Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ category

The Punisher (2004)

July 22, 2014

In ♥ with The Punisher.

The Real 47 Ronin and Star Crossed Love

April 13, 2014


~~★The witch in her dragon form.★~~
Just finished watching 47 Ronin. It was an awesome flick for sure. I started looking into the true story behind these samurai warriors tonight. It’s fascinating and I will surely write about this sometime soon. I learned tonight that fictionalized accounts of the 47 are called Chūshingura, though I assume this story is technically historical fiction. I need to do research to confirm that. These men were brave souls. I saw photos of their real graves online.

I love me some movies which feature culture, weapons, bravery, demons, spirits, witches, spells, and tragic/star crossed lovers. The movie was a tribute to the actual Ronin, but I also continue to wonder what truth is behind the love story which permeated the film. Was there really a half breed and a beautiful princess in this story? Is it true that Kai sacrificed his own life to save her life and restore honor to his people? People who gave him no respect until the very end?


~~★The supernatural spider infused with witch breath and Lord Kira’s blood.★~~
There were three scenes I really liked. The first was when the witch uses a spider to poison Lord Asano. The evil witch seamlessly floats into the Lord’s room to drive him mad. She weaves around magically then hovers upside down above his bed while he sleeps. With crazy hair curling about looking like spider legs, she releases a supernatural spider infused with her breath and Lord Kira’s blood. The spider crawls across Lord Asano’s lips leaving a trail of glowing poison which seeps into his mouth.

Another scene I liked featured the witch becoming a dragon with no extremities. I adore dragons. The graphics in this scene were amazing! Critics who say otherwise know nothing about the artists and processing power needed to drive such a scene. The digital fight scene was choreographed well. When the witch was killed by Kai, the tail of the dragon shrunk back into her flowing gown. She laid dying on the ground. I also loved that her eyes were two different colors. Of course! I would have liked to see more spells in this movie for sure.

Maybe I am a hopeless romantic, but what can I say? I like to see the rise, fall and resurrection of an empire hinge on the power of love. It seems that Kai and his Princess, Mika were star crossed since their youth. Even though they couldn’t be together, they cared deeply for one another and vowed to find one another in another life. Before his death, Mika told Kai “my father told me, this world was only a preparation for the next. That all we can ask is that we leave it having loved and being loved.” He told her “I will search for you through a thousand worlds and 10,000 lifetimes until I find you.” With tears she replied “I will wait for you in all of them.” Lovely!


~~★Kai and Mika★~~
If you haven’t seen 47 Ronin, I would say it’s worth a watch. It is a story about honor, bravery, magic and love. It would also be great to honor the real samurai warriors by taking some time to learn about their real story and sacrifice. I know as a lover of history and records, I will take time to learn more about these brave samurai warriors. This page on the 47 Ronin is a great place to learn about the real story.

Algorithm for a Hero: The Cap and His Sniper

April 5, 2014

Today was strictly reserved for Captain America. The Winter Soldier was super awesome. It would be cool to see it again. God you really gotta love these movies! How can you not?? Can’t wait for No.3 with “the Twins!” There was a sneak peek and I can tell I’m gonna love those characters. An algorithm played a major role in the storyline which was way beyond exciting to a lover of 1z & 0z (see Death of the Algorithm).


It was great to see Washington, DC on the big screen following my visit there for the Best Practices Exchange (see State of the Digital Union). One of my top scenes of the whole movie featured Captain America running near the Washington Monument. I actually saw a lot of people running while I was out there (see Crab Cakes and Cardio). The Cap is working out wearing a gray, fitted Under Armour tee (awesome). He pauses for a resting pose right in front of the US Capitol with his bi veins lookin’ all 3D ~n~ such (awesome).


No.2 was basically a story about friendship. How imperfect is that?! There were multiple friendships at play in the storyline, but the best, most heartbreaking was the “friendship” between Black Widow and Captain America. There is already an underlying spark between the mysterious spy and the clear cut hero, but when Steve’s lips meet Natasha’s for show they realize there is something more. This only happens in the movies though. Right? Or maybe just between men with really vascular arms and women in really tight catsuits? Who knows? Never the less, the Captain isn’t having it.


Captain America enjoyed the kiss, but insists on friendship. During a heart-to-heart, the Black Widow asks “is that your first kiss since 1945?” The Cap responds with…”it’s kinda hard to trust someone when you don’t know who they are.” Hummm…interesting eh? She’s a poisonous, heart wrenching, sniper silly?! Maybe that’s what he thinks anyway? The Widow says, “Yeah. Who do you want me to be?” She’ll be what he wants. Of course he says “how ’bout a friend?” What a guy! She tells him “there’s a chance you could be in the wrong business Rogers!” Naw…his business is straight!


I want the money I spent on this movie back! Serious! It was awesome, but I got gypped hard!! I thought that in the movies, super hot, good guy heroes and super sexy, mysterious spy chicks end up together? It’s the movies right?? But…naww…friends it is! Guess this time I can’t say…”only in the movies” ha? There was one good aspect of this faux friendship. Captain America saved the Black Widow’s life not long before their kiss. After they had the heart-to-heart, she asked him if he at least trusted her to save his life if needed and he said yes. I guess that’s something!?


Winter Soldier was indeed awesome. Maybe the screenwriters can rewrite the script? I could always ask them to write in the Punisher? Maybe Robert Redford…I mean Alexander Pierce will hook a sista up? He should let his fellow stars know that in Hollywood, the sexy spy always gets her hero! Maybe Kang Zhao at the University of Iowa can help the screenwriters develop an algorithm for that ha?? Maybe?


~~★★★★NAW….only in the movies!!★★★★~~

Lust and Allegiance: A Short Review of Rise of an Empire

March 8, 2014

*Digital composite by Felicia*
Today I went to see 300: Rise of an Empire. Part two was actually a story which happened simultaneously with the first 300 movie (2007). As I expected, the movie was good. I love the cinematography of these movies and the digital work that goes into them. The 3D wasn’t all that great, but the weapons, sex scene, fight scenes and elaborate costumes made up for that.

My favorite characters were Artemisia and Xerxes. No surprise right? I always favor wicked characters and strong women. Eva Green plays a tantalizingly, sinister warrior. Artemisia is a woman wronged by her own who is on a quest for revenge. Rodrigo Santoro just rocks as Xerxes. His costume is always awesome! The scene in the hermit cave was very cool and was my second favorite. This is when Xerxes becomes a golden God King.

*Xerxes the God King*
In essence, the movie is about slavery versus freedom. Aside from being about the Persian assault on Greece, Rise of an Empire becomes a seriously twisted love story. At the heart of the lusty twist is the love hate attraction of two warriors, Themistokles and Artemisia. Sullivan Stapleton plays Themistokles and I must say that the sex scene between he and Artemisia is wow, wow, wowzer…smokin’ hot!!

One review called the sex scene “an all-timer” and “put it right up there on the shelf” right next to “any of the others that make those best-of lists.” It was indeed hot! A correlation between the slavery and freedom of lovers centers this story. We can become slaves to love and sex, mentally and physically. A Themistokles quote captures this best. During their final fight scene, he tells Artemisia “I would rather die free than live as a slave…even if I was attached to you by chain.” Think about that quote. The words “even if” are key.

I wasn’t disappointed by Rise of an Empire. It was a good story about love, allegiance, hate, sacrifice, revenge, and power. I adored the tumultuous, sexy, and lusty connection between Themistokles and Artemisia. Following are some of the best quotes between star-crossed lovers.


“You fight as if the blood of Poseidon himself is coursing through your veins.”
Artemisia to Themistokles

“You’re no God. You’re just a man.”
Artemisia to Themistokles

“Today I want to feel Themistokles throat beneath my boot.”
Artemisia to Persians

“You fight much harder than you fuck.”
Artemisia to Themistokles

“I would rather die free than live as a slave…even if I was attached to you by chain.”
Themistokles to Artemisia

“If death comes to me today I’m ready.”
Artemisia to Themistokles


“Anger is reserved for my enemies.”
Themistokles to Athenians

“You have come a long way to stroke your cock whilst watching real men train.”
Queen Gorgo to Themistokles

“I am disappointed by these men.”
Artemisia to Persians

“Now sit on your golden throne and watch this battle from the safety I provide you.”
Artemisia to Xerxes

“Let it be known that we choose to stand and fight on our feet rather than live on our knees.”
Themistokles to Athenians

“Sieze your glory!!”
Themistokles to Athenians

“I am not here as a witness.”
Artemisia to Persians

Keeping the Fire: A Symbolic Analysis of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”

February 3, 2014

A father and son watch
“the fire” burn in the
2009 movie The Road.

It is time for a deeper look. Not long ago, I finally watched the 2009 movie The Road. A friend of mine had told me about the movie, and I thought it would be interesting to see it and read the book since the author lives near me. The post-apocalyptic drama was based on the 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy lives here in Santa Fe, but I missed his last lecture. The main characters in the movie are Viggo Mortensen (the father) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (his son). Charlize Theron convincingly plays Mortensen’s hopeless wife. In 2007, the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The story is inspiring in a world filled with nightmarish problems and complexity.

In 2006, Janet Maslin with the New York Times wrote The Road Through Hell, Paved With Desperation. There have been several reviews which focus on the darkness of the story. The darkness didn’t bother me at all because it was really a story about the struggle for hope and retention of light. Maslin calls the journey of this father and his son a “cold, wretched, wet, corpse-strewn, ashen landscape of a post-apocalyptic world.” She calls the story “brutal” and in the same sentence, she uses the word “despair.” Maslin felt that it was a “terrifying” story. The one thing I did like about her critique is that she uses two good words. She uses the words “symbolic” and “metaphorical,” though she doesn’t offer any more than that and so I will give you my interpretation of McCarthy’s tale.

First off I will say that the title itself is a metaphor for life. The road each of us will travel is filled with curves, stops, hazards, and the unexpected. The Road represents the journey we make and how we must fight to fulfill our destiny or let go of those things which we can not control. Our individual road can be long, but McCarthy’s tale does promise light at the end of a dark trail. There can still be comfort in difficult times. The story embraces tenacity and embodies strength. It teaches us to give thanks for what we do have which can be as simple as life itself.

The movie opens with a beautiful, calm setting. There are trees and flowers. The scene is full of light. I felt that this set the stage for the endurance and strength of light. For the symbolic sake of my analysis, dark represents evil, despair, the faithless, hate, fear, cold and hopelessness. Light represents goodness, faith, love, fearlessness, warmth and hope.

The son remains a strong symbol of that which is positive. At one point, the father says “when I have nothing else, I try to dream the dreams of a child’s imaginings.” The child represents the untainted innocence within each of us. It is this innocence and child-like quality which can ward off the heaviness of the problems in life. The son also exemplifies the beauty of humanness. He shows us how exposing ourselves to others can sooth and heal.

The best example of this is captured by the charity and compassion of the son. He insists on giving to a stranger. He shares food, which is scarce, with an old man on the road. It is this friendship and bonding which exposes us. The boy holds the old man’s hand. They are both comforted by this. The old man calls him “a good little boy.” He says “when I saw that boy, I thought I had died and seen an angel.”

Fire is the greatest, most powerful symbol in this story. It represents warmth in the coldest times. It represents life. It represents the magical light we carry within which keeps us human. It represents drive, resilience, commitment, selflessness, goodness and love. At one point in the movie, the father explains this. He tells his son that they have to “just keeping carrying the fire” and the son says “what fire?” The dad says “the fire inside you.”

Water and food were both obvious symbols of life and hope. When the father and son discover an underground bunker with food and water, we see the duo in happier times. In this scene, a great symbol of hope is clear when the father and son are on their knees. At this time, they give thanks for their blessings.

In contrast to her positive son and somewhat positive husband, we have the hopeless wife. Memories of her haunt the father and he always hears the sad music of their piano which is symbolic of love that has gone cold. The cold is a firm symbol of disconnection. In the father’s memories, the breath of the couple is icy symbolizing the distance between them. The wife shunned all hope. She invited the darkness and sadly headed off alone into the frozen night. Her husband said “she was gone and the coldness of it was her final gift. She died somewhere in the dark.” We never see her body, so it is likely a metaphorical death. Her death represents the psychology of giving up and succumbing to the darkness.

I think McCarthy paired this husband and wife to show us the power of positivity. The wife is a negative woman who never helps the situation. While her husband says he will do anything to insure their survival, she insists on giving up. I think her character was the saddest, darkest part of this tale. Her husband tells her “we will survive this. We aren’t going to quit,” and she says she doesn’t want to “just survive.” When he finally realized she had indeed lost all hope by leaving them for the darkness, he throws her photo and his wedding ring off the bridge which is symbolic of letting go of that which he could not control.

From this point on, the story line centers on the unbreakable bond between a father and son. In times of adversity he reads to his child, teaching him about the “old” values. Even though the boy is older, he remains child-like, clinging to a plush toy for comfort. The father says “all I know is the child is my warrant, and if he is not the word of God then God never spoke.”

In the end, the boy ends up without his father and mother. The story is a testament of strength as the boy doesn’t choose to take his own life as his father instructed him to do. He makes the choice to go on. He chooses life. The boy ends up being followed by a concerned family and regains a father and mother figure, a brother and sister and the dog he had always hoped for.

McCarthy’s story is about light in the darkest times. The journey of this father and son symbolically ended near the ocean. As I said before, water is a symbol of life. This is a story about never giving up. It is a story about selfless love. McCarthy’s dark story is really encrusted with light, goodness, faith, fearlessness, warmth and hope. His story reminds us to keep our fire burning while traveling the road.

Galileo the Heretic: Science and Scripture

December 30, 2013

Yesterday I watched a movie I checked out at the LaFarge Library about Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). The movie is based on the book Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel and is titled Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens. I came away feeling so sad for this unbelievable man. He was constantly at odds with religious officials with regard to his pursuit of knowledge, still he remained a pious and obedient Catholic.

Galileo was considered a heretic in his day. For at least three decades he risked his life to study our universe. He was actually a hero of knowledge who continues to inspire contemporary scientists and freethinkers. The dictionary defines a heretic as a “person believing in or practicing religious heresy.” Was he really a “nonconformist,” a “nonbeliever,” a “pagan,” or a “heathen?” Maybe some think he was?


During the 17th century and even later, freethinking was really frowned upon. You could be burned at the stake for partaking in scientific, mathematical, and other studies! Galileo lived in a time when a book of banned books was kept. It makes me sad. I have to be thankful that I am alive today. I can express my opinions openly. My century is far from perfect, but I am in a much better place than Galileo was in relation to my consumption and sharing of knowledge.

The movie I watched was perfectly titled Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens. I found myself wondering if God could really frown on the discoveries made by Galileo? Though he was basically haunted by the Holy Office for several decades, he never turned his back on the church and at times was even apologetic for being smart. The movie touched on: his career as a professor/mathematician at the University of Pisa (1589); his explanation of the tides (1595); his experimentation with a pendulum/natural accelerated motion and balls/inclined planes (1602-1604); his observations and sketches of the lunar craters and mountains of the moon (1609); a demonstration of one of his telescopes (1609); his discovery of the four moons of Jupiter (1610); and his research on sunspots (1612).

The secret archive of the Vatican dates back to 1612. I realized how close this was to some of the most important discoveries made by Galileo when I looked back at a post I wrote last year. In 2012, I wrote about the religious archive and the trial documents of Galileo in a post titled 400 Year Old Archive: Secrets of the Vatican. At that time, stated that the Vatican secret archive contains 50 miles of shelving. Now I am curious how much of those documents are related to Galileo’s studies of the heavens?

Galileo facing the Roman
Catholic Inquisition in a
painting by Cristiano Banti


For at least 30 years, the Holy Office/Inquisition had a firm hold on one of the most intelligent men to ever walk the Earth. From 1611 until his death in 1642, poor Galileo was muffled by religious officials. Why? It is hard for me to understand and frankly, it makes me feel embarrassed to be Catholic. I think religious groups still suppress knowledge to some extent for if we have wings, we can fly. I can only imagine what his unhindered soul could have become?

By 1616, the Inquisition believed Galileo’s theory that the sun centered the universe was “absurd in philosophy and formally heretical.” He was summoned to Rome by Urban VIII in 1632 and was told that if he didn’t appear he would be “arrested and brought to Rome in chains.” In April of 1633, the formalities of the Inquisition were in full force and the “father of science” was detained by the Inquisition for close to 20 days. At the end of that detainment, Urban VIII decided that Galileo would face imprisonment for an undeclared amount of time. He was threatened with torture, and eventually sentenced to house arrest for the remainder of his life.

It is unbelievable that Galileo was forced to endure physical suffering while he was under house arrest!! In 1634, the genius was suffering from the pain of a hernia and asked the Holy Office for permission to leave his home to visit a doctor in Florence. His request was denied and he was told that if he asked again, he would be imprisoned once again. Even after he went completely blind in 1638, the Inquisition did not return Galileo’s freedom. He was granted permission to attend church on Catholic holidays if he didn’t speak to anyone. So sad.

At 77 years old, Galileo became seriously ill. The year was 1641 and a heroically smart man was silenced and blind. He died in 1642. With his death came the loss of a heavenly mind. I believe in God. I believe I am a good person. I believe in Heaven. I find it really hard to believe that God saw it right to prosecute a man who only treasured knowledge. I understand that his pursuit of scientific knowledge was contradicting scripture, still I find it hard to believe that my God accepted the things which were done to Galileo. Maybe I will never understand??

**Additional reference used~ The Galileo Project/Galileo Timeline/Rice University.

“Nothing Is Without Meaning”

July 26, 2013

It was the opening night of The Wolverine, and you know I couldn’t miss that! I braved the stormy weather to go. The movie was indeed awesome.

I was a little disappointed in the role of Jean Grey, since she is one of my favorites. Still~ Famke looked beautiful. Hugh played the role that has made him famous well. For being older, he was ripped and really vascular. Svetlana played a killer Viper. I loved her long blonde locks, toned body, poison laced breath, and sexy outfits.

The katanas, poisoned arrows, knives, and other lethal weapons were all sweet and perfect for a movie set in modern day Japan. One of my favorite parts was when several ninja warriors shot a bunch of roped arrows into the Wolverine’s back to capture him. One of those was toxic.

Some of the good movie quotes were those of Yukio. While I didn’t really love her character and preferred her offbeat sister, I did love her words. She said “nothing is without meaning.” I also liked the quote “everything in the world can find peace. Eventually… man can recover from anything.”

It was a good movie and I would like to see it again. The best movie quote was from the Viper. She said she was immune to all poisons and that most of all she was “immune to the toxin which is man himself.” What a gift! How? 🙂

Slaying Giants

March 2, 2013
•The giants bow down to Jack once he takes the crown.•

•The giants bow down to Jack once he takes the crown.•

Today we went to go see “Jack the Giant Slayer.” That movie rocked! I didn’t give it a “B+” like the forever unsatisfied critics. I liked several things about the movie. Second~ the giants looked creepy (intricately creative bone jewelry, sharp/dirty teeth ~n~ all). Third~ it was a good take on the classic fairy tale to have more than one bean stalk. Forth~ I love me a woman or “princess” who wants or needs to step out of her box. Fifth~ the story was captured in an old book. No I did not forget “first” up there.

There was a #1 take away from this version of the tale which I found most important. This was embodied by Jack himself. The deeper message of the story is this… To be a hero and capture the love of another we do not need to have wealth and fame or material things. With heart it is possible to slay metaphoric giants and secure authentic glory.

•Jack passes the story of the giants on to his children.•

•Jack passes the story of the giants on to his children.•

Pain: A Writer’s Inspiration

January 1, 2013

~Nora Arnezeder and Ben Barnes portray Celia and the Young Man in “The Words.”~

My tragedy was that I
loved words more than
the woman who inspired
me to write them.

~~The Old Man
(a character in “The Words”)


At some point, you have
to choose between life
and fiction. The two are
very close but they never
actually touch. They are
two very, very different

~~Clay Hammond
(a character in “The Words”)

Tonight I watched the movie “The Words.” The film is based on a screenplay by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal. Rory (played by Bradley Cooper) is a tormented writer lead by fate to another tormented writer (the old man played by Jeremy Irons). The story of these two writers is told by a famous author named Clay Hammond. Hammond (played by Dennis Quaid) is yet another tormented writer. Zoë Saldana (Dora) and Olivia Wilde (Daniella) are also in this film.

Once again, I liked something that none of the critics liked. I thought that the movie had a lot of symbolism which I would love to explore at some point. It also made me think. As writers we often second guess ourselves or try to write what we believe others will like or what we hope will sell. To describe the surface of the film in short, it is a tragic story about a desperate writer who resorts to plagiarism. The deeper story confirms that the extremities of pleasure, but mostly pain can inspire us to write our very best.

“The Words” are those of a young military man inspired by pleasure, but driven to write by his pain. He starts the first page of a manuscript on the back of a goodbye note from his wife. The writing is later lost in Paris, thus it is never published by the original author. Years later, the manuscript is discovered by Rory in an old briefcase. Out of desperation the struggling writer successfully sells it as his own. His secret is inevitably discovered by the old man who is the real author of the manuscript.

One of the most powerful moments in the story was when the young writer hits rock bottom. While he is on his knees he looks up at Ernest Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” (1926) and rips it from his bookshelf while thrashing all of his books and typewriter. The essence of Hemingway is a major symbol in the movie. That novel has been called one of Hemingway’s greatest works. It was a tragedy and was not favored by literary critics when he first published the work.

~The Young Man is driven to write his best and only work when Celia leaves him.~

~The Young Man is driven to write his best and only work when Celia leaves him.~

I assume that “The Sun Also Rises” was in the original screenplay for this movie. There were so many connections to the story of each writer in “The Words.” Hemingway’s book included; an American journalist living in Paris; a café; a tragic love story; pain; a soldier; and it was based on real people and real life. I find it interesting that Klugman and Sternthal (the writers of the original screenplay) must have known that Hemingway completed that novel when he was separated from his first wife, Hadley Richardson.

For a moment I wondered if Klugman and Sternthal loosely based all three characters on Hemingway? Even Rory is silenced by a Hemingway plaque on a wall in Paris at one point. The writers of the screenplay for “The Words” must have planned a Hemingway connection into their characters? Some have said that Hemingway “unraveled” after his divorce from his first wife. It was during the couple’s initial separation that Hemingway completed his work on the infamous novel. The book was dedicated to his former wife and his son.

This movie is a must see for all writers. I was left pondering the fact that some of the most famous pieces of literature were written with a broken heart. Feelings of pleasure can insure that we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. What is more intriguing is the fact that extreme pain is what makes a writer thrive. It is deep pain which inspires us to bleed out and leave a permanent stain.

A Look at the Symbols in Bless Me Ultima

October 29, 2012

On Sunday my sister and I took our mom to the movies. This week is her birthday and she has been wanting to see the new movie Bless Me Ultima. The movie is based on a book written by Rudolfo Anaya. The novel took the writer many years to finish, and he is said to have employed spirit guides and his subconscious mind to complete this work. It was published in 1972. The book has been used in classrooms for many years because it is well respected in the world of Chicano literature. I was also very anxious to see the film because I knew it featured a curandera and that it would be filled with love, magic, history, land, nature, herbs, and witches. What’s not to love? A curandera is a female folk healer who uses faith as a weapon. She also employs good magic using herbs, spirit guides, and the power of the natural world around her. The story is not that of Ultima’s. It is the story of a young boy named Antonio Márez y Luna, an outside spectator who is contemplative of many things.

Our Tickets to Bless Me Ultima on 10.28.2012

Photo I took of Ultima “La Grande”
and Antonio in the movie Bless Me Ultima

At first I was surprised to learn that the movie was two hours long. I must say that there was not one moment of the movie that didn’t capture me completely. We laughed and we cried as a New Mexico story graced the big screen in a way that I have never seen. I have one of the original runs of Anaya’s book. When I was a girl I remember reading the book in school, and in college we did chapter studies. I felt that the film flawlessly embodied and conveyed the heart of the original story. We all loved the film. I always feel so blessed to have people in my life who understand me. As we left the theater, I explained to my mom and my sister that I was taking notes on my phone. My mom said “I know,” and my sister said “I figured.” In some movies I have attempted to take in a notebook, but it is hard to see what you are writing in the dark and have found it much easier to jot down thoughts in draft form on my phone. One day I aspire to complete a full literary analysis of this novel, but for tonight I will deliver the symbols I derived from the film.

Photo I took of the funeral procession
of a Trementina witch sister
in the movie Bless Me Ultima

When we were leaving I told my mom that I saw so many symbols in this film. I adore my mature and intense mind. My mom was very curious about the symbols I saw, so I dedicate this to her. Maybe with any luck I will make her and my sister just as crazy as I am! If you have or haven’t seen the film, or even if you have only read the book, look deeper. In my mind, symbolism is about connection. A symbol is a connection~ usually from sight to an object or idea (with the mind)~ to a feeling (with the heart)~ and then ultimately to a person, place or thing. Following are the symbols I ascertained from Bless Me Ultima. This was not Ultima’s story, however, she embraced symbolism like no other character in Anaya’s novel does. The end of the movie brings the strongest and most poignant quote. When “La Grande” dies, Antonio laid her to rest and said “I did not cry~ her voice is everywhere.” The quote confirms a connection of all symbols in the book and film.

Symbols in the Movie

Ultima or “La Grande”~ was a symbol of love, sacrifice, life, death, land, faith, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, nature, power, protection, knowledge, tradition, and healing

Ultima’s Owl~ was a symbol of protection and sacrifice

The Moon~ was a symbol of mystery, land, time, magic, and knowledge

The River, Rain and Water~ were symbols of life, death, healing, abundance, and the seasons

The Land, Herbs, and Farming~ were symbols of home, family, tradition, knowledge, continuity, and healing

The War~ was a symbol of evil, change, vice, and sin

Death~ was a symbol of fear, evil, mortality, and immortality

Religion~ was a symbol of connection and disconnection

Analysis of and Symbols in Hemingway and Gellhorn

June 10, 2012

Photo of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn
at the Stork Club in New York City (1941)
Ernest Hemingway Collection (Accession Number EH05582P)
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
in Boston, United States of America

It’s hard to say the exact moment that you
fall in love with someone, but with him, I knew it
was his words, the ones I would never hear, the
private things he uttered.”
Martha Gellhorn—–

The love between Hemingway and Gellhorn was triggered by professional admiration and respect, as well as a profound connection. This inspired their professional endeavors as well as the sexual energy between them. This can be seen when Hemingway tells her “Gellhorn, you inspire the hell out of me.” The movie should have been titled Gellhorn and Hemingway, as it was really her story. It was a story of a strong and passionate female. Gellhorn was in a passionate love/hate relationship with Hemingway to the very end. The movie was about both intimate passion and professional passion.

When Hemingway and Gellhorn were preparing to go into a war zone during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), he fell in love with her persistence and drive. Inevitably it seems that those two characteristics which colored Gellhorn, were also some of those which drove them apart. They were “going to the front to fight Franco and the fascist.” As a war correspondent, Gellhorn covered several major wars. It is when she went to the arctic (Finland), and she left the home she an Hemingway had purchased together in Cuba that she began to pull away from Hemingway. He did not want her to leave him to cover that war, and he told her “stay here with me. Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

Gellhorn’s passion was one thing which attracted Hemingway, it is unfortunate that it was also her passion which drove him away. I found an interesting theme which ran through the movie and that was passion versus control. The theme can be seen in the interactions of Hemingway and Gellhorn throughout the film, and it is also seen with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. While Gellhorn traveled as a war correspondent with these young men, she said that they were “compelled by passion and not government.” She and Hemingway likely understood this passion as they were both fueled by both intimate and professional passion.

At several points in the movie Hemingway comes forth as a protector of Gellhorn. She is capable and is not scared to be involved with war, yet this was still during a time in which women were seen as outsiders in such an environment. In one scene, Hemingway locks Gellhorn in her hotel room when she first arrives in Spain. He locks her door from the outside for the night and by the morning, she is livid. He tells her that men would have their way with her because she was the only blonde, and that “death unleashes the beast.” She says she “gets it” and agrees that she does not trust anyone. Hemingway tells her “the best way to know if you can trust somebody, is to trust them.”

Following are some of the symbols that I could derive from this film, as well as some of the quotes which I found memorable.


Music—– music was a powerful symbol in the movie. Music was a symbol of both healing and drive. The guitar was a specific symbol of healing and drive. The men strummed to come together, and they also strummed to go to battle. One of the soldiers had a guitar with a sign on it which read “this guitar kills fascists.” The same battle cry was heard continuously throughout the film, and the song was heard several times.

Whiskey—– whiskey is a strong symbol in this movie. In almost every scene someone is drinking. I think that drinking is symbolic of pain relief. When the brave Gellhorn saves a young boy crying in the street in Spain after a bombing, Hemingway tells her that she is not supposed to be doing that. In response she says “little boys aren’t supposed to see their mother bleed to death.” When the little boy (maybe 5 years old) is pulled inside and is in another woman’s arms, Hemingway gives the child a flask with whiskey. Apparently this is a gesture to aid the child, and kill the child’s physical and mental pain.

Bombs—– bombs are an obvious symbol of death, but in this film, they were also a symbol of connection. The traditional symbol could represent complete surrender, and the death/submission of egos as Hemingway and Gellhorn make love for the first time. Before this erotic sex scene, Gellhorn asks Hemingway way “is this what you want?” He tells her “this is what I need.” As they connect on the deepest and most passionate level, they become numb to the world around them as they are covered in ashes, as bombs fall around them, and as flames roar outside the window of the hotel room.

Scars—– the multiple scars Hemingway bears are revealed to Gellhorn after their first intimate scene. I think this was a very symbolic moment in the film as he seemed to reveal not only his physical scars, but his emotional scars as well. It almost seemed that his physical scars were nothing compared to the scars he suffered mentally throughout his lifetime.

Crow and Swordfish-—- there were two animals that I feel were strong symbols in this movie. There was a crow at the beginning and the end, and there was a swordfish at the beginning and the end. The crow was simultaneously symbolic of both Hemingway and Gellhorn. The crow is a symbol of intelligence/knowledge, and death. Both times when the crow appeared, Gellhorn could see a reflection of herself in his eye. Gellhorn was Hemingway’s intellectual muse, and she is reflected as such in that symbol. In the final scene, the crow appears to Gellhorn after Hemingway’s death. He appears to her as a messenger from the spirit world tapping on her window with his beak.

The swordfish is also a powerful symbol. This fish is a sole symbol of Hemingway. The fish represents his masculine energy, and sexuality with the striking phallic “sword” of this fish. The swordfish represents Hemingway’s personal battles- the battles with himself, and his battles with Gellhorn. In the beginning of the movie, Hemingway fights successfully to reel in a swordfish, and in the end of the movie, he gives up and lets the fish go. Hemingway had captured Gellhorn, but he had also released her.

Memorable Movie Quotes and My Thoughts:

Pauline Hemingway to Martha Gellhorn

My husband believes that if you kill enough animals, you may not kill yourself.”
—–I wonder if Hemingway really said that? Ironically, he did eventually kill himself.

Pauline Hemingway to Martha Gellhorn

Ernest likes to surround himself with exotic characters.”
—–Pauline could immediately sense their connection.

Gellhorn to a War Photographer

There is a human need to exert control when the world is spinning out of control.”
—–This statement was made as she seemed to be talking about both her career and her love for Hemingway.

Hemingway about Gellhorn

Bravest woman I ever saw.”
—–He makes this statement after Gellhorn hears a child crying in the street after a bombing in Spain. Everyone tells her it is a cat (?). She disagrees and runs into the street as bombers hover above. She saves the child from the street and from having to watch his mother bleed to death.


It’s hard to say the exact moment that you fall in love with someone, but with him, I knew it was his words, the ones I would never hear, the private things he uttered.”
—–This is an amazing quote. At this moment she realized she was deeply in love with Hemingway, regardless of anything else.

Gellhorn to Hemingway

Women get bombed the same as men.”
—–Gellhorn was talking about being a female war correspondent in a male dominated field.

Hemingway to Gellhorn

Stay here with me. Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
—–Another amazing quote. When she decide to leave and cover the warfare in the arctic, she began to pull away from Hemingway. He did not want her to leave him for her career.

Hemingway in a letter to Gellhorn

Love, you poison my typewriter. Since you have left, I have had hangovers they could name battleships after. Today I remember the heat of your naked body.”
—–Each time Hemingway is shown writing in the movie he is standing up. He is never seated. This was something that I did not know about him, and I assume that this is historically accurate (which is interesting).


When there was no war, we made our own. The battlefield neither of us could survive was domestic life.”
—–Maybe this is the hardest battle of all?

All in all, I think that this movie was great. I was not disappointed at all, and I would recommend it. I think sometimes we just need to go deeper to get a full bodied feel for what we are, or what we are not absorbing. Intimate and professional passion, symbolic imagery, love and hate, and highly erotic connections…. What’s not to like?

Captured Without Sword: Symbolization in Snow White and the Huntsman

June 2, 2012

***The Golden Queen Ravenna***
Digital composite by Felicia Lujan.
Includes three movie screenshots
and one abstract design.

First a few thoughts aside from my look at the symbols in this movie… Charlize Theron was smokin’ hot- I mean with a capital “S.” Her acting was excellent, and she had the look of straight crazy in her eyes more than a few times. I could tell that she had been completely consumed by her character, which I loved. She *became* the Evil Queen Ravenna. She ruled the movie! I guess I have always been really impressed with her acting since her role in Monster (2003). Kristen Stewart did a good job as Snow White, though her hair was not black. I did have a little bit of a hard time forgetting about her Twilight roles. I think that a good actor or actress can *become* their character flawlessly. A great actor/actress is so good that we can feel their roles devour them. I give Kristen an “A” for effort. She will get to where she needs to be as an actress now that she has discovered new roles to shed Bella. Chris Hemsworth was good as the Huntsman. I did forget he was Thor, but my son didn’t! I liked that Evan Daugherty and Martin Solibakke made the Huntsman strong and masculine, but were not scared to show his vulnerable/sensitive side. This movie did have some scenes which shattered gender stereotypes, which I liked.


There were several themes and scenes tied into the symbols I derived from Snow White and the Huntsman. Unlike other people who may have reviewed this movie, I looked at it as a stand alone piece. Though it was based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, the writers for this movie deserve credit, and a deeper look at what their writing was intended to convey to the audience. Following are a few concepts I identified in the film- these were: valuables versus the illusion of valuables; fire and water; heart and heartlessness; kindness and hatefulness; good and evil or light and darkness; freedom and captivity; connection and disconnection; and life and death. In the same order, here are some of the things I noted (yes I took notes) with regard to these concepts.

Valuables and the Illusion of Valuables

I found it interesting that in this movie, the Evil Queen’s mirror was gold. It was not an actual mirror, tough a reflection could be seen in the large golden plate. Not only is the mirror gold in this version of the tale, but the spirit in the mirror is actually a golden three dimensional figure. I think that this fortifies the value that Ravenna has placed on superficial beauty. I believe that this is an illusion of value. Though it is nice to be beautiful, true beauty can only be felt. It can not be seen. This is why Snow remains the “fairest” in the land. When Queen Ravenna demands that the Huntsman track and kill Snow White, she says that he will be “rewarded handsomely.” The Queen uses love to convince him, but he is not easily fooled by the illusion of value. He tells her “what good is gold if I am lying dead with crows picking at my eyes?” At one point in the movie, Snow and the Huntsman end up seeking refuge in a large village of scarred women. There are no men in the village as they are all off fighting for freedom. These women have deliberately defaced themselves to avoid the venomous clutches of the life force sucking Ravenna. The women selected for these roles were beautiful, but the writers gave them scars. The scars added value to their lives, as they got to live longer because the Queen did not want them.

Fire and Water, Heart and Heartless, Kindness and Hatefulness

In the beginning, as a child, Snow White finds an injured bird and takes it to her mother. The mother tells Snow that she has inner beauty because she wishes to help the bird. She is immediately cast in the light of kindness. Also in the beginning, fire appears in the mirror when Queen Ravenna first summons the mirror spirit. This could symbolize a few things. Maybe her fervent obsession with beauty? Could it be her heartlessness and hatefulness? The fire could also foreshadow her demise. In the last scene of the movie, Ravenna is consumed by fire while she is burning with rage. At one point as a prisoner of Ravenna, Snow starts a fire in her bare hands as she says a prayer. She can be seen as the kind, spiritual, fire starter with heart. In her case, the fire could symbolize passion versus obsession. Hearts can also be connected with fire. When one is passionate about something, they are often described as “on fire.” Both are also red. Yes- the heartless and dark Ravenna eats Sparrow hearts. This act could symbolize the Queen’s ability to take life and freedom from people. The heart beats when we are alive, and flight is a symbol of freedom. Ravenna also takes the life out of the heart of a man who tries to kill her. The movie has several references to water. When Snow escapes the Evil Queen she jumps into the ocean. Water is a symbol of life, and continuance. There is also the very symbolic tears in the movie.

Good and Evil, Light and Darkness

Snow White is a historically established symbol of purity and innocence. There are the bad birds- the Ravens, and the good birds in the Sanctuary. The good birds in the Sanctuary are the same type of bird that Snow saved as a child. The mirror also tells Ravenna “her innocence and purity is all that can destroy you, but she is also your salvation.” Ravenna’s mirror tells her that consuming Snow White’s heart will allow her to live forever,” which means “immortality.” The colors black and white are prominent in the movie echoing the symbolism of good and evil/light and dark. Some of the black things included: Ravenna’s attire; the Ravens; black smoke; the black horses in Ravenna’s dark army; the apple rotting to black in Snow’s hand; and an oil like substance present when Ravenna’s powers are weak. Some of the white things included: a Stag with tree branches for antlers; a horse; birds; a dress worn by Snow White; and the snow.

Freedom and Captivity

A major symbol of freedom and captivity was Snow White’s break away from being a delicate princess. She became a lover of the sword and found freedom through strength. Snow escapes from Ravenna’s dungeon, and several birds like the one she saved as a child fly around and surround her. Again, birds and flight can be interpreted as Snow regaining freedom. When the princess escapes into water, and surfaces on the beach, she encounters the white horse. The horse carries her away to her freedom, thus it can be seen as a symbol of such. The “Sanctuary” in the movie represents freedom. It is one place where Queen Ravenna has no power. It is also the place where magical creatures live. The Sanctuary is the “home of the fairies.” Several winged things in the movie symbolize freedom- there are birds, fairies, butterflies, and fireflies. Freedom and captivity can also be seen in Snow’s love interest. She feels free to break away from Prince William, because she has been captured by the Huntsman.

Connection and Disconnection

When he is feeling bad, he seems to drink, so Snow White asks the Huntsman if he “drinks to drown his sorrows?” He drinks constantly in the movie in an attempt to disconnect from his pain. When the Huntsman begins to train Snow on how to fight with a sword, he takes her firmly and says “you stab him in them heart and look into their eyes until you can see their soul.” It was at that moment that the characters were set by the writers to fall in love. At that moment, he looked deeply into her soul and she into his. The Huntsman captured Snow White with no force. She was captured by a simple gaze. Snow White disconnects from Prince William as she begins to develop a deep connection to the Huntsman. In one scene as Snow and the Huntsman are about to be killed by a troll, she also connects with the beast and they are let be. A theme of trust is also heavy in connection. Another symbol of disconnection is when Queen Ravenna kills the King. The King’s goblet with blood red wine crashes to the floor.

Life and Death

After Ravenna killed the King (Snow White’s father) “the land died and with it hope” under her rule. Ravenna consumes the life spirit of the beautiful to stay young and attractive. This process gives her beauty and life force. It does not always literally kill the person, but it does take their life. When the Seven Dwarfs capture Snow White and the Huntsman, the eldest can sense her goodness. He says “she is of the blood,” meaning the royal bloodline. Blood is a symbol of both life and death. The dwarf says “I can see an end to the darkness.” She then tells them she is the late King’s daughter. One of the dwarfs says “you have eyes Huntsman, but you do not see.” The elder dwarf tells the Huntsman “she is life itself. She will heal the land. She is the one. Do you not feel it?” Here again you can see that true beauty is felt not seen. The poisoned apple is a symbol of death and life all at once. The fruit nourishes, but the apple has been poisoned.

In the end, when Snow dies after eating the apple, she is kissed by Prince William. It was then that the audience awaited her awakening. You had to know she wouldn’t wake, as it was not true love’s kiss. Snow did not awaken until the Huntsman visited her lifeless body. There he sat drinking by her side. The Huntsman talked to Snow about her heart and her spirit. He leaned down to kiss her, and he shed a tear on her cheek. She was awakened by the provocation of her own tears, and her deep love and respect for the Huntsman. He had taken her heart, but in a much different way than anyone had expected. When Snow White kills the Queen she tells her “you can’t have my heart,” that is so symbolic- as it is really the Huntsman who has her heart. Snow now rules the kingdom, but she will rule with a tree branch as a scepter not gold. This scepter a symbol of growth and life, and a return to roots.

“Believe in Heros” and “Make a Statement”

May 5, 2012
Captain America breakin' punchin' bags off chains in The Avengers

Captain America breakin’ punchin’ bags off chains in The Avengers

I posted this evening (technically yesterday) about being super tired from preparing for, presenting at, and attending the New Mexico Historical Society Conference. I was debating going home to plop down in that post— or—-going to go see The Avengers. What can I say?? I love pain- feet hurtin’, eyes red and dry, and brain drained, I still opted for the movie. It is a must see!!! I lovvved the movie. You can catch: science; brains; guts; agents; big guns (oh and weapons 2); bad and good; high tech devices and computers; skin tight suits; mean armor; grenades; epic battles; laughs; portals to another realm; team work; crazy animal-like spaceships; just plain silly super human stunts with a tech+e bow and arrows; good acting; oh and gender blind hotness!

Some of the things I lovvvved included: the cunning tactics of the Black Widow; the Black Widow breakin’ chairs and breakin’ necks; the Black Widow’s mission to have “the red” expunged from her record; the scene with the Black Widow and The Hulk in a battle; the attempts of The Hulk to “control” his anger; the little beef between Iron Man and Captain America; Captain America gettin’ dirty and gettin’ battle scars; Captain America hitting the bag in the gym, and breakin’ chains with fists of fire; when The Avengers were all finally getting along and working as a team to defeat the darkness; and when Iron Man calls The Avengers “Earth’s mightiest heroes.” I guess with the exception of Thor (as he is not earthly).

The movie is a must see if you want to “believe in heros” and “make a statement.”

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Blood Diamonds: Tragic Riches

April 7, 2012

Tragic Riches digital composite by Felicia Lujan. Image includes 4 contemporary images, 1 archaeological image, and 7 layers.


Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust,
like diamonds we are cut with our own dust.”

***John Webster

Marilyn was an iconic woman. I can’t help but wonder if she had some part in our materialistic attitudes with her 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. When the sexy Monroe performed Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend with the attention of handsome men in flawless suits, she likely created perpetually spoiled monsters. Luckily, some of us are able to dismiss the bourgeois and stay practically beautiful. I do not feel that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Not my best friend anyhow…… I much rather prefer a symbolic diamond in the rough to a physically polished stone. As Thomas Browne Sr. once said, “rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.”

I rarely insist on having nothing but the best, except for when it comes to coffee! I am proud to say that my inner pampered maiden left this building long ago. I am rich in ways which are complex and reach far beyond the tragedy of mindless consumerism. William Shakespeare believed that his “crown” was in his heart, not on his head. He felt that his crown was not “to be seen,” and that his crown was “called contentment,” which “seldom kings enjoy.” Maybe women insist on having diamonds to fill a void that should actually be filled with happiness? Who knows? Still, it should come as no surprise that those precious stones created under extreme pressure are also shrouded in just the same as an end product wrapped around your finger, or hanging from you neck.

I was prompted to write this post by one of the most powerful quotes in the movie Blood Diamond (2006). Jennifer Connelly as Maddy Bowen says “people back home wouldn’t buy a ring if they knew it cost someone his hand.” This quote makes me feel bad for wearing the one diamond that I rarely go without. Blood Diamond remains one of my all time favorite movies. The movie is a captivating and heartbreaking political thriller which stars Djimon Hounsou, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Connelly. I love all of them in this film. It was on television last weekend (but I also have the movie). The Blood Diamond movie is about conflict diamonds which are mined in African war zones. The movie brings the viewer up close and personal with a look at the rebel violence associated with the Sierra Leone Civil War (1992-2002).

I loved actor Djimon Hounsou as the driven Solomon Vandy in the 2006 film Blood Diamond.

In November of 2011, Erica Hernandez published an article titled Are blood diamonds a thing of the past? In the article Hernandez, talks about Christmas and “buying gifts for loved ones.” She says that “the thought of buying, or receiving” a diamond “from a loved one may momentarily excite you, but considering the incidents those diamonds may have encountered on their way into your hands might make you think twice.” Within the last decade, blood diamonds have been of such a concern, that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was instituted to help certify that diamonds are conflict-free. I just wonder how often that is really the case? When it comes to money, the brightest of hearts seem to darken like clouds on the most dreary day. Even though there are efforts to stop the trade of these violence riddled stones, it is still up to the consumer to ask about what it is they are consuming. Like with so many other things in life, education is easy to ignore. It takes heart and mind to listen, and ultimately to care.

The Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal published a paper in 2012 by Shannon K. Murphy. The paper was titled Clouded Diamonds: Without Binding Arbitration and More Sophisticated Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, the Kimberley Process Will Ultimately Fail in Ending Conflicts Fueled by Blood Diamonds (Vol.11). Murphy opens with the quote “in America, it’s bling bling but out here it’s bling bang.” She says that “conflict diamonds” that have been “mined in the resource-rich nations of Africa, have led to the displacement and death of millions.” Her research statistics show that “roughly $8.5 billion worth of diamonds are exported from the African continent each year, with over sixty-five percent of the world’s diamonds originating in African countries.” Wow! It is disheartening to think about. Her paper is actually very informative.

In the end, it is best to ask questions before you purchase diamonds. The seller should be able to tell you more about the stone you are about to spend thousands of dollars on (what if it was your life?). Ask for a certification– ask where the diamonds are from– just ask. I know one thing is true for me- each time I look at the diamonds I have (which are few, and many of them are family heirlooms), I will wonder where they came from? I may wonder if a little boy shot someone that he really didn’t want to shoot, or if a man suffered unspeakable torture so that I could parade a sparkly thing. The older I get, the more I realize that there is true power in education. If you can do anything at all to make a difference in this world, you can continue to learn, change, and grow.


Are blood diamonds a thing of the past? by Erica Hernandez (2011)-

Clouded Diamonds: Without Binding Arbitration and More Sophisticated Dispute Resolution Mechanisms, the Kimberley Process Will Ultimately Fail in Ending Conflicts Fueled by Blood Diamonds by Shannon K. Murphy (2012)-

A Magical Island of the Big Screen

February 11, 2012
Screen Shot_2.11.12_A View from Captain Nemo's Nautical Invention

Screen Shot_2.11.12_A View from Captain Nemo’s Nautical Invention

We are on our way to Albuquerque again, but before we head up the mountain (if weather permits), we caught a quick flick. We stopped in Santa Fe to watch the Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I have been waiting to see the movie since I first saw the previews. The guys didn’t take any convincing. That movie was a hit. It was captivating, super funny, and some parts were touching. Journey 2 is an adventure/fantasy/science fiction flick. The movie stars: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (as Hank); Josh Hutcherson (as Sean); Luis Guzmán (as Gabato); Vanessa Hudgens (as Kailani); Michael Caine (as Alexander); and Kristin Davis (as Liz).

You know I had to love this movie. It had several things I dig. I had no clue there would be code and cryptography. Yeah! The Rock played a former Code Breaker with the Navy who helps his stepson decipher the code. The movie also had: glowing mushrooms; references to Poseidon (the Greek God of the Sea); inventions and scientific references; puzzle solving; old books; an ancient/mythical city; a historic diary filled with script (that may have required a paleography expert); and references to iconic authors. You know I had to love that right???

Between The Rock and Vanessa, the screen was burnin’ up with both eye candy and acting skillz. The actor and actress were among: tiny elephants and sharks; over-sized bugs and lizards; unique orchids; magical sea and landscapes; a gold spewing volcano; and the Lost City of Atlantis.

In the end, the team of explorers used a historic record to escape. The record had the ancient script of Captain Nemo. The captain’s diary was used to find his nautical invention, and flee the mysterious island!

A must see!!!

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