". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, April 22, 2012

*Midsommer Murders* Missed On Earth Day 2012

Pouring rain since about 11 PM last night, off and on, ever since, supposedly into tomorrow. This is good since we've had no moisture since early in March, and with the high winds the brush fires that started on Staten Island, Long Island and even Central Park from compost piles combusting it was getting dangerous. But the large drops, so many, so close together, falling so fast, plus wind, are keeping us inside today.

I miss watching ITV's Midsommer Murders, another of these cozy Brit series adapted originally from a series of novels, this one written by Caroline Graham (none of whose books are in the NYPL, alas). I've watched all the Midsommer Murders episodes -- yes, all of them -- because they are set in the part of England that fairly settled Kent County and the Chespeake's Eastern Shore, where we lived 2010-2011, among architecture and foilage much the same as that in the television series, and with many of the same customs and names -- and because they stream from netflix. It took about 16 months. Now there are no more, at least with actor John Nettles as Inspector Barnaby. The new series in which the new Inspector Barnaby is supposedly the retired Barnaby's nephew isn't on either dvd or streamed. Damn!

But in the meantime, between the first Barnaby retiring and his nephew Barnaby stepping into his shoes in what must be the most homicde prone county in England, there was an important controversy that blew up, which was, of course, how very very very white Midsommer is, which doesn't reflect in any way present-day England. I'd have thought myelf that somewhere at least you'd find a curry shop, a news shop, some business that was not run by the descendants of the ruling families that ruled here evidently since the days of the Romans.

What I loved the most about Midsommer Murders was that it was primarily an agricultural landscape, filled with sophisticated people, like Kent County is. The land's been cultivated for so long it is an unimaginably fertile place of domestic beauty, something that even the Romans praised in their idylls of agriculture back home in Latium and Italy. This is as separate from wilderness as you can possibly be, in the very best way.

The next thing I loved abut Midsommer Murders is that each season/series had a theme. Several of these themes included the most tender brush of the Old Earth Magics from ancient days beyond recall. Realistic these programs were not, but they remained imaginative and very entertaining for the entire run which began in 1997. That's a real achievement. They began with excellent writers and directors, including Tony Horowitz who most recently achieved fame as author of The House of Silk, a Sherlock Holmes homage. It was another luxe production for which English television is noted.

Other things I noticed as the years of production rolled past mine eyes was in the earlier years ye old aristocracy was treated gently and / or with some comic touch, and some pity for their loss of state and revenue. But by the last two seasons the aristocracy was being shown as rapacious and villainous -- obscenely wealth -- as it ever was in the baddest of older days, reflecting perceptions since 2001 perhaps that the ruling class, by virtue merely of being born into the aristocracy, had rapidly regained their stance at the top of the economic and power pyramid.

Something else in particular I noticed was that in the seasons immediately and later following the Failure of the Levees in 2005, the music in Midsommer changed. As mentioned above there's controversy that Midsommer is not only too white, it's all white. The music we hear in the show is almost entirely folk music -- ballads -- or madrigals or Anglican hymns or some sort of period music, including of course, really mouldy rock from circa no later than 1969. But after Katrina we saw black bands at fetes and other celebrations playing New Orleans jazz of various kinds, and we saw that thereafter. The first time I saw a black brass band playing that music, I choked up and got tears. How far New Orleans reaches, how much people cared.

I wonder what actual south Oxfordshire looks like, because when we shoot, we get to frame to leave out what we don't want seen.

I am told that the landscape is what we see in the television program.  I'd love to see it.

For there is no landscape that so delights mine eye as one of winding roads among careful husbandry and fat cattle in well-watered fields, interspersed with hedgerow, woods and trees, well-tended yards, gardens and many flowers.

Yeah, that's the farmer's daughter in me.


Eleanor said...

This is not about Midsommer Murders... If you find a home for your blog, please tell me.

Foxessa said...

I will.

I do have the LJ - DW blogs, which are more personal than this one.

But I want a space that isn't quite as personal as those, more like this one.

All the other services have problems too, and even domains tend to be hit by the spambots, demanding enormous policing and clean-up time from you. At least that's what I'm hearing.

If you hear anything, please let me know too!

Love, C.