Greeting Loyal Airmen. When the Air Chief was in high school, we had a wonderful teacher who told us the secret of staying young at heart was to always keeping seeking new experiences. To never stop learning new things. Which is what we wanted to share with you this week; how we live in an amazing age of knowledge available to us at our fingertips and the amazing journeys that knowledge can lead us on.
One of our favorite films of all times is the 1927 German sci-fi silent classic METROPOLIS produced and directed by Fritz Lang based on the novel by his wife Thea Van Harbou. Inspired by an earlier visit to New York City and in awe of its amazing skyscrapers, Lang envisioned a world where the rich and the powerful lived among the upper levels of his future city while the poor and uneducated resided in the lower, ghetto like levels. The basic plot concerns this injustice and how two characters, one from each camp, attempt to correct it.
One of these is Maria, a spiritual leader of the underworld who desperately wants to touch the hearts of the powerful by showing them the plight of the children resigned to those lower levels. Fearing her sway for the populace, the mad scientist of Metropolis, Rotwang, has built a robot to replace her. He does this by kidnapping Maria and then covering his metal robot, Futura, with a synthetic skin thus make the automaton an exact double of the lovely Maria.
In this guise, Futura starts a revolution among the working class which almost destroys the entire city. If you’ve never seen Metropolis, we urge you to do so. For a film released in 1927, it was far ahead of its time. Kino has a Blu-ray edition sold via Amazon and we are sure you can find it.
We’ve always been impressed by the actress who played both Maria and Futura, Brigette Helm. So one afternoon, while surfing the web, we decided to visit Wikipedia and see what we could learn about her. Imagine how surprise when we discovered she was only 18 at the time she was cast and Metropolis was her very first film. Brigette Eva Gisela Schittenhelm was born 17 March 1908 and died 11 June 1996. In her career she made over 30 films and was even considered for the title role in “The Bride of Frankenstein” before it was given to Elsa Lanchester. In 1935 incurred the wrath of the Nazi party when she married Dr. Hugo Kunheim, and industrialist of Jewish background. They moved to Switzerland that year and had four children. Among her film credits was “Atlantide” in which she played the monstrous Queen Antinea, descendant ruler of Atlantis and parts were filmed in the desert sands of the Sahara.
The movie,is French-German adventure-fantasy production based on the novel “Atlantida” by writer Pierre Benoit. That immediately caught our attention, as we recalled seeing copies of that book in paperback while still in our teens. So back to Wiki where we learned the following. “L’Atlantide” is a fantasy novel published in Feb. 1919. The English translation of “Atlantida” was published in the United States as a serial in Adventure magazine.
The plot – In 1896 in the French Algerian Sahara two officers, Andre de Saint-Avid and Jean Morhange investigate the disappearance of a fellow officer. They are then kidnapped by a Tarqui warrior under the direction of Queen Antinea. She is the descendant of the rulers of Atlantis. Saint-Avid is unable to resist her charms and after seducing him, persuades him to murder Morhange. Ultimately he managed to escape her domain and get out of the desert alive.
Many believe writer Benoit was inspired for the character of Antinea by the Berber queen of legend known as Tin Hinan. Schooled in Algeria as a youth, Benoit recalled hearing many stories of the mysterious queen who was supposedly the mother of the fierce Taureg tribes of the Sahara.
Okay, so now we were intrigued. Who exactly was this personage. Back to Wikipedia to learn Tin Hinan was a 4th century legendary Tuareg queen. According to stories told in the region, she was a fugitive princess who was driven from the northern parts of the Sahara and she and her caravan of followers nearly perished in the wilderness until they stumbled upon grain found in desert anthills. Of course many believed her story was a myth until explorers discovered her tomb in 1925 proving she was a historical figure.
Located not far from the oasis of Abalessa, Algeria, about 1,000 miles south of Algiers, on a rounded hill rises about 125 ft above the junction of two wadis. The tomb is pear-shaped. It contains 11 rooms or courts. The tomb of Tin Hanin was opened by Byron Khun de Prorok with support from the French army and archeologists made a more thorough investigation in 1933. The tomb contained the skeleton of a woman on a wooden liter, lying on her back with her head facing east. She was accompanied by heavy gold and silver jewelry, some of it adorned with pearls. On her right forearm she wore 7 silver bracelets, and her left 7 gold bracelets. An anthropological study of the remains concluded the skeleton was that of a tall middle-aged Berber woman. The body now resides in the Bardo Museum of Algiers.
From science fiction to the legend of a desert queen. A net surfing journey filled with wonder and knowledge. You can find books about Tin Hinan on Amazon as well as that Blu-Ray copy of Metropolis. And that’s it for this week, Loyal Airmen. Who knows what we’ll be talking about next week? see you then.
Ron – Over & Out!