News Archives: view stories from Year One of the Club (October 2006 to October 2007), Year Two (October 2007 to October 2008), Year Three (October 2008 to October 2009), Year Four (October 2009 to October 2010), Year Five (October 2010 to October 2011), Year Six (October 2011 to September 2012) and Year Seven (October 2012 to September 2013)
Club hears tales of a benign dictator
6th November Our speaker this time was Mr Mark Gidman, whose subject was 'Marshall Tito and Yugoslavia: The Communist Bourgeoisie Republic?'. Mr Gidman examined Tito's origins and early inclinations towards Socialism, but mostly focused on the ways in which he differed from other Communist leaders—in fact he split dramatically from Stalin, to such an extent that it seems lucky to have avoided invasion. But was it luck? Tito was skilled at sculpting his public comments and responses, and his soft approach to Communism made him popular with the West. (Indeed he loved visiting other heads of state.) He seems to have realised early on that a purely state-run economy was doomed, and instituted worker-run businesses that were allowed to make and share a profit. When other Communist states had closed borders, her allowed Yugoslavians to leave freely—with the effect that they went abroad to work and sent the money home to Yugoslavia, boosting the economy. Mr Gidman was at pains to point out that, while Tito did have a secret police, there were not the show trials found in other regimes; overall he can be seen as a fairly benign dictator. He was lover of fine living and fine tailoring, and although he owned little he was always delighted to accept lavish gifts. When he died his was the largest state funeral in history.
Club delivers double-whammy of celluloid terror
21st October For our October film night we went with a Halloween theme and offered a double bill, starting with the original 1922 horror classic Nosferatu, based closely on Bram Stoker's Dracula, directed by F.W. Murnau, starring the extraordinary goblin-like Max Schreck as the vampire, and full of breath-taking lighting effects and Expressionist camera angles. Then after a short break we showed the much more recent humorous horror romp Shadow of the Vampire (2002), which tells an imagined version of the making of Nosferatu, starring John Malkovich as Murnau and Willem Dafoe as Schreck, in which members of the crew start to vanish mysteriously during production. Ed Marlowe kindly presented, introducing the films and explaining just how much of an impact Nosferatu has had on cinema in general, and the horror genre in particular. (For example, in Stoker's original the vampire can tolerate to walk around during the day, while the horror convention that a vampire is actually destroyed by the sun's rays was invented by the Nosferatu film.) He also insists that the dance in Michael Jackson's Thriller video is based on Schreck's claws-up sideways movement…
Very little is known about Max Schreck as a man, other than that he was a bit of a loner. Shadow of the Vampire takes this as a starting point to suggest that he really was a vampire, discovered by Murnau while he was scouting locations. Short of funds and desperate for a hit, Murnau enters into a grisly pact for the vampire to play an actor playing a vampire—in return, the vampire gets access to the prima donna of a leading lady… Although I had seen both films before, there is no doubt that itwas very valuable seeing them together, especially as Shadow of the Vampire makes playful references to actual shots from the original (in some cases splicing original footage together with reshot versions using Dafoe), and we can see how much Eddie Izzard does resemble the actor he is playing, Gustav von Wangenheim.
Thanks to some vigorous marketing by the Teahouse Theatre, we had a goodly turn-out. However, owing to a bit of a cock-up with an online listing we were obliged to delay the start till 8pm to make sure everyone had arrived, but even so there was a hardcore who stayed until the second film finished at 11.30—and gave it a round of applause. Many thanks to Ed and to all who came.
Manfred leaps into breach and breech
2nd October Sadly our scheduled speaker at the October Club Night had to pull out at the last minute. Fortunately, however, Manfred Kronen volunteered at short notice to tell us all about how to drill a rifle barrel (he works as a gun designer). He brought in various lumps of metal to pass around, to illustrate the various stages of drilling a whole through a metal bar, polishing the drilled surface, cutting the spiral "rifling" grooves inside (which cause the projectile to spin as it leaves the barrel, stablising its trajectory), then honing away the outside to get the finished barrel down to the desired weight. One gets the impression that the barrel is the heart of the weapon, but we learned that it is at the point that the chamber is attached to the barrel that it becomes a licensable firearm. We also learned that, contrary to what you might hear on CSI, a bullet cannot necessarily be traced back to the gun from which it was fired, because by the time another hundred rounds have been put through the barrel its profile will have changed anyway. (A handy tip if you're planning some murder.) Many thanks to Manfred.
For more news see the News Archive links above…