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Hanna's Spree Park and Other Haunted Amusement Parks

Updated March 24, 2011

Germany’s surreal Spree Park gets a cameo in Hanna. But it’s just one of dozens abandoned amusement parks that people still visit.

Spree Park (Berlin, Germany)
Six Flags (New Orleans, LA)
The Prehistoric Forest (Irish Hills, MI)
The Rocky Point Amusement Park (Warwick, RI)
Dogpatch USA (Marble Falls, AR)
Glen Echo Amusement Park (Glen Echo, MD)
Katoli World (Taichung, Taiwan)
Prypiat Amusement Park (Prypiat, Ukraine)
Takakanonuma Greenland Park (Hobara, Japan)
Spree Park (Berlin, Germany)

Spree Park (Berlin, Germany)

In Hanna, the final showdown between the title’s hero (played by Saoirse Ronan) and the evil CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) occurs in abandoned amusement park filled with dilapidated dinosaurs and fairy tale creatures. Stranger still, the park is a real place with its own creepy history. Opened in 1969 next to the river Spree, Kulturpark Plänterwald (or as it was later called, Spree Park) was East Berlin’s premiere amusement park. At its height, it attracted to up to a million and half visitors per year. After the Berlin Wall came down, the park was sold off to Austrian financier Norbert Witte. Unfortunately, the park started to lose money, partially because the protected woods around it forbade much parking. In 1999, Witte closed the park, and thinking that he’d have better luck in Peru, transported all the rides to Lima, Peru to create a new amusement site. But when that also failed, Witte turned to smuggling cocaine from Peru to Europe inside the machinery of amusement park rides. In 2004, Witte was arrested. But the real tragedy befell his 21-year-old son, who with no knowledge of his father’s smuggling, was also arrested and sentenced to 20 years at one of Peru’s worst prisons. When looking at locations for Hanna, production designer Sarah Greenwood and director Joe Wright were delighted to find Spree Park’s surreal world of broken down dinosaurs. As it turns out they are not alone. Hundreds of fans of abandoned amusement parks visit these dreamlike haunts every year, photographing the remains, and posting their findings on the web.

 

 

 

Widget Test

Updated March 24, 2011

Inside The American
Inside The American

Inside The American

 

 

 

Hanna Kicks Ass, As Do These Other Fine Ladies

Updated March 24, 2011

Hanna may be a teenage girl, but she’s also a take-no-prisoners assassin. The news is she’s not alone in popular culture.

Hanna, and the History of Kick Ass Heroines
Alien and the Start of the Violent Female Action Character
Queen Christina: A Solider for Peace
Wonder Woman to the Rescue
Gun Crazy: a Girl and a Gun
Bat Woman, and Equal Rights for Superheroes
Nancy Drew, the Case of the Girl Detective
Supergirl, a New Super Model
Modesty Blaise, the British Bum-kicker
Coffy: Kick Ass Goes Ghetto
Carrie: Telekinetic Kick Ass Power
Terminator’s Mom
Xena: The Reigning Warrior Princess
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chewing Gum and Kicking Ass at the Same Time
Lara Croft, From Game to Screen
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Kick Ass Poetry
Kill Bill: New Icons or Gender Stereotypes?
The Girl Who…Wanted to Shake Things Up
Hanna, A Creative Response
Hanna, and the History of Kick Ass Heroines

© Photo by Alex Bailey

Hanna, and the History of Kick Ass Heroines

In Joe Wright’s Hanna, the 16-year-old Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan) plays a warrior heroine who has been trained as an assassin by her father Erik Heller (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent. From their off-the-grid home in the wilds of Finland, Erik sends Hanna out on assignment. She crosses Europe tangling with evil minions of CIA operative Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett). One need only see Hanna physically dismantle teams of CIA agents to recognize how far evolved her portrayal of a young woman is from the girlish gaiety of Esther Smith (Judy Garland) in “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944) or the irrepressible effervescence of Pollyanna Whittier (Hayley Mills) in “Pollyana” (1960). But Hanna Heller is not the first kick-ass girl in popular culture. Generations of sisters doing it for themselves have cleared the way for Hanna to appear. 

 

 

 

Jane Eyre Red Carpet in NYC

Updated March 11, 2011

JANE EYRE stars Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska reunite with director Cary Fukunaga at the NYC Special Screening of their new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
JANE EYRE star Mia Wasikowska at the NYC Special Screening of her new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
(l-r.) JANE EYRE stars Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender reunite at the NYC Special Screening of their new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
JANE EYRE star Michael Fassbender at the NYC Special Screening of his new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
(l-r.) JANE EYRE producers Paul Trijbits and Alison Owen at the NYC Special Screening of their new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
Glenn Close arrives at the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE, whose star Mia Wasikowska is making a new movie with Close, on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
Sebastian Stan, soon to be seen in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, at the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
Screen/stage/TV star Alan Cumming at the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
Three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger at the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
Actor/director/producer Bob Balaban at the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
(l-r.) JANE EYRE star Mia Wasikowska and director Cary Fukunaga at the party following the NYC Special Screening of their new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
(l-r.) JANE EYRE star Mia Wasikowska is congratulated by Glenn Close at the party following the NYC Special Screening of her new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
(l-r.) X-MEN: FIRST CLASS costars Rose Byrne and Zoë Kravitz join forces at the party following the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY cowriter/codirector Ryan Fleck at the party following the NYC Special Screening of Focus Features’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
(l-r.) Focus Features president Andrew Karpen, JANE EYRE stars Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, JANE EYRE director Cary Fukunaga, and Focus CEO James Schamus at the NYC Special Screening of Focus’ JANE EYRE on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.
JANE EYRE stars Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska reunite with director Cary Fukunaga at the NYC Special Screening of their new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.

JANE EYRE stars Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska reunite with director Cary Fukunaga at the NYC Special Screening of their new Focus Features movie on Wednesday March 9th, 2011.

 

 

 

What are the Grimm Brothers doing In Hanna?

Updated March 10, 2011

A short history of the two brothers who made fairy tales famous with a few of their stories.

Once Upon A Time…
…Lived Two Academics…
…Who Collected Fairy Tales…
…and became famous for such tales as…
…
….
…
…and
Once Upon A Time…

Once Upon A Time…

In Hanna, our heroine (Saoirse Ronan) and her father Erik (Eric Bana) live in a cabin in the woods. Her education is confined to what her father teaches her from an encyclopedia and what she furtively reads in a book of fairy tales. Then one day, she leaves the safety of the woods to deal with the outside world. In most fairy tales, of course, one must enter, not leave, the woods for the story to get started. Nevertheless in Hanna, fairy tales, from the film’s structure to the many allusions to the Grimm Brothers, permeate the thriller. For Hanna, Grimm’s fairy tales provide a means to negotiate the outside world as crucial as her encyclopedia or father’s training. Hanna is not unlike the German poet Schiller, whom Bruno Bettelheim quotes in the introduction to his The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales: “Deeper meaning resides in the fairy tales told to me in my childhood than in the truth that is taught by life.”  And the two people most responsible for publishing that meaning for the masses were the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

 

 

 

Tom Holland’s Ancient World

Updated March 10, 2011

As a primer for The Eagle, an award-winning historian gives us list of top ten ancient films.

Tom Holland’s Ancient Films
Ben Hur
Spartacus
The Robe
Carry on Cleo
Satyricon
Gladiator
The Return of the King
300
Hero
Agora
Tom Holland’s Ancient Films

Tom Holland’s Ancient Films

Kevin MacDonald’s The Eagle, which takes place in Roman Britain, brings to the screen a rarely seen side of the ancient world. Yet the ancient world, from Sparta to Rome, from Alexandria to Athens, has been a favorite Hollywood subject. Tom Holland knows quite a bit about the Ancient world. He’s the author of the award-winning history Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, as well as Persian Fire and Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom. In addition to his own work, he’s adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC. He is currently working on a translation of Herodotus for Penguin Classics. In 2007, he was the winner of the 2007 Classical Association prize, awarded to “the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilization of Ancient Greece and Rome.”  What better person to give us his overview of ten films dealing with ancients.

 

 

 

People in Film | Cate Blanchett

Updated March 09, 2011

Whether an English or Elfin queen, Cate Blanchett proves with each role to be cinema royalty.

Cate Blanchett | A Villain for the Ages
Cate Blanchett | A Queen of the Screen
Cate Blanchett | A Class Act
Cate Blanchett | An On-Camera Chameleon
Cate Blanchett | An Awards Magnet
Cate Blanchett | A Villain for the Ages

© Photo by Alex Bailey

Cate Blanchett | A Villain for the Ages

For Cate Blanchett, an actress who seems to relish broaching new territory with every role she plays, portraying Hanna's Marissa Weigler was an opportunity to show a more sinister side. While Blanchett previously played the comic book baddie Colonel-Doctor Irina Spalko in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Weigler – the ice-cold CIA agent ruthlessly pursuing Saoirse Ronan's Hanna – is a villain for the ages, a chillingly real character who conveys a palpable sense of evil. Wiegler’s existence revolves around “the telling of lies and the holding of secrets,” says Blanchett. “Finding Hanna starts out as a professional necessity, but becomes pathological for her. She wants to possess this child; it’s a bit like the Wicked Witch from the Hansel and Gretel story.”

 

 

 

People in Film | Joe Wright

Updated March 09, 2011

Hanna’s director may have grown up in a puppet theater, but with each film, he proves that all the world’s a stage, he’s the puppet master.

Joe Wright | All the Stage, A World
Joe Wright | A Magic Kingdom of the Imagination
Joe Wright | All the World A Stage
Joe Wright | Pride & Prejudice And Puppets
Joe Wright | Making Images of Words
Joe Wright | Taking Fairy Tales Seriously
Joe Wright | All the Stage, A World

Joe Wright | All the Stage, A World

Bold is an adjective that seems to inevitably attach itself to filmmaker Joe Wright. Since the start of his career, his choices – in material, approach, casting, etc – have been inspired and often surprising. Perhaps nowhere is this daring more on stage – quite literally – than in his adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic masterpiece ANNA KARENINA. But getting from reading Tolstoy to realizing a fevered theatrical dream in which Russian society is relocated to one massive theater space was no simple path. “When I read the book,” Wright remembers, “it spoke directly to the place that I found myself at in life. You hope you are like one of the characters, and you realize that you have been like another.” Inspired, Wright sought out playwright Tom Stoppard to adapt the novel into a screenplay. The two talked for hours, trying to unravel the gorgeous knot of emotions and actions that connect all the fascinating pieces in Tolstoy’s masterpiece. “We felt that we could get more to the heart of Anna, Levin, and all the characters by contemplating love among Imperial Russian society in the 1870s,” explains Wright. “I was also thinking about the movies in which Robert Altman masterfully interweaved intimate stories. The narrative threads we chose work as a kind of double helix, winding around each other in a multi-stranded portrait of a community.” With love as the key to unlock the novel, Wright started imagining his movie, scouting location after location with his team until he realized that he needed to make a bold change. The more Wright learned about 19th century imperial Russia, the more he was struck with its theatricality – its imported fashion appearing as costume drama; its tight circumspection feeling like constant spectatorship; its overblown performance spaces, be they opera houses, race tracks, or skating rinks. “Their ballrooms were often mirrored so that they could watch themselves and appreciate their own ‘performances’,” notes Wright. “Their whole existence became a performance with imported ideas of decorum, manners, and culture.” In the end, he hit upon staging the whole thing in a decaying theater, not as if it were a play, but as if Russian society were a theatrical experience. Rather than being contained by this conceit, ANNA KARENINA’s producer Paul Webster points out how expansive Wright’s vision became: “You’re going through doors into snowy landscapes, into mazes. The theatre space hosts an ice rink, a ball, an opera, a massive society soirée, and a horse race. This is a vast, sprawling movie.” But at the center of it, for Wright, is the single subject of love: “The heart of the story is the human heart. I am forever fascinated by why and how love works, and how sincere we are as human beings with our emotions.”  For audiences, Wright binds the power of love with the power of his imagination. Or as Empire Magazine announces, “Bold, imaginative, thought-provoking and passionate, ANNA KARENINA puts Wright at the forefront of filmmaking in Britain. Or anywhere.”

 

 

 

People in Film | Saoirse Ronan

Updated March 09, 2011

Already a favorite of great directors, this young Irish talent has one of film’s most promising careers before her.

Saoirse Ronan | A Precocious Talent
Saoirse Ronan | An Un-Hollywood Life
Saoirse Ronan | Coming of Age With an Oscar Nomination
Saoirse Ronan | A Love of Literature
Saoirse Ronan | A Director's Dream
Saoirse Ronan | A Precocious Talent

Saoirse Ronan | A Precocious Talent

In Joe Wright's pulsating thriller Hanna, the eponymous teenager is no ordinary girl: brought up by her ex-spy father in the wilds of Finland, she is trained to fight, to kill, to think on her feet––and, above all, to survive at all costs. Naturally, it took an exceptional actress to play the part, and Saoirse Ronan––an experienced actress, despite celebrating her 16th birthday during the movie's production––was the perfect choice. “She has a couple of qualities that I think a great actor needs,” says one of her previous directors, Peter Jackson. “You’ve got to be ferociously smart and bright, and you also have to be incredibly brave and courageous. She reminds me of a young Cate Blanchett, actually.” Fittingly, it is Blanchett herself who plays Hanna's nemesis, Marissa Wiegler, the ruthless CIA agent out to get her.