Six Damn Fine Degrees #113, Metropolis: Félix-Didier and the Raiders of the Lost Reels

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

On Tuesday, July 1st 2008, Paula Félix-Didier, museum director in Argentina, traveled to Berlin from Buenas Aires with something extraordinary in her luggage. Disembarking on a hot summer’s day, temperatures rising to up to 30 degrees, she was to meet with three experts, there to review what she had brought. She had previously confided in an editor of German newspaper Die Zeit, Karen Naundorf, as she thought Germany would be the perfect place to publicise her spectacular piece of news: she may have just uncovered missing footage, long presumed lost, from the 1927 Fritz Lang tour de force Metropolis. Any reconstructions of the film before that time, still offered the sad little insert: “More than a quarter of the film is believed to be lost forever.”

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #109: Neverwhere

A homeless person lies on the street covered by blankets

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Different people experience London very differently. But for Richard Mayhew, the London he ends up in is nothing like any version of London we are familiar with. Well, not if we’re lucky. Up until that point Richard has led a regular life. Office job, an apartment, a fiancée and the small worries that entails. Until, that is, he finds a severely wounded woman on the street and decides to help her. In this world no good deed goes unpunished, and soon after this chivalrous rescue, he starts to become invisible. Or unnoticeable, rather, as his colleagues and even his fiancée seem not to notice him unless he gets right in their face and speaks to them. He has slipped through the cracks into another, more peripatetic London. He rapidly loses everything. Job, apartment, fiancée; because to the people around him he has all but ceased to exist. And so he can think of only one option: descend to the underground into London Below, find the woman he rescued, and somehow make a way back to his previous life.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #104: They Live! (1988)

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

They are among us. An alien race, seeking to control us via finance, politics and the media. They are visible only to those who can See. They are everywhere. In the police force, on our newscasts, among our colleagues, and perhaps even in our beds. Some of us humans enable them, perhaps because they believe they can never beat them, because they are intimidated, or because it is in their own self-interest to do so. That is the plot of They Live! (1988).

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #98: Adaptive Shakespeare

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

“My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me for a villain.” ~ Richard III, Act V, Scene III

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #93: Mank v Welles

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Orson Welles ca. 1949, Getty Images
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Six Damn Fine Degrees #81: Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Caveat: here be spoilers.

Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures begins, after a 1950s type commercial for Christchurch, New Zealand, with two young women, girls really, running through shrubbery screaming hysterically. Covered in blood, they are found by a tea shop owner. “It’s Mummy,” says one, “she’s been terribly hurt.”

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #78: Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer, 1997)

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

Men play at tragedy because they do not believe in the reality of life tragedy which is actually being staged in the civilized world. ~ Jose Ortega Gasset (Quoted in Into Thin Air)

By Randy Rackliff, from Into Thin Air*
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Six Damn Fine Degrees #71: Agatha Christie and the desert

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

While Agatha Christie is possibly most famous for her many fictional English villages or mansions or lodges or what have you, my imagination was always drawn to the books she set in the desert. Preferably, though not necessarily, on archaeological digs. Because, although she herself keeps insisting she will not describe any scenery in her books, she has a knack of picking out details which bring these fantastic places to life. The sound of the waterwheel, the flowers, the sparsely furnished accommodations. In Murder in Mesopotamia, a group of archaeologists are working at a dig, very near the fictional town of Hassanieh. And although the plot is one of her weaker ones, the characterizations of the people and the description of their routines seems to evoke a world that just seems more real to me than St Mary Mead or Chipping Cleghorn. The reason for this, as I found out much later, is that they are, in a sense, more real – or rather, they represent Christie’s later years, ones imbued with more affection and gratitude, her second lease on life.

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Six Damn Fine Degrees #67: Galaxy Quest 

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

In a galaxy far, far, far away, a peaceful and slightly naïve alien cephalopod community is under attack by a cruel imperialist army of crustaceous insect people. Their response is to utilise what they take to be documentary footage of a spaceship, peopled by a human crew, which can evidently protect its inhabitants and travel throughout the universe. From these “historical documents” they replicate this spaceship including all of its technology, regardless of whether they completely understand its exact use, and use it to flee their aggressors. When the threat becomes ever more extreme and their numbers dwindle, they decide on a radical plan. They will find the original crew of the human-populated spaceship from the actual historical documentation, and plead for their help.

Unfortunately, the “historical documents” turn out to be a cheesy TV show from planet earth called Galaxy Quest, its plywood spaceship peopled by actors rather than a bold crew of explorers.

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