Don Quixote

Book Cover of Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

Claire

I can’t help myself, I love musicals. Try out the 1972 adaptation of the 1968 musical, Man of La Mancha. It has a really lovely cast album, too. But on a less La Mancha centric note, I think you rather might enjoy Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). It is a gorgeous and mythic yarn spun in a more blatantly dark (though I would argue equally so when you consider Don Quixote’s sad state and the destruction that follows him. And also, it’s spanish. But more importantly, it revolves around a girl, Ofelia, who becomes lost and deeply buried in her dreams and imaginations (or her reality) and tries to escape the Francoist Spanish Civil War terror that besets her pregnant mother and herself. It is one of my favorite films of all time, and I am fine with making a bit of a stretch in order to recommend it, but I think it fits very well thematically. 

I am rather a fan of the TV Movie Don Quixote from the year 2000. It stars John Lithgow as the titular role and he is simply delightful to watch and walks the line of funny and concerningly delusional with aplomb. I will throw in, if you’re looking for a different look at what it takes to make a movie like this, try looking a bit at the unfinished Orson Welles’ Don Quixote (1992) , which features perhaps the most tragic titular lead…the filmmaker. Welles had a great deal of trouble producing his melancholy adaptation, and it was posthumously edited and released incompletely, which really underlines the frustration and high flying dreams that fall to ground of both Quixote and Welles. Good stuff, good stuff.

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The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

 joanofarc

Erin

I am a lover of strong female leads who challenge the system and a great book series this reminds me of is The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce. This series is about a young woman in a fantasy world who decides to become a knight despite the fact that it is illegal for women to join the military. She hides her gender and works hard to carve her own path. The series is wonderful and it builds the world that the rest of Tamora Pierce’s works take place in, which I recommend you check out if you are interested.

For something very different, if you enjoy reincarnations of Joan of Arc and manga or anime, you should check out the series Kamikaze Kaitō Jannu or Phantom Thief Jeanne (in English) written and illustrated by Arina Tanemura. This series follows the adventures of a high school girl who is a reincarnation of Joan of Arc herself while she fights demons and has normal high school troubles. It is beautifully illustrated and full of excitement. It is enjoyable as either the manga or the anime and if this has interested you at all, you should check it out!

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Rip van Winkle

Book Cover of Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving

Claire

Did you think the term “Gotham City” to represent New York started with DC Comics? Well you would be wrong. Washington Irving coined the term and gave New York City a lot of its perceived cultural and lexical character. Therefore! I recommend the Batman comics. Sure, they have nothing to do with Rip Van Winkle, and it would’ve been easier to recommend a fireside story. And more respectable. And yet here I am! Batman excellently represents modern urban development and change, just as Irving wrote about the rapid changing face of the world that he knew in New York during the gestation period of our country. Start with Batman: Year One

You may not be surprised, but there are not many film adaptations of Rip Van Winkle! Shocker. So, after some research, I’m going with Rip Van Winkle (1972) by Will Vinton, which is a darling claymation short that shows Rip’s curious tale in a homey and americana fashion. True to story, and true to form, it represents Washington Irving excellently!

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Cyrano de Bergerac

Book Cover of Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand

Claire

I can’t decide between two modern retellings of Cyrano, because they both warm the cockles of my heart with their romanticism and excessive ridiculousness. Firstly, there is Roxanne (1987). Starring Steve Martin and Darryl Hannah, this is the rom com Cyrano was alway meant to be. More recently and on the pop culture trend, there is Cyrano Agency (2010), which is a korean drama in which very attractive people who work at a love connection agency help other very attractive people find dates. It’s blissful fluff. No substance here, really, but all the enjoyment to be had!

If you’re looking for higher intellectual quality in your entertainment, search out Cyrano de Bergerac (1950). It is a black and white film for any young ‘uns out there, but don’t shy away! It’s amazing! Cyrano is at his wittiest prime. If you truly can’t handle the old timey affectations of this film, try the 1990 film of the same name, starring Gerard Depardieu very finely – and in color.

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African Folktales

Book Cover of African Folktales

Erin

When I was a child I remember being read a set of African animal fables and that’s what the Anansi stories and “The People Could Fly” reminded me of. The stories came from a book that may have been The Zebra’s Stripes and Other African Animal Tales by Dianne Stewart and Kathy Pienaar. If not, that book is very similar and I would recommend it if you would like to explore more stories like Anansi’s. These stories are meant to be educational and do so by “explaining” how animals became the way they are. The stories are fun and light hearted, enjoy!

I have read fairytales and fables from a number of different cultures that I think others would enjoy if they liked this episode. I really enjoy The Great Fairy Tale Tradition selected and edited by Jack Zipes. It features tales from Straparola, Basile, and the Brothers Grimm who wrote from different parts of Europe in different eras. These stories are more adult than the fable type tales of this episode, if you would like something a little more grim, pun intended.

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The Odyssey

theodessey

Rory

Excuse me as I rep my 4 years of Latin and (brief) interest in pursuing a degree in Classics/Archeology. Want to know what Odysseus was fighting for? Try The Illiad, also by Homer. Another epic poem, this covers the last bit of the Trojan War and has all the dramatic battle scenes and meddling of the gods your heart could desire. If you’ve already jumped down that rabbit hole, give The Aeneid a whirl, one of our final episodes. Written by Virgil, this nationalist epic tells the other side of the story, from the Roman, or Trojan, perspective. My attachment to these two legends can probably be attributed to the (ridiculously) fun video projects my magistra assigned to us in high school, one of which may or may not have included dancing to “Hoedown Throwdown” in the blooper reel.

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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo&Juliet

Rory

One of my favorite Shakespeare plays is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I highly recommend this if R&J gave you the blues. It’s a classic comedy in which everyone goes into the woods, things turn upside down and topsy-turvy, and in the end everyone winds up with what they want (more or less). There’s even an R&J reference, albeit in the original form of Pyramus and Thisbe, by Ovid. I once saw a production which had a live rock band and Puck dressed in a red speedo. Needless to say it was a thrilling experience for a 13 year old.

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Tom Sawyer

Book Cover of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

Erin: 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This book is a much more adult story about what Huckleberry pursues after his fun with Tom Sawyer. It is a lot more mature, but it is extremely thought provoking and represents an interesting view into the American South in the early 1800s. It is written by the same author, takes place in the same settling, and continues the story of some of the characters from Tom Sawyer. All of these reasons, plus the provocative story itself, make this book my recommendation if you want more like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  

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