Alternate History on a Rainy Day- Spoilers!

Hello, readers. It’s raining here in northwestern Georgia, and I am recovering from my wisdom teeth being removed. So since I am just sitting around, I started flipping through cable. Well, one of my favorite movies, Inglorious Basterds, just happened to be on TNT. Now some of you who know TNT would probably be wary of trying to watch a movie on that station. We all know the jokes about the amount of commercials making a two-hour movie more like 5 hours, but I love this movie so why not.

Anyway, this movie is a great example of how alternate history can be so much fun to watch. For those of you who need a refresher, Inglorious Basterds was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, came out in 2009, and offers an alternate look on how World War II could have ended. There are two storylines in this movie. One storyline follows Shosanna, a young French Jew who escapes the massacre of her family at the hands of Hans Landa, a Nazi “Jew Hunter,” who lives in Paris under a new identity as a cinema owner. She crosses paths with a German war hero, Frederick Zoller, the subject of Joseph Goebbels’ newest propaganda feature. The Nazis have chosen her cinema as the site for the big premier of the film where only the German/Nazi elite can attend. Zoller has a crush on Shosanna, who is being watched by Hans Landa, who has been put in charge of security for the event. Shosanna and her protectionist/ lover, Marcel, decided to exact revenge on the Nazis by trapping them inside during the premier and burning down the cinema. Storyline two follows a group of American Jewish soldiers called the Basterds who are led by Tennessean Aldo Raine. Their mission is to systematically hunt down and kill Nazi soldiers in France, collecting scalps along the way. Survivors of their ambushes are left with a swastika carved into their forehead so that everyone knows they were Nazis. The Basterds, mostly the German-speaking ones, join up with a German actress/ British double agent, Bridget von Hammersmark and a British solider to blow up this important film premier. They meet in a basement bar, where all hell breaks loose, as the German Basterds and the British solider are killed when their cover is blown. Aldo and the remaining Basterds are now responsible for carrying out the mission of killing the Nazi higher-ups because it is now revealed that Hitler will also be attending the premier! The two storylines intersect as Hans Landa investigates the bar shootings and the night of the premier arrives. Shosanna does not know the Basterds exist, The Basterds do not know Shosanna exists. The movie reaches its climax as both plans go into effect at the same time killing Hitler, other Nazis, and many of our heroes. Hans Landa switches sides in order to end his part in the war and Aldo Raine is ordered to bring Landa over to the Allied forces. Hans does not escape his fate with the Basterds though as they carve a swastika into his forehead. A lot happens in this movie so excuse me if it all sounds a little jumbled.

Anyway, the reason this movie is so much fun to me is it makes me wish it was real history. When I first watched this movie, I left the theater wanting the war to end earlier, for Hitler to suffer the way he did in the film, and for a group like the Basterds to really exist. Alternate history does that. It sometimes draws on what people wished had really happened in history instead of the truth. Tarantino does a great job with that. I have to say he seems to know his World War II history because the events in the movie are very believable. Hans Landa could have very well have been a  real Nazi that students read about when studying that time period. Also Tarantino’s use of real historical figures is great. They are either speaking characters or just pointed out with what looks like handwritten titles. I love this movie. Oh, and the tension at the beginning of the movie!! Geez!!!

Tarantino has another alternate history film coming out this winter, Django Unchained, which I am sure will hold up an uncomfortable mirror to the Southern U.S. as it looks at the 1860’s in a spaghetti western type flick. Cannot wait. I will definitely be talking about it on here.

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A Duchess, A Movie, A Book, and A Podcast?

Hello, internet! It’s a cloudy, kind of rainy Saturday here at my apartment, but I like it that way. My husband, Will, has been helping me prepare for my first podcast!! I am excited. I thought I would preview a little of what we will be talking about in my first episode.

In college, I took several classes with a professor named Dr. Michael de Nie. These classes were about British and Irish History, which is an area of history I adore. While in one of these classes, I read Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. It is now published as The Duchess. (See below)

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Anyway, this book is a great biography about Georgiana, who was born in 1757, married William, the Duke of Devonshire in 1774, and lead an interesting, albeit sometimes tragic, life as one of the most influential women in Britain. She grew up much loved by her parents and younger siblings, but she was constantly striving to please everyone she met. This was how she remained for the rest of her life. Her husband was the de facto leader of the Whig Party, which advocated personal freedom and that sovereignty ultimately rested with the people. She founded Salons that had the important literary and political figures meeting to discuss ideas of the day. In a world where women had little or no rights, she held rallies, fundraisers, and drives to get the vote for Whig and Devonshire candidates.

Georgiana’s marriage was a fairly loveless one. Her husband, the Duke, was a powerful man, who had many affairs, including with Georgiana’s best friend, Elizabeth Foster. He fathered child by a mistress before his marriage to Georgiana, several children with Georgiana, and two children with Elizabeth. Georgiana was involved with other men, but she was specifically involved with Lord Charles Gray, the future Prime Minister. She had a child with him, Eliza, who she was forced to give up and  was raised by his family. Georgiana is the great-great-great-great-aunt of Princess Diana (Spencer) through her brother, George Spencer, and the great-great-great-great grandmother of Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, through her daughter, Eliza, with Gray. She was also a friend and pen pal with Marie Antoinette. She had to end her affair with Gray when the Duke made her choose between her lover and her Devonshire children. She ultimately choose her children by the Duke.

Georgiana was also fashion icon in late 18th century England. She was known for her hair styles as being BIG, outrageous, and daring. I have included one example.Image

In 2008, a movie version called The Duchess was released with Kiera Knightley as Georgiana and Ralph Fiennes as the Duke. They were good in their roles, but I did have an issue with the ages (Georgiana and the Duke were 7 years apart. They were married when she was 17, and he was 24.) I also had an issue with the fact they glossed over her influence in politics, her childhood, and even her status in fashion. It was mostly about love, affairs, freedom, etc. That part is interesting. Heck, I even mention it. Read the book. It’s great. The movie is good, but the book is better. Below are some photos from the movie.
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Look at that hair!!!! ^

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The Duke^

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Close up on the hair^

Anyway, get ready for the upcoming podcast. I will really get into the above subject matter and have some fun with it. Just one more picture to make us smile.

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Who doesn’t love corgis?