Another recent film, “The Duke of Burgundy” (directed by Peter Strickland), which I saw at the West End Cinema in Washington DC last week, brings up a “juvenile” writing effort from my own past. The title of the film refers to a butterfly with whom the dominant lesbian in the film works. (Yes, that’s Tiny Tim’s “O Gay Way Butterfly” in my Army days at Fort Eustis.) Some how the title reminds me of David Cronenberg’s “Spider” about a metally ill man living in a halfway house. I saw a special premier in Minneapolis at the Landmark Lagoon in Uptown with the director present for QA.
In ninth grade (spring 1958) “General Education” class in junior high school (these were in the days that formal high school started in tenth grade), we had read some Dumas novels for book reports (I was taking French I, and I think we read some excerpts in that class, too) — particularly “The Three Musketeers”. Then we had some creative writing. I wrote a story called “Who Stole the Mona Lisa?” which, as I recall, got pretty gory (as to what happened to the bad guys when caught), and got pretty graphic as to descriptions of what is manly. Then I wrote (in English) a two-act play “The Duke of Burgundy“, about which I recall relatively little now. I think it was about how Philip the Good (Philip III) contributed to the capture of Joan of Arc. Maybe the handwritten manuscript is lying around in the attic somewhere. I would see the Columbia-Gaumont film “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc“, directed by Luc Beeson, with Milla Jolovich, on a cold night on Thanksgiving weekend of 1999 on a road trip, in Aberdeen, SD.
The BBC film on the life of Joan of Arc appears above.
There was a film in 1977 “The Message“, a biography of Mohammed (as inspired by the Angel Gabriel), directed by Moustapha Akkad, which I remember seeing at the Uptown in Washington. Mohammed was (is) the messenger from the one God, Allah.
I also wrote a short story in Ninth Grade French Class called “La vielle maison“, or “The Old House“. A teenager walks into a house with a false front (like on an “Amos ‘n’ Andy” episode from the 1950s) and finds himself on Mars. When it gets hard to breathe, he has to struggle to get back through the door in a dust storm.
But in Tenth Grade English, in high school, when we had a writing assignment for the short story unit, I wrote a story “The Lifeguard“, where a teen is confronted with whether to save a drowning victim when there is an air raid, for real, warning of impending nuclear attack — that is, “duck and cover”. I got a “B” ion the story, but an A in the course.