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This is really very well-written and worth reading!

My Comic Relief

So…it’s been a week huh?  I was planning on writing a fun post about how much I’m loving The Totally Awesome Hulk today but I can’t get my head around it.  Reading the news for the last five days has taken me on an emotional journey.  I’ve been spending much time in thought and conversation with loved ones about where our country is heading.  I’ve been struggling to understand, let alone find my place in the events that are unfolding.  As I do this, I keep thinking of something Bruce Springsteen said during a concert in Western Australia last Sunday.   

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On its own, I found Rogue One to be very enjoyable and superbly made. There’s every good praise to be made for its story line, effects and artistic direction.

The basic problem about it – and I think that this is what might generate some reservations among fans – is that the story has very little to do with the essential, central Star Wars story line, which we have come to know as being the downfall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. Of course, the film absolves itself of this fault by including the phrase A Star Wars Story in its title. This subtitle doesn’t appear on screen, but is part of the film’s official title. So, I think one needs to take the subtitle literally and make an effort to get over the fact that this is not a Skywalker story.

Beware of spoilers from this point onwards, if you have not yet seen Rogue One.

Despite what I said above, Rogue One does center again on a family broken apart by the evil Empire’s plans, much like what happens in the seven episodes of Star Wars. This time round, however, the reason for the breakup is less spiritual, less esoteric than the corresponding events in the Skywalker timeline.

Thumbs Up and Novelties

Well, at last, we see the true scale of an Imperial Cruiser as it hovers above the city of Jedha. I had been wanting to see something like that. (The same goes for TIE fighters and The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film where we see TIE fighters next to their human pilots.)

The spectacular aerial battle in the rain on Eadu rivals the battle over the lake in The Force Awakens. However, the latter is still my favourite.

The other spectacular battle over Scarif harks back to the one over Endor in Return of the Jedi and I was very happy to hear the various squadron leaders reporting in just before it ensued, this particular detail being reminiscent of the future attack on the Death Star in A New Hope (only a film away!). Oh, and I did enjoy that scene with the Hammerhead Corvette causing those two Star Destroyers to crash!

The ground battle on Scarif was, of course, very impressive and kudos for the beautiful scene of Chirrut’s slow advance forward towards the communications master switch before being shot. It was saddening to watch the heroes falling one by one.

The final scene, when Tarkin orders the destruction of the base, shows the full ruthlessness of the Empire and its indifference even to the lives of its own officers. This is perfectly embodied by Tarkin himself.

And the film leads very nicely to the point where the events of A New Hope will begin, with Tantive IV leaving the scene of the battle and carrying the plans of the Death Star.

How ironic that Galen Erso used the same pet name for the Death Star project and his little girl, knowing that Jyn would thus be able to identify the stored plans when she came across that very name. The irony is carried even further when you realise that the Death Star’s primary function is to destroy planets and reduce them to… stardust.

There is also another interesting irony: The Jedi use the Kaiburr crystals for their lightsabers while the Empire uses them to destroy planets.

Interestingly enough, Rogue One is the first Star Wars film where the names of planets are given on screen. I noticed, however, that no such names were given for Jyn Erso’s home planet and the one where Orson Krennic visited Darth Vader.

Nods and Cameos 

I first saw the name Kaiburr ages ago in Alan Dean Foster’s novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.

Chirrut and Baze are described as being “Guardians of the Whills”. I believe the name “Whills” comes from the very first novelisation of Star Wars by George Lucas himself, back in 1977. The prologue to that briefly describes the downfall of the Old Republic and the seizing of power by the “ambitious Senator Palpatine”. Underneath the prologue is the phrase:

From the First Saga
Journal of the Whills

I noticed Dr. Evazan running into Jyn and Cassian in the streets of Jedha. And, then, there was the proverbial chess game being played outside the cell where Cassian, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi were being held, as well as a Twi’lek dancing.

I smiled when I heard K-2SO nearly phrasing “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”!

Darth Vader

Oh dear! Darth Vader was probably shown at his meanest ever when he butchered all those poor Rebels in one of the last scenes.

Prior to seeing the film, I had predicted that we would see Vader force-choking Krennic to death, but then I thought that that would have been due to Krennic’s inability to stop the Rebels from stealing the Death Star plans. Well, I only got it half-right, since the choking was for another reason and not fatal.

Krennic eventually met his bitter end, brought about by the very machine that he was so proud of…

I noticed Vader’s voice to be somewhat aged in relation to the one in Episodes 4-6, but there’s no escaping reality: It has been 11 years since Revenge of the Sith was released.

Grand Moff Tarkin

Well, that was a surprise. They did a really good job creating a digital image of Moff Tarkin to superimpose on the real actor who portrayed him. You could tell it wasn’t really Peter Cushing, but the resemblance was really very good and I must admit that – while watching the film – I kept wondering “Is it CG?”, “Is it CG?”.

Princess Leia

I was even more surprised to see her! I was sure there wasn’t any chance of seeing the Princess, just the departure of Tantive IV from the battle scene. I am glad to have been proved wrong. You could tell that she was CG, but it didn’t matter.

Missing Scenes

I could not help noticing that some scenes, which I had got used to seeing in the trailers, didn’t make it to the final cut. Most notable of these was the one where a TIE fighter confronts Jyn Erso on that platform where she had gone to transmit the plans up to the Rebel fleet. I was waiting to see that TIE fighter, but it never appeared. What happened?

And then, I never remember seeing Mon Mothma talking about the Empire’s upcoming “weapons test”, or Orson Krennic saying “the power we are dealing with here is immeasurable”.

I am not sure, but did they also miss out a scene with Cassian and Jyn running on the ground on Scarif with Jyn holding the disk with the Death Star plans?

Conclusion

Rogue One is a Star Wars story indeed, well worth seeing. Here’s to many more!

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Eidomeni

Today, in #Eidomeni, Northern Greece, on the border with FYROM, there are around 14000 refugees; 7000 of them are children and 70% of these children are ill.
 
The camp, which has been set up there can only hold 4000 people, which means that 10000 are most probably living “outdoors”. To keep warm, they burn everything that they can, including plastic, which means that the air is polluted.
 
The local community chief said that the locals would like to see the 10000 surplus refugees leave, because they are currently occupying their farmland, which is thus rendered unusable.
 
The total number of immigrants in Greece today is around 36400. Out of these, 90% are refugees and 10% are not.

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I am pleased with the latest Star Wars instalment, “The Force Awakens”. I found it to be good, clean Star Wars fun… I was impressed by the fact that roughly the first half hour of the film is laden with scenes of pursuit!

[Spoiler Alert for what follows below]

Homage to the earlier films

There are a few themes in the film that seem to carry over from the earlier six films:

  1. Again, the fate of a galaxy seems to hinge on the relations between the members of a family. This time, we have a turnaround, for it is now the son – as opposed to the father – who has been led astray.
  2. Again, a droid is made to carry a vital set of information.
  3. Again, the hero leads a difficult life on a remote planet and is catapulted into action by a chance meeting with this droid. The hero is initially oblivious to the powers that they have.

I don’t mind this repetition, in fact it is probably the very basis of every good fairy tale. Even so, I think the film made a respectable effort not to repeat too much of its predecessors.

 

Harry Potter and “The Force Awakens”

I noticed that two concepts seem to have been “borrowed” from the Harry Potter realm:

  1. The fact that a lightsabre seems to “seek” its rightful owner, which was never touched upon in the previous six films and is akin to the situation where a magical wand chooses its owner.
  2. The ability to use the Force to read one’s mind, in much the same way as Voldemort peers into Harry’s mind.

 

The Big Question: Rey and Luke

Many have been speculating on the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Rey. From the trailers that were released prior to the release of the film, as well as the issue with Luke’s lightsabre choosing Rey instead of Kylo Ren in the snow, I would guess that Rey is indeed Luke’s daughter. I imagine that she was abandoned on Jakku when Luke went into hiding, so that she would not be discovered by the First Order.

Rey also appears to give a hint towards that being the truth: When Maz Kanata talks to her about “the family you long for”, Rey whispers “Luke”.

It is likely that Rey has visited the island where Luke is hiding, because Kylo Ren saw an ocean when he looked into Rey’s mind.

We shall have to wait and see how things turn out. What also remains to be seen is how Maz got hold of the lightsabre in the first place.

While we’re on the subject, the “helicopter shot” of Luke and Rey on Skellig Michael, at the very end of the film, was fabulous.

 

More Interesting Points in the Film

  1. It is likely that Rey has been inside the Millenium Falcon before the events of the film. She knew how to pilot it (more or less), as well as where the position of the gunner was. However, she expressed surprise when Han Solo referred to the ship by its name, so it seems that she didn’t know the identity of the ship.
  2. It is a pity that Han Solo died in the film, but this is understandable, since the new films will have to make way for their new heroes. I expect that Leia, Chewbacca and Luke may die in the next instalments as well. I should mention that I read somewhere that Harrison Ford had pushed George Lucas to have Han Solo killed in “Return of the Jedi”, but Lucas refused. Well, Ford got his way this time…
  3. It was interesting to see the Millenium Falcon receive such a pounding on Jakku and Starkiller Base… and a pity to see Chewie piloting the Falcon alone after the death of Han Solo (this for the first time ever in a “Star Wars” film).
  4. A long time ago (in this galaxy!), I read that George Lucas had initially planned for the hero to be a girl and then changed over to Luke. Well, there we are then, his original intentions have been realised.
  5. Luke’s original name in Lucas’s script was Starkiller not Skywalker, so the name of the First Order’s base must be a nod to Lucas’s original ideas.
  6. Finn is the very first Stormtrooper (not Clonetrooper) ever to be seen without a helmet.
  7. This film is the first to show TIE fighters inside a hangar and alongside their pilots. In the other films, we saw them only in space.
  8. Did Supreme Leader Snoke appear as a hologram? Because, in one scene, he seemed to disappear after the end of a conversation.
  9. I liked the parallel between Rey and Finn: They both grew up far away from their families.

Enjoy the awakening of Star Wars and sit tight until next year for Episode VIII!

Until then, may the Force be with You!

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Gratitude…

Mr. Samaras, Mr. Stournaras, Mr. Theoharis, I thank you from the depths of my heart for the wonderful lesson in patriotism that you gave me today.

I shall be eternally grateful to you three, because you made me a better Hellene, a more conscious and mature patriot, more proud of this treasured country in which I live. Suddenly, I feel as though I am at the highest point in the European Family…

The reason: Well, that’s very simple. My income this year is 2.5 times less than what it was last year. The tax, however, is double.

May God keep you well… perhaps He may have pity on you, I don’t know… He is great.

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Κε Σαμαρά, κε Στουρνάρα, κε Θεοχάρη, σας ευχαριστώ από τα βάθη της καρδιάς μου για το υπέροχο μάθημα πατριωτισμού που μου δώσατε σήμερα.

Θα είμαι αιώνια ευγνώμων σε σας τους τρεις, γιατί με κάνατε πιο καλό Έλληνα, πιο συνειδητό και ώριμο πατριώτη, πιο περήφανο για αυτήν την θησαυρισμένη χώρα στην οποία ζω. Ξαφνικά νιώθω σαν να είμαι στο ψηλότερο σημείο της Ευρωπαικής Οικογένειας…

Ο λόγος: Α, είναι πολύ απλός. Το εισόδημά μου φέτος είναι 2,5 φορές λιγότερο από ό,τι πέρυσι. Ο φόρος όμως είναι διπλάσιος.

Ο Θεός να σας έχει καλά… ίσως και να σας λυπηθεί, δεν ξέρω… μεγάλος είναι…

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A message to all my English-speaking and non-Hellenic-speaking followers:

Dear all,

I am planning on releasing a few articles on the Hellenic language and other topics about crisis-hit Greece, all of which are relevant only to speakers of the language and/or Greek nationals. These will of course appear in Hellenic. I could translate them into English, as I have normally done so far, yet the content will not be of any relevance to you and therefore the translation will not be of any value.

So, if you happen to see such an article or receive it in your e-mail inbox, by virtue of our “follower” relationship, please ignore it.

Of course, you are welcome to put it through an automatic translator, but I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the translation produced by such a programme.

Articles aimed at a readership outside the bounds of Greece and its language will continue to be written in English and – time permitting – appear in Hellenic as well.

Thank you all for your understanding.

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