Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Tag Archives: Julie Christie

La Bella Italia

I was watching TV yesterday evening. There was a news summary at 8pm with breaking news – earthquake in Los Angeles. Now you may not know this but #2 son is in LA at the moment, staying with his dad – cue moment of panic. Yes, I know that they said there were no casualties but HOW DO THEY KNOW?!!!! I spent a few anxious moments trying to get through on the phone and finally spoke to precious son, who was mightily cross that he hadn’t even noticed the earthquake….panic over.

I was watching another of my favourite films “Tea with Mussolini’ a fabulous film starring those wonderful ‘grande dames’ of cinema, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and not to mention the fabulous Cher. It is set in Florence and one of my favouritest bits of Tuscany, gorgeous San Gimigniano.

Before I start off on (yet) another rhapsody about Italy, I’m going to do a bit of a left turn at the lights (so to speak) and tell you about another of my all time favourite films, which stars Cher – and Nicholas Cage (in probably the least irritating film role he has ever played) ‘Moonstruck’ which although set in New York is about a wonderful Italian family.

As we seem to have (yet another) nice Italian theme going, let me mention a few more films I love which show Italy off beautifully

  • Room with a View with gorgeous Helena Bonham Carter
  • Roman Holiday with my all time favourites Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck
  • The Talented Mr Ripley starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. (incidentally, the music in this clip is by Chris Botti who is an immensely talented trumpet player and gorgeous hunk, who I met once in Los Angeles, having tea at my friends Claire and Julia’s house. I have just been adding a link to his web site and guess what his new album is called……Italia! Just too spooky.)
  • La Dolce Vita a masterpiece by Federico Fellini starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg.
  • Don’t Look Now – a very spooky movie set in Venice, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland
  • Death in Venice Visconti’s wonderful film starring Dirk Bogarde set on the Lido in Venice
  • Il Postino – a film set in Sicily about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda and his postman – gorgeous poetry, as this clip shows. A very sweet romantic movie.

I know there are lots more but these are my favourites. I found this gorgeous clip of the aria “O mio babbino caro’ by Puccini, (which was used as the theme tune for the movie “Room with a View’) accompanied by wonderful images of Pisa. How gorgeous is this…

and a little Italian flavoured joke for you geeky folk!

Of course, it has not escaped my notice that Italy is also one of the homes of a certain Mr George Clooney – he has a villa overlooking Lake Como. I told you, we are meant to be together. I can see myself living here…

Well, I think I have just about done with my appreciation of Italy. Surprisingly, I’m not going there on holiday this year unfortunately. I can’t complain though as I am going to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks at the end of August (earthquakes permitting). Maybe I’ll bump into George….

Far from the madding crowd…


This book is made with a rather pretty paper with very dramatic colours – and lots of sparkle (not so keen on that!) It looks quite ‘retro’ and I’m sure the added ‘bling’ is going to appeal to someone…

I went for a walk with a group of friends yesterday. There were about 10 of us and we walked about 4-5 miles, I guess through Thorncombe Woods and on the way we passed Thomas Hardy’s cottage at Bockhampton. I have lived in Dorset for about 15 years and I am constantly surprised how many of our local landmarks I have yet to see – this being one of them! Unfortunately it was closed and I only managed to take this shot of it by climbing into a bush and leaning over a fence


This a photograph of it taken in the summer.



Thomas Hardy was born in Higher Bockhampton and became one of England’s most famous authors. His most celebrated books such as ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ and the ‘Mayor of Casterbridge’ are all set in an imagined Wessex which is based around Dorset and all the towns he mentioned in his books are real places that he renamed. Dorchester became Casterbridge, Weymouth became Budmouth and Bridport became Port Bredy, for instance. The Thomas Hardy Society has a conference in Dorchester every year and fans of Thomas Hardy’s work all flock to the town to see where Thomas Hardy lived and worked and to visit the museum which has a recreation of his study and a large archive of his works and belongings. There are lectures, seminars, poetry readings and excursions including visits to Hardy’s Cottage and to Max Gate, the house he designed and built for himself, just outside Dorchester. They can also visit his grave at Stinsford where his heart is buried with his first wife, Emma – his ashes are in Westminster Abbey in London. You can read more about Thomas Hardy here.

‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ was made into a film in 1967 starring gorgeous Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates and Peter Finch. I always loved this film. I studied the novel for my GCE ‘O’ level and thought it was one time when a film had lived up to the original book. I had a serious crush on Terence Stamp at the time too although I did rather like Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak too. Dashing, handsome and mercurial versus strong, steady and reliable.

It was interesting watching the film again after I moved to Dorset and trying to spot where the film locations were – it was all filmed in Dorset. Here is the trailer for the film (please turn down the awful American voice over – they could at least have used an English accent – although perhaps not a broad Dorset one!)

And finally…..

If Thomas Hardy had used a computer to write his novels and poetry, I expect it would have looked like this one :-)

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