I chose today’s H word because it’s kind of fun to say! Humpenscrump. Definition: a crude musical instrument like a hurdy-gurdy (bonus – another fun "H" word to say!). I thought it kind of sounded like a Shakespearean insult of some sort ("You mangy humpenscrump!") Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of an actual humpenscrump; but, here are some pictures of hurdy-gurdys:
Hurdy-gurdys (gurdies?) go waaaaaay back – they are thought to have originated from fiddles in either Europe or the Middle East sometime before the 11th century A.D. One of the earliest forms, the organistrum, was so large that it was actually played by two people. The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel acts like a violin bow and the notes played sound similar to those of a violin. But, there are also keys; and the keys press tangents – small wedges, typically made of wood – against one of more of the strings to change their pitch. Most have multiple drone strings, resulting in a sound similar to that of bagpipes.
Kind of an all-in-one musical…erm…thingy. Oh, and one who plays a hurdy-gurdy is a hurdy-gurdyist. How fun would that competition be? WHO WILL BE THE HURDY-GURDYIST HURDY-GURDYIST?
Ok, well, now I’m just getting silly.
Today’s movie selection is: House of Flying Daggers.
If you enjoyed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or Hero (another excellent “H” movie which this film is actually a companion to), then I highly suspect you will enjoy this one as well. This film was released in 2004 and stars Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Andy Lau. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2005 for Best Achievement in Cinematography (Xiaoding Zhao), and also nominated for multiple other awards including nine BAFTA’s.
The plot summary, in brief: A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.
This film is gorgeous, a real treat for the eyes. Ziyi Zhang is a very skilled dancer – joined the Beijing Dance Academy at age 11 – and it shows in one of the very early scenes of the movie. The scenery is just beautiful and the fight scenes are rather breath-taking. I am not normally a huge fan of this particular genre, but I sure do love this one. I even own the soundtrack! The theme song, sung during the end credits, is performed by world famous opera diva Kathleen Battle, and it brings me to tears Every. Single. Time.
Oh, and the literal English translation of the film’s title? Ambushed From Ten Directions.
I highly recommend it.
Well, that’s it for today! TTFN.