Fatherland

HBO shot Fatherland in Prague in 1994 – a year in which we were somewhat pre-occupied in the Republic of South Africa – so I missed it entirely. In fact I’d never even heard of it until I caught it on tv today. Based on a Thomas Harris novel of the same name, it’s set in 1964 and starts with an intriguing premise: that Hitler defeated the Allies in 1944 and established a Nazi super-state across Europe.

Against this backdrop, President (Joseph) Kennedy is about to arrive on a State Visit to meet the 75-year old Hitler to formally end the Cold War; Hitler needs American support to finally defeat the Soviets in the East. But the Germans have a nasty little secret that threatens to derail the entire deal….. An American journalist and a German detective investigate.

It’s definitely a tv movie in size and scope, but it’s a pretty chilly thriller nonetheless. And the Nazi meets the 60s styling is impressive too.

Game of Thrones

Little gets the Redhead into a froth, but news that HBO is creating a mini-series out of George R. R. Martin’s bestselling ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novels was met with barely disclosed excitement in the Evans-Cuff household. The novels, set in a fictional and mystical land of kings and mercenaries and soothsayers and madmen, are indeed a thrilling “must read” (which almost, almost converted me to Fantasy novels) – so I trust that “Game of Thrones” will live up to our domestic hype.

And yet: where would you choose to film a mythical, medieval world of machievellian machinations where winter is indeed coming? Not Northern Ireland, surely?? Yet Northern Ireland First Minister, that hapless cuckold Peter Robinson, has announced that’s exactly what’s going to happen, stating: “In June, HBO will begin filming Game of Thrones in the Paint Hall – a nine part television series that could potentially be worth £20m to the local economy.” Read the full article on the Belfast Telegraph site. Paint Hall is a former Belfast shipyard converted to a movie studio, and most notably the site of production of City of Ember which, serendipitously enough I actually watched for the first time last night….

The casting for the film is complete and mostly pretty spot on. Live for Films also reports that the N.I production is now looking for extras – especially male, horse-riding ones. Details here. I could relocate for a bit. Honestly. Giddyup.

John Adams

You know that pop art picture where Bogie and Marilyn and James Dean are hanging out at Phillie’s night diner? Elvis is the bar-keep? That one.

I was (bizarrely) reminded of that picture in the first few episodes of the award-winning HBO mini-series John Adams; just about everyone you’ve ever read about in connection with America’s finest hour keeps popping up in incongruous places. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hancock, Adams himself; it was oddly thrilling to get to see these assorted delegates to the Continental Congress in the same room. Who knew?!

Anyway, having been raised on a diet of prestigious BBC period dramas, John Adams is actually pretty good – Laura Linney is (again) particularly magnificent and neither is Paul Giamatti playing for laughs. What an odious, self-righteous, cantankerous little man John Adams was! I must admit though, I ran out of steam once the protagonists moved to France – perhaps because America’s foreign policy has sucked pretty much ever since.

The first few episodes were filmed in Colonial Willamsburg in Virginia – a place that’s (surprisingly) close to my heart. I spent one very leisurely sun-drenched holiday in that part of the world, cruising between the old British colonies of the East Coast in an open-top car. The Cuffs’ have been coming to the Americas since the early 1600s with admittedly somewhat ambivalent results. One of the first, my namesake Martin Cuff, emigrated to Virginia in 1622 and died there not even a year later at Elizabeth Cittie. Plague, I think. John Cuff was Cape Merchant of Bermuda at about the same time, the ship that was to take him on the America sank; I gather he went home…..

So I pilgrimaged of sorts to Roanoke Island, to Jamestown and to magnificent, Georgian Williamsburg (actually a living history “theme park” that the Yanks, surprisingly, do rather well.) Several of the town’s finest buildings appear in the series.