Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Film of the Day

Cary Elwes and Robin Wright in The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 22 February Ladislaus the Posthumous born, 1440 On this day in 1440, Ladislaus the Posthumous was born. His father, Albert II, had died four months before and so it was that Ladislaus became Duke of Austria and head of the house of Habsburg as soon as he arrived in the world. Ladislaus grew up under the protection, as a prisoner more or less, of Frederick V, who was the de facto ruler of Austria. Meanwhile John Hunyadi ruled Hungary in Ladislaus’s stead, and George of Podebrady fulfilled the same function in Bohemia. At the age of ten, Ladislaus swapped one guardian … Read more
Al Gore uses a scissor lift to make his point about a graph in An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 16 September Signing of the Montreal Protocol, 1987 On this day in 1987, the Montreal Protocol in Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed. It was designed to eliminate from use substances, largely chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were deemed to be damaging the atmosphere, most particularly by destroying ozone, which absorbs large amounts of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. It is the most universally ratified treaty in world history, Kofi Annan has called it “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date”. Under the terms of the protocol, the use of CFCs – a propellant in aerosols, a coolant in fridges … Read more
Original cinema poster for Murder, My Sweet

Murder, My Sweet

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 14 November Dick Powell born, 1904 On this day in 1904, Dick Powell was born. A remarkably adaptable man, Powell started his career as a singer in the 1920s, then became a movie star in the 1930s. In the 1940s he switched from light comedy and musical films to weightier, tough-guy roles. In the 1950s he was one of the founders of a TV company, Four Star Television, who made The Big Valley and Burke’s Law, among other hits shows, and gave an early leg up to talent such as Steve McQueen, Mary Tyler Moore and Sam Peckinpah. Powell also became … Read more
Chen Suqin and Zhang Changhua at the Guangzhou Railway Station, Last Train Home

Last Train Home

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 8 November Chinese engineers divert the Yangtze river, 1997 On this day in 1997, Chinese engineers diverted the Yangtze River, China’s longest, in order to clear the way for construction of the world’s biggest dam. The Three Gorges Dam was designed to announce the return of China as a player on the world stage – 185 metres high, two kilometres wide, costing $23 billion, able to withstand an earthquake of 7 on the Richter scale, generating the power of 15 nuclear power stations, a tamer of the Yangtze’s catastrophic floods. The project was not just huge in engineering terms but had … Read more
Isaka Sawadogo and Asma Nouman Aden in Sounds of Sand

Sounds of Sand

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 August Anglo-Zanzibar War, 1896 On this day in 1896, the shortest war in world history was fought, between the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Zanzibar. It lasted around 40 minutes and was caused by the death of the old Sultan, Hamad bin Thuwaini, who had been pro-British. According to a treaty of 1886, the Zanzibaris had to get British acceptance for any new sultan they chose. They didn’t. Instead they chose Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British immediately issued an ultimatum calling on Khalid to yield to their authority. He refused and barricaded himself in his palace. At 9am … Read more
Franka Potente in Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 9 November Schicksaltag, Germany In Germany 9 November has in recent years become known as Schicksaltag (the Fateful Day), a day which has been on five separate occasions the turning point for the country. The string of seeming coincidences was first noted after the Second World War but Schicksaltag as a concept really picked up momentum after 1989. In 1848, with the execution of poet and democrat Robert Blum on this day, the 1848 Revolutions were seen to come to an abortive end. In 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II was deposed as head of state, bringing to an end the notion of … 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
Channing Tatum bullies Jonah Hill in 21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 20 March Lee Scratch Perry born, 1936 Today in 1936, Rainford Hugh Perry was born in Kendal, Jamaica. Often dubbed “Little Perry” in his early days in the music business in the 1950s, on account of his 4ft 11in (1.49m) height, Perry got his start selling records for Coxsone Dodd’s sound system, before taking charge of some production duties. A studio natural, and a master of falling out with people, Perry left Coxsone’s employ and started working for equally legendary reggae man Joe Gibbs, before falling out with him and starting his own label, Upsetter, in 1968. His first single, People … Read more
Scott Walker, seen in reflection in the recording studio

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 29 May The Rite of Spring premieres, 1913 On this day in 1913, Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral ballet The Rite of Spring premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, France, as part of a season of performances by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The reaction to it was instant and violent, with laughter greeting the opening bars of the introduction. This grew into a “terrific uproar”, according to Stravinsky’s autobiography. He also detailed how he watched from the wings as the choreographer, Nijinsky, was forced to shout out the step numbers to the dancers, who couldn’t hear the music. People … Read more
Jessica Walter gets busy in Play Misty for Me

Play Misty for Me

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 December Marconi receives the first transatlantic message, 1901 On this day in 1901, Guglielmo Marconi, one of the pioneers of long-distance radio transmission, finally proved that radio waves could travel really long distances. In 1894 he had started work on “wireless telegraphy” (sending telegrams without the need for wires, via Morse code) when only 20 years old, using his butler as a lab assistant – this was the butt end of the age of the gentleman scientist. He had soon worked out how to make a bell ring on one side of his room, wirelessly from the other. Impressed, his … Read more
Ewan McGregor in The Worst Toilet in Scotland

Trainspotting

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 27 September Irvine Welsh born, 1958 On this day in 1958, in Leith, Edinburgh, Irvine Welsh was born. Or was he? After a police arrest in 1996, just after fame had hit him like a heroin rush, the police revealed that he was in fact seven years older, so born in 1951. Or 1961, if the BBC’s Writing Scotland website is to be believed. But 1958 is what the author maintains (I say “maintains” though his own website is silent on the subject), so let’s stick with that. After growing up in nearby Muirhouse, Welsh moved to London in the late … Read more
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

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