The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 9, 1997 - 14
'Alien' probes enigmatic issue
John Brown (Billy Connolly) woos Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) in "Mrs. Brown."
rown brngs Qeen to ife
Daily Art Wnter
Recovering from this past summer's blockbuster disaster
movies has been grueling, but the anguish has paid off after
seeing a truly "quality" film, "Mrs. Brown." It is mind-bog-
ing to think that all the deserved attention for such
acclaimed movies as "Emma," "Sense and Sensibility" and
ch Ado About Nothing" is not also given to this latest
19t century film, a historically accurate account of the
umultuous life of Queen Victoria.
Everything seems to be wonderful in the Royal Palace in
England. However, a closer look into the
daily rituals of Victoria Regina (Judi R1
Dentch) unmasks the Queen's deep and
prolonged grief over her late husband,
Order, precision, and politeness take
precedeice over all actions at the Palace,
shat while we see orders from the
Queen being carried out in the strictest fashion by her ser-
vants, what we do not see is that the Queen has lost all inter-
est in representing her country.
Worse off than her depression, Victoria lashes out at
other people due to their constant suggestions on how
to deal with her grief.' In reality, no one at the palace
can placate her anguish. That is, until John Brown
Brown (Billy Connolly) is a low-class, under-educated,
crude-yet-honest highlander. Which is why, to say the least,
nobody at the Royal Palace approves of Brown's claim that he
will heal the Queen's wounds; not even the Queen herself.
But after a few horse rides, dips in a lake and even a day
trip to Brown's home, the Queen not only begins to look and
feel better, but she gains a companion who offsets her loneli-
God forbid the movie concludes with the Queen in the
arms of "Prince Charming," as they all live happily ever after.
Thankfully, screenwriter Jeremy Brock introduces more
complicated issues upon the arrival of Brown.
First, Brown refuses to follow tradi-
E V I E W tional etiquette when addressing the
Mrs. Brown Because of his crude honesty and lack
of respect, he is scorned by others who
**** dispute that the Queen is only getting
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2 worse.
Yet another problem arises: The curious
public spreads rumors of a love affair between Brown and the
Queen, invading the private life Victoria cherishesso intensely.
The 19th century press even goes so far as to dub the queen
"Mrs. Brown." Throughout all these crises, however, Brown
is loyal to Her Majesty and gives her the strength to go
beyond the walls of the Palace.
Dench is captivating: It is difficult to overlook her pained
body expressions by her pursed lips'and clasped hands. And
Connolly does a fine job portraying an extremely focused,
loyal guardian to the Queen.
What is particularly interesting about the film is the
immense emphasis on the seemingly petty rituals of the
An entire ceremony takes place just to eat lunch with
the Queen. A carriage is drawn into a lake so the Queen
can take a swim with poise and majestic confidence.
Three women follow the Queen wherever she goes,
always retracing their steps when she changes direction.
Such attention to details can really draw the audience in,
almost to the edge of their seats with intense interest.
A nifty en medias res flashback (thanks to Brock again) at
the beginning of the movie added some contemporary flare to
"Mrs. Brown," specifically representing the turning point at
which the Queen is no longer emotionally dependent of
"Mrs. Brown," directed by John Madden, is an intricate,
quaint documentary that gives light to the darkest days of
Lately, the question of the century
has become, "Are we alone?" After an
onslaught of movies, publications, tele-
vision shows and a wide spectrum of
publicized theories, it looks like it is
time for us to seriously question
whether there are other beings in this
universe besides us.
The mass population has been nearly
desensitized by all the tumult surround-
ing the subject of extraterrestrial life
and UFOs. But with Jim Marrs' "Alien
Agenda,' the public can now see the
evidence and the theories related to this
Marrs establishes right off in his
introduction that he will be approaching
the topic as objectively as humanly pos-
sible, using a more formal jour-
nalistic style. His
method is "to
study it all,
that imply some level of truth.
"Alien Agenda" is full of accounts of
incidents accompanied by possible
"logical" explanations, as well as theo-
ries and counter-theories.
Points that Marrs brings up include
strange occurrences that involve the
exploration and the composition of the
moon itself, as well as peculiarities of
other planets (including possible artifi-
cial pyramids on the planet Mars).
These are followed by hints that aliens
have been visiting our planet since the
beginning of civilization, and may even
have had a hand in creating it.
Possibly the most interesting chapter
of the book is the one titled "Ancient
Astronauts." Marrs shows alternative
theories developed by scientists or
researchers exploring the possibility of
ancient astronauts having visited our
planet centuries ago. Some researchers
cite similarities between legends frotn
different parts of the world, that "certain
individuals with 'godlike' powers mold-
ed mankind into a civilized state follow-
ing a period of cataclysmic upheaval"
(i.e. the Great Flood in the Bible).
Marrs continues in the following
chapters to discuss the connection
between the U.S. government and the
military with the UFO issue. Included
is an in-depth exploration of the
Roswell issue and pages of accounts
from witnesses who claim to have seen
the crashed UFO or the bodies. Many of
these witnesses include high-ranking
military and government officials, who
also imply that the government is defi-
nitely involved in hiding all evidence of
extraterrestrials from the public.
Discussion of shadowy top-secret mili-
tary committees and government pro-
grams strongly suggest that the govern-
ment is highly involved in UFO studies.
"Alien Agenda" also includes both
widely publicized and little known
accounts of contact between humans and
aliens, alien abductions and extraterres-
trial teaching being filtered through cer-
tain human beings. Marrs skillfully jux-
taposes both convincing and debunking
evidence to give the reader personal free-
dom as to what to believe.
"Alien Agenda" often gets too techni-
cal for anyone who doesn't have exten-
sive knowledge of the military or gov-.
ernment procedures. But on the flip-
side, Marrs is able to avoid sensational-
izing the subject by avoiding the drama-
tization of accounts and by providing
arguments from both sides of the issue.
No matter what your stance is
on the debate, "Alien
# Agenda" provides
on the sub-
and attention to
detail creates a fas-
cinating book that is
essential to anyone wishing to
learn more about this puzzling enigma.
- Julia Shih
Richard North Patterson
Imagine being 17 years old with the
perfect life, the perfect girlfriend, the
respect of your whole town, and
Harvard knocking on your door. Now
imagine having all of your dreams shat-
tered one fateful night, when you are
found with your murdered girlfriend in
your arms, causing the whole town to
turn against you.
This is the sce-
nario created by Silent W
Richard North H 5mys
Patterson in his
newest novel, heartfelt
"Silent Witness." li
The story about
begins in 1967, in
the small, conser-
vative Midwestern town of Lake
City. Tony Lord is the city's star ath-
lete, who is destined for great things.
With his beautiful and wealthy girl-
friend Alison Taylor, his charismatic
and competitive best friend, Sam
Robb, and Sam's girlfriend, Sue
Cash, life seems too perfect to be
But when Alison is found murdeml
in the woods by her house, the eitir
town suspects Tony of this dastardly
deed. With his best friend seemingly
deserting him and with no one else tQ
turn to, Tony leaves Lake City, vowiig
never to return.
Twenty-seven years later, Tony is
now a rich and successful criniaii
defense lawyer in San Francisco. Witha
beautiful actress wife and a family of
his own, Tony has completely disowned
his past life in Lake City. .r . 1
That is, until Sue's desperate phone
call beckons him back.
Now Tony must use his skills .tb
defend his former best friend and Sue's
husband, Sam Robb, from charges of
murdering a high school girl.
"Silent Witness" is an exciting susz
pense novel that involves a great dealof
mystery and intrigue, but also deals with
how sudden incidents can change so
many lives in so many different ways.
Because of Alison's murder and.the
brutal investigation that follows, Tdny,
is driven to becoming a relentless
attorney dedicated to fighting for the
innocence of his clients.
Yet Alison's parents devote -thir
entire existence to hating Tony, while
Sam and Sue live lives that don't , 4
anywhere. And when Sam is charged
with a murder that so closely resenrs
bles Alison's, the whole city is forced
to deal once again with a past that, it
would like to forget.
"Silent Witness" also deals with
many issues involving small towns.
Problems with racism, clashes between
different religious beliefs, and econdm-
ic issues are all addressed in this-book
in a compelling and interesting fashion.
Readers are led to sympathize -with
certain characters, as Patterson paints a
picture of a town with too many societal
problems that can't be easily solved.-
Meanwhile, Patterson also
engages the reader with Sam Robb"s
intense trial, in which the defi-
dant's innocence is seriously qu( -
tioned, even by Tony himself. As.tte
trial drags on, Tony is brought- to
tm ess friendship, lift
and the past. .
Witness" has my
lessons tery and heartfet
- lessons about lifeZ
+I Patterson does
an excellent jo$
at weaving ski
much into one book. To read "Silent
Witnes4" is to feel as if you have wie
nessed the complicated web tha
makes up life.
- Julia Shi
Thelovers dance in "Mrs. Brown."