Showing posts with label European history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European history. Show all posts

Monday, January 9, 2012

King Fred was a female

Last night, when I started to watch a fictionalized documentary on Frederick the Great, King of Prussia [1712-1786], I had no idea what it was all about… and it took me quite some time to figure out what was happening. The German director Jan Peter had made the curious decision to call upon two female actresses for the role of the celebrated monarch. The aging king is played by Katharina Thalbach.

And Katharina's real-life daughter Anna plays Frederick as a young prince, before the death of his harsh father, Frederick William I.

For the old king to look so much like the prince, I kept on saying to myself that the makeup artists had done a splendid job. And it was only much later, when I read an article on the movie in Télérama, that I learned that the roles had been played by a mother and her daughter. Funnily enough, Jan Peter's weird choice works superbly, maybe because there was indeed a refined feminine dimension in Frederick's character. He was a gifted musician, versed in French culture, who seemed to prefer the company of men.

This excellent film is not only enjoyable; it is quite didactic, providing uninformed viewers (such as me) with a view of that early phase of Hohenzollern royalty in Prussia.

An aspect of the movie that amused me was the way in which Frederick dined regularly with his distinguished French guests Voltaire and La Mettrie. The latter philosopher—whose famous L'Homme Machine (Machine Man) inspired me when I was working on my Machina Sapiens—actually died in Potsdam after stuffing himself with delicious pheasant and truffle pâté.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Limelight, lucre and lust

I'm thinking of a weird winter that started 48 years ago, in December 1962, in London. I was 22 years old, and a confirmed computer programmer who had just spent seven wonderful months working in the heart of Paris, a few hundred meters away from the Elysées Palace in which Charles de Gaulle had been cogitating upon the Algerian problem. As a well-paid employee of the European headquarters of IBM, I had ended up imagining that I wasn't learning much French (because everybody at IBM spoke English), and I thought it might be fun to spend some time in the UK.

That harsh winter of 1962/1963 was a meteorological shocker, but it soon merged into a shocking spring, symbolized by the famous photo of the notorious call-girl Christine Keeler astride a contemporary chair. That was the sexy espionage season of the Profumo Affair.

This evening, I watched a TV documentary about the rich sex life of John Kennedy [1917-1963]. If I understand correctly, his treatment for Addison's Disease involved the absorption of pharmaceutical products that made him as randy as a billy goat. JFK appears to have been obsessed with screwing any cute cunt that appeared upon the presidential horizon, irrespective of the political affiliations of the possessor of the tempting vagina in question. The most famous Kennedy female was, of course, Marilyn Monroe… whose death remains most mysterious.

Before Marilyn, there were spectacular Kennedy conquests named Mariella Novotny, Suzy Chang and, above all, the posh German prostitute Ellen Rometsch, who appears to have opened willingly her thighs for diplomatic intrusions from both the East and the West.

Today, it's ludicrous to discover that remnants of the Kennedy clan have succeeded in blocking the broadcasting of a TV mini-series called The Kennedys.

Admittedly, it's a page that's hard to turn in modern US history (like many others). A heavy page weighed down by filthy American limelight, lucre and lust.