Hello! Another week just flew by for me. I’m doing okay- I did come down with a little infection, but I’m almost through with the antibiotics and am feeling better. At the end of last week’s post, I closed with Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down (Remix)” from 1994. Well, today I’m taling it back even earlier- to 1989, twenty-five years ago.
Actor David Hasselhoff in 2013, on a return visit to the Berlin Wall. The Hoff has been weirdly but deservedly linked to the fall for the past 25 years. (Source: The Guardian)
Some 8,000 helium balloons have been released into the night sky over Germany’s capital at the culmination of events to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the fall of the wall had shown the world that dreams could come true. Tens of thousands of people attended events, including a “citizen’s party” at the Brandenburg Gate.
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to stop people fleeing the communist East. Its fall in 1989 became a powerful symbol of the end of the Cold War.
The white balloons – perched on 3.6m poles to match the height of the wall and stretching for 15km (nine miles) – were released one by one to symbolise its disappearance.
The Berlin State Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The release came amid a massive open-air party at the Brandenburg Gate. Earlier at the party, UK performer Peter Gabriel sang a version of David Bowie’s Heroes.
For a weekend the balloons had become a part of the city, with Berliners strolling, jogging or cycling along the route. Today not much of the Wall remains, and often you don’t even notice when crossing between East and West. That’s because, after 1989, Berliners wanted to destroy the much-hated barrier and rebuild their city.
But suddenly seeing the circuitous and often illogical line which tore through the city’s heart was a reminder of the insanity of using concrete to split a city in two, dividing neighbourhoods, friends and families.
Now the balloons have floated off into the sky, each one accompanied by cheers from the crowd – a shining and delicate symbol of peace and light, in stark contrast to the brutality of the heavy slabs of grey concrete. And a powerful reminder of how 25 years ago, under pressure from ordinary Berliners, this deadly barrier suddenly lost its threat.
Lovely- except we may just be on the brink of Cold War, part deux, according to former USSR head Mikhail Gorbachev. Also from the BBC:
The world is on the brink of a new Cold War, and trust should be restored by dialogue with Russia, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said.
At an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Sunday, Mr Gorbachev said the West had “succumbed to triumphalism”. He expressed alarm about recent Middle Eastern and European conflicts.
Tensions have been raised between the West and Russia over Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union. More than 4,000 people have died in fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, who seized control in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in April.
A fragile ceasefire has been in place since September, but elections in rebel-held areas last weekend have prompted fears of a return to full-scale conflict.
Whether motivated by weakness or strength, Mikhail Gorbachev shares credit for bringing a peaceful end to the Cold War. So his warning that present tensions – not least over Ukraine – threaten a new Cold War, will get a hearing.
Some Western commentators might even agree but the questions remain, is he right and who’s to blame?
Well, Russia appears increasingly prepared to cast itself as a rival rather than a partner but tension is still nowhere near what it was during the hottest phases of the Cold War, such as the Cuban missile crisis or the building of the Berlin Wall. From the Russian perspective, Nato has advanced in recent years almost to its borders.
One by one nations once in its orbit have fallen into the Western camp, often joining the EU and Nato. But Russia has shown it is prepared to use military muscle to achieve its ends, first in Crimea then in eastern Ukraine.
The West and Russia accuse each other of old thinking – of spheres of influence and hegemony. A cold war it may not yet be, but relations are clearly worsening.
I liked On the Media’s lookback on the fall of the Berlin Wall. Think you remember (well) the news coverage? Take a listen to this, because you may have to think again:
You may recall last week’s pics of K, Z and me all decked out in Bat regalia for Halloween. We also got our cape crusader on by watching Michael Keaten’s turn as the Dark Knight in 1989’s “Batman” and 92’s “Batman Returns”. We originally planned to watch all the 90’s Batman flicks, but after Keaton’s showdown with Michelle and Danny, K was done. And, to be quite frank, so was I. It’s pretty strange watching movies you loved as a kid again as an adult and feeling very let down. I mean, I’ve rewatched “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” and I *still* love them. But those Tim Burton “Batman” flicks were… disappointing.
Anyway, staying on the 1989 theme, here’s a post about Keaton as Batman from last month’s Comic Con. From ScreenRant:
While Comic-Con attendees will likely have to wait until next year’s San Diego Comic-Con for another exclusive glimpse at Batman V Superman that hasn’t stopped the Caped Crusader from being a regular topic of conversation at New York Comic-Con 2014. The Dark Knight will be featured in his own 75th anniversary panel tomorrow (from the time of this writing) but after only two days, three Batmen have already taken the stage at the annual East Coast geek gathering – as George Clooney, Adam West, and now Michael Keaton have all made appearances.
Clooney, in particular, drew attention while promoting Disney’s upcoming sci-fi film, Tomorrowland, when he outright apologized for Batman and Robin (as well as those infamous Bat-nipples). Reaction online was pretty forgiving, as most fans blame director Joel Schumacher (and/or Warner Bros.) for ruining Batman – not Clooney. Many even consider the film as a mixed blessing – since it paved the way for Christopher Nolan to reboot the character in Batman Begins. Still, while Clooney may look back at the cape and cowl with regret, Keaton remains satisfied with his portrayal of Gotham’s hero. Two years ago, the influential filmmaker joked that his movies were “Batman on Ice” compared to what Nolan had done but, as Keaton indicates, there’s still plenty of reason to be proud of Batman and Batman Returns.
Speaking during the Birdman panel, Keaton reflected on how playing Batman informed his portrayal of a washed-up superhero actor in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s upcoming meta-comic book drama – outright stating that he remains proud of his work in the Batsuit: Having played Batman and being very proud of playing Batman.
I never back off that. The idea was bold, interesting, and cool when Tim made it. I didn’t really put it together, Edward did [a superhero movie] too. I just go to work.
On top of being “very proud“, Keaton also recalled how he first came to be associated with Batman – claiming that he never thought he’d actually get the part because his take on the fan-favorite character was very different from the comics:
When I took the original, I was unfamiliar with comic books. I wasn’t a comic book reader. [Reading the script he thought], this isn’t the way that I see the character but am glad to read it. Then I met Tim the next day, I’m saying [Batman] is this and this, and he was nodding in agreement. So I asked, are they going to make this? Tim said, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”
The two Schumacher sequels (Batman Forever as well as Batman and Robin) remain the bane of many Bat-fans but Burton’s films were a staple for kids (and comic book fans) at the time. Neither movie shied away from the darker aspects of the titular hero or his villains – making entertaining use of Batman’s tools and vehicles while also telling impactful character stories. Both The Joker (Jack Nicholson) and The Penguin (Danny DeVito) proved to be memorable antagonists that balanced comic book reverence with big screen adaptation – all while providing developed arcs of their own. After all, the best Caped Crusader stories spend significant time exploring their villains – so that they can reflect aspects of Bruce Wayne/Batman as well as the twisted sandbox of Gotham City. Without question, there were some quirky moments in Burton’s Batman films but they told great stories (and didn’t simply throw villains in just for the sake of marketing/toys).
True that. And maybe that’s the way I should view those movies- as great for me as a kid. I mean, they were a pretty huge deal for me and Joe and Jos. And unlike the Kilmer/Clooney films, they never felt forced… or like they just introduced the villians as the fast food and toy tie-ins (I’m looking at you, Mr. Freeze).
About the only parts of last week’s SNL I liked was Prince’s long but lovely performance and the digital short called “Swiftamine”. This was surprising to me- not because SNL is always a laugh riot, because duh, it’s not- since Chris Rock was the host. But his opening was just okay and it seemed that he fumbled A LOT of his lines. I still love you anyway, Chris. But the “Swiftamine” skit was so on-point. Check it out:
So what does pretty pop princess Swift have to do with the rest of this post? Well, currently burning up the charts is Taylor’s “1989” which has caught a lot of people by surprise- for liking it. Lol, I’ve liked a few opf her songs over the years, so I’m actually laughing at people being surprised her music is actually good. Anyway, the name of the album is her birth year (yeah, feelm old, go ahead), and the tracks are inspired the music of the era (not sure if the Hoff made the list of muses, though). This week’s song is “Shake It Off”, the first single which shot to the top of the Billboard charts. Enjoy and have a great week!