Based on Fanny Ben-Ami’s true story, Fanny’s Journey shows a thirteen year old girl who must lead her sister and friends out of WWII France into Switzerland. This powerful film captures childhood very naturally. The direction and acting are authentic and captivating.
Fanny and her sisters have been sent away from their parents to live in a boarding house that secretly protects Jewish children. When a priest informs on the boarding house, Madame Forman, one of the adults who run the place, manages to arrange for the children to go somewhere safer. She gets them all fake passports and schools them on what to say to anyone asking them questions en route. Each child is given a new name and Madame Forman tests them on them day and night.
From the start it’s touch and go. Germans are everywhere and Vichy French police are an equal threat. At first an older boy, Eli is in charge of the children, but after he’s arrested, Fanny’s thrust into the lead. She must figure out where to go and what to do next once their train is redirected and they lose touch with Madame Forman. As the going gets tougher and tougher the children feel like giving up and have plenty of complaints. Some are so young they have no idea why Jews must flee or what was happening to Jews throughout Europe. Their ignorance showed their wisdom.
The tension is maintained throughout the film and you’re heart will go out to these children. Fanny’s Journey is destined to be a classic.
In the final credits, you’ll see the real Fanny, who is still alive and has lived in Israel since the end of the war.
So strike up the band! This week Sepia Saturday bloggers are challenged to find and share photos of marching bands. Here’s what I found:
Jefferson City, Missouri, 1924 | Flickr Commons – Missouri State Archives
Killybegs Marching Band in Falcarragh, Ireland, 1971 | Flickr Commons – National Library of Ireland
In the description for this photo it says: The benefits of having a marching band in a town are many and varied, keeping young people active, developing an appreciation of music, giving essential life skills etc.
High School Students (no information where they’re from) in front of the Rotunda, Arts & Industries Building, Washington, DC | Flickr Commons – Smithsonian Institute.
I’m reading Louise de Koven Bowen’s memoir Growing Up with City. She became a Suffragette after reading about the British Suffragettes who locked themselves to fences in protest. She figured if these women would take such actions, there must be good reason to want to vote. (She was not an uneducated or stupid woman by any stretch so go figure. We sure can’t assume anything about people in the past.)
She describes the speeches she gave and the events she attended in this movement. After the women got the vote in 1923, Bowen was shocked that so few women did vote. I found a fascinating article that states that in 1923 in Chicago only 35% of women voted. The reasons were surprising to me. Some women didn’t believe politics was feminine. Some had husbands who wouldn’t permit it. The chart above shows all the reasons and data.
So the lesson is assume nothing. I had assumed that most women would vote after such a long fight for the right.
In How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Sarah Glidden shares her thoughts and experiences on a Birthright Tour she took to Isreal. Guarded and skeptical, Sarah agrees to go on a Birthright Tour with her friend Melissa. The title is deliberately tongue in cheek and Glidden certainly knows no country can be understood after a short bus tour.
The purpose of the tours is to educate Jews from other countries about the history of Israel. Growing up with little teaching about her faith or the history of Israel, Sarah was quite skeptical. She’s got a Muslim boyfriend who worries that she’ll return a Zionist.
At every stop, Sarah expects to hear just a bunch of propaganda. She questions everyone and everything. She is surprised to learn the complexity of the issues inherent in Isreal’s politics and history. She also winds up admitting that her tour guide and other speakers are genuinely understanding of the other side or know much more about the problems than she does.
The narrative is sincere and authentic. I did feel the book is a truthful, considerate story of an American girl’s tour of Israel. The end isn’t pat. Sarah continues to struggle with what to think about Israel and its history. I appreciated how genuine the story was. The illustrations are realistic and fitting.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented an excellent production of Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti. The story of the first African American to play Othello on the London state in 1833, the story explores racism. As we know, abolition was a hot issue in the mid-1800s. In England there were protests against the slave trade.
When Ian Keen, who starred as Othello, fell ill the manager of the Covent Garden Theater chose Ira Aldridge, a black actor from America to play Othello. Some in the cast were excited and supportive, but Ian’s son and another actor were strongly opposed.
Aldridge was a fine, thoughtful actor, whose goal was to work in London. He takes his art seriously and gives a passionate performance the first night. However, the critics were shocked to see an actor of African heritage on stage and their reviews were venomous. The manager, Pierre LaPorte is a good friend of Aldridge and he counsels the actor to tone down his performance. Yet we can see that Aldridge can’t rein in his perfectionism. His desire to bring Othello to life as he reads the play leads to disaster. A consummate professional, Aldridge pushes the edges of his performance.
The performances were all pitch perfect and the play was compelling as it showed a chapter of theater history, I wasn’t aware of. The play has been produced in London and New York. If it comes to your hometown, I highly recommend you check it out.