Le ballon rouge: An Illustrated Short Story


 
Le ballon rouge (1956), which is one of the most beloved films of all time, reminds me about the beauty of childhood. Directed by Albert Lamorisse, it is a fantasy film which won the Palme D’Or for short films and the Oscar for best original screenplay, along with many other awards. The message is so simple, but the film, almost entirely wordless, is one of the best examples of pure cinema, so artistic, visually powerful and beautifully shot that it won a special place in my heart.

On his way to school one morning, Pascal finds a stray red balloon. Soon a bond is created between the child and his new toy and they become inseparable. Pascal discovers the red balloon has a mind of its own and it follows him everywhere by its own will, waiting for him in the schoolyard, outside his bedroom, following him even inside the church, teasing him to make sure Pascal deserves its friendship. The red balloon becomes the best friend he doesn’t have and they attract the envy of the boys in the neighbouhood, who soon destroy it. The ending of the film is magical, when all the balloons in Paris gather and come to Pascal’s rescue, taking him on a fairy tale balloon ride over the city.

Le ballon rouge will lift up your spirit. Aren’t we all children at heart? I only hope that, in today’s world, children haven’t lost the innocence and joy of play.
 

 
“This is the first illustration (ed. note: the artist is referring to the illustration above) in a series of six watercolours that took me to an old and now demolished part of Belleville in Paris. The research for reinterpreting these was quite intensive and meant watching the movie so many times I honestly can’t remember the exact number. Searching for pictures from that time and area, identifying buildings and spaces and reconfiguring the streets and houses like a giant puzzle. I chose to focus more on the city itself because it somehow becomes a character too. Some buildings are invented, some are taken from the fragmented images that exist of the neighborhood from the late 1800s until the demolition in 1970, very little is taken directly from the movie itself. A fascinating topographic and architectural research that I plan to continue in other illustrations, unrelated to the movie itself.” Illustrator Irina Georgescu
 

 
The idea for these illustrations came to me precisely from this desire of celebrating and encouraging play and imagination. But the biggest source of inspiration was my son. He is now four, he loves books and has a vivid imagination. We have very limited cartoons screen time because we have insisted on, and he prefers, making up our own stories. Looking at the vast collection of film DVDs and Blu-ray’s in our home, he sometimes asks when he will be able to watch movies. There is quite a while until then, and I know I would like for him to read as many books as possible until he will be able to watch the movies based on them, as well as other films. In that same sense, I wanted these illustrations to play the role of a short story that would sparkle his imagination until the moment comes when he can watch the film.

My biggest thanks go to the artist who so beautifully brought this idea to life. Romanian-born Irina Georgescu, currently based in London, is an architect and illustrator (one of my very favourites) and from the moment we met we bonded over out mutual love of cinema and storytelling. She’s a craftsman, a dreamer, a visual poet and I know that the story she has envisioned is bound to fascinate children and grown-ups alike.

The illustrations are available exclusively on shop.classiq.me, in two sizes. Discover all six artworks and all the product details here.
 

Posted by classiq in Art, Classiq Shop, Crafts & Culture | | Leave a comment

On Tennis: Three Books Worth Reading

One of the most beautiful tennis tournaments in the world, Roland Garros, is under way, so if you, like me, feel that your intake of tennis can reach even bigger highs during this time, here are three books about tennis that can deepen your understanding of, interest in and love for the game.


 
Björn Borg and the Super-Swedes: Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander and the Golden Era of Tennis, by Mats Holm and Ulf Roosvald

What is great about Mats Holm and Ulf Roosvald’s book is that not only does it tell the story of three great tennis players, Björn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg, but it puts it in the social, cultural and world context of those times, and into a perspective that deepens and enriches the reader’s understanding of that tennis era and the love for the sport. I finally have a clear, complex picture of Borg, who defied analysis, as nobody was able to figure out how he won six French Open and five straight Wimbledon titles (by the time he was 25). His game was perplexing, as if each point was the last, winning the public’s admiration with the way he accomplished everything on his own, playing a game that was fun yet so difficult, and then stopped, at just 26 (after the previous year had won his sixth French title and reached the finals at Wimbledon and US Open) because the joy was not there anymore – his energy had run out because he had already given it all.

He was the first tennis player in the modern era to be able to switch from the slow clay of Paris to the speedy grass courts of London with almost seamless transition. Enygmatic, committed, but never obsessive, Borg was the man who changed tennis, inspiring a generation and a nation (and the likes of Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg) – his use of the double-handed backhand shot had never been seen before, and was to change the way tennis was played from then on. I didn’t get to watch him play. Borg won his last Grand Slam tournament in 1981, the year I was born. But, in time, as my fascination with tennis grew, I wanted to learn everything about all the greats of the game. This book has filled in many gaps.
 
“My composure was something I learned. I’d built it up for many years. It was a front. I cursed and raised hell on the court when I was young. I cheated, yelled, threw rackets. I still had all those emotions inside me my entire career, but I’d decided not to show them. To never become annoyed. If I could keep my anger over missed shots and incorrectly called shots inside me, I’d become invincible. It was as if the calm built up my strength from within and gave me new opportunities. Not even when I missed a shot would I stand there like other players do and follow through in the air the shot I just missed. As if they’be forgotten how to play. You can’t do that. Never in my life.”
 

 
However captivating the incursion into Borg’s career was, it was the Mats Wilander part that was the highlight of the book for me. I didn’t get to watch him play either, as I was still too little when he was at the height of his career, but for many years now I have been following Mats’ tennis analysis and comments. I have a huge admiration for him. For the fact that his love for tennis has not waned down, for the way just listening to him always reinforces my love for the game, and for the active way he is still participating in the game – “Wilander on Wheels” is a project he co-founded with tennis player Cameron Lickle and which involves them traveling around North America and giving tennis lessons to recreational players of all ages.

And, now, reading the book I feel I got to know him better as a player, too. He, too, is one of the greats. He won three of the four Grand Slam singles events in 1988. He won seven Grand Slam titles (including three Roland Garros trophies), and although he never won the Wimbledon, Wilander twice won the Australian Open when that tournament was still played on grass. A clay court specialist with a tactical mind who could also win on grass. This makes the Swedish player one of only six men (along with Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic) to have won Grand Slam singles titles on grass courts, hard courts, and clay courts. And he won the French Open at his first attempt in 1982 (Nadal would be the only other player who would achieve that), the year after Borg had won his last. In the first round, Wilander played against Ivan Lendl, his first five-set match ever. He went on to win the title. He was 17 years old (Nadal was 19 when he won his).

And there is his sportsmanship. During the 1982 French Open tournament, at the end of the semifinal against José Luis Clerc, Wilander requested replay of the match ball as he did not want to win the game due to a questionable referee decision. Mats was the kind of tennis player whom his opponents sang praisies to because of his sportsmanship. “I have one thing to add,” said John Fitzgerald in 1983, after he lost to Wilander, “our sport has fallen from grace a bit during the last few years. I really hope that Mats Wilander will be our next champion. With his honesty and his sportsmanlike behavior, he’s the man who despite his youth can give tennis its magic back.”

One of the most beautiful portrayals of Mats Wilander in the book is this: He was self-confident, but always thought he could improve himself. A philosophy to conduct your life by.
 
“When I played minitennis with my friends, we’d ask each other: ‘Who are you?’ And we’d say ‘I’m Connors’ or ‘I’m Nastase’, and then we’d play like them, too. Hit flat forehands like Connors or attack the net like Nastase, not many people know this, but I continued to do the same thing when I got older, too, in fact my whole career. I tried to copy Peter McNamara’s sliced backhand, or Nastase’s serve, or Lendl’s forehand, or even Edberg’s serve many years later… If you teach yourself the game in this way, you’ll probably become a strategist and analyst, like me. That’s where I got my passion for the game, I’m good at imitating, but I’ve never thought that my tennis is particularly sharp, really. I’m good at the game, but not at hitting shots. That’s why I always searched for a better technique, and I always looked at other players.”
 

”Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports” | Classiq Journal

 
Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova

I have finally read Maria Sharapova’s autobiography, something I had stubbornly refused to do after my first adverse reaction to Sharapova’s suspension after she was tested positive at the 2016 Australian Open. I have in the meanwhile realised I owned it to her and to my love for tennis to read the whole story, especially that I had always admired her hard work, perseverence, belief in herself, always raising the bar higher for herself. As far as that Australian Open incident, the book has offered me a new perspective.

But what I want to talk about is something else. The book is a life story, one that everyone can read, whether you are a tennis fan or not, and one that children can learn from – that was in fact the main reason why I was so outraged back in 2016, because I had always regarded Sharapova as a role model for children and I was angry that she had let them down. This book is a journey through great hardships and great success. It is about endurance, determination, concentration, iron will, never giving up, going back up again and again after you fall. It is about hard work, hard work, hard work, about about never expecting anything to be handed to you. It teaches you that, in life, it is given too much importance to saying yes, when in fact the difference is made by the moments when you say no, and I couldn’t agree more with that. It teaches you that you learn more from losing than from winning. And that victory and success can mess with your head and get you further away from the game and from what really matters. It teaches you that you have to know yourself really well and have solid values instilled in you from early on so that, even if you are strayed from your course in life, you will have the strength to get back on it.
 

 
Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History of Sports, by Phil Bildner, with illustrations by Brett Helquist

I will be honest. Only after I had ordered Martina & Chrissie, did I realise it is a children’s book. But the fact is I wasn’t disappointed in the end and it was great fun when it arrived and my four year old son asked whom it was for. So I said it was for him, a book about tennis. “Then give it to me,” he said. He didn’t even want to wait for me to read it to him. He started to leaf through it and “read” the story himself, with the help of the illustrations (one of the reasons the book had appealed to me in the first place, besides its title, was that I thought the illustrated cover was such a cool choice for a dual biography about tennis). It is a nice children’s book, teaching kids about two of the greatest tennis players of all time and how one of the greatest rivalries in sports made the two of them, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, not only better tennis players, but also good friends.
 

 
Further reading on tennis:

Open: Life Lessons from Andre Agassi. A slice of life. Just like a tennis match.

Clay, the Hallowed Red Dirt. Roland-Garros was always the toughest tournament to dominate for any length of time.

A Sporting Life: Fair Play. By respecting the rules, you respect the others. (A beautiful Fair Play illustration is available here.)
 

Posted by classiq in A sporting life, Books | | Leave a comment

Editorial: In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

Sigourney Weaver in ”Alien”, 1979, directed by Ridley Scott | Twentieth Century Fox, Brandywine Productions

 

The Editorial: thoughts, short stories
or essays about the world of cinema


 
Forty years ago today, one of the defining sci-fi films, Ridley Scott’s Alien, had its premiere, introducing audiences to one of cinema’s greatest sci-fi characters. I watched it again one night a few weeks ago in celebration of its anniversary. What, in my opinion, makes Alien extraordinary is that it belongs to itself, and to cinema. Retaining a trace of the independent spirit of the New Hollywood, as well as an European sensibility, Alien created a world that lived on its own. A world, mainly contrived to the interior of the ship Nostromo, with its empty and immersive corridors and spaces and a feeling of otherness, that I think can be best described as organic. It merges biology and technology in a way it had never been done before, nor since, in sci-fi, investigating how it is to be human in a hostile universe where you encounter other biological and artificial life.

It is not an action film, there are no hierarchies, no gender references, no sentimental dialogue (all paths that the ordinary sequels subsequently took). None of this matters out there, in the space chaos. There is something bigger than you out there. You simply get the sense of that watching the film. It uniquely conjures up primal emotions, the kind I imagine you would experience if you witnessed the dawn of human existence. That’s my personal relationship with Alien, one of those few films you don’t just experience, but rather inhabit.

There is one other thing I want to talk about. It is a particular scene, an early scene that made me alert, planting the seed in my head that very first time I watched it years ago that I was in for a great film, as well as for a great character. It is when Sigourney Weaver’s resolute Ellen Ripley – who until that moment has an unidentified role in the hierarchy of the spaceship – shows steely determination and cold calculation in directly refusing her captain, Dallas (Tom Skerritt), to admit Kane (John Hurt) back into the ship after Dallas, Kane and Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) had left the ship to investigate the derelict craft after they received an emergency signal from a planet previously thought to be uninhabited, and an extraterrestrial creature had attached to Kane’s face.
 

”Dallas: Something has attached itself to him. We have to get him to the infirmary right away.
Ripley: What kind of thing? I need a clear definition.
Dallas: An organism. Open the hatch.
Ripley: Wait a minute. If we let it in, the ship could be infected. You know the quarantine procedure. Twenty-four hours for decontamination.
Dallas: He could die in twenty-four hours. Open the hatch.
Ripley: Listen to me, if we break quarantine, we could all die.
Lambert: Look, could you open the god-damned hatch? We have to get him inside.
Ripley: No. I can’t do that and if you were in my position, you’d do the same.
Dallas: Ripley, this is an order. Open that hatch right now, do you hear me?
Ripley: Yes.
Dallas: Ripley. This is an order. Do you hear me?
Ripley: Yes. I read you. The answer is negative.”

 
Who is this person? What makes her stay so cool? She’s the one who does her job. And I believed her. I believed she wouldn’t have let them in. The only reason why they are let in is because another character, Ash, overrides Ripley and opens the hatch. Sigourney Weaver played her role cool. Androgynous and with a masculine height and dressed in her spaceship uniform and displaying that hard look refusing to allow herself to be governed by her emotions. Her work ethics and functional uniform are so far from the norm of today’s society that Ripley, forty years on, is a near-mythical creature herself, more so than she has ever been.
 

Posted by classiq in Editorial, Film | | 2 Comments

Character Defining Timepieces: A Journey through Cinema

Some of the most beautiful watches in the history of cinema and the screen characters they helped shape.

Bradley Cooper in “The Road Less Traveled” IWC Schaffhausen campaign, wearing the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Le Petit Prince”,
Mojave Desert, California, 2019

 
Watches and cinema have a long history. They complement each other perfectly. The best timepieces defy time (figuratively speaking, of course), just as a good movie does. And some of them are forever linked to some of the characters who have worn them. So much so that the partnership often goes beyond the silver screen and into the actors’ lifestyle, bonded under the unwavering dedication to craftsmanship, be it acting or horology. There are many beautiful watches that have appeared in films and it would have been impossible to do justice to them all, so, for the sake of diversity, I have decided to include only leather strap watches in my selection (I think I will almost always find them more elegant than the metal bracelet watches) and enter one brand and one actor just once (Steve McQueen and Leonardo DiCaprio and any of the brands listed could easily have benefitted from multiple entries).
 

Ryan Gosling in “La La Land”, 2016 | Summit Entertainment, Black Label Media

 
Ryan Gosling in La La Land (2016) – Vintage Omega

I have recently watched La La Land again and I know it falls into that category usually reserved to great classics, to which I return to watch time and again. An unapologetic romantic homage to classic musicals, but with a dream-chasing optimism that is anchored in the everyday, in real life. And that’s the brilliance of it. Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is a jazz musician who wants to keep classic jazz alive and who is inspired by previous generations in everything from his uncompromising values, to the way he lives (his apartment, an actual location, was inspired by jazz photography and black-and-white Nouvelle Vague films), to the way he composes music and dresses. Ryan’s wardrobe was all custom made for the film and didn’t consist of many pieces (one or two pairs of trousers that showed off his feet, one dress shirt, a couple of casual shirts, two or three blazers, a brown suit), but which were more than enough to help portray his character. And he doesn’t wear anything that is too informal, not even a t-shirt. Wearing something too casual would be like an affront to the kind of music he plays. It’s only natural that Sebastian’s choice for a watch would be an elegant vintage Omega, with a very simple design and a leather strap. Some things do not have to change with the passage of time. Jazz and a classic watch are two of those things.
 

Sean Connery “Dr. No”, 1962 | Eon Productions

 
Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962) – Rolex Submariner

The first James Bond film established the classic look for the character for the many films that followed. 1962 was the year when James Bond was introduced to film audiences, becoming one of the characters who have most influenced men’s way of dressing. Bond may be mostly associated with a black tie dress code or a freshly pressed suit, but he has also successfully proven that you can wear sportswear and still look sharp. And a polo t-shirt is what a man of style wears in the heat. Sean Connery’s Bond gave, of course, the very first lesson in casual warm weather style, providing the blue print not only to the ultimate formal wear, but to the ultimate casual wear, too, for men across the globe. He sported his light blue polo t-shirt cuffed at the sleeves, unbuttoned and tucked into light blue trousers. The only accessory he wears to this simple outfit is his wristwear, a Rolex Submariner Oyster Perpetual 6538 – precision and accuracy are two of his job requirements and this model is the kind of watch that Commander Bond, a naval man, a diver and a gentleman, would wear.
 

Leonardo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond”, 2006 | Warner Brothers

 
Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond (2006) – Breitling Chrono Avenger

Leonardo DiCaprio, as Danny Archer, is a South African diamond smuggler, but prefers to call himself a “soldier of fortune”. He is engaged in the bloody business of smuggling raw diamonds out of the country, until, after his encounters with a desperate fisherman looking for his son, Djimon Hounsou, and a passionate journalist, Jennifer Connelly, starts to think about interests bigger than his. The film, that was set against the background of the chaos that enveloped Sierra Leone in the 1990s, when many children were turned into soldiers in the civil war, has some intense action scenes. Leonardo plays his part, and he looks accordingly. His watch, a Breitling Chrono Avenger, with its excellent craftsmanship and sturdy construction, is a reminder that it is designed for intensive use, the result of intensive research aimed at improving its essential features both for civilian and military use.
 

Roy Scheider in “Jaws”, 1975 | Universal Pictures, Zanuck/Brown Productions

 
Roy Scheider in Jaws (1975) – Hamilton Lyndon CLD

Brody (Roy Scheider), the police chief who came to the island from New York looking for a more quiet place and job, is a middle-class man and his clothes reflect that. He spends more than half of the movie in a cop uniform and Baracuta jacket and it’s interesting to see his style evolve, escaping the restrictions of job and social requirements when he switches to t-shirt, black sweater and jeans when they set sail. He finally seems relieved and at ease when he does that. The one thing that he keeps is the watch, a Hamilton Lyndon CLD. Because one of the most distinctive qualities of a watch is that it reflects the wearer’s personality, who and not what he is. Hamilton has a reputation for accuracy – on the early railroads, on board U.S. Navy ships, in the skies and for today – and its name is synonymous with functionality and reliability, an absolute must for an expedition at sea, hunting a big shark.
 

Viggo Mortensen in “The Two Faces of January”, 2014 | SrudioCanal, Timnick Films, Isobel Griffiths Limited

 
Viggo Mortensen in The Two Faces of January (2014) – TAG Heuer

Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst are a glamorous and wealthy American couple, Chester and Colette MacFarland, holidaying in Greece. The film is set in the 1960s and the costumes feel authentic without being constrained to the visual aspect of that decade. They have a vintage flair while looking undeniably modern. Everything is simplified and understated, like Viggo Mortensen’s white linen suit, helping the viewer easily identify with the character. The said suit, immaculate in the beginning, will closely follow the character’s arc, becoming wrinkled and a little torn and finally ending up in the dark and rain. His character turns out to be a conman, but, at first, he and his wife “appear to be this perfect Gatsby-esque American couple reclining in the sunshine,” Viggo told GQ. The Great Gatsby was in fact one of the costume deisgner’s sources of inspiration. Looks were still important in the ’60s, and people would always try to look good, regardless of their social class, profession, and occasion. So, yes, Chester would wear a suit on vacation. But it also has to do with the depiction of the character. There is a lot of extravagant wealth in the couple’s life, but none of it is finely detailed. Chester’s look is rounded up by his watch, a luxurious TAG Heuer. It’s made to make a statement without necessitating too many explanations.
 

Steve McQueen in “Bullitt”, 1968 | Solar Productions

 
Steve McQueen in Bullitt (1968) – Benrus Series #3061

As the anti-hero cop Frank Bullitt, Steve McQueen set the standard for Ivy cool in his navy blue cashmere turtleneck sweater, the brown tweed herringbone jacket with elbow patches, and those trademark brown suede, crepe soled chukka boots. But the main reason why Steve McQueen’s look in Bullitt still endures is that he didn’t just slip into the assigned movie wardrobe. He might just as well have played himself. And he wore a watch to his own liking. A Benrus Series #3061. McQueen was a watch aficionado well-known for his Rolex Submariner and TAG Heuer Monaco in real life, but sported a much more practical timepiece that would make sense on Frank Bullitt’s wrist. In 1939, Benrus pioneered and produced the first water proof watch for sailors, divers, cover-ops, and since the very beginning it’s been promoted as an affordable piece of luxury. Bullitt’s Benrus is the watch for the everyday hero and keeps him on schedule at all times… That, and his very fast, dark green 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390. As with the watch, the Mustang was not Steve McQueen’s car of choice off-set, as he preferred a Ferrari ’63 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta and a Jaguar XKSS. But no matter how big the star persona of an actor is, it is the character who matters most in a movie. Not only did the Benrus watch help define the character of Bullitt, but the influence was reciprocal: inspired by McQueen’s performance, Benrus started to create pieces inspired by its rich American history.
 

Posted by classiq in Style in film | | Leave a comment

The Enduring Allure of the West and of the Western Style

Jane Fonda in a publicity still for “Comes a Horseman”, 1978 | Chartoff-Winkler Productions

 
The great frontier always drew dreamers. I am not an American, but I am a dreamer. And I’ve always considered the Western as one of the greatest adventure movies. Capturing the adventurous spirit, the making it on your own, and an ethic and style that are eternal. That’s what a cowboy embodies. Someone with a very well defined character and with his own story, but one that doesn’t dwell on the past, because his kind of work and life only allows him to live in the now. It’s in his nature.

“His authority comes from meeting things head on,” photographer Laura Wilson writes in her book Watt Matthews at Lambshead. “His beliefs are clear. His moral compass is true.” The book chronicles the life and work of Watt Matthews, one of the great last Texas cattlemen and one of the most important figures of the Texas frontier culture – except for four years at Princeton, Watt spent his entire life on the ranch, which had remained its own separate world into the late twentieth century. Wilson continues, writing about Matthews’ cowboy hat: It “is soft so the brim will give if he hits brush; the crown is not high. On a new hat, he has the brim cut down to two and three-eighths inches so it’s perfectly proportioned to him. Then, before he wears a hat for the first time, he holds it over a steaming kettle in the cookshack, pinching and bending the felt to shape the hat into a style that’s all his own.”
 

Images above: Jane Fonda in “Comes a Horseman”, 1978 | Chartoff-Winkler Productions

 
The things cowboys wear are very individual. They are part of their lifestyle. They have an earthiness, a realness about them, a classic integrity to them. The loyalty to the land, to their beliefs, to a certain way of life also translates into the loyalty to their way of dressing. There is a commitment about their look that is so cool. Everything is about personal style. A consistency in the way people work and dress that society today considerably lacks. The patch-pocket Western shirts, the jeans, the worn-in leather jackets, the fringed suede coats, the shearling trucker jackets, the big buckle belts and wide-brim hats, they have always been part of a cowboy’s life.
 

Images above: Jane Fonda in “Comes a Horseman”, 1978 | Chartoff-Winkler Productions

 
I wish the American West was still a reality, that it could still capture our imagination the way a Western movie does. In the forward to Laura Wilson’s book, historian David McCullough wrote that the Matthews “created a family kingdom so large and still so true to its traditional way of life that visitors sometimes have to remind themselves that it is all real.” The cowboy image is kind of a vanishing image, but it does not stop being attractive to the outside world. Especially that so many of the clothing items mentioned a little earlier have always found a place in the modern man’s wardrobe.

And when those elements slipped into the women’s wardrobe, a pioneer look was born. Only this time, it was a pioneer look for women. It was so much part of the American psyche that it had every reason to be universal. Jane Fonda in Comes A Horseman (Alan J. Pakula’s 1978 film in which she co-stars with James Caan) is the personification of that Americana look – she’s also tough and independent and self-sufficient, naturally belonging in a man’s made world. She is claiming it by the way she acts and dresses and no man questions it.

I think that maybe the transition of the Western clothes into a modern woman’s wardrobe is even more seamless than in the case of men. Somehow women can effortlessly make use of any of the signature cowboy items on a daily basis – like the cowboy boots, or the plaid shirt, the massive buckle belt, and even the wide-brimmed hat. It is Ralph Lauren whom we have to thank for his contribution to making this look an instant fashion classic that lives on better on women. He’s always been drawn to the West (as he has been to the world of film) and he’s made his own version of it. A little romanticised? Maybe. But it’s never lost its appeal. Like the American Dream, he made it appear available to all.
 
 

”You were sure right about this place, Frank.
I’ve never seen such a great space,”

says one of the characters in Comes a Horseman to James Caan’s Frank, looking at the great outdoors stretching before his eyes, far into the distance where the mountain peaks merge with the sky, capturing once again every man’s fascination with the West.
 

Jane Fonda in “Comes a Horseman”, 1978 | Chartoff-Winkler Productions

 
I would like to say a few words about Carys Davies’ debut novel, West – about an American settler and widowed father of a young girl who leaves his Pennsylvania farm and into the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. I read it in one go. It’s been a long time since a book captured my imagination and adventurous spirit the way this great short novel has. It’s about life, death, greed, adventure, dreams, belief, beautifully and proportionally intertwined. The image of the West is once again brought to life and it is as gripping as it has always been.
 
 

 

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