December 23, 2023

My Heroes: Those Who Truly Moved Me

Sophie Scholl

Lewis Gompertz - was born in England in 1784. He was a man ahead of his time; a writer, inventor, and early animal rights and veganism advocate. Being vegan was difficult back then; he was opposed to humans intentionally using animals for human interests, in any way. He was a founding member of the English 'Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals', but resigned in 1833, after the governing committee objected to his promotions that held 'the feelings of animals and humans were of equal value'. Also, the committee created a resolution that limited membership to Christians. Since Gomertz was a Jew, he was forced to resign. He refused to wear leather or silk. He declined to ride in coaches due to the suffering of horses. He was an inventor; many of his inventions were objects that were designed to reduce animal suffering. He published his first book: Moral Inquiries on the Situation of Man and of Brutes; which laid out his ethical views of animals. The book was also critical of capitalism and the oppression of women.

Sophie Scholl – born in 1921, was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose nonviolent, resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason by the Nazi's, after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother; Hans. For her actions, she was executed by guillotine, at the age of 21. Since the 1960s, Scholl has been extensively commemorated for her anti-Nazi resistance work. Sophie was brought up Lutheran, and by parents who were critics of the Nazi's. In the court on February 22nd, 1943, Scholl was recorded as saying these words:

“Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did."

On that same day, she, her brother, and a friend were beheaded. Sophie Scholl's final words:

“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause... It is such a splendid sunny day, and I have to go. But how many have to die on the battlefield in these days, how many young, promising lives. What does my death matter if by our acts thousands are warned and alerted.”

Harriet Tubman - was an American abolitionist; who not only escaped slavery (quote a feat!), but made 13 missions afterwards going back and endangering herself to rescue other slaves. It's one of the most remarkable stories of a true hero. After escaping slavery herself, Tubman went on to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including her family and friends; using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known collectively as the Underground Railroad. When the Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. For her guidance of the raid of Combahee Ferry, which liberated more than 700 enslaved people, she is widely credited as the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war. She was active in the women's suffrage movement. She became an icon of courage and freedom.

Leslie Cross – was an early pioneer of the vegan movement and the man who is responsible for bringing about a literal definition of veganism that equated it with animal rights. Although the first Vegan Society was formed by Donald Watson and 5 members in 1944, it was not until 1949 that Leslie J. Cross pointed out that the society lacked an official definition. He then suggested: “the principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man”. This was later clarified to “seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man”. The definition was again changed in 1979. You can read some of his quotes and writing HERE.

Sir Nicholas Winton – born in 1909, was a British stockbroker and humble humanitarian who rescued 669 Jewish children who would have been murdered by the Nazi's during the Holocaust. On a brief visit to Czechoslovakia, he helped compile a list of children needing rescue and, returning to Britain, he worked to fulfill the legal requirements of bringing the children to Britain and finding homes and sponsors for them. This operation was later known as the Czech Kindertransport - German for 'children's transport'). A wonderful movie on the subject is “Nicky's Family”. The most incredible emotion swells in me that parents were forced to hand over their children to Nicholas, trying to save them from where they were headed; Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, etc.

His humanitarian accomplishments remained unknown and unnoticed by the world for nearly 50 years until 1988 when his wife found the scrap book of photos in the attic. He was then invited to a BBC television program where he was reunited with dozens of the children he had helped come to Britain, and was introduced to many of their children and grandchildren. It was a tearjerker! In 2003, Winton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth ll. In 2014, he was awarded the highest honor of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion (1st class). Winton died at the age of 106. He was still giving interviews at age 105, and he was coherent, inspiring, humorous and adorable. Please listen to his 60 Minutes, and other interviews.

The Hippie Movement – The hippie culture began in the United States, in the early 1960's, and then spread around the world. It involved the protest of the Vietnam War & “flower power”, and active in the Civil Rights Movement. It's fundamental ethos was anti-war, harmony with nature, communal living, artistic experimentation in music, free-love, use of psychedelic drugs, & vegetarianism. Later it evolved; many moved to warm climates; with emerging ideals like: health food stores, raw vegan food, pacifism, and intentional communities (such as The Farm in Tennessee & Gentle World). The Summer of Love attracted 30,000 “flower-children” to San Francisco in 1967. In August 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Festival took place in New York, which for many, exemplified the best of hippie counterculture. Over 500,000 people arrived to hear the most notable musicians and bands of the era. Hippie ideals of love and human fellowship gained real-world expression.

November 23, 2023

My 100 Most Meaningful, Memorable, Must-See Movies

The Shawshank Redemption – 1994 Prison Drama.

The Godfather – Part 1, 2 & 3 - Francis Ford Coppola's crime drama. Superb A-list actors.

Lincoln – Steven Spielberg's historical drama. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, star-studded.

E.T. - Steven Spielberg's touching science-fiction; a heartwarming movie.

Titanic – James Cameron's romantic, disaster superb film.

Saving Private Ryan – Steven Spielberg's phenomenal, greatest-ever war film.

Hacksaw Ridge – The true story of an American pacifist combat medic; Andrew Garfield.

The Zookeeper's Wife – Jessica Chastain; true story of saving souls during Nazi invasion.

Sleepless in Seattle – Romantic Comedy-Drama. Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan.

Jerry McGuire – Romantic Sports Comedy. Renee Zellweger & Tom Cruise.

When Harry Met Sally – Rob Reiner's romantic comedy. Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal.

Gran Torino – Clint Eastwood directed, produced & starred in this poignant drama.

The Pianist – Roman Polanski's epic World War ll drama starring Adrien Brody.

The Railway Man – A breathtaking true war story, starring Colin Firth.

The Post – A gripping Steven Spielberg movie, starring Tom Hanks & Meryl Streep.

Marshall – about Thurgood Marshall; the 1st African-American Supreme Court Justice.

My Left Foot – An accomplished man with cerebral palsy played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Erin Brockovich – Julia Roberts portrays the renowned environmental activist.

Harriet – Inspiring true story of Harriet Tubman's escaping slavery & underground railroad.

The Imitation Game – A moving World War 2 biography of intelligence; the enigma code.

Freedom Writers – A drama starring Hilary Swank as a very special teacher.

A League of Their Own – Penny Marshall's brilliant, star-studded sports comedy-drama.

Dead Man Walking – death-row drama; superbly acted by Susan Sarandon & Sean Penn.

Breathe – True, amazing story of a man with polio played by Andrew Garfield.

Slumdog Millionaire – Best Picture winning English drama about an Indian young man.

Hidden Figures – Bio of African-American mathematicians in early NASA space program.

Philadelphia – Legal drama starring Tom Hanks about early HIV/gay rights.

The Upside – Ex con's unlikely friendship with paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston).

A Few Good Men – Dramatic courtroom thriller; Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise ...

Forrest Gump – Great film following decades in the life of slow-witted, kindhearted man.

Bridges of Spies – Steven Spielberg's Cold War Espionage thriller, starring Tom Hanks.

The Theory of Everything – Stephen Hawking stirring biography; magnificently acted.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 – Infamous trial drama & true story of anti-Vietnam protesters.

Dog Day Afternoon – Sidney Lumet's 1975 true-story crime drama; starring Al Pacino.

The Stoning of Soraya M. - Frighteningly memorable Persian language, American drama.

Cold Mountain – Star-studded, epic, love story set to Civil War background.

The Color Purple – Steven Spielberg's 1985 acclaimed, epic Southern life drama.

Green Book – World-class African-American pianist does Southern concert tour in 1962.

Awakenings – Doctor's work with catatonic patients; with Robert DeNiro, Robin Williams.

A Bronx Tale – coming-of-age story of Bronx boy & Mafia; Robert DeNiro & other stars.

Million Dollar Baby – Clint Eastwood's acclaimed, emotional film, with Hilary Swank.

The American President – Rob Reiner lovely film with Michael Douglas/Annette Bening.

Sophie's Choice – Kevin Kline & Meryl Streep; a Holocaust survivor living in Brooklyn.

Rain Man – Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman make magic in this road comedy-drama.

Catch Me If You Can – A Steven Spielberg true story; Tom Hanks & Leonardo DiCaprio.

Goodfellas – Martin Scorsese crime drama with Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta...

Mississippi Burning – loosely based on FBI's search for missing Civil Rights Activists.

Schindler's List – 1993 historical, epic film directed & produced by Steven Spielberg.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest – 1975 phycological drama starring Jack Nicholson.

The 40 Year Old Virgin – An amazing cast in this really funny comedy.

Little Women (2019 version) – Highly-acclaimed, coming-of-age, period drama.

Molly's Game – Captivating, biographical crime drama; starring Jessica Chastain.

Boys Don't Cry – A true story of a trans man, played by Hilary Swank. Magnificent cast.

The Big Chill – 1983 intelligent, comedy-drama; a group of friends reunite after 15 years.

We're The Millers – 2013 full-of-laughs film; starring Jennifer Aniston & Jason Sudeikis.

BlackkKlansman – A Spike Lee, true-story of a black police officer infiltrating the KKK.

Searching for Bobby Fischer – A powerful drama about a child prodigy that critics loved!

Miss Potter – Renee Zellweger & Ewan McGregor star in this enchanting biography.

Selma – A historical drama about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches.

Just Mercy – biographical legal drama of an attorney defending the poor on death row.

Argo – A captivating, historical thriller produced & directed by, and starring Ben Affleck.

The Aviator – A star-studded, Martin Scorsese epic film about Howard Hughes.

Akeelah and the Bee – Uplifting drama of an 11 yr old girl spelling champ; (Keke Palmer).

Billy Elliot – An emotionally-moving 2000 British coming-of-age comedy-drama.

Conviction – Amazing true-story of sibling love in a wrongful-conviction case. Great cast.

The Butler – A stellar cast; about a butler who served in the White House for 34 years.

The Green Mile – a stirring tale set on Death Row in a Southern jail, starring Tom Hanks.

And Justice For All – 1979 legal drama directed by Norman Jewison, starring Al Pacino.

Cry Freedom – 1987 epic apartheid film by Richard Attenborough, starring Kevin Kline.

As Good as it Gets – romantic comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson & many stars.

Dirty Dancing – A fun, romantic comedy-dance drama that takes place in the Catskills.

Dead Poet's Society – An acclaimed, coming-of-age drama; starring Robin Williams.

All The President's Men – A film about the reporters who unveiled the Watergate scandal.

Space Cowboys – Clint Eastwood's film about older astronauts; an anti-ageism drama.

Monster – Florida serial killer; Aileen Wuornos, stunningly played by Charlize Theron.

The Last Emperor - Epic biography about the life of Puyi; the final emperor of China.

12 Years a Slave – A free N.Y. black man is kidnapped & sold into slavery in the South.

Amazing Grace – Biography of the abolitionist campaign against the slave trade in Britain.

Milk – Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) was a gay rights activist & first openly-gay politician.

The Sound of Music – musical based on Austria's Von Trap family; fleeing the Nazis.

Mary Poppins – A Walt Disney magical, musical comedy starring Julie Andrews.

Born on the 4th of July – Anti-war biography directed by Oliver Stone; with Tom Cruise.

Amistad – Steven Spielberg's historical drama of Spanish slave ship; La Amistad.

Seven Years in Tibet – Story of Austrian mountaineer stuck in Tibet during war for 7 yrs.

Platoon – an acclaimed film based on Oliver Stone's experience in the Vietnam War.

Anger Management – A comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler.

The Martian – A star-studded, very interesting film of an astronaut stranded on Mars.

All the Way – Bryan Cranston portrays Lyndon Johnson in this Steven Spielberg TV film

The Young Victoria – British drama of young Queen Victoria's rule & enduring romance.

Spotlight – The Boston Globe uncovering massive child molestation in Catholic Church.

The People vs. Larry Flynt – Woody Harrelson portrays Larry Flynt of Hustler Magazine.

Sophie Scholl; The Final Days – true story of young anti-Nazi; beheaded by Nazis.

Hysteria – Amusing & educational British film; prepare to giggle. 

Defiance – an atypical, true story set during the occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany.

Last Vegas – comedy with super stars; who play aging buddies going to Las Vegas.

Testament of Youth – Alicia Vikander as Vera Brittain; a war nurse; later a pacifist activist.

The Sting – Grifters (Paul Newman & Robert Redford) team up to pull off the ultimate con.

The Color of Money - Martin Scorsese sports film, with Tom Cruise & Paul Newman.

Ferdinand - Heartwarming 2017 animation about a gentle, pacifist bull. Loved it! 

Dr. Doolittle - 1967 original Dr. Doolittle with Rex Harrison. A true classic. Love animals! 

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler - beautiful true story of saving Jewish children.