Archive for Coming of Age

Beyone the Pale

Posted in Entertainment, History, Language, Movies and Theatre, Photography, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by urbannight

The town from Stardust. I blew it up bit and the ‘pale’ is not in the forground, but I thought I could make it out in the distance in the background. But that could be my imagination willing it to be there. It is difficult to see in the low light with the scrub in the background. Don’t mistake the yard walls with the pale wall.

A lot of people use the phrase, and use it correctly, without a full understanding of it. They basically know that it means to do something very bad.

The word ‘pale’ is from the Latin ‘palus’ which is a stake used to support a fence. The word expanded to include meaning a picket-style fence and extended to a boundary within which the local laws were valid.

A long time ago, the Pale was a low rock fence circling a town. But it also might be a ditch with ramparts built around it. Think of it as the city limits. These were not necessarily defensive structures but could be. Such as when it was a fortified ditch with ramparts built around it.

A palus fence, ie. a picket fence, a sharp wooden post was a ‘pale’ as in ‘impale’.

Now, if a person in a town did something that was so horrible as to get himself (or herself) kicked out of town and told not to come back – ever – it meant they couldn’t come inside the fence. So not only was the town proper off limits, but the area around the town too. When this happened, the person was considered as being “Beyond the Pale”.

A variation on this is when a ‘paling’ fence (a wood stake fence like a picket fence) would mark an area and certain people could only living in that area, such as Jews, which happened in certain areas of Russia. It still conveyed the same meaning. People who were considered unacceptable or unwanted were put on the other side. This was called a Pale of Settlement.

It was also used to identify the parts of Ireland which were under English control, The Pale.  So area’s England did not hold sway were ‘Beyond the Pale’ as well.

The Pale, the fence/wall around the town from the movie Stardust.

There is a movie that is a good example of the use of a ‘pale’ border for the purpose of identifying a legal area and the concept of that is on the other side is the ‘other’. It is a point where what is inside the pale is the acceptable world and what is beyond the pale is too different to be accepted.

That movie is Stardust.

A boy wants to impress a girl he likes and she seems to like him too. But at the same time, she can be mean and petty and she likes to pit him against the rich boy who clearly wants her. So they see a falling star and he promises to fetch the star and return it to her.

But the Star landed outside the Pale. So he has to go there to get it. In the process, he learns more about whom he is, rescues a princess who is living as a slave turned into a bird and happens to be his mother, meets a cross-dressing pirate, has encounters with evil women, and other adventures. It is really a classic coming of age story.

It also does a great job of showing how what is inside the pale is safe, structured, and provides order to the world and what is outside the pale can be wicked, dangerous, and adventurous.

But do you always want to be safe, take no risks, and give up part of your soul in the process or do you want to open your life up to the possibilities and freedoms you didn’t know existed?

And as I wrote that sentence I suddenly thought that people need to think about that question in relation to the personal freedoms they were willing to give up after 9/11 and decided if it is really better or if we want to start demanding the government value the individual citizen again and put a stop to some of the more invasive and totalitarian, freedom-violating, aspects of the Homeland Security Act.  It is a good question for life in general.

Strictly Ballroom, A Color Extravaganza

Posted in Art, Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2012 by urbannight

This is one of my favorite movies despite it being a bit of a RomCom. It hits you right away with vibrant, over the top, colors. The costuming it a bit over the top. But competitive dance costumes are. This just pushes it a little bit farther. Personalities are also a bit over the top, extreme, and unrealistic. Yet the actors pull it off as if there was nothing exaggerated about them at all. The fact that the female dancers all seem to be wearing performance night make-up as everyday makeup points at the deliberateness of this.

Young Scott Hastings wants to dance his own steps. The President of the Australian Dancing Federating wants to keep the entirety of the ballroom dance world under his thumb. At least on the National level. In reference to new steps he says, “If you don’t know them, you can’t teach them.” If he controls how people are teaching, he keeps control to himself and out of the hands of people who do stuff he himself can’t do.

This movie is a two-pronged coming of age story. Scott’s path is learning to be true to himself. His rebelliousness came from not knowing exactly who that was and fighting against the authority figures who were trying to mold him the way they wanted him. He starts to find himself when he walks home and is challenged by Fran’s father to show him his Pasodoble. Fran’s grandmother is the one to point the way when she shows him that he needs to feel the beat with his heart and not in his feet. The unexplained message here is that life, like dancing, must be felt in the heart,

Fran’s story is an ugly duckling story. The plain or homely girl that grows more attractive as she learns self-confidence. From the very beginning, she seems to have a good grasp on who she is but she seems to have no confidence in her nor does she seem to recognize her own value.

Throughout the movie, Scott repeatedly says he doesn’t care about winning the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix. He just wants to be able to dance his way. So the movie ends with them dancing their way and we never find out who wins.

That "Let me show you how it is really done" moment.

While Paul Mercurio, who played Scott Hastings, is a very attractive young man, I would argue that the hottest man in this movie is actually Antonio Vargas who played Rico, Fran’s Spanish/Gypsy father. He was also a contributing choreographer to the movie and brought with him his expertise and experience Latin Dance as he is an internationally renown flamenco artist.