I Think I Have Found a Means of Conveyance…An Elephant: Around the World in 80 Days

Day 5) E is for Elephant: Choose a book with a Elephant on the cover

Aroundtheworldin80Days

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

So I choose Around the World in 80 Days as my “elephant” choice. You may feel as if this has barely any elephant, but I just choose this book cover because I really liked it. This is the cover my copy has.

This book was one of my favorites as a kid and my gateway drug into Jules Verne. I used to read The Great Illustrated Classic version of this again and again until I read the real version.

Or 10th, 50th, 100th....

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

This idea of traveling the globe in a relatively short amount of time was very new and modern. It only came about because of three technological breakthroughs: the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in America (1869), the linking of the Indian railways across the sub-continent (1870), and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869). This marked the end of the age of exploration as global tourism became the new age. The world had grown much smaller.

LeavehertoHeavenReading

In fact after this book was published it inspired quite a few people to try this journey around the world themselves.

  • In 1889, newspaperwoman Nellie Bly undertook to travel around the world in 80 days. She managed to do the journey within 72 days, meeting Verne in Amiens. Her book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, became a best seller.
  • In 1903, James Willis Sayre, a Seattle theatre critic and arts promoter, set the world record for circling the earth using public transport, 54 days, 9 hours, and 42 minutes.
  • In 1908, Harry Bensley, on a wager, set out to circumnavigate the world on foot wearing an iron mask. The journey was abandoned, incomplete, at the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
  • In 1984, Nicholas Coleridge emulated Fogg’s trip, taking 78 days. He wrote a book entitled Around the World in 78 Days.
  • In 1988, Monty Python alumnus Michael Palin took a similar challenge without using aircraft as a part of a television travelogue, called Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days. He completed the journey in 79 days and 7 hours.
  • Since 1993, the Jules Verne Trophy is given to the boat that sails around the world without stopping and with no outside assistance, in the shortest time.
  • In 2009, twelve celebrities performed a relay version of the journey for the BBC Children In Need charity appeal.

In fact it is one of my dreams to recreate the trip in the book.

childreadingabkkid impression identity a part of us You've got mail meg ryan

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So Phileas Fogg is a wealthy Londoner who keeps to himself most of the time. There is not a lot known about him or his private life other than he is focused, exact, and methodical.

“Phileas Fogg was, indeed exactitude personified…He was so exact he was never in a hurry, was always ready, and economical alike of his steps and his motions. He never took one step too many, and always went to his destination by the shortest cut; he made no superfluous gestures, and was never seen to be moved or agitated.” pg. 6.

He also is very good-looking.

“He appeared to be a man about forty years of age, with fine, handsome features, and a tall, well-shaped figure. His hair and whiskers were light, his forehead compact and unwrinkled, his face rather pale and his teeth magnificent.” pg. 6

see cute guy look

The book begins with a young french man, Passepartout, coming into the service of Fogg. He left his last employer as when he tried to talk to him about his drinking as he was rudely treated.

Jerk

In fact Fogg is described as in many ways being like a machine, so down to the minute he is.

“Everything was regulated and foreseen that was to be done from half-past eleven AM till midnight, the hour at which the methodical gentleman retired.” pg. 8

That evening Phileas is at his men’s club when they are discussing a bank robbery that has recently occurred. The men began discussing where the thief could flee to, some saying the world is too small while others too big. Phileas says that the world has become small and that one could travel the world in 80 days.

From London to Suez via Mont Cenis and Brindisi, by rail and steamboats……………7 days

From Suez to Bombay, by steamer……………………………………………………………………..13 days

From Bombay to Calcutta, by rail………………………………………………………………………..3 days

From Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer……………………………………………………………13 days

From Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan), by steamer……………………………………………..6 days

From Yokohama to San Francisco by steamer…………………………………………………….22 days

From San Francisco to New York, by rail……………………………………………………………..7 days

From New York to London, by steamer & rail……………………………………………………….9 days

The men talk about with one exclaiming that Phileas is crazy, unforeseen circumstances would toss things out of whack. Phileas insists that he  could do it in 80 days and bets £20,000 (that would be £2,040,000.00 or $4,080,000.00 today.)

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

The bet is on, with Phileas planning on being back by December 21st, at 8:45 pm.

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Phileas immediately sets off on the trip; packing what is needed and planning on purchasing whatever else he needs along the way. The only one coming with him is his new valet, Passepartout.

As soon as he departs his bet is thrown all over the newspapers. People betting on whether or not he will make it back in time.

igotstoknow

Unfortunately for Fogg, his mysterious “foggy” history causes him to become suspect number one as to the bank robbers.

Not good

Not good

Detective Fix is set out after him, to bring him back as soon as possible. This will not work well for Fogg as even the slightest delay will cause serious misfortune.

Fix manages to luck into finding Fogg when Passepartout asks him for aid to see the consulate. Like today how they aren’t always required to stamp your passport in certain ports; Fogg of course is insisting as he needs proof he travelled to those destinations.

Left London, Wednesday, October 2nd, at 8:45 pm

Reached Paris, Thursday, October 3rd, at 7:20 am

Left Paris, Thursday, at 8:40 am

Reached Turin by Mont Cenis, Friday October 4th, at 6:35 am

Left Turin, Friday, at 7:20 am

Arrived at Brindisi, Saturday October 5th, at 4 pm

Sailed on the Mongolia, Saturday, at 5 pm

Reached Suez, Wednesday, October 9th, at 11 am

Total of hours spent, 158 1/2; or in days, six days and a half.

As Phileas only cares about the bet, he never takes the time to look at the places he is passing through, instead staying in his room.

I_don't_care

So Fix is trying to get more information as to whether or not Phileas is the robber. He cozies up to Passepartout, asking him lots of questions about Phileas. But with every answer, he becomes more satisfied that it must be him.

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Fix also makes a key observation, Passepartout has forgotten to reset his watch to the time of the place they are in, instead having it still in London time.

As Fix is out to get his man, he too is caught up in this race around the world.

When they reach Bombay, Passepartout is set with the charge to purchase new shirts and such for the two of them. Unfortunately, Passepartout doesn’t always pay as close attention to where he is going, distracted by the architecture, and trips, stepping on a sacred floor without removing his shoes.

clueless mybad oops

Now why is that a problem? Well in the Hindu religion it is a requirement to do so. These priests actually end up beating Passepartout.

When Passepartout tells Phileas what happened, as he lost his purchases, Fix overhears them and comes up with the perfect “fix” to get his man.

Yes you may have noticed that I have made two puns about the names of the characters.

Couldn't resist

Couldn’t resist

Yes, one thing I like about Verne, is that his names always mean something. It can be something that obscures the situation, is a puzzle, or causes confusion. This works great for Phileas’ character as not much is known about him, he is too obscure or a puzzle. And in an essence he lives in a “fog”, not connecting with others but keeping to himself, his books, and his routine.

With Detective Fix, he is trying to remedy or fix the situation in catching the bank robbers and returning the money. He also creates a “fix” for Fogg as his constant interference causes issues for the adventurer. In fact you could even say he is trying to “fix” the situation, as he wants to bring Phileas back to London, ensuring that he loses the bet. Fascinating, huh.

Wow

Wow

So as Fogg and Passepartout continue on their way they meet Sir Francis, returning to his corps. He too finds Fogg odd as he has never met anyone so efficient or a “product of exact sciences”. He warns Fogg that their might be trouble with Passepartout having broken the law. It was an incredible offense.

Not good

Not good

As they are continuing through India on the train, it suddenly stops in Kholby, It turns out that the railroad is unfinished and they will have to find their own way to Allahabad. Sir Francis is in a lather, but Fogg calms him down and convinces him that he has extra days. Sir Francis joins their group as he sets out to find transportation for them and plans to continue on with them.

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He finds, of course the reason why this book fills the E category, an elephant. There is only one problem, elephants are expensive and becoming scarce in India. Fogg needs it to when and offers £20 to rent it, £40, £1200, £1500, and ends on £2000 to buy it (That would be £204,000.00 or $408,000.00 today)

ouch Hermione

They then hire a guide and head out.

Everything goes smoothly until the elephant starts getting agitated. The guide investigates and sees a procession of Brahmins, or priests, coming towards them. He warns them to hide. They observe the group and see a beautiful women being lead behind the corpse of her husband, a prince.

They are doing a Suttee ritual, where the widow is burned alive as she has no other option in her life. She would have no food, her hair shaved off, treated poorly and considered unclean. Most of the time it was voluntary, as there was no other way, although a few would be killed unwillingly. Such as in this case. The guide reveals that this women did not wish to be sacrificed, so they drugged her with hemp and opium. They are taking her to the Pagoda of Pillaji where the ceremony will take place at dawn.

Not good

Not good

Now here we see one of the most interesting parts of the book:

“Mr. Fogg stopped him[the guide], and, turning to Sir Francis Cromarty, said, ‘Suppose we save this woman.’

‘Save the woman, Mr. Fogg!’

‘I have yet twelve hours to spare; I can devote them to that.”

keanu Whoa

This is so interesting because the whole book we are told Fogg is friendless because he is so exact, he is never emotionless, he is a clock, a machine; not human at all.

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But here we see him willing to take time out  of his bet and put his life on the line for this girl. I mean he has been forgoing everything to see in the countries he is passing through, the only thing he has his mind on is time how much spent and how much left; but here he sees this women and hears her story and it all goes out the window. Everything, for her.

How romantic

How romantic

So while it is honorable of Fogg to do this, his idea will not be easy. If they fail, they will have horrible tortures awaiting them. They decide to continue their plan, waiting until night to strike. While they are waiting, the guide tells them about the woman, Aouda. She was the daughter of a wealthy Bombay merchant and received an English education. When she was orphaned, she was married against her will to the old rajah Bundelcund. She escaped, but was retaken and forced by the Rajah’s relatives to complete the ceremony.

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Then we have a thrilling and suspenseful part of them trying to free her. They creep, watch, and are barely able to save her; taking off as they are being chased by the guards.

Run Away

As they board the train, Fogg pays the guide, but also gifts him the elephant for his service and loyalty in saving Aouda. He offers Aouda passage to Hong Kong as India will never be safe for her again.

When they reach Calcutta it is the 25th of October as he surmised. He has lost his two extra days, but does not regret it.

Truth be told I don't

They are to head over to the steamer for Hong Kong when a policeman arrests the men. Passepartout is ashamed and afraid, as it is his fault and he would hate for his master to lose his bet. Fogg has no fear as he is certain that they will be able to board the ship at noon.

Three Indian priests come in with a charge, and Fogg defends his decision to save Aouda. Unfortunately these are not those priests in the forest. Nope, they are the priests from the temple that Passepartout forgot to remove his shoes. Yes Fix has been “fixing” things so that they can’t go further.

What jerks

What jerks

The judge decrees Passepartout imprisonment for fifteen days and a fine of £300 (£30,600.00 or $61,200.00 today)

And as Passepartout is Fogg manservant, he gets a week imprisonment sand has to pay £50 pounds.

outrageous

Fogg is a quick thinker and pays bail, £2000.00 for the both of them (£204000.00 today). And they scurry off to the steamer to continue their journey.

Fix is now in a “fix” as the only way that he can get a reward for bringing the robber in is if the robber still has the money. As Fogg has been spending so much (£5000 [£510000.00 today]) already, he is even more determined to stop him. Poor Fogg.

Not good

Not good

This is another thing I really like about this book. On one hand there is this grand adventure and race against time as Fogg strives to do what was then considered impossible. With Fix trying to stop him there is such intensity of suspense as you are afraid and unsure they will be able to complete it in time.

Suspense have to know

Every time I read my heart starts pumping as I become anxious for Fogg. Even though I’ve read it before, it gets me every, single time.

excited

Now Fix decides that in order to catch Fogg, the best thing to do would be befriending Passepartout, who he believes to be dimwitted. Passepartout, unknowingly to Fix, is starting to become suspicious of Fix. His “just happening” to follow them on the same route, being everywhere at the same time is just too coincidental.

Hmm..

Hmm..

Of course he would never dream that Fogg is believed to be a robber and instead thinks Fix is is an agent of the reform club, sent to stop Fogg from completing the bet.

At least not yet

As they cross the boat is hampered by a large storm. They reach Hong Kong twenty hours behind the time needed; and this will make him miss the next boat. But surprisingly Fogg does not blow up or become livid. Instead he is as calm as the fog, amazing those around him.

Of course, Fix sees this as the best thing that could happen, giving him an advantage and chance to arrest him once again.

When they reach Hong Kong, they search for a ship to go out and discover that the Carnatic was being repaired and will be leaving the next day, suiting them perfectly.  They use the next sixteen hours before launch to help settle Aouda. As the search for her relatives, they discover that her relative, Jejeeh has left China two years ago for Holland. Fogg invites Aouda to continue with them, turning this merry band into a trio.

morethemerrier

Fix decides to approach Passepartout, takes him drinking, and lays everything on the table. He tells him about the robber and the £52,000 stolen. He offers Passepartout £500 to help him keep Fogg there a few days until the warrant for his arrest arrives. Passepartout will hear nothing of it, defending his master and cursing the reform club for sending this agent.  Passepartout continues to say no, when Fix gives him more and more wine and opium until he passes out.

clueless mybad oops

While that was occurring, Fogg was taking Aouda shopping to have her outfitted for the journey. He noticed that Passepartout was still out, but did not worry as he should be back in the morning, The next day when there was no sign of him, Fogg began to worry. Fix approaches the two and infiltrates their group, telling them the boat has launched already 12 hours ago and there will be no other setting off for a week.

clueless mybad oops

But Fogg has not given up. He searches the dock until he finds a ship that will take him to his next destination. No one can, but one will take him to where the boat stops in Japan, allowing him to pick it up and head for San Francisco.

Once again we see an interesting development in this man. Instead of his usual contemplation of numbers, how much time is left and dividing it in the miles and dates needed to complete the bet, he is thinking of his valet Passepartout. Where is he? Is he on the ship? Or could he be somewhere else? It appears that Fogg is a robot after all. He has a heart and care for those around him.

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After Fix left Passepartout, two waiters carried him to the designated place for patrons to “sleep it off”. When he awoke three hours later he was in such fits for time and made straight way for the boat, collapsing on it. The stewards took him to his room where he slept and did not wake until they were far from China. There he discovers himself without his master and a loss as what to do next as he has no money or plan.

I don't know what to do

When he reaches Japan he searches for food and a way to make money. He sells his clothes to make a little money, swapping for more Japanese ones. He then joins a acrobatic troupe, as he has experience in such things in his past before becoming a valet. The group is leaving for the United Stares. While he is performing, who should he see in the crowd but his master and Aouda? He quickly joins them and they head out for the next steamer to America.

Double double yay

Their boat had dropped them off in Japan and they searched for Passepartout, discovering that he had taken the boat and was somewhere in the city. They had been searching everywhere, when they decided to stop at the theater and of course came across Passepartout! Such luck!

Aouda shares about their companion Fix, of which Passepartout says nothing yet. But he plans his revenge on the man for the next time they meet.

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Fix on the other hand is very disheartened. He was planning on arresting Fogg, but he is no longer on English soil and cannot be taken by the English warrant. Instead he would need to have extradition papers. He knows this will be hard to do, and instead decides to just follow them and arrest them the minute their feet touch English soil.

Game of thrones jon Snow kit harrington I know how

Passepartout comes across Fix and settles to “fix” him, but Fix convinces him that he is no longer a threat as he wants him to reach England now and will do all he can to ensure it.

When they reach San Francisco, Aouda and Fogg go so that Fogg can get his passport stamped. Passepartout has been listening to stories about the West and asks if he can purchase guns for their protection as there is the possibility that the Native Americans will attack the railroad.

They all end up in the middle of a scuffle with a Colonel Stamp Proctor attacking Fogg, who is saved by Fix. They then have to go purchase new clothing as theirs are ragged from the fight, that they had no clue why it was even started.

I don't know what to do

They go through California and Nevada pretty quickly, but it is as they are heading into Utah that they are stopped by the buffalo and have to wait until the rail is cleared. And I have personal experiences with such things, the buffalo move real slow when they want to and it can take a loooooong time. For them it took three hours.

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While on the train, Passepartout comes acorss a notice of a lecture by the Mormon Elder William Hitch, and he decides to attend as he knows very little about Mormonism. Passepartout does not become a fan of the religion as he thinks it is horrible for one man to have to take care of so many wives. Oh, Passepartout.

Oh well.

Oh well.

They end up having to wait again as snow slows the train. And unfortunately they discover that Col. Proctor is on the same train.  Fix, Passepartout, and Aouda are all afraid of what might happen if the two meet as all want him to reach his goal. They decide to band together and try and keep him in the room, so that no trouble is started.

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They distract him with whist, but then face another problem. The only way to go forward is to cross a bridge, but it is too unsafe. However that can-do American spirit brings the engineer to decide they can make it if they go full speed.

Passepartout is afraid but as they all mock him he aggrees to continue. They manage to just cross in time, barely getting over before the bridge breaks to smithereens.

keanu Whoa

They run into Colonel Proctor who insults Fogg a second time. Fogg doesn’t want to take the time out to fight as he is on a schedule, but Proctor insists now or never. They are just about to duel when the Sioux attack.

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Yes never a dull moment here. Now all those others who go around the word for real in 80 days or less, no matter what they do I’m sure they never had as action packed a journey as this one. This is another thing I love about Verne, you never know what will happen next. Just fantastitic.

This is great

This is great

So as the Sioux attack, they switch from fighting each other to their attackers.They all have to fight, Aouda being an excellent markswoman.

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You know that is another thing about Verne. Look at Aouda she is an amazing character that no one ever talks about. Highly educated, wanting to be in control of her own life, a world traveler, brave, an excellent markswoman, willing to protect those she loves, and Indian.  Pretty fascinating.

Wow

Wow

Most of the passengers are injured, ranging from slight cuts to serious wounds. Three are missing, one being Passepartout. Even though this will put him far behind, Fogg decides it is more important to find Passepartout and free him. He leaves Aouda and Fix at the nearest Fort, and is determined to set out after Passepartout. Fogg pays some men to go with him and sets out.

Let'sdothis

Meanwhile Fix finds himself worrying about Fogg escaping, wondering why he agreed to stay behind with Aouda. The engineer is repairing the train and they are determined to set off. Aouda  won’t leave without Fogg and refuses to continue on.

They wait in the fort while the captain comptemplates sending men after Fogg or just waiting as it is most likely Fogg is dead.

Not good

Not good

The next morning Fogg returns with the passangers and Passepartout.

Poor Passepartout, he just creates so many problems for his master without meaning to. Leaving the gas on in his room before they left, getting them arrested and having to pay bail, destroying the circus and causing him to pay there, getting drunk and causing worry as he left them behind, and now being captured by the Sioux. It is like he attracts trouble.

trouble Twilight Zone

Fix proposes a new idea to Fogg. Instead of waiting until night to catch the next train, what of they went on a sledge with sails? They decide to do it. Fogg wants to leave Aouda and Passepartout behind, as he doesn’t want Aouda to travel in such a crude way and Passepartout to be there to protect her. Aouda won’t  have any of it as she wants to travel with him.

They go on the sledge and manage to reach their destination in time to pick up a train to New York City.

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But when they reach New York they discover that the boat left 45 mins early.

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There is nothing else left. The game is up and they lost as they could never make it in time on any other boat. It is the end.

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Passepartout feels horrible as he blames himself for the misfortune.

clueless mybad oops

But just as all grows dark, Fogg spies a ship that looked like it was setting out. He tries to convince the captain, and owner, to get him across but he won’t do it. Even when he offers to purchase it, nope. Only when he offers to pay $8000 ($160,000.00 today).

When the Captain wont take him to Liverpool where needs to go, he bribes the crew, locks up the captain, and takes complete control of the boat.

He did buy it.

He did buy it.

They run into a storm, and as Fogg will not give up he starts using pieces of it as fuel.

They manage to reach Queenstown and it looks like the completion of the bet is in their grasp. They can make it to London in time to spare. As they head out, Fix asks Fogg if he is Phileas Fogg, when he answers yes, Fix arrests him.

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Ugh Fix!!! Why couldn’t you let him win his bet! After all you’ve been through!

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Fogg sits in jail for two hours, and is finally released by an ashamed Fix who has discovered that the real bank robber has been arrested.

clueless mybad oops

He boards a train but it is too late. They are five mins behind. Fogg has lost everything!

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Fogg is completely distressed. He takes Aouda to his home and prepares his affairs. Passepartout is completely downhearted and blames himself; but Fogg doesn’t.

Fogg stays home all day and that night speaks with Aouda.

“Madam,’ said he [Phileas Fogg], ‘will you pardon me for bringing you to England?’

‘I, Mr. Fogg!’ replied Aouda, checking the pulsations of her heart.

‘Please let me finish,’ returned Mr. Fogg. ‘When I decided to bring you far away from the country which was so unsafe for you, I was rich, and counted on putting a position of my fortune at your disposal; then your existence would have been free and happy. But now I am ruined.” (pg. 201)

Aw how sad. Then this next part is really cool. Aouda is trying to console him; friends and relatives will aid him; but alas Fogg says he has none.

“Mr. Fogg,’ said Aouda, rising and seizing his hand, ‘do you wish at once a kinswoman and friend? Will you have me for your wife?’

Mr. Fogg at this rose in turn. There was an unwonted light in his eyes, and a slight trembling of his lips…’I love you!’ he said simply. ‘Yes, by all that is holiest, I love you, and I am entirely yours!” (pg. 202)

How sweet!

How sweet!

You know, for a novel in 1873 there are some things in here you wouldn’t see in most books. Interracial marriage, Aouda proposing instead of Fogg. Tell me, why don’t people speak of this book more. It is amazing in its plot, the characters, the way he ties everything together. I just love it.

I love it

So anyways, they decide to marry tomorrow and Passepartout takes off t speak to a Reverend.

Time for a wedding!

Time for a wedding!

After the real robber was captured, all the people turned themselves back to betting on Fogg and whether or not he would make it back in time. Everyone was trying to find him to see where he was at but none could reach him

As it is the day, all those involved in the bet meet up at the club and wait for Fogg. As they reach three minutes to nine the men are feeling completely secure in that he will not be back in time, but who should walk in the door, but Fogg!

Whattheheck

What? How did he do it How could he win the bet when we know he arrived too late because he was placed in jail?

Well, after Aouda and Fogg were engaged, Passepartout left to secure a Reverend. He returns completely nonsensical and tells them they cannot be married the next day. Fogg demands to know why and Passepartout tells him because tomorrow is Sunday.

What! Mark Wahlberg that's weird

It turns out that the last storm actually made them arrive one day early. They went around the world in 79 days.

Wow

Wow

Fogg determines that he spent £19000 on the trip and decides the profit of £1000 will be divided between Passepartout and Fix. Fogg asks Aouda if she still wants to marry him now that he is rich, of which she says it is up to him. Will he not want her now? Fogg wants her as his wife whether rich or poor.

iLoveyou

I love the way Verne ends his book:

“What had he [Philieas Fogg] really gained by all this trouble? What had he brought back from this long and weary journey?

Nothing you say? Perhaps so; nothing but a charming woman, who, strange as it may appear, made him the happiest of men!

Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?” (pg. 210)

How sweet!

How sweet!

Yes, I just love that book. It is so amazingly good and well written. I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good story and plot. You should definitely check it out.

startrekletsgetstarted

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to I Found this Blank Book of Stitched Together Pages…I’ll Record the Details of Our Confinement: Book of a Thousand Days

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For more Jules Verne, go to Heaven on Earth

For more interracial romance, go to The Right Path is Not the Easiest One

For more races, go to I Want to Be Your Ideal Man: Grease (1978)

For more on Lemony Snicket, go to Fan-do or Fan-don’t. There is No Fan-try

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Today’s Christmas Carol is a favorite of mine, We Three Kings of Orient. This carol was written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. I really love the refrain as I find it to be so beautiful. Star of wonder star of light; I love singing that.

I couldn’t find the version I really like, so I settled on the one by Hugh Jackman, David Hobson and Peter Cousen.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to Harvest Pumpkin Scones

For more Hugh Jackman, go to 25 More Films of Christmas

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The Right Path is Not the Easiest One

Pocahontas

Day 9) A Film you like but everyone hates

Now lots of people hate this movie and I don’t really understand why. Now I know there are all kinds of things about the age and differences in the historical content, but this is just an interpretation of an event. I mean Mulan does similar things but you don’t see people crapping all over that movie. (And they shouldn’t because it is awesome)

So this Disney film is an interpretation of the life of Pocahontas based on legend and stories surrounding her from letters and writings of John Smith and John Rolfe (her husband). The controversy comes over the fact that other people’s account of the time do not confirm that Smith’s story of being saved by Pocahontas, as they say that the tribe was very friendly, something Smith had written himself many times.  There is also the fact that Smith had some mistrust surrounding him, as better depicted in the film A New World.  Plus when Smith and Pocahontas meet in England she refused to talk to him, no one knowing why, which lead people to wonder what went down between them to make her dislike him. Also when the alleged incident happened Pocahontas was much younger, like 12, so there was no romance between her and John Smith.

But the point of the fact that this is a Disney animated film that contains musical numbers means that it isn’t going to be a biopic. Watch New World if you want that, although I do NOT recommend it, it was one of the MOST BORING films I have ever seen.

EW!

 I mean you think a film with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in it would be good, but it wasn’t. [Side Note: Christian Bale is also in Disney’s Pocahontas, he’s the character of Thomas.]

Anyways to get back to the business of the film and today’s post.

So the film starts off with a ship heading off from England to America as the English are eager to get in with the gold that Spain has found mountains of. On the ship is Thomas (played by Christian Bale [I know isn’t it funny that he was in two depictions of the story of Pocahontas?]), a newbie and John Smith (Mel Gibson [pre-crazy]). The other crew members are looking to kill Natives, etc; while John Smith on the other hand wants adventure. He helps Thomas learn the ins and out in sailing.

Meanwhile in what would become Virginia, Pocahontas is the chieftain’s daughter and is reaching of marriageable age. Her father has her whole life planned out for her, but Pocahontas isn’t sure whether or not that is what she really wants. She seeks guidance from a tree spirit, Grandmother Willow, and discovers the settler’s ship.

The crew have picked out a spot to erect their fort and have also decimated the area in digging for gold. Smith, being one for adventure, has been scouting out the area and comes upon Pocahontas. Intrigued by her, he pursues her and the two begin talking, creating a friendship that develops into something else. 😉

All is not going smoothly between the Natives and the Conquerers. They had a battle and both fear the other is determined to kill them. This causes trouble between Smith and Pocahontas, as Pocahontas’ possible fiancé, Kocoum, is killed by Thomas. Smith takes the fall for him, and is taken to be punished. The leader of the settlers, Governor Ratcliffe, uses the fear and unrest as a way to completely decimte the Natives, convincing everyone that they must kill them for Smith.

Smith is taken out to be killed, but before he can be injured, Pocahontas arrives just in time and throws herself on his body, blocking her father’s weapon and laying down her life for him. Her father admires her courage and sees that maybe peace can be achieved between the two, that killing won’t bring the people he lost back, and steps down. Ratcliffe doesn’t like the idea of allowing the Native Americans to roam freely (its their land!) tries to kill the Chief, but is thwarted by Smith who takes the bullet. The settlers leave for England, taking the injured Smith with them.

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Why Pocahontas (1995) is Awesome

1) Pocahontas

twistedprincess_pocahontas

Pocahontas is awesome. She is the chieftan’s daugter but doesn’t see herself as higher than anyone else in the tribe, working alongside and helping prepare the harvest. When her father tries to get her to conform to his vision of the future, she respectfully declines as she needs to live her own life; rejecting the marriage to Kokoum. She also is bold, strong, smart, wise, and awesome. When she comes upon John Smith she bravely faces him down, causing him to put away his gun as he is so intrigued by her. When Smith calls her people ignorant and savage, she challenges his thinking showing him that what he sees may be different from what he is used to but is not less, stupid, or barbaric; teaching him the importance of learning more about things we find “strange” and viewing them from the eye of the person, as otherwise we  may miss something. This is truly important message to teach children, just because someone isn’t like you or does things differently; it doesn’t make them stupid or strange; it just means that everyone does things differently and there are other ways to view the same thing. She also is incredibly brave as she stands down her father and whole tribe, trying to show them that violence is wrong. Many say this:

Frozen

But I think they are sorely wrong. Pocahontas does that way sooner as she is the one to save her whole tribe from being massacred and her love, John Smith. Also unlike Frozen, Pocahontas doesn’t even end up with the guy, she ends standing on her own two feet; taking on the world and continuing on her uncharted path.

pocahontas_on_the_cliff_by_reginaac57-d6l5111blue-swirl-banner-background-82684222) John Smith

John_Smith_17 Pocahontas

Now John Smith is one of the sexiest of Disney’s cartoon heros. First of all he is a strong, tough, manly, brave, smart, kind guy. I mean he is the greatest on the ship, the other guys can mess up, but never him. He is a crackshot and never misses his mark. I mean the crew tell all kind of stories about him and his adventures, he’s pretty cool. And so brave and tough, handling the terrain on his own, climbing mountains, crossing streams, etc.; all the while there being all kinds of dangers out there, but he doesn’t care, he’s a man’s man. He also is so kind! He helps Thomas every chance he gets by mentoring him and even taking the blame for him, laying his life down for his friends. He also is so sweet with Pocahontas, as when she blames herself for his upcoming execution, he tells her it isn’t her fault and tries to make her feel better; telling her everything was worth it as he meet her.

So romantic!

So romantic!

But the really awesome thing about John Smith is his willingness to see other’s point of view and to admit he is wrong about things. Similar to Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, at the beginning of the film he has a clear view of us and them. We are the smart, improved, evolved people with our cities, technology, ideas; and they are stupid, barbaric, and doing nothing with the land given to them. However, when Pocahontas starts showing him that there are many different views on things, he let’s go of his stereotypes and objectively listens to her arguments, seeing that she is right. What he thought was backwards was actual a very forward and advanced society. Therefore changing his view and trying to help build a relationshipIn between the two groups.

Pocahontas

blue-swirl-banner-background-82684223) Interracial Romance

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I don’t care what anyone says, this is HUGE! Even in 2014, very rarely will you have a film that will show an interracial romance as most audiences don’t like it. They prefer like with like, which usually is white with white or black with black. The only other Disney films I can think of that do this are The Hunchback of Notre Dame which came out a year later and has French Phoebus with the racially unknown, but not white, Esmeralda; High School Musical which has white Troy and Latino Gabriella pair up, along with African-American Zeke and white Sharpay; and The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie which has a white and Latino family. Yep, only four films (comment below if you can think of another one) of which Pocahontas was the first. Now for me I grew up in a biracial family and hated how I never could find any books or films that dealt with that issue, and when I was a kid I don’t think I realized it, but as I’m older that is one thing I really appreciate about this film. You don’t have to get with the ethnically same, but can fall in love with whoever.

blue-swirl-banner-background-82684224) Positive Minority Character

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This film comes out during a period called “revisionist history”, that is historians were looking back and checking voices not previously heard, such as minorities and women, challenging previous depictions and notions about these groups. As this film comes after Dances With Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans, films had already begun to depict Native Americans as being more than villians or mistreated people. Instead it tried to break previous stereotypes and just show them as people. In Pocahontas, while they do follow some stereotypes, such as talking to trees, animals, etc.; they also show them as being real people who care about each other. In one of the earlier scenes we see a group of warriors returning, saying good-bye to their allies and being  greeted by their families; showing that they have positive home lives. The Cheiftan, while wanting to get rid of the settlers, isn’t doing it because he is evil or cruel, but because he is worried for his people. Pocahontas is a wise soul, but instead of having the “Native American wisdom as she is just sooo connected to the planet”, like other films do she is just an observant and smart person, and her personality is not tied to her ethnicity but just who she is; something radically different from earlier depictions of any minority. Even the killing scene is better here than in other films. As with earlier depictions of Native Amerians killing people, you have something like Duel at Diablo,  where the guy is on a wheel and roasted/tortured in many different ways. Then you have Lonesome Dove, where Blue Duck, rapes and tortures his victims. At least in this film it was a slightly more humane way than roasting them or having a prolonged death.

blue-swirl-banner-background-82684225) The songs

So Pocahontas has some of the best songs out of all the disney films.

A) The Virginia Company

Short but a great intro as we not only get a history lesson (you’re children will never forget colonial involvement because of this film) but an understanding into our settler characters.

We get the three reasons why any would sail and take on a hard life (1. Gold, 2. Glory, 3. God [and not really about him at all]

For glory, God, and gold

And how they fanty believed America was going to be like this fairyland or treasure trove or something.


For the New World is like heaven
And we’ll all be rich and free

Yeah. Well most of you will die or be indentured servants. Yeah, not much fun. Click her to listen/watch

B) Steady as the Beating Drum

This song I am particularly fond of as in sixth grade my music class had to learn it on the recorder, and participate in a recital with the older kids. I love this as an intro for the Native Americans, as with Virgina Company it helps give us a view into their life and what they are feeling/doing before the settler’s arrive. Very different from any other film that deicts Native American and white relations as almost all center on when/after the whites arrive not before.

O great spirit, hear our song
Help us keep the ancient ways
Keep the sacred fire strong
Walk in balance all our days

It focuses on the connection with the land and their dependence on it for survival, but it also has a little sad foreshadowing. As these traditional ways, will no longer be kept in the same manner as with the colonists arrival, they bring change.

C) Just Around the River Bend

I love this song as it can connect to everyone. At some point in every one’s life you have a time when you have to make a decision. Often you will have conflicting views of what others want you to do (marry Kokoum) and what you want [something different, i.e. John Smith ;)] Sometimes the thing you want isn’t the most stable thing, sometimes you can’t be cautious but have to take a risk.


Should I choose the smoothest curve
Steady as the beating drum?
Should I marry Kocoum?
Is all my dreaming at an end?
Or do you still wait for me, Dream Giver
Just around the riverbend?

It always made me think of Something’s Coming from West Side Story, there are more things out there than one can see, more choices, paths, rivers. It’s an amazing song!

Pocahontas

D) Mine, Mine, Mine

One of the best evil villian songs as it shows how selfish and unscrupulous Ratcliffe is and how he would do just about anything to get what he wants.


And the gold
Is …
Mine!
Mine!
Mine!
Mine!

The duality of using the word mine for mine as in mining, and mine as in it belongs to me. Plus sneaky Disney also gives us another mini history lesson as it talks about European conquest. But really what you see here is how Ratcliffe just uses and ravages things; working his men crazily, destroying the forest, tearing up the land, etc. It makes you just hate him more.

We also get a view into John Smith and how he differs from Ratcliffe, clearly distinguishing Smith’s “heroic role”.

All of my life, I have searched for a land
Like this one
A wilder, more challenging country
I couldn’t design
Hundreds of dangers await
And I don’t plan to miss one
In a land I can claim
A land I can tame
The greatest adventure is mine!

He wants the land not to own or dig or find riches, but finds riches in the land itself; exploration, creating a home, farming, etc. We also see here how he wants to claim and tame the land, not having a connection like the Native Americans who love the land and see it as its own entity. This helps with John Smith’s chracter development, as after being with Poahontas and listening to her point of view, he changes his mind and rids himself of his previous stereotypes.

Click here to listen/watch

E) Colors of the Wind

This song is so freakin’ awesome. It’s all about how we can assume so much about a person, but you never really know someone until you get a glimpse of what their world is like.

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew

And Disney always subtlety throwing things in and trying to brainwash our children (but in a good way)

For whether we are white or copper skinned
We need to sing with all the voices of the mountains
We need to paint with all the colors of the wind

Color doesn’t matter, we all need to work together, all are important. This is why this is such a great movie to show your children, as it tells them that prejudice and racism is bad. Very bad!

And look how beautiful this scene is!

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F) Savages

Now this is my favorite song in Pocahontas. I just love the lyrics and the imagery used in this. It actually pulls a lot from West Side Story. West Side Story does this great number Tonight in which the two rival gangs, Sharks and Jets, are going to fight (one group is white and the other is Puerto Rican). While they sing about the upcoming battle, you have Maria and Tony sing about how tonight the fight will be over and they can be together (which doesn’t quite work out). In this you have the two groups, Native Americans and Whites, preparing to fight and it is just an awesome song. I mean this whole song is about how racism is stupid, as these two groups who are going to kill each other are not quite different at all, in what they are (human) and what they think (things different bad, we must fight those diffrent from us, etc) I mean look at the lyrics.

Ratcliffe:                       Powhatan: 

What can you expect                   This is what we feared
From filthy little heathens?          The paleface is a demon 
Their whole disgusting race is like a curse        The only thing they feel at all is greed
Their skin’s a hellish red                 Beneath that milky hide 
They’re only good when dead           There’s emptiness inside 
They’re vermin, as I said                         I wonder if they even bleed 

[English Settlers]                            [Native Americans] 
They’re savages! Savages!                       They’re savages! Savages! 
Barely even human                        Barely even human 

See not much difference between the two, which is the whole reason they are fighting.

pocahontas savages

I also love how they made both groups look evil in this song, making it clear that both sides are bing violent and are both at fault, there is no one villian. As historically both groups did horrible, horrible things to their own people and each other; showing that all people have faults.

Then we have Pocahontas who has finally discoverd her destiny and is trying to run and save everyone from war. And the tension mounts as you are unsure if she will make it in time and then what will happen next.

[Pocahontas] 
Is the death of all I love 
Carried in the drumming of war?

It’s a horrible situation as if the Native Americans win, John Smith dies and they are villianified and going to kill/die when future settler’s comeIf the settlers win, than all the Native Americans will be wiped out, the only thing that can solve this dilemma is if Pocahontas can bring peace between them.

 

G) If I Never Knew You

I love this song so much, it is my favorite Disney love song so I will actually be saving that for a later post. Sorry!

For more on Pocahontas, go to a Disney Lesson

For more on Disney Princesses, go to A Hidden Wonder

For more on Frozen, go to Frozen Solid

For more on Mulan, go to A Horse’s Tale

For more of my favorite songs, go to The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind

For more on Disney Heroines, go to Belle of the Ball

For more on Disney Heroes, go to  Prince of a Man

For more on Disney, go to That Would Make Me Happy