Monday, October 29, 2007

Jesse James and The Number of Stars in the Paris Night Sky

I am writing this post from Paris. It is Irish weather here - it is pouring rain. Yesterday (Sunday) I went to the cowboy film called L'Assassinat de Jesse James par le lâche Robert Ford subtitled in French, but happily undubbed, with my good friends Mat and Isa. I'm not sure of its title in English, but it's the film starring Ben Affleck's younger and far more artistically talented brother Casey. A review I read here succinctly captured this wonderful movie for me:

"Un très grand western, un peu à la manière des films de Terrence Malick, avec peu d'actions mais avec deux acteurs formidable, Brad Pitt plus charismatique que jamais en Jesse James, qui trouve ici un rôle à la hauteur de son talent et Casey Affleck, grande révélation pour moi, qui joue quasiment à la perfection (en tout cas c'est flagrant comme il est bien meilleur que son frangin). Un western de grande classe d'Andrew Dominik."

At one stage in this wonderful, if a trifle too long, film, Jesse(Brad Pitt) asks a comrade if he had ever bothered counting the stars. I forget what was the exact reply, but it was along the lines that he had never bothered because such an occupation would have been a singularly useless one. Talking of stars, I am always reminded of Sean O'Casey's Captain Boyle's rhetorical question to his equally lazy and sycophantic side-kick Joxer: "What is the stars, Joxer, what is the stars?" or words to that effect. The very expanse of the night sky is a wonder to behold. I am equally reminded of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's remark, having been taken many for a stroll by his father to view the mystery of the night sky, that it was by such experiences that his mind had become as he so aptly put it "habituated to the vast."

Apparently, the actual number of stars in the night sky is around 6000, but remember that about 50% are hidden below the horizon at any given time. Katherine Becker of Creighton University outlines a marvellously simple method for making this estimation of the average number of stars, a simple method that could be employed by any teacher of Junior Maths, Science or Geography. See the following site for an in-depth explanation of this fairly simple procedure.

Anyway, speaking of stars, out of a possible five I would give this film four. Probably, it could do with a tighter editing, but the cinematography and narrator's script are so good that one's attention is held at all times. Also the music is brilliant. Whether you are a Western buff or not, this is a film well worth seeing. The facial expressions of both Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt are superb and carry a depth of meaning that only good actors can manage to express.

No comments: