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One day Terry Gilliam was sitting at an edit desk. Who knows how long he’s been sat there. His new masterpiece is almost ready. After hours and hours of crafting and re-crafting this magnificent fairytale to perfection, it’s almost ready. The editor sat next to him rubs his eyes and takes a look to see if he can find one last drop of coffee in his trusty Toby Jug. Nope. Nevermind. He turns to Gilliam and says, “Okay. So Terry, how are we going to end this?”
Terry looks back at him with a kind of suprise. You don’t know? He shrugs his shoulders, and lets out a gust of air from his lungs. “Mmm….I dunno. Just stop it there.”
The editor pauses for a moment, a little confused. “What… you mean…”
“Just stop it there,” reprises the director, “it’s fine.”
“You mean … here? You want to end with this scene?”
“No, just right there. Just stop it there. That’ll do.”
The editor stops. He hesitates, then finds the words; “Erm … Terry, that’s … not really an ending.” He waits as though anticipating an answer to a question. “It’s not an ending, it’s just … well … stopped.”
“Yes. That’s fine.”
* * *
I love Terry Gilliam’s films. He is one of those unique visionaries that have this great ability to imagine strange and wonderful new worlds and put them on the screen. Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Time Bandits remain among my personal favourites of all time. But there is one other thing that seems to be common in all his films, it is the non-ending. Critic Robert McKee calls it the non-plot, or as most I would say, the absence of a closed ending.
That said, we cannot assume that this necessarily a mistake, rather than a choice. Indeed, the final dialogue of the movie reads as follows:
Boy: “Will there be a happy ending?”
Percy: “We cannot guarantee that.”
This song began about a year ago when a few musicians and singers in Cardiff come together on a Tuesday evening to spending time worshipping the Lord. As we waited on Him, my good friend Elana began to sing the refrain that has become the chorus of this song. For months afterwards I dwelt on the simple words and melody “I am forever grateful for the cross”. So I went to her and asked if she would mind if I tried to build a song out of it.
10 months and about five drafts later, I had this song. Enjoy.
I’ve been listening to a the Three Tenors concert in 1990 a lot recently, a concert that has been written into music legend. José Carreras, probably my favourite tenor, always personifies romance with a kind of sweetness to his voice; Plácido Domingo, whose dark tones compliment his powerful stage presence; and of course, Luciano Pavarotti, who’s powerful voice and heroic brilliance is unmatched.
Here is, in my opinion, the greatest rendition of “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, sung by Pavarotti in Los Angeles in 1994.
What makes this performance special is not only Pavarotti’s voice, but also his understanding of what he is singing. In the Opera, the hereo Calaf, who has just won the right to marry icy-cold Princess Turandot, has given her the challange that if she can discover his name before the break of day, he will submit his head to the executioner. But none in the city knows his name. Therefore the Princess orders the execution of the entire Palace staff if his name is not discovered by daybreak. Nessun Dorma means “None shall sleep”.
None shall sleep! None shall sleep! Even you, O Princess, in your cold bedroom, watch the stars.. that tremble with love and with hope!
But my secret is hidden within me; none will know my name! No, no! On your mouth I will say it when the light shines!
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!
Vanish O Night! Fall away Stars! Fall away Stars! At sunrise, I shall win! I shall win! I shall win!
Tosca by Puccini is my favourite opera. In this scene the hero, Cavaradossi, sings of his lover, Tosca, as he awaits his execution.
How the stars used to shine there,
How sweet the earth smelled,
The orchard gate would creak,
And a footstep would lightly crease the sand.
She’d come in, fragrant as a flower,
And she’d fall into my arms.
Oh! sweet kisses, oh! lingering caresses,
Trembling, I’d slowly uncover her dazzling beauty.
Now, my dream of love has vanished forever.
My last hour has flown, and I die, hopeless!
And never have I loved life more!
Many tenors have attempted a cover of this beautiful aria. But for me, this version by French-Italian Roberto Alagna is one of the very best. Sumblime.
Saw this video recently about how John Mark McMillan wrote the song, “How He Loves”. As a short film, it’s a masterpiece. As a story, it’s very moving.
“God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” – 1 John 3:10
I am no stranger to berevement. On numerous occasions I have had to come to terms with mortality, and the numbing greif that inevitably follows. I know what it’s like to believe God for a miracle and get something quite different.
Jesus was not afraid of death. Neither is he afraid of grief. In fact, in some of my lonliest times, when I felt so desparate with sorrow, confusion and anger, that’s when He seemed more real to me than ever. That is why He is called the comforter. I do not believe that He phased, put off, offended or intimidated by raw human emotion; even if His church comes accross that way sometimes.
The song, ‘Banner’, is about facing dissapointment and grief knowing that God is near, and He cares.
But I would like to pay tribute to a special individual. A man by the name of Jonathan Gallimore. After two years of fighting cancer, he was faced by his own mortality, but still would not the sickness touch his spirit, even if he could not stop it in his body. He was a true hero of the faith.
Jonathan went to be with Jesus on August 30th, 2010, at the age of twenty.
I wrote this song three days later.