Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Water for Elephants - The movie

So, I just finished this book, and then a few days later, I got to see the movie who is adapted from it.  I'm always a bit apprehensive  (sometimes even a lot!) when I'm about to watch a movie, whose script was made from a book I like, but luckily, this was one of this times there was no need to worry.
Water for Elephants, directed by Francis Lawrence, and having Robert Pattison, Reese Witherspoon and Christopher Waltz in leading roles is a good movie, worth seen.  And, it is kept close to Sara Gruen's book, as close as they could get, the way I see it.
The different relationships, both the good and the bad ones, are painted masterly, and you start caring about the characters, not to forget the animals.  Rosie, the elephant, makes a big chunk of this movie, and this not only in a literally way.  If you didn't think you could have feelings for an elephant, well, go and see this movie!
The main story is the same as the book: Young Jacob Jankowski joins a traveling circus, meets the love of his life.  And, they have kept the wonderful aspect of the old man looking back, reminding us of the fact that a person doesn't become somebody different, just because he or she is aging.
And, I brought two teenagers and an eleven-year-old (In Norway the rating is 11 years for this movie), and they all absolutely loved the experience.  Some violent scenes, though, with fighting and the movie's "bad guy" treating the animals less than well..., so I would strongly encourage parents to watch this together with their older kids, just so you can talk through it afterwards.
To finish, my Twilight-loving fourteen-year-old didn't think she could separate Pattison from Edward Cullen, but she totally forgot about the vampire, realizing that good actors can be very different characters.

The trailer:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: Water for Elephants

I discovered this book in my local bookstore: Water for Elephants by Canadian author Sara Gruen.
  A love story set in the 1930's travelling circus world.  We meet Jacob Jankowsky, aged 93, who lives in a nursing home where he is bored and unhappy.  Then a circus comes to town, and we get to know his story, trough his memories... I love this story on many different levels.  It's a beautiful love story, of course, but it also a strong description of the relationship between human beings and animals.  Then, maybe even more, it is a story who reminds us that age is just time passing, nothing else.  The person within is the same, even when the mirror starts betraying...
Read it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Picture of the day: The Risen Christ - by Rembrandt

Supper at Emmaus, painted by Rembrandt in 1628.  I've seen it once, and I'm soon about to see it again. It's in Paris, in the Jacquemart-André Museum. It's a very unusual way of depicting this scene, the way Christ is in the shadow, almost a silhouette, and the other man's face is the one lit up. 
The picture illustrates the Bible passage about the two disciples walking to Emmaus and meeting a man they didn't recognize as Jesus, not before he broke the bread in the same way he did during the last supper...

Happy Easter!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Picture of the day: Life and Hope

Copyright: Light and Shadow / Kristine G. Hardeberg

I took this picture a few months ago.  A tree, all frozen, covered with ice and snow.  The tree looks dead, but it's not.  Not really.  Very soon now, Spring will wake it up - to new life.  A rather good picture of the Easter story, don't you think?  Life from death, hope within frozen ground.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Good Friday? Well...

In Norwegian, we don't say Good Friday, but Long Friday (Langfredag), which to me describes well this particular day.
Seven years ago I experienced a real "long Friday".  We had been in Achen, Germany for a few days, while my husband attended a conference, and on Good Friday, we left for France. Friends were meeting up with us near Chartres, where we had rented a little house for our two families for the Easter Holiday.
Our plan was to arrive around 5:PM. so we would have some time to get settled before dinner.  Since our friends live near Paris and only had about an hour's drive, they would be the ones to do the grocery shopping and prepare dinner this Good Friday night.  We looked forward to a nice dinner among friends.
Well, our plan didn't exactly work.  You see, we had forgotten to check out the traffic news, so we had no idea the start of that year's spring break in the Paris area coincided with the three-day Easter weekend.  What this means, is that on that particular Friday, everybody in Paris was going somewhere...
It took us more than five hours just to get past the city,  (We would have walked faster.) and it was way past midnight when we finally arrived at the cottage. We rhen had an exhausted 7-year-old,  4 1/2-year-old and a 5-month-old in the car, and it became more and more unbearable.   The traffic was so dense we had no chance of even pulling over.  So, no toilet stops, no snacks, and we hadn't eaten since lunch...  I ended up nursing the youngest in the car, since we hardly moved anyway, so at least the baby was fed, but the rest of us, well, we got to know the word hunger, and the word patience (or lack of it.)  At one point, most of us were crying, either loud or silently, my husband and I were kicking ourselves (and each other) for not checking the traffic info.,  and I felt awful, not being able to feed my kids!  When traffic finally opened up, and we could pull over to a gas station and roadside diner, it was almost midnight, and  all three kids were sleeping.  They actually cried themselves to sleep.
A long, long Friday indeed.

Picture: "Embouteillage", aquarelle by Masmoulin. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Agony in the Garden

It's Maundy Thursday (Skjærtorsdag) today, and I choose this picture to illustrate the day: El Greco's Agony in the Garden from about 1595. Last year it was Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper , but tonight I want to focus on what happened after the famous last meal shared by Christ and his disciples.  They went to the garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus asked his friends to stay awake while he prayed, because he knew what was going to happen, and was very afraid. Well, his friends kept falling asleep, and Christ ended up all alone, praying the Lord to spare him. When I, as a child, first heard this story, it was as if I felt his distress, his tears, the sweat on his forehead. 
He was sitting there, all alone, in the dark, dreading what was to come, just wanting to escape, but still staying.  He asked, no he begged to be spared, but he added: "yet not my will but yours be done"...  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Picture of the Day: Palm Sunday by Giotto

Just this today. Giotto's mural. It's Holy Week, and I'm enjoying the silence, only shattered by birds' chirping and the wind's rustling.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picture of the Day: Amor and Psyche

I made this photo when I was in the Louvre, Paris, last February.  It's a detail of the famous sculpture  Amor and Psyche, created in 1796 by the Italian artist Antonio Canova. 
This statue depicts the final scene in the ancient Greek story, when Amor awakens Psyche with a kiss.  The story itself is well known, and different versions of it even exist in Norwegian fairy tales: (Kvitebjørn Kong Valemon and Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne) The story of a girl who only get to meet her beloved in the dark of the night, and who is not allowed to see his face.  She decides to spy on him while he sleeps, but he wakes up, and because of her betrayal, they are separated for a long time.
Love can't exist without trust...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Picture of the Day: Italy - an Impression

The picture is taken in the streets of Siena, Tuscany.  I was there last summer during a week-long photography workshop with Drake Busath.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Picture of the Day: Broken Sword...

I took this picture in the church of Irancy, a little village in Bourgogne.  The church is in desperate need of restoration, and it made me sad, seeing this beautiful 1400's church so terribly deteriorating.  Walls crumbling down and artwork destroyed by lack of maintenance.
This little statue depicting Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) was sitting on the floor, propped up against a mildew-covered wall.  Her stone sword was broken, the other part missing now, and it was like she cried out to me, cried out all her sorrow of being in a place once full of splendor, and now so run-down and falling apart.

Even when I don't think about  the grim and pressing situation in the church, this statue grips me, with her broken sword and her lost gaze.  How often don't we feel just like her, with our defense broken, our only means of fighting back taken away from us.  Alone, not seeing an outcome.
And then, when you look closely, you realize that what she is holding against her heart;  her sword, broken as it is, has now become  a cross...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dining out with or without kids. That's the question...

I just love Baby Blues .  Kirkman and Scott make me feel more normal. 
(But, by now, after more than 14 years of parenthood, we've learned to always grab lots and lots of napkins before we even sit down, and we always carry wipes.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Picture of the day: Four French School Kids.

During our two weeks in Saint-Etienne, France, my four children attended full time school. (For my youngest, that means 4 days a week.)  The three youngest went to one school, the eldest to another.  Those were private, catholic schools, and my kids had a great time.  They were incredibly well received, and they just fit right into daily class life.  For them, this was an adventure, an experience.  
Here they are, having a fresh croissant for snack after school.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: Echappée Belle by Anna Gavalda


This tiny book is a joy to read.  English title: French Leave. , Norvewian: Ein Vakker Dag. Written by the author of my all-time favorite novel: Ensemble c'est tout. (English: Hunting and Gathering / Norwegian: Saman er ein mindre aleine.  

As mentioned, Echappée Belle is very small book, only about 126 pages, but it's filled with emotion, relationships and accurate descriptions of people and their environment.  I can hear the characters talking, I'm there with them. I love Gavalda's way of make feel like I'm part of the whole thing!

The story is simple: Three grown-up siblings, Garence, Simon and Lola, all invited to a cousin's wedding, decide to leave before the ceremony even starts.  They just hit the road, to go and find the fourth sibling, their little brother Vincent.   They sort of live their last 24 hours of childhood, talking, listening to music, remembering, playing, while forgetting about divorce, wife, children, work, and all the different difficulties of their everyday life. The French countryside, the French way of being, acting, talking, all this is very much part of the reading experience.  

It doesn't matter if I maybe don't agree with their actions, (poor wife left behind, without being asked...), because this is all about this last window of childhood that the three of them (and eventually the forth one too) steals...
A joy to read.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Creating Photography

In my series of blog posts describing my different roles in life, I've come to this one: Being a photographer. I have my own little studio, where I receive customers three days a week, while my youngest is in daycare.
My customers are mainly small children, but sometimes teenagers or whole families.
My goal is to create beautiful photography as works of art, but in addition to this, I want to give my customers pictures that they can cherish, because these images captures a moment in their child's life, help them remember.
I always take my time, try to see what kind of person I have in front of me, so there will be no "conveyor belt photography" in my studio.
I'm truly happy when I feel my pictures turn out the way I want, and when parents are satisfied with the result.

My studio has it's own website: Studio Kristine, as well as a photography blog: Images.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Coming home...

Well, this is us.  And, today we came back home after a month (5 weeks) mainly in France, but also Germany and Denmark. Will need some vacation time to get unpacked...

Picture of the Day: Spring Happiness

My 3-year-old, a sunny day at the playground, outside our Saint-Etienne apartment.  
He's just plain happy, the way children can be, because they're living in the moment...

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Vermeer Conspiracy.

This is "Girl with a wineglass" by Johannes Vermeer.  As I've written earlier, I'm on an ongoing quest: Wanting to see each one of Vermeer's (known) paintings in the world.  
Well, this one I haven't seen yet.  I was going to, but there seem to be a conspiracy, or a secret, hidden force which doesn't want me to see it.  Just listen:
Monday February 29th 2011 my family and I came to Germany with the ferryboat from Oslo.  We were going to France, to stay there for a month, and ahead of us we had two days of driving.  This first day, mainly spent on the Autobahn (freeway) we were going to make a detour, go to Braunschweig where "Girl with a wineglass" is exposed.  On the road, I had my husband check the internet on his mobile phone, just to see if there was something we ought to know about the museum, and sure enough, there was something.  The museum was closed on Mondays.
Well.  I was able to turn my mind around rather quickly, since we were going back in a month, after all, and we would just have to schedule Braunschweig on our trip back home.
So we did.  And, on March 30th 2011, (my 40th birthday to boot!..) we made our detour from the Autobahn, finding our way into Braunschweig.  Amazingly effortless, we found the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, a big, beautiful building in Italian Renaissance style from the 1880's,  I parked the car, and jumped out, didn't wait for my family, just grabbed my youngest and stepped quickly towards one of the grand staircases, placed on either end of the facade.  Well, the first entrance was obviously for the museum administration, so I continued to the other one, on the far end of the building.  Taking pictures of my 3-year-old on the stairs, I was bubbling with excitement, waiting for the rest of my crew.
The door was locked.
My husband called the museum from his cell phone.  He only got the cafeteria people on the phone,  and they could tell us that the museum was CLOSED.   What?  But, why?  Well, they didn't know.
This is where I usually start falling apart. (Oh yes, I'm not emotionally very strong, not at all, believe me!)  But, I saw a woman stepping up the other flight of stairs, keys in hand, and I sprinted over there, just in time before she locked herself in.  She looked at me, puzzled, and I guessed I looked somewhat strange, running like crazy, red face, my hair all over the place.  Panting, I asked her if it was true, that the museum was closed, and she answered, -but of course it is.  It has been for several years, due to the renovation.

Breathe.  Remember to breathe.  -But, I said.  -you can't just do that, and not tell on the website!  Then I started telling her about my Vermeer quest, about us coming to Braunschweig only to see this painting, and I was almost in tears when she interrupted me: -But the main works of art are temporarily exposed in a castle called the Burg Dankwarderode.  -So my "Girl with a wineglass" is there?  -Sure it is, she answered, smiling.  Then she told me how to get there, and we decided to leave the car and walk the short distance, since the weather was lovely, and we had been driving for hours.  I thanked the woman, and praised myself lucky for having seen her.  We could have just given up, gone back to the car without knowing about the temporary exhibit.  
We walked through a huge shopping mall called Sloss-arcaden,  arrived on a big open space, and there, on the other side of the tram tracks, we saw the medieval towers of the Burg Dankwarderode.  I wanted to fly, was so eager to finally see the painting, 
but then, approaching the castle, I can see a crowd of people standing there, behind "do not cross"-tape.  

Do not cross?  What on earth is going on here?
What was going on, was a Hollywood movie production.  For one day only, today, my 40th birthday, the castle was closed, because it was used as a backdrop for the movie.

After talking to somebody who came out from the area, I was let in, on the other side of the tape, and I got to plead my case to the movie people.  They listened to my story, really felt my despair, but they couldn't help me, since they didn't have the keys, and the museum people had taken the day off.
And adding to the irony:  The director, Tommy Wirkola, is Norwegian...

Do you believe me when I think there has to be a conspiracy or some strange force stopping me from seeing this painting? Well, what is even more strange is that I was actually just mildly annoyed, not angry, and I'm sure I'll see the painting some day.  I have to.  We had an ice cream, enjoying the view of a beautiful town we now knew a little bit about, and before we headed back to the car, I was interviewed by the local newspaper, by a journalist who heard about my story.  Here is a pdf of the article:

By the way.  The movie is "Hansel and Gretel: Wich Hunters"