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Strawberry Fields Forever, Spanish Road Journey to Meet John

Journey to Meet LennonTruly a movie gem, now showing at the Palace Cinemas in Australia, Spain’s memorable Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is an unlikely tale.

This is a delightful, uplifting, joyous, inspirational deep and thought provoking film, which is based on a true story. It is all about a man who achieves what many would see today as being impossible and not even try, let alone back in 60′s Spain… meeting John Lennon

It both captivates and charms, set as it is against the rugged backdrop, the rocky countryside and sun-drenched coastline of southern Spain.

The action takes place during the period when Spain was ruled over by autocratic dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde (1892-1975), head of a patriarchal society for nearly four decades (1939-1975). Everywhere else in the western world at the time it was the swinging sixties, when democracy was being tested to its limits by a rock’n roll generation.

TriumphIn Spain however, going against the norm was not really advisable.

People were living out their lives in fear and parents were seeking to retain some sort of control over children in an age when familial societal attitudes involved considerable physical abuse.

The young adults of the next generational change are striving hard to not only break free of the system, but also wish to establish a future of their own that offers some promise of better things to come.

During the Spring of 1966, the sixteen year old gentle and sensitive Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) the eldest of six children whose policeman father objects violently to his ‘Beatle’ like hairdo, packs his bag and takes to the road.

On the way when hitchhiking, he meets up with the two people who will become his travel companions on this fabulous adventure of a lifetime for them all.

Juanjo meets the delightful Antonio, a High School Teacher and ‘Beatles’ obsessed fan, brilliantly played by Javier Cámara, who won the Best Actor award in Spain for this amazing performance.

Antonio who is in his mid forties, slightly pudgy, balding and plain, with a delightful countenance and wonderful character, is on the road in his cantankerous car driving across country on a passionate mission to meet and greet the number one ‘Beatle’ himself, his idol John Lennon.

BelenBelén (Natalia de Molina), a beautiful young woman, some twenty years of age, is already on board. She has left a home for unwed mothers in the city still in the early stages of pregnancy, having decided to head for home.

She was also hitchhiking and has already been daringly rescued by Antonio from the first man who offered her a lift, whom she believes, and he knows, will be seeking sexual favours from her in return.

Antonio wants to talk to John Lennon about helping him understand the lyrics for his just-released ‘Revolver’.

He has tried to copy down the English lyrics of the ‘Beatles’ songs as he listens to them, but often misses words. Because he uses the Lyrics to teach his schoolchildren in his class of ’66, English he earnestly wants to ‘fill in the gaps’.

It’s a very simple request as far as the unworldly Antonio can see, and refreshingly he is not intimidated in any way by Lennon’s celebrity status.

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Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire at The Met NY

Mourning 1

Mourning Ensemble 1870-1872, Black Silk Crepe, Black Mousseline, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection, Gift of the Brooklyn museum 2009, Gift of Martha Woodward Weber 1930, Veil ca.1875, Black silk Crape, Gift of Roil White, 1984, photo Karin L. Willis, courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Growing up in 50’s Australia, my parents and most especially my favourite Uncle, often lifted me up to kiss one of my aunts and uncles goodbye after they had passed.

Even as a small child, in this way I soon understood that death was an integral aspect of life, one that must be respected and honoured by those who loved and cared for the deceased.

How to mourn was also an important aspect of the rituals surrounding death, that were still respected and the etiquette and protocols attached to it, maintained.

Memories of ‘Victorian ideas’ about people in mourning, of wearing only black and refraining from having a good time for a year or more were still foremost in everyone’s mind, at least in my family.

Death and mourning were particularly poignant in Australia as a British colony, where life came to be respected even in death, far more perhaps than it had in the United Kingdom during, the late eighteenth century prior to the French Revolution.

So many people’s parents and grandparents had been transported from that unhappy place where they were starving. They were also treasured by those who had fled from Ireland in particular during the potato famine, including some of mine. So mourning attire also became about the development of culture and society.

At The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York the exhibition Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire is the Costume Institute’s first fall exhibition in seven years.

Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901)

Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)

This exploration of the fashionable, aesthetic and cultural implication of mourning fashion that existed most especially during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century will be on view through the Xmas season until February 1, 2015.

The timing of the year, holding it in the fall certainly seems appropriate to the subject. Autumn is a wonderful season for reflection.

The loss of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Albert in 1861 after only 20 years of happy marriage for the young Queen was a bitter blow she really never recovered from, one she really only learned to live with over time. Her grief and wearing of black affected society at all levels internationally, particularly high society, which in those days moved fluidly between England and Europe and England and America.

Most of her children were married off into the courts of Europe and as she was a Matriarch for her family, the first woman Monarch in England for centuries, she was a considerable woman of influence, one who had a powerful impact on the whole of western society.

She plunged deeply into mourning, wearing only black from that time on.

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Passionate Pursuits

Fashion Elixir Quick Snippets of Culture Carolyns Conversations


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