Avengers: Infinity War Review – Spoilers!

Spoiler Alert! – Seriously, if you haven’t seen the film yet then what the hell are you doing? Get out of here!!!! ūüėÄ

Avengers: Infinity War has been out worldwide for a few days now so I feel I’m safe doing a review with my thoughts and why such an enormous CGI filled visual superhero feast has a strange personal resonance for me, oh and yes, while I will not discuss the fates of the characters, there will be spoilers story/plot wise.

It’s a weird thing, but considering I’ve been a cinephile my entire life, did film studies as part of my Fine Art Degree (with combined studies, including some really obscure films like Dr Calgari’s Cabinet!), used to work in a video shop just to get the free movies and have a collection of films which must run in the 1000’s now…I’ve never actually done a film review on here before! It’s crazy, my filmic knowledge is better than most and I even used to write film reviews for¬†a freebie mag at college so why did I stop?

Anyway, while not claiming to be the world’s foremost expert on all things Marvel, I have been a superhero nerd since I was a kid so these are my observations and opinions on what was, for me, the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in a loooong time!

Is Avenger’s Infinity War a perfect film?

No, but then there are very few of those. It does however get a solid 5* stars from me for sheer entertainment and ambition. The way the Russo Brothers (the directors) have interwoven all the disparate storylines and character arcs is truly impressive, think Civil War (also a Russo film) but on a whole other galactic level! Multi-layered and complex doesn’t even cover it!

Bloody hell, what a cast!

We have our primary Avengers team¬†– Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) & Captain America (Chris Evans), only Hawkeye is missing (*more on that later). Then you have the second wave Avengers –¬†War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackey), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) & Vision (Paul Bettany). No Ant-Man, again *more on that later.

Add to that, Tom Holland’s plucky young, Spider-Man, definitely the kid of the bunch, Benedict Cumberbatch’s sardonic¬†Doctor Strange with sidekick Wong and the WHOLE of the Guardians of the Galaxy crew, Chris Pratt’s inspired Star Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora (who plays a central role in the unfolding drama), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan)¬†& Mantis (Pom Klementieff) AND all of the awesome Black Panther gang, including Chadwick Boseman’s powerful Black Panther himself, Letita Wright’s wonderfully loveable Shuri, Danai Gurira’s quick witted Okoye & Winston Duke’s fearless M’Baku.

And yes…we have Tom Hiddleston’s Loki as well, a treat for all Marvel fans!

As if that wasn’t enough, the Russo Brothers have been very intelligent in ensuring that the human drama and human connections are there too, so it’s not just a constant wham bang thank you mam! For instance, near the beginning of the film you have a lovely grounded¬†scene set in a sunny¬†New York park with Tony Stark & Peppa Potts jogging and chatting about their future plans (Tony wanting a baby with Peppa!), a really sweet moment before all hell breaks out that once again serves to remind the viewer that we actually CARE about these characters and their plans and futures. Take note DC!

Basic¬†Plot…

Although the elements¬†the film is juggling are complex, with so many characters and pivotal scenes all bouncing off each other and an almost dizzying density of action and effects, like trying to¬†assemble a galactic jigsaw without the overlaying image to look at, it all works brilliantly and thankfully the primary plot itself is relatively simple…

An evil mad titan, Thanos (a suitably intimidating Josh Brolin), using his infinity gauntlet (an all powerful glove forged for him) races to gather all six infinity stones (enormously powerful gems created at the birth of the universe which each hold a specific power with almost limitless destructive abilities), and using these gems, Thanos intends to destroy half of the universe and peoples that live in it. Real end of the world stuff.

The stakes could not be higher!

We find the Avengers, after the massive events of Captain America: Civil War, splintered apart and scattered around the world (and galaxy) but they must come together to save the planet and stop Thanos!

FYI: The six infinity stones = The Space Stone/Tesseract (blue), the Reality Stone/Aether (red), the Power Stone (purple), the Mind Stone (yellow), the Time Stone/Eye of Agomoto¬†(green) and the Soul Stone (orange) we know least about this one and where it is until this film…

Film Opens…

LAST CHANCE…SPOILERS AHEAD¬†– leave now! Straight after the events of Thor Ragnarok and its final post credit scene, we see the remains of Thor’s ship (full of the last remnants of the Asgardian people, now refugees after Asgard was destroyed) overshadowed by a massive craft belonging to Thanos and his¬†followers, the Black Order (almost as scary as Thanos himself). The camera pans over the many fallen bodies of Thor’s people, including whole families, slaughtered, lying dead or dying. Thor himself is being tortured by Thanos and head henchman Ebony Maw, as Loki is questioned by the rest of the black order. Thanos understandably is none too happy with Loki’s failure in the events of the first Avenger’s Assemble¬†film. To placate his fury and save Thanos from killing Thor,¬†Loki gives up the infinity stone he stole in Thor Ragnorok, against Thor’s protestations – yeap, none other than the blue tesseract itself. Thanos grabs the tesseract and crushes it to release the blue infinity stone inside and drops it into the gauntlet he is already wearing. Worse still, he already¬†has the purple power stone (last seen on Xandar at the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy)!!!! Right from the beginning, the film starts at a breath-taking pace and doesn’t let up!

Now, I don’t mind revealing some spoilers in making¬†this review understandable…but I ain’t going to say anything about the fates of beloved characters at this point, but we do briefly see Heimdall in the film too.

In fact Heimdall’s actions allow the Hulk/Bruce Banner to return to Earth, literally crashing through the roof of Doctor Strange’s sanctuary! Again, the Russo brothers expertly weave galactic space sequences with Earth bound ones in a cohesive way which could so easily have become disjointed and nonsensical.

Character Meet-Ups…

Banner is clearly terrified of Thanos and warns Strange of what is to come which¬†in turn leads him to contact Tony Stark while he is on his New York park run with Peppa. I must admit, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film has definitely been the new character meet-ups and the interplay between them. The first of these really is the meeting of the ego’s and goatee’s in the form of genius Strange and genius Stark meeting. While they, along with Banner and Wong chat about the Thanos threat, the building shakes…no time to breathe folks, this is a massive Marvel film after all! They run outside to see the massive Q ship of the Black Order barrelling down on New York, the threat they were talking about is already here! This ties beautifully into a school bus, of course being driven by Stan Lee himself in his 35th filmic Marvel cameo, crossing the Hudson and Spidey’s senses going berserk. Again, a lovely moment of human interaction amongst the chaos with Holland’s best spidey friend, Ned, helping to distract the bus kids while Spidey swings into action.

Fighting For The Future…

A battle ensues with Stark, Dr Strange and Wong fighting the Black Order henchmen and Spidey swinging into help, against Tony’s wishes, who still wants to protect the kid. Things don’t go well and Stark ends up following the Black Order and a kidnapped Strange aboard the Q-ship (remember Strange has the Time Stone and Thanos wants it)¬†and much to Iron Man’s annoyance, Spider-Man tags along. When telling him off, I loved¬†Holland’s response;¬†“I can’t be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man if there’s no neighbourhood!” Very true. So here we see Spidey becoming the latest addition to the Avengers crew. While they are taken off in the ship, Banner, back in NY is calling a friend – Captain America, now in hiding. The shit has hit the fan and ALL the Avengers must fight it!

Meanwhile the Guardians, speeding through space on the Milano & responding to a ship distress call come across a scene of devastation – the bodies and remains of Thor’s ship and the Asgardian people, this is where the trailer we saw comes into play with a seemingly lifeless Thor slamming into their ship – seemingly lifeless until he opens an eye before falling unconscious again.

Humour…

Lol, the interactions are HILARIOUS, as Gamora massages¬†Thor’s muscles and Drax praises the handsome stranger and points out that Star Lord is getting chubby! They awaken Thor and again the zingy one liners and twinge of jealousy on Star Lord’s part are great, especially when an insecure Star Lord starts emulating Thor’s deep voice and gets called out on it! ūüėÄ I loved Thor referring to Rocket as clearly the intelligent captain of the ship and as a rabbit and referring to the others as morons…and who knew he could understand sulky teenage Groot! Brilliant!

The action swings to Edinburgh where Vision, in human form, and Scarlet Witch share a tender moment, clearly in a relationship with each other. Warning signs of something foreboding lingers though and sure enough, another of Thanos’s Black Order henchmen turn up to kill Vision and take his Mind Stone. Vision is injured and as they fight them off, good old Captain America, Black Widow¬†and Falcon turn up. Captain America btw, looking more like the Nomad character he turns into in the comics, dressed in black with no visible sign of the old red & blue cap costume.

One of the hilarious touches I loved throughout the movie, which was both frustrating and refreshing, was a terrified Hulk refusing to Hulk out after his Thanos encounter, much to Banner’s exasperation! ūüėÄ

Wakanda Forever…

Before we know it, the action earthbound has switched to Wakanda and here we see Banner, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, Vision, Scarlet Witch and Cap meeting Black Panther and reuniting with Bucky who had been recuperating there since Civil War (as seen in the post credits for Black Panther, which of course signposted the ‘White Wolf’ character that Bucky later becomes in the comics).

In Space…

Galactically –¬†Iron Man, Strange and Spidey manage to kill Ebony Maw and crash land the Q ship on an alien world, Thano’s old home planet! Meanwhile, realising that Xandar has been destroyed by Thanos while retrieving the power stone from the Nova Corp and that Thanos already has two infinity stones, they decide to team up and stop him before it’s too late. After a bit of comical bickering Thor splits off from the Guardians with Groot & Rocket, to get himself a Thanos killing weapon (since his beloved hammer Mjolnir was destroyed in Ragnorok), while the Guardians head to Knowwhere and the Collector who was given the red Reality/Aether stone by Thor’s friends at the end of the events of Thor: Dark World. They’re too late, Thanos is already there!

Did I mention how you’re not given a chance to catch breath during this film?! ūüėÄ Seriously, it’s the ONLY movie I’ve ever been too where I was so absorbed¬†and exhausted by it (in a good way), that I hardly touched my popcorn or coke for the whole movie! ūüėÄ

Fathers and Daughters…

In a moment of desperation, Gamora attacks and stabs Thanos in the neck. Thanos falls back, dying, bleeding heavily from his wound and asks why. Gamora bursts into tears and then all is revealed. Thanos already has the reality stone/aether and wanted to know how Gamora really felt! Previously to this, Gamora revealed to Star Lord that she knew where the soul stone was and because of this Thanos could not collect all the infinity stones. She refuses to tell Quill where it is and makes him promise to kill her if things go wrong. This is heavy emotional stuff guys! After she stabs Thanos & everything turns to shit, Thanos disappears dragging Gamora with him as Star Lord tries to stop him.

On board Thanos ship, Thanos had previously captured Nebula when she tried to board his ship to kill him. Nebula is being tortured as Thanos suspects Gamora knows the location of the soul stone (through a conversation Gamora had with her sister). He uses this knowledge against her, torturing Nebula to get the information he wants from Gamora. She finally gives in to save her sister. Nebula later manages to escape but events are spinning out of control.

Thanos drags Gamora off to get the soul stone. Things are looking bleak.

The Endgame…

Dr Strange, Star Lord, Iron Man & Spider-Man, still stranded on Thanos home planet after crashing the Q ship and killing Ebony Maw, realise that Thanos will HAVE to turn up there to get the time stone from Dr Strange, so they hatch a plan to stop him. Forebodingly, Strange zips into the future (actually about 14 million different futures, to see if Thanos can be beaten), in only one instance did the Avengers win…only one! As predicted Thanos then turns up to get the time stone. The plan, with the help of Mantis, almost works, then a shattering truth is revealed that pushes Star Lord over the edge and everything then goes wrong. Thanos gets the time stone and disappears, leaving the Avengers stranded and desolate. They have failed!

Stormbreaker…

Meanwhile, Thor, with the help of Rocket, Groot and an enormous dwarf, played by GoT’s Peter Dinklage, nearly dies trying to restart a dying star to create the Thanos killing weapon he needs, called Stormbreaker. Lol, btw, in a classic Rocket move, the raccoon gives Thor an electronic eye he stole from someone, so Thor is able to ditch the eyepatch. ūüôā

Preparing for the end…

Earthbound, in Wakanda preparations for war are in hand as Shuri attempts to take the mind stone out of Vision and destroy it before Thanos turns up (and without killing Vision). Too late, a host of massive ships crash down unleashing hordes of alien creations (Thanos foot soldiers), a massive battle begins as our Avengers fight their attackers and try to give Shuri time to destroy the mind stone.¬†Banner, with a Hulk still refusing to fight, gets into Iron Man’s huge armour to fight the aliens off.

Eventually, just as the battle looks lost for our heroes, Thor and his awesome new stormbreaker weapon + a load of lightning of course, appears and ploughs into the alien hordes. I LOVED the moment when Thor & Cap meet for the first time since Age of Ultron and exchange repartee: “Nice beard, very manly” says Thor to Cap’s “You changed your hair, it looks good” comment. ūüėÄ SO love these interactions!

Thanos…

Just when things are looking like they might be alright, Thanos himself turns up…to get his hands on the final infinity stone, the mind stone from Vision.

OMG! The stakes, the danger, the loss, the personal moments! Vision pleads with Scarlet Witch to destroy the stone even if it means killing him, as she’s the only one with the magical powers to destroy it. Gut wrenching!

Without revealing everyone’s fate…Thanos gets the final stone and inacts his plan to destroy half the universe and people in it. Think about it, 1 in every 2 people in the entire universe dying, as if they’d never existed at all. The film ends with half our heroes¬†in Wakanda and the others still trapped on the alien planet, distraught as Thanos’s plan takes its dreadful toll. The final frame of the film, after Thanos has unleashed his horrifying plan, sees¬†the mad titan¬†peacefully enjoying a sunrise having completed his mission.

OMFG!!!!!!

This being a Marvel film, there is of course a post-credit scene, only one, at the very end. We see former Shield agent, Maria Hill & and former Shield director, Nick Fury seeing the devastation that Thanos’s plan causes – 1 in every 2 people dying as if they never existed at all. Cars crash, their drivers disappeared, planes smash into buildings, people disintegrate to ash before their eyes. The very final frame, as everything turns to shit, is Fury sending a message on a pager like device and the pager saying ‘sending’, before the star symbol of Captain Marvel flashes up! :O

There you go…the entire film story, minus some of the biggest spoilers.

Satisfying Fan Moments…

For me, apart from getting a good insight into Gamora’s backstory/past like her first meeting as a child with Thanos, which underpins so much of their complex relationship, “What’s wrong little one?” Thanos asks amidst the chaos he has unleashed on Gamora’s homeworld, the film also manages to give some really satisfying moments for the fans. For me, having Star Lord and Gamora eventually declare their love for each other was one of the biggest and most emotionally impactful. I also loved the whole teenage Groot thing, seeing Spider-Man in space with his new suit, seeing Iron Man’s new nano-technology suit and again, the personal moments…that look of relief and warmth between Black Widow and Banner, the first time they’ve been reunited since the events of Age of Ultron.

Critical response…

So far the general consensus is that this is a great film. If you don’t like Marvel movies and superheroes then you won’t like it, but if you do, then this is a film that will greatly please the majority of fans. For me, it was EPICALLY AWESOME! I’m sure some will criticise it’s frenetic pace, but with so much to stuff in there and to still keep those lovely humorous exchanges and touching personal character moments, the pace needs to be frenetic. If I was making this film it would probably be two weeks long, not two and half hours!

WOW!!!!!!!

Personal Resonance…

On a personal level, despite on the surface this being yet another ‘silly comic book film’, I think the reason it resonated so much with me, beyond my being a huge superhero and Marvel fan, was the conflicted father-daughter (Thanos-Gamora) storyline at the heart of this film. As a daughter myself¬†to my own Thanos evil type monster father (happily out of my life for over 10 years now), I totally understood Gamora’s feelings, angers, self-doubts and fears. You can come from evil without being evil yourself, you CAN overcome your beginning, history does NOT have to repeat itself. So yes, despite all the massive set pieces, action, frentic pace and stunning visuals, for me, at the heart of this was a very and all too personal story of a bad father and the damaged daughter trying to better herself and break free of her poisonous past. And I guess the other message for me, is that your family can be who you CHOOSE to be your family not necessarily the people who brought you up.

Anyway, enough of that personal heavy stuff. ūüėÄ

Am I going to see it again? Hell yes! You bloody bet cha I am! I’m sure there’s LOADS I missed out and didn’t pick up on the first viewing, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on the whole glorious thing.

Well done to the Russo brothers for pulling together and wrestling a leviathan like this and making it work, a job I am utterly stunned that they managed to do so well.

*Now, briefly, about the lack of Hawkeye and Ant Man, it is mentioned that they are protecting their families, so this could be the primary reason why they don’t feature in Infinity War, especially for Hawkeye, there is also speculation that they may well be in Avengers 4, so the reasoning for their absence may be further¬†explained then.*

Yes there are some flaws, of course, but, certainly on first viewing, they really are not big enough to impact on the sheer blissful enjoyment of this! Roll on Avengers 4!!!! ūüėÄ

5* stars!!!! ūüėÄ #LovedIt #AvengersInfinityWarRocks

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The Epic Tragedy of Love

Romeo and Juliet (1968 film)

Romeo and Juliet (1968 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Literature, history and mythology¬†is littered with great heroes and heroines, those mystically imbued figures whose short poetic lives have enriched ours, and whose tragic and doomed love affairs have become the stuff of legend. As a child I was first aware of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet, and their struggles against a world so determined to tear them apart. Their torn loyalties of family, responsibility, duty, honour, and the forbidden love they held for each other, seemed to mirror the angst we teenagers inevitably felt. Luckily at my school, we had a rich diet of Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Anthony & Cleopatra (another doomed couple), Julius Caesar, Hamlet (unrequited &¬†destructive¬†love), Othello (jealous, possessive love) & Macbeth¬†(the manipulation of love). I was fascinated by the interplay of characters, how each couple and individual reacted to the circumstances they found themselves in, the choices they made, whether destiny played a part, how love could be corrupted or could corrupt others. As a hopeless romantic, (Shh! Don’t tell anyone! I try not to admit it and refrain from reading any chick-lit, ‘slushy trash’ as I call it, hey…sci-fi/fantasy girl here!), I do see the allure of such characters and such stories and how they ultimately convey the human condition in all its absurdities, frailties, flaws and its¬†glory.

The Lady of Shalott, based on The Lady of Shal...

The Lady of Shalott, based on The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up, my reading lists widened and as my love of the fantasy genre and its origins took hold, I began delving into ancient mythology. The wonderful Welsh¬†sagas of The Mabinogion (based on tales from 1190-1350) and particularly¬†Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte¬†D’Arthur (1485),¬†is still a favourite of mine, and the eternal love triangle of Arthur, Guinevere & Launcelot. Somehow, you can still sense¬†the searing¬†pain of betrayal in Arthur’s heart, the conflict in the lovers and their guilt at their actions, yet their total inability to stop themselves falling in love. Of course, it is as true today as it was in 600AD, you cannot help who you fall in love with. I remember watching John Boorman’s mesmeric 1981 film Excalibur, with its incredible visuals and Carl Orff’s thunderous Carmina Burana spurring the horses on through the mists of battle. But still, through all the magic and heroism, it was the tragic love story that kept haunting me. As I’m typing this, I’m sitting looking at a beautiful print of The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse (1888), based on the famous Tennyson poem and all that doomed heart ache just comes flooding back.

tristan and isolde

tristan and isolde (Photo credit: kairin)

When you think of the greatest and most tragic love stories you probably think of the ones I’ve mentioned and of Tristan & Iseult (Isolde), Paris & Helena, Orpheus and Eurydice and perhaps poor Pyramus and Thisbe. Having¬†lived in ancient Babylonia in neighbouring homes, they fell in love with each other as they grew up. Their respective families were fervently against the match, so one night the two lovers hatched a plan. They decided to meet up under a mulberry tree in the nearby fields, and run away together. Thisbe reached the tree first, but frightened at seeing a lion approach with blood stained jaws, she ran and hid in some rocks, dropping her veil as she ran. The lion picked up the veil just as Pyramus arrived. Devastated at seeing Thisbe’s veil in the lion’s bloody mouth, Pyramus took his sword out and killed himself. When poor Thisbe eventually emerged from the rocks and saw her beloved Pyramus dead, she too took his sword and killed herself.¬† ūüė¶

Pyramus and Thisbe

Pyramus and Thisbe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then, you have the sad¬†tale of Heloise¬†and Abelard, which is perhaps the most tragic love affair of all, especially as it is a story based on an actual event. Being fact rather than merely myth, makes us all marvel at the power of sacrifice and the power of love. Heloise (1101-1164) and Peter Abelard (1079-1142) had their story immortalised by British poet, Alexander Pope in 1717, who¬†turned¬†it into a piece of classic literature, ‘Eloisa to Abelard’. Heloise¬†and Abelard were ridiculously in love and doomed to a tragic end in mid 12th century France. Abelard was a well-known¬†French philosopher, considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 12th century. Heloise, was¬†the niece and pride of the Canon Fulbert, who wanted her to have the best education possible. Abelard became¬†the girl’s live-in tutor, 20 years her senior. A¬†romance blossomed between them, a romance that¬†so enraged her disapproving uncle that he had Abelard castrated shortly after they were discovered. Distraught, the lovers entered¬†a monastery and nunnery and wrote a set of now-famous letters to each other up until their death, though they never met again.

Abelard and his pupil, H√©lo√Įse, by Edmund Blai...

Abelard and his pupil, H√©lo√Įse, by Edmund Blair Leighton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These¬†tragedies both real and imagined have inspired such a rich tapestry of stories. As a huge fan of fantasy, from the world’s first ever story, The Epic of Gilgamesh¬†to Beowulf to The Lord Of The Rings, Narnia and Game Of Thrones etc., I still like my fantasy to have that tragic element, that hint of doomed love or sacrifice. In the classic tradition J.R.R.Tolkien of course, being a scholar in ancient Nordic and Celtic mythology, was able to bring many of these elements into his work, particularly in¬†The Silmarillion.

Cover of "The Silmarillion"

Cover of The Silmarillion

The Silmarillion, I book I still adore and one which¬†I am very lucky to have a cherished first edition of, has two tragic love stories which really wrench at the heart. The first of course, is the heroic¬†story of Beren¬†and Luthien, later mirrored in the love story of Aragorn¬†and Arwen¬†in LOTR. Here, the story of Beren¬†and Luthien¬†(with similarities to Orpheus and Eurydice) tells of the love between a mortal man, Beren¬†and the most beautiful immortal elf-maiden, Luthien¬†Tinuviel¬†and the struggles and obstacles they face¬†in their quest to be together. But for me, by far the more tragic love story and the one which is the antithesis to Beren’s¬†story, was the darker tale of poor Turin Turambar. Despite being a great hero, Turin Turambar, seems forever cursed with ill fortune and the very worst of luck. He battles valiantly against evil foes, yet whatever he turns his hand to seems to go wrong. Eventually both Turin and his sister¬†Nienor¬†are enchanted by a mighty dragon, Glaurung. Under its enchantment, they fall in love with each other and live as man and wife. But, when Turin kills the dragon and the spell is lifted, they are driven mad by the realisation of their sins and they both commit suicide. This perhaps, is Tolkien at his¬†darkest, but still as a reader, you cannot help feeling such sorrow and sympathy for these two sad characters.

My personal favourite though, and a story that inspired Tolkien himself,¬†has to be the story of Sigurd and Brynhild, from the Volsunga¬†Saga. Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigur√įr) and Brynhild¬†from the Volsunga¬†Saga (ancient Norse mythology

Sigrdr√≠fa gives Sigur√įr a horn to drink from.

Sigrdr√≠fa¬†gives Sigur√įr a horn to drink from. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

c.1000AD), is a bittersweet tale of romance, heroism, greed, betrayal and tragedy. The later German hero, Siegfried from the Nibelungenlied (1180 to 1210) (The Song of the Nibelungs) and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, is based on Sigurd and the Volsunga¬†Saga. Basically, urged on by Loki and Odin, Sigurd¬†kills the dragon Fafnir and takes his treasure hoard. He bathes in the dragon’s blood to become invincible, and meets Brynhildr¬†‘shieldmaiden’, who in some incarnations of the story is a Valkyrie imbued with supernatural powers. They fall in love but Brynhild¬†prophesies his doom and marriage to another. They part temporarily. Sigurd travels to the court of Gjuki, whose wife, Grimhild¬†poisons him with an ‘Ale¬†of Forgetfulness’ to force him to forget Brynhild¬†so he can marry their daughter, Gudrun. Meanwhile, Gunnar, Gudrun’s brother¬†courts Brynhild¬†who is still waiting for her beloved Sigurd. To win Brynhild¬†over, Gunnar devises a plan and convinces an enchanted Sigurd to¬†help him.¬†Unable to get near to Brynhild¬†himself,¬†but seeing that Sigurd¬†can, Gunnar swaps bodies with him to seduce Brunhild¬†and break her defences/powers, enabling him to seize his prize thereafter. Eventually, all deceptions come to light. Gunnar plots against and kills Sigurd, in some stories Brynhild¬†then kills him, but the story ends with Sigurd and Brynhild finally reunited in death as she throws herself onto Sigurd’s blazing funeral pyre! What a way to go!English: A Christmas bonfire in Guelph, Canada.

 

The map to the human heart is a complicated route indeed, full of hidden perils, surprises and joyous heights!

Now…you may well ask, why on earth I am exploring tragic love affairs in literature, myth and history? Why the sudden interest?

Well…I’m glad to say I haven’t had a tragic experience myself, but…I am, I’m afraid,¬†witnessing one as I write this. Yes, I’m not talking about my favourite tear inducing movie, or the howls of, “NO, GOD NO!”¬†that I heard being¬†cried at the TV screen from my friends who were apoplectic at the death of Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. No…I’m talking about a real life love tragedy unfolding before my eyes right now – a scene of unparalleled sadness, of unrequited love that makes all of the previous tales pale into insignificance.

Forget Romeo & Juliet, Heathcliff¬†& Cathy, who cares about Tristan & Isolde? This is the sad sad¬†tale of…Tolly & Mimi…

On the 1st August 2009, four years¬†ago this very day, I was travelling back from Bridgewater having rescued two gorgeous white balls of fluff from the most hideous living conditions you can imagine. Four years later, my beautiful white wolves, brothers Korrun¬†& Tolly,¬†are happy and healthy and well…totally gorgeous. 349

Only one problem…Tolly is in love, deeply, passionately, unconditionally…an¬†all consuming obsessional love and one which tragically, it is completely unrequited.

Wherever Mimi goes, Tolly follows, every move she makes he mirrors, no more than two inches from her face at all times, staring adoringly, gazing, dribbling, sighing with pensive longing when she retreats upstairs. Such desperate longing, such sadness…the poor boy just hasn’t realised that cats and dogs simply don’t…well, it’s a barrier greater than that of the Capulets and Montagues!

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