl)

About 1871

Here, a sole owl sits upon a roost similar to the one seen in Matchmaking. The owl embodies the human sentiment of loneliness, echoing an image from the 1850 book Reveries of a Bachelor by Donald Grant Mitchell.

 

 

The pair read: MatchmakingConcord Museum 030

Plaster and Parian porcelain 1913 and 1871

The first being given to his brother William, “Williams and Everett have at last issued the “owls” and there is now a copy in each of their windows.”

For 1913 silver wedding anniversary party at Chesterwood French had his studio assistant cast in plaster, “a lot of the love-making owls….and gave each of the lady guests one.”