EST. 2009

December 16, 2014

That Slipper as Pure as Gold

"WISH TO HAVE THE CURSE REVERSED? NEED A CERTAIN POTION FIRST." In Sondheim, Lapine and Marshall's upcoming Into the Woods, Baker and Baker's Wife set off to find four ingredients that make up a much-needed potion: the cow as white as milk, the cape as red as blood, the hair as yellow as corn and the slipper as pure as gold. If you read fairy tales as a child, you could more or less identify the cow belonging to the beanstalk-climbing Jack, the cape being Little Red's, the hair descending from Rapunzel's tower and the slipper adorning Cinderella's little foot.

"But why isn't it glass?" you may wonder, with Cinderella's slipper popularly depicted in glass, not gold. The answer lies in Cinderella's many versions, long preceding Disney's famed 1950 cartoon. There are recorded versions from classical Greece, China, Arabia, even medieval Philippines, featuring variously-named heroines with tiny golden slippers or rose-gilt sandals. The 17th century began to see European versions of the tale, first by Italian fairy-tale collector Giambattista Basile, then by the French Author Charles Perrault. Aschenputtel, by the Brothers Grimm, was not recorded until the 19th century.

Perrault's Cendrillon is considered one of the most popular versions of Cinderella for its addition of the pumpkin, the Fairy Godmother and the glass slipper. Cendrillon formed the basis for Disney's 1950 cartoon, which was re-released periodically until 1987, and is well-known, even well-loved, by up to three generations of audiences. Glass slipper and all.

But December 2014's Into the Woods might just mark the golden slipper's revival in popular culture. Bringing to the big screen Stephen Sondheim's musical of intertwined fairy tales, a brilliant set of songs and post-ever-after stories usher in entirely new morals and moments to the familiar tales.

"Wanting a ball is not wanting a prince." Move over Perrault. Sondheim's Cinderella may just be more relatable. And golden pumps might just be more wearable too.

Valentino gold pump, He Perceived That Her Little Foot Slid In Without Trouble by Gustave Dore The Slippers of Cinderella by Aubrey Beardsley Aschenbrödel by Carl Offterdinger

December 5, 2014

That Castle Day

THE QUEEN WAS IN. Her standard flew from the Round Tower and much of the buildings were closed off to visitors. Still, the visit made for a lovely day out amidst millennia-spanning history; not to mention incredible foliage and an incredible amount of stone.

Completed in 1086, Windsor Castle was originally built as part of a defensive ring of motte and bailey castles surrounding London. It was not until Henry I that the castle was first used as a royal residence, and not until Henry III that it began to see luxurious enhancements and additions to its structure. Among its many restoration projects was the renovation of St. George's Chapel, carried out by poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 1300s. The father of English literature, Chaucer also served as Clerk of the King's Works, conducting repairs at Westminster Palace and Tower of London in addition to Windsor. Notable too was the grand modernization of the State Apartments, supervised by architect Hugh May in the 1600s. May was responsible for building St. George's Hall and the Royal Chapel, and his work on the Royal Apartments earned it the esteem of being the grandest baroque State Apartments in England. Most recently, Windsor Castle underwent a five-year restoration period following the 1992 fire. Having survived the fire, two wars and periods of neglect, the castle today enjoys serenity and splendor as the world's largest inhabited castle and longest-occupied palace in Europe.

An official residence of Her Majesty The Queen, Windsor Castle is unofficially her favorite weekend home. It was fabulous knowing she was around during our visit but it would be a shame to miss seeing the interiors a second time. With a trip to the English country set for the holidays, I hope to revisit the castle without Her Majesty in the house. There are only so much battlements you can look at without feeling the urge to break into song.

Maybe Camelot. Maybe Into the Woods.

Windsor Castle, Berkshire.

November 26, 2014

That Interruption

YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: Nobody likes to be interrupted. But in Michael Curtiz's 1942 romantic drama, interruption not only abounds in plot and dialogue but has resulted in one of the most iconic scenes in film history. "Sing it, Sam." commands Ingrid Bergman in a fluid white pantsuit, cool and subtle as her almost cooing voice. Sam plays, and sings through the chorus, until he is interrupted by a stiff, dry Bogart who finds himself unexpectedly confronted by an old, lost love. What follows is a momentary but eloquent gaze between Bogart and Bergman, unbroken even with yet another interruption by incoming characters. "As Time Goes By" continues to play in the background as a leitmotif, in a more dramatic arrangement of course.

72 years since its release, Casablanca continues to entertain with what the Los Angeles Times has dubbed as a "Golden Age Hollywoodness". Music, drama, suspense, comedy and romance seem to roll along smoothly amidst a large, speaking cast in both glamorous costumes and film sets. Sappy dialogue adds to the appeal, including such immortal lines as "We'll always have Paris." which is listed in the top 50 of the American Film Institute's top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. On the whole, Casablanca is ranked third in the institute's 100 greatest American films of all time. Its legacy exceeds the realm of cinema, having been the most frequently broadcast film on American TV in the 1970s, and its theme song having been used by Warner Brothers in its production logo since 1999.

"The world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by." Will future audiences feel about our movies today as we feel about such classics as Casablanca? Only time will tell. Until then, here's looking at you, kid. Happy anniversary Casablanca!

Casablanca, 1942. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Casablanca 70th Anniversary Edition - Play it Sam on