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Literary Film Review: Die Hard

This month’s classic film review analyses the ultimate Christmas film: Die Hard

Based on a little-known 1979 thriller, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, Die Hard (dir. John McTiernan, 1988) is one of those films that many people will sit down and watch every Christmas. And why not? It’s set on Christmas Eve, and it has at its heart one of the oldest stories in the world: the triumph of good over evil. But before I review Die Hard, as is my wont with these literary film reviews, a word about the film’s literary origins.

Die Hard’s source material, the thriller Nothing Lasts Forever, was itself supposedly inspired by another movie: The Towering Inferno. When Roderick Thorp saw the film, he had a dream of a man being chased through a skyscraper, pursued by men carrying guns. The result was Nothing Lasts Forever. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s ‘If you were coming in the fall’

‘If you were coming in the Fall…’ The key word is ‘If’. Some of the best love poems are poems addressed to an absent beloved. George MacDonald wrote a very short poem, ‘The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs’, comprising just two short words of longing: ‘Come / Home’. As the double meaning of the word ‘want’ (both ‘desire’ and ‘lack’) illustrates, we want what we can’t have. Or, to borrow another old phrase: absence makes the heart grow fonder. Emily Dickinson, in her poem ‘If you were coming in the Fall’, explores this idea of missing an absent beloved.

If you were coming in the Fall,
I’d brush the Summer by
With half a smile, and half a spurn,
As Housewives do, a Fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls—
And put them each in separate Drawers,
For fear the numbers fuse—

If only Centuries, delayed,
I’d count them on my Hand,
Subtracting, till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s Land. Read the rest of this entry

Journeying through Language: Around the World in 80 Words

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle enjoys a world tour of the English language courtesy of Paul Anthony Jones’s new book

They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but ‘they’, of course are wrong. They’re especially wrong in the case of Paul Anthony Jones’s books of language trivia, which are becoming as much of an annual event – at least at IL Towers – as Jools’s Hootenanny or eating too much Christmas dinner. Last year’s book was a year’s guide to the English language – a yearbook of forgotten words, going through the calendar from 1st January to 31st December – and sported a beautifully designed cover that made it equally ideal for putting on show on the coffee table as hiding away as a private pleasure in the smallest room. And Jones’s new book, Around the World in 80 Words: A Journey Through the English Language (Elliott and Thompson), which is a geographical rather than chronological journey through the English language, sports an equally delightful blue-and-gold cover which matches perfectly the glittering facts to be found within. Read the rest of this entry