|Sniffing in the dark
||[Feb. 14th, 2019|08:30 pm]
The cold continues, and I continue not swimming. I am also tending to nod off, mostly on the soda. Other than that, it isn't interfering unduly with life.
So on Tuesday we went to a talk (in the Gala cinema - the University is doing outreach) by Richard Gameson (Professor of the History of the Book) on New Light on Durham's Illuminated Manuscripts about a research project bringing together the departments of History and Chemistry to carry out non-invasive analysis of the pigments of medieval manuscripts. It was a fascinating talk, with many beautiful pictures and many delightful scraps of information (illustrative example: an illumination showing pigments being prepared and applied, with the explanation that the reason why you get your apprentice to grind up your pigments is that most of them are very toxic...) I wish I could give a coherent account of it, but I do not absorb information well by ear, some cold-induced drowsiness may have occurred and, to be fair, the structure of the talk may have been here's an old book! but this one is even older! and here's a pretty page! ooh, shiny! I asked durham_rambler on the way home whether I could have unferstood correctly that the project's secret weapon is a spectroscope reduced to portable components, and he thought that yes, he had got that impression. The project web page says "a unique, custom-built, fully mobile suite of equipment optimised for the study of manuscripts" so yes, apparently.
We came home and ate pizza and watched the first episode of Shetland, which involved more severed limbs than I am entirely comfortable with (and an interesting musical choice, at one point). Too soon to say what I think about all this.
Yesterday back to the Gala, the larger cinema this time, to see All is True: Kenneth Branagh directs and plays the lead as Shakespeare, returned to Stratford after the Globe Theatre has burned down. Judi Dench quietly steals the show as Anne Hathaway, Ian McKellen makes the most of a cameo as the Earl of Southampton. It says something about what kind of film this is, and what it expects of its audience, that in this short scene sonnet 29 is recited in full twice, first by Branagh, then by McKellen. If you like that sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you will like.
Like Upstart Crow, which I have not been watching, it is scripted by Ben Elton. I wanted to like Upstart Crow, because Shakespeare, David Mitchell, these are recommendations, but I watched the first ten minutes of the first episode and did not want any more. Now I picture Ben Elton, researching and writing his comedy anc having all sorts of thoughts about Shakespeare which didn't fit into that show - wrong length, wrong shape, wrong mood, or maybe just not enough room - and finding a home for them in All is True. It's very episodic, and in as far as the different set pieces are linked by an actual plot (people have secrets; women have thoughts) this was less than the sum of its parts.
It is gorgeous to look at. Dorney Court plays the part of New Place beautifully (though it is too small, according to The Telegraph). Shakespeare in retirement takes up gardening, which provides a useful amount of stage business. But it also justifies plenty of autumnal landscapes, and if the garden is wilder and less formal than a prosperous Jacobean house would expect, well, that's why the master has taken up gardening. I was a bit suspicious of some of the more colourful fall foliage (can those really be maples?) but it was all very pleasing to the eye.
Walking home after the pob quiz, durham_rambler wondered what nineweaving would think about it. I hope we shall find out.
This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.