Tuesday 20 February 2018

Pierre Boulle (1912-1994): Literary Luminary of the Silver Screen

The following article, re-posted from Planets of the Apes website, on the occasion of French author, Pierre Boulle's birthday, also comes in the 50th anniversary year of the 1968 motion picture, Planet of the Apes, adapted from Boulle's original novel, La Planète des singes (1963)

Pierre Boulle.jpg
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Pierre Boulle, novelist and short story writer, was born on this day in Avignon, France, in 1912.

An engineer by profession, who worked as a technician on British rubber plantations in Malaya during the 1930s, he joined the Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle upon the outbreak of World War II. He worked with resistance movements in China, Burma, French Indochina until his capture, in 1943, by Vichy France loyalists on the Mekong River. He was imprisoned and subjected to severe hardship and forced labour, which he would later write about in the form of a highly successful autobiographical novel, Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai.

After the war, Boulle resumed his previous occupation for a time but, by 1949, had returned to his native France, living in Paris where he sought to make a name for himself as a writer. The success of his literary output is overshadowed only by the success achieved by adaptations of his work for cinema. Today, his reputation rest chiefly on two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai (first published in French, in 1952, as Le Pont de la Rivière Kwai) and Planet of the Apes (first published in French, in 1963, as La Planète des singes), both of which were made into award-winning films by Hollywood studios.

The Bridge on the River Kwai poster.jpg
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The Bridge on the River Kwai (as the film adaptation was called) garnered considerable success, winning seven Academy Awards in 1958. However, this was to prove a mere precursor to the sensation that Planet of the Apes would become – and to the surprise of no one more than Boulle himself, who puzzled over how the book could ever be adapted to the format demanded by cinema and, in any case, apparently considered the novel to be one of his lesser works. The idea is said to have originated with a trip to the zoo, watching and observing how animals and primates in particular, behaved.

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The screenplay for the motion picture deviates in many respects from the novel yet, retains all of the essential elements, including what The Guardian newspaper described as "classic science fiction ... full of suspense and satirical intelligence", in its review of the novel when it first appeared.

The planet in the novel is a different planet to Earth although, the ending is not without a wry, sardonic twist [a double twist, in factEditor], emulated only by the climactic finale evoked by Rod Serling and Charlton Heston in the film adaptation. Furthermore, the apes whom the astronauts from present-day Earth encounter, inhabit a civilised milieu though, one that is not without contradictions, including a certain capacity for casual cruelty.

Pierre Boulle died in Paris, France on 30 January 1994, aged 81. His total literary output amounts to some 30 novels and short story collections. A website dedicated to his life and work is operated by «Les amis de l'œuvre de Pierre Boulle».

Friday 16 February 2018

Why Did They Lie? by Jack Kiernan. Shadowy Events of the Irish Civil War 1922-23

Why Did They Lie? by Jack Kiernan

– The Irish Civil War, The Truth, Where and When it all Began –

A new book about the Irish Civil War (1922-23) uncovers shadowy events that took place, shedding important light on the very origins of that conflict, where and when it began. It also offers an assessment that challenges certain assumptions about the course of events, the personalities and leadership dynamics involved.

Most people, with any knowledge of Irish history, know that hostilities in the Irish Civil War commenced with the move, by the Provisional Government, to take the Four Courts in Dublin (held by anti-Treaty forces) towards the end of June 1922. But, most people would be wrong! That is the view of Jack Kiernan, who sets out to investigate the roots of a tragic and bitter conflict, that proceeded apace with the emergence of independent Irish statehood.

Growing up in an Irish Midlands town, Jack Kiernan remembers being told by his teachers that "if anything of importance happened in Mullingar, it would have been recorded."

Bullet holes remnants in the walls of prominent local buildings seemed to give lie to these bland assertions, as did the recollections of older neighbours, alluding to "the shooting of unarmed prisoners during the Civil War."

What he only discovered, much later, was that events of, not just local but national significance had taken place in the town where he grew up. What's more, they had been recorded, only to be buried deep within the archives – almost as if they had been deliberately covered up!

The evidence that he reveals here, confirms that open hostilities between pro- and anti-treaty forces were already in place, throughout the country, early in 1922 and prior to the events in Dublin. Furthermore, gun battles took place in the town of Mullingar during the month of April 1922, resulting in deaths. Evidence also suggests that British forces, though officially withdrawn, may have fired the first shots.

The events of the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) have cast a long shadow over Irish life. This book sheds important light on a dark chapter in Irish history; a contribution towards the debate that surely must accompany the centenaries of these events, which are now just around the corner.

Why Did They Lie? by Jack Kiernan is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, as well as from certain bookshops. For further information, visit the author's website.

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