Captain Marvel

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Captain Marvel  was one of the films I was most looking forward to in 2019. But what’s it all about, you ask, next to the rock from under which you have just crawled.

Well, according to IMDb:

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Does she though? I mean, at the start of the film she is already one of the universe’s most powerful heroes and her connection to Earth is tenuous at best. But I quibble, of course, because that’s what I do.

So, I went into this film with high expectations which were not only met but exceeded. I wish films like this had been around when I was a girl (which was a very long time ago let me tell you) but I am so very glad they’re here now.

This is an origin story with a twist. As I mentioned above, Carole Danvers is already hugely powerful but is living under the impression that she is something she is not. When the events of the film bring her to Earth and cut her off from her team, she teams up with Nick Fury (for it is he) and slowly begins to piece together her past, what happened to her and that rather than being supported, she is being held back by the race she has inadvertently become a part of. The relationships in this story are hugely important, not only with Fury but with her best friend Maria and Maria’s daughter Monica, and those relationships which give her the means to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Oh, and there is Goose; a very, very special cat.

Brie Larson is excellent in the lead role, with just the right balance of vulnerability and strength. The special effects are of course really well done, especially the process used to make Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg younger versions of themselves, the aliens are all brilliant and there is added Annette Bening, which is always a good thing.

Ignore the small group of haters on social media; I love this, and can’t wait to see Captain Marvel in the new Avengers movie. Not long now 😀

Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck | 2h 3m running time | 12A for moderate fantasy violence and implied strong language.

 

 

Exhibition Time: Empire of the Sikhs

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The Brunei Gallery – part of the School of African and Oriental Studies – hosted (or I should say is hosting; doesn’t close until 23 September) an exhibition on what is described as

the last great native kingdom which challenged the British for supremacy of the Indian sub-continent

I know very little about the Sikh empire so was happy to accompany the Book God and learn what I could, especially as we had recorded (but not yet watched) a BBC documentary on Maharajah Duleep Singh – more about that later – so the timing seemed fortuitous.

The exhibition was really impressive, with a range of artefacts from an enormous decorative cannon to beautiful miniatures and exquisite jewellery. There was also a really helpful and well-designed timeline on one of the walls which described the key events in the development and history of that part of India against what was happening elsewhere in the world at each stage.

Favourite Facts

Maharajah Ranjit Singh – The Napoleon of the East, he set up a modern army which included a number of Europeans. Members of his army served under strict conditions including growing a beard, not eating beef, not smoking and marrying locally. Some of the European soldiers had served with Napoleon and joined the army after his defeat.

IMG_1981The Koh-i-Noor – the exhibition includes a replica of the diamond in it’s original setting, showing how large it was before Prince Albert got his hands on it and had it re-cut for Queen Victoria.

Maharajah Sir Duleep Singh – he came to the throne when he was five years old, was kidnapped and controlled by the British government in India before being exiled so that he would not become the focus of rebellions against British rule. He understandably had an unhappy life, converting to Christianity and then back to the Sikh faith, railing against his appalling treatment at the hands of the British. He died relatively young at the age of 55. His story is told in a documentary recently shown on the BBC [The Stolen Maharajah: Britain’s Indian Royal] sadly not current available on the iPlayer. We’re not very good at accepting our awful behaviour as an Imperial power, and it’s right that we are made to see how shabbily we treated him.

5e0aca04d528f140475fcf347bd0e96aPrincess Sophia Duleep Singh – my new girl crush. A god-daughter of Queen Victoria, she lived in a grace & favour apartment at Hampton Court Palace for many years. She is best known as an active member of the Suffragette movement alongside the Pankhursts, and was notoriously arrested several times for refusing to pay taxes without having the right to vote. She fascinated me so much that I bought Anita Anand’s biography of her [Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary, Bloomsbury 2015]

A really enjoyable experience.