Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Film of the Day

Errol Flynn in lancer's helmet in The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 28 March Crimean War escalates, 1854 On this day in 1854, Britain and France declared war against Russia. Russia and the Ottoman Empire had been at war since October the previous year, when conflict had broken out ostensibly about the rights of Christians in the Holy Land – being restricted by Muslim Ottomans and being protected by Orthodox Russian if you accept the Russians’ diplomatic rhetoric. In fact the war was about territory, the Turks being on the decline after centuries of dominance in the region, the Russians keen to continue their expansion west into Europe and particularly south to the … Read more
Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 31 July Black Tot Day, 1970 Today in 1970 was the last day on which British sailors were issued with a daily rum ration. The ration had initially been beer – much safer than water – and had been set at a gallon (4.5 litres) a day in the 16th century. But that’s a lot of beer if there are a lot of men, and so the ration became a half pint of rum in 1655, after the British had secured whole chunks of the rum-rich West Indies. Drunkenness being a problem, the half-pint ration was mixed with water 1:4 and … Read more
Sandra Bullock in a space suit, Gravity

Gravity

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 14 April Sputnik 2 falls from orbit, 1958 On this day in 1958, the second satellite to be launched into Earth orbit, Sputnik 2, fell back to earth. It had been launched on 3 November 1957 and was carrying Laika, a samoyed terrier cross chosen for her good nature – the first animal launched into space. Sputnik 2 carried enough food, water and air to keep Laika alive for ten days, but because of a malfunction, the temperature inside Sputnik 2 got too high (104ºF/40ºC) and Laika died after a few hours into the mission, from heat and stress. If she … Read more
Michael Emil and Theresa Russell in Insignificance

Insignificance

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 14 March Albert Einstein born, 1879 On this day in 1879, Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany, to Hermann and Pauline Einstein. His father was an engineer who founded his own company selling electrical products which ran on DC current, and would eventually go bust when alternating current won the so-called “current wars”. The son, too, was interested in invisible motive forces, the first of his 300 scientific papers being titled On the Investigation of the Ether in a Magnetic Field, aged 15. At 17 he was a student of mathematics and physics in Zurich, after which he struggled to … Read more
Giacomo Rizzo and Laura Chiatti in The Family Friend

The Family Friend

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 9 May First recorded appearance of Mr Punch, 1662 On this day in 1662, Navy Board administrator Samuel Pepys went to Covent Garden, London, where he enjoyed “an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw…”. The show was by a Pietro Gimonde from Bologna, and Pepys’s mention of it in his famous diary is the first record we have of Mr Punch. Today, Punch is a glove puppet, but back then he was a string marionette called Puncinello or Pulcinella or Pulliciniello, a character derived from the Italian commedia … Read more
Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel in Mean Streets

Mean Streets

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 May Exile on Main Street released, 1972 On this day in 1972, one of the cornerstone rock albums of all time was released. Exile on Main St was the Rolling Stones’ follow-up to Sticky Fingers and the first album they had produced since extricating themselves from their contract with manager Allen Klein. The Stones had recently become tax exiles from the UK – and recorded much of the album in the south of France, at a villa Keith Richards was renting. Richards was a heavy user of heroin at the time, and his villa became a hub for visiting fellow … Read more
Stacy Martin in Nymphomaniac Vol 1

Nymphomaniac: Vol. I

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 2 April Serge Gainsbourg born, 1928 On this day in 1928 Lucien Ginsburg was born, to refugees from the Russian revolution who had fled in 1917. Later, he would change his name from Ginsburg to Gainsbourg to reflect his admiration for the British landscape painter Gainsborough, and from Lucien to Serge to honour his Russian heritage. Originally intending to be a painter, Gainsbourg wound up supporting himself by playing piano in bars and so entered the world of music more by accident than design. However, once he realised he had something of a knack for chansons in the Jacques Brel style, … Read more
Maria Falconetti in The Passion of Joan of Arc

The Passion of Joan of Arc

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 16 December Henry VI of England crowned king of France, 1431 On this day in 1431, Henry VI of England was crowned king of France. Born in 1421, Henry of Windsor had become king of England aged nine months. By 11 months, on the death of his grandfather, Charles VI, he had also been named king of France. Since he was a child and hardly in a position to do anything regal, two uncles ran the show for him. John of Lancaster (brother of the dead king, Henry V) became regent of France, while John’s brother Humphrey became Protector of England. … Read more
Party hats on for the finale of Import/Export

Import/Export

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 7 February Maastricht Treaty signed, 1992 On this day in 1992, the Treaty on European Union, aka the Maastricht Treaty, was signed by members of the European Community, in Maastricht, Netherlands. Its purpose, as its name suggests, was to create a union of Europe. It proposed and established three pillars of the Treaty –the European Community, a common foreign and security policy and a similar arrangement for justice and home affairs. In effect it formalised arrangements that had already existed, but it also extended them – the European Community was the continuation of the European Economic Community, with the “Economic” being … Read more
Samuel L Jackson in Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 August Cleopatra kills herself, 30BC On this day in 30BC, Cleopatra VII Philopator, last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, killed herself. She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and at first ruled alongside him, later ruling alongside her brothers Ptolemy XIII and XIV, the latter of whom she married. The Ptolemaic dynasty had its origins in Greece, the original Ptolemy having been one of Alexander the Great’s generals. The Ptolemaic era marked the decline of Greece and the ascent of Rome and one of Cleopatra’s strategic couplings was to have a son with Julius Caesar, who became co-ruler with her … Read more
Manie Malone in Viva Riva!

Viva Riva!

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 October Creation of Zaire, 1971 On this day in 1971, Zaire was created, and continued in existence until 1997. Previously the country had been called the Congo Free State, the Belgian Congo, Congo-Léopoldville and Congo-Kinshasa. It would later become the Democratic Republic of the Congo (not to be confused with the Republic of the Congo, its neighbour). Whatever its name, it is the second largest country in Africa, with 250 ethnic groups speaking over 700 local languages, hence the importance of French as a lingua franca. The country’s name was changed from Republic of Congo-Léopoldville by Mobutu Sese Seko (born … Read more
The wicker man in The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 21 December The Southern Solstice Today is the Southern solstice. If you are in the northern hemisphere, it marks the point at which the sun rises least above the horizon. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it is midsummer, longest day of the year. And correspondingly the shortest in the north. Towards the equator the effect is minimal, with day and night length tending to match each other the whole year through. But in London, where I am writing this, it means the sun will come up a handful of minutes after 8am and set just before 4pm. Tomorrow, the … Read more

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