Samurai, Rain, Dinosaurs & Cake

Got a great e-mail from Paul Young, the illustrator whose work graces the cover of Winterbirth, in response to my mention of rain, and of Seven Samurai. It concludes:

‘we went to the mountains in Snowdonia, and we climbed up a hillside for only twenty minutes, up in the lashing rain and wind, and the feeling was primeval, senses were alive, things half seen through the haze and torrent made me feel like I was in the final scene of some epic film, I felt alive. Yes, I agree, The Seven Samurai is my favourite film as well, because thats the feeling I have when I watch that final scene, I feel the rain.’

Exactly. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Wild landscapes and wild weather, singly or together, create moments of great drama, exhilaration, liberation, even here in tame old Britain. And in fiction, the rainstorm at the end of Seven Samurai is an extraordinary, almost physical, presence on the screen, that draws you right in and puts you right there, at the side of the characters, in the mud and downpour and battle. (As Mark quite rightly points out in the comments on the last post, there’s some top quality cinematic use of rain at the end of Blade Runner too, but Seven Samurai edges it in terms of impact for me.)

I’m not suggesting for a moment that anything in Winterbirth approaches that level, but such things were at the back of my mind when I was writing it. I did want the landscape, the weather, even the wildlife – the whole environment, basically – to be a strong presence, almost as if they were minor characters in the story.

On to other matters, and further evidence that truth can be as strange as fiction: the biplane dinosaur theory.

And finally, this has nothing to do with anything, but I figured I might as well share the following information: the best ginger cake ever is right here. So now you know.

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