Snippets 1 & 2

Snippet 1:

I finally got around to watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Extended edition.

The extra 17 minutes are distributed through the first half of the film. There are new scenes of Bilbo when he is both very young (smacking Gandalf with a toy sword), and very old (with Frodo). There’s also more scenes around Rivendell including the one I’ve linked to above.

What do they add to the film ? Well they’re more whimsical and certainly slow down the otherwise frenetic pace of the film. They also add more character to Bilbo, Elrond, and rightly or wrongly more comic relief from the Dwarfs.

Initially I was surprised as some of the actors in interviews had said there wouldn’t be extended versions of the films, but hey ho, they’re releasing an extended version of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as well in a couple of months time. I hope that includes things like the Thrush and the Ravens.

Snippet 2:

Sadly, Peter Hopkirk who wrote so many great books on the events in central Asia during the late C19 and early C20 passed away last week.

The name of Peter Hopkirk will long be associated with the “Great Game”, the cloak-and-dagger struggle between Britain and Russia for control over swathes of central Asia that raged through the 19th century.
The vast and sparsely populated regions stretching from the southern reaches of Russia to the northwest frontier of India had fascinated him since he read Rudyard Kipling’s Kim as a boy. However, Hopkirk was no armchair historian. He was an intrepid traveller who adeptly shrugged off the region’s ever-watchful authorities to piece together his rip-roaring histories. In his now classic accounts Foreign Devils on the Silk Road and Trespassers on the Roof of the World, he expertly evoked the lives of the fanatical archaeologist-adventurers who dug up and carried off the contents of ancient Silk Road libraries buried beneath the desert and the mapmakers who illicitly scaled ice-clad Himalayan peaks disguised as horse-traders or religious men.

When Mark Copplestone started his Back of Beyond range, Hopkirk’s books were the gateway to many other books that I now have. I knew very little about the region and its history during the RCW – much of the White Armies under Kolchak et al was poorly served in the literature compared to the AFSR under Deniken and then Wrangel in the south.

Hopkirk was on the Ministry of Defence’s required reading list for British soldiers who were deployed to Afghanistan.

This led me on to many more obscure texts picked up in enjoyable days browsing dusty shelves in the book shops of Hay-on-Wye, and it made me a confirmed bibliophile.

“It’s extraordinary to see how history is repeating itself,” he said of the current situation in Afghanistan. “Some of the players are different, but the Game goes on. Perhaps my books should be read as cautionary tales.”

Sad we haven’t learnt from some of these lessons. :-/

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