SIXTEEN TIME GREAT EUROPEANS
I am looking at Europeans that still have an effect upon us even to this day.
Martin Luther, for example, was responsible for a successful Protestant movement when it comes to Christianity. He was, among other things, having the higher-ups in the Catholic Church gaining wealth through dubious means.
Napoleon Bonaparte make the German people aware of themselves in ways they hadn't previously been aware. He also created new interest in Egyptology. This interest remains with us to this day.
The writing of Franz Kafka continue to be reprinted and in many languages including the original German. His views into the modern psyche and in the problems with government policy involving one suit fits all thinking continue to inspire writers. I have been inspired by Kafka.
Here I am not only referring to indulgences but also the relics of the saints. Was it right to have people pay to see these relics? Was the bones of certain saints the true bones or a money making scam? And is there really any spiritual value in such bones even if they are for real?
During the 2nd World War Protestants quite possibly did more to save what Jews could be saved from the Nazis. There were of course Catholics in positions of power that did what they could do as well.
The Protestants, however, were less blaming of the Jews when it came to the crucifixion. This difference in approach to the New Testament often meant more willing Protestants. It is mentioned in the book Village of Secrets by Caroline Moorehead (2014).
Elsewhere I have looked at British worthy of note as well as Australians. Here I am looking at Europe proper.
There are quite a few countries that should, in some way, be represented but I am keeping to my chosen figure of fifteen. But there is only so much time and so much space.
I have also decided upon Europeans also well known outside of their respective countries for what they have achieved.
I will concentrate on the Europeans whose influence, in one fashion or another, has extended beyond the limits of where they were born and, in many instances here, beyond Europe.
The Symbol of the Egyptian Bee was used by Napoleon
1. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE
Napoleon Bonaparte was a powerful presence on any battle field despite his lack of height. Some say that he wasn't exceptionally short for the age he lived in. One thing is clear, however, and that is he wasn't exceptionally tall except. perhaps. in spirit.
Among other things, Napoleon managed to unit parts of Europe that shared a common heritage. He united them against himself but still, thanks to him, Europeans came to see themselves in a whole new light.
Modern Italy and Germany are a result of this even though there is more to their particular stories in this regard.
Napoleon Bonaparte renewed European interest in Ancient Egypt and, through Napoleon's savants, modern Egyptology came into being.
Today Napoleon Bonaparte is a symbol of France as a powerful nation that went too far.
Today the French are faced with those who would go against the general belief in liberty and fraternity. It begins with the taking up of the sword or the gun instead of the pen.
The pen must succeed over the sword or the gun. France does not need a bloody revolution to re-establish a new order of pen rather than sword.
There may be such a bloody revolution, however, if push leads to shove. Napoleon and his reign came out of a truly bloody uprising. The world has had one Napoleon. All things considered, another is not required but the French people are determined not to be stepped on or have their rights dictated to by a present day foreign power.
PLANET OF THE APES
2. PIERRE BOULLE
Pierre Boulle was a great French writer. He is best known for his 1963 novel. La Planete des Singes better known in English as The Planet of the Apes.
The Planet of the Apes has been made into two American movies and there has also been one successful American television series. There have also been at least five other movie offshoots of this novel. There has also been American comic books based on it.
Boulle is also known for his novel, The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1952). It was made into a British film in 1957.
Other novels by Pierre Boulle include: Le Bon Leviathan (1978) and Le Professeur Mortimer (1988).
JULES VERNE one of the fathers of Science Fiction
3. JULES VERNE
Jules Verne was one of the all time great science fiction writers. He was and still remains up there with H.G. Wells when science fiction was in its infancy.
He is best remembered for such works as: A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).
In Twenty thousand Leagues Verne examined the future of the submarine. He envisioned an underwater machine far superior to the American submarine built by the North during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
He also understood how the balloon had developed from a curiosity to something people could travel in with some sense of safety.
The works of both H.G. Wells and Jules Verne came to be re-printed in the early American pulp magazines. This inspired Americans to come up with their own science fiction.
Jules Verne, along with H. G. Wells, was honored in the third Back to the Future movie (1990).
THE NOBLE FROG MAN
4. JACQUES COUSTEAU
Jacques Cousteau will forever be linked with the waterways of this planet. He was an exceptional filmmaker, conservationist and scientist.
He co-developed with Emile Cagnan the Aqua-lung or Scuba gear that we know and use today. He made scuba diving not only possible but enjoyable for m,any people.
He is also remembered for going up against the French military when it came to nuclear testing in the Pacific. For this alone he has the undying love of Australians who have a fondness for the ocean.
In January, 1990 he was awarded the Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia.
LUTHER And THE PRINTING PRESS Changed Our World
5. MARTIN LUTHER
Martin Luther was a monk who came to challenge the authority of Pope. in the end he founded a new form of Christianity.
Throughout the history of the Western Church there had been rumblings against Church authority centered in Rome. In some instances this authority was forcefully removed to elsewhere in order to weaken the Church.
In other instances the pope of the day, in his wisdom, absorbed the troublemakers into the greater body of the Church. Thus new orders of monks, for example, were formed. There were also outspoken advocates of a fairer Church who were classified as heretics and were tortured and then burned at the stake.
So why was Martin Luther's breakaway movement which did not involved him being tortured and/or or burnt so successful? The ability to be able to read and writer was spreading. This was due to the printing press.
Ideas could now travel faster and with more accuracy than ever before. Also the pope of the day was one of the worse that had infected Europe in some time. Hence there was more than just Luther questioning the Church and its head.
Today the Protestant movement. in one form or another, is in many countries throughout the world. There are, for example, Lutherans living in NSW, Australia.
The are Bloody Moments in many of Dario's films
6. DARIO ARGENTO
Dario Argento was responsible for raising the quality of Italian horror films.His best known works are Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) Tenebrae (1982) and The Mother of Tears (2007) .
Deep Red sticks in my mind as the first psychological horror movie to come out of Italy that I really took to. It has great atmospherics as do most if not of Argento's work.
Argento has sometimes been referred to as the Hitckcock of Italy. This isn't far from the mark. Both men knew how to built up tension in a film and to deliver the goods to audiences.
7. SOPHIA LOREN
Sophia Loren is an Italian beauty that has been in many films since her start in the 1950s. During the Second World War she came close to being killed during an air raid by allied bombers. She was a part of the early revival of Italian cinema after the war,
Her gift for acting came out in the less romantic and more dramatic movies she starred in such as Two Women (1960) which was about the less pleasant aspects of war and Man of La Mancha (1972) which examined with the fictional exploits of Don Quixote and also the writer of Don Quixote.
The blockbusters she was in include: The Pride and the Passion (1957), El Cid (1961) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964).
Comedies and romances include: Boy on a Dolphin (1957), Houseboat (1958) and Grumpier Old Men (1995).
DON QUIXOTE'S CREATOR
8. Miguel de Cervantes
Miguel de Cervantes is the best known Spanish novelist ever born. He was a military man turned writer which can account for his disregard for romances involving knights riding off to have adventures.
The form of Christianity that was around in his day and that he subscribed to was not perfect and he realized this. It comes across in his writing. There is the world as it should be and the world as it truly is, stripped of illusion.
His novels include: La Galatea which saw publication in 1585.
The work he is most famous for is Don Quixote which came out in two parts. Part one was first published in 1605 and Part Two was first published in 1615.
From my own reading of the Penguin translation of both part one and part two, I have to say I much prefer Part two even if it is Part one that is most often quoted from.
In the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (1897) much is made of Don Quixote and the windmill or perhaps we should say giant.
Attempts were made to prevent a 2nd World War
9. Erich Maria Remarque
Close to a whole generation of German youth died during the First World War. Among the survivors were shell shock victims, men with missing limbs or faces so hideously scarred they had a difficult time trying to put together a life after the war.
Erich Maria Remarque is one German writer whose books were not popular in Nazi Germany. They were in fact banned and also burned.
Remarque was a veteran of the First World War and, through what he had seen and experienced in that war, came to be against the clash of nations.
Remarque's famous novel, All Quiet on the Western Front first came out in book form in January 1929. It was one of the best anti-war novels to appear in the 20th Century. There was the innocence of youth and the romanticism of going off to fight for your country. Then there was the dark realities of the trenches.
The sequel to All Quiet on the western Front was The Road Back. It was first published in April 1931.
There have been at least two American movies based on All Quiet on the Western Front.
Today his writing is a reminder of how hard peace can be to both achieve and to keep.
Printing Moves Forward in Europe and then the Rest of the World
10. JOHANNES GUTENBERG
Johannes Gutenberg was a German printer who transformed the European printing press into something much more useful than it had ever been before. His invention of movable type meant that what was printed could be printed in greater numbers and a lot cheaper than before.
With the movable type printing press science could move forward like never before. It was also possible for more people to be able to lay their hands on the bible. This brought up all sorts of questions. Should not the bible, for instance, be published in popular or rural languages other than just in Latin?
The bibles created by Gutenberg are now worth hundreds of millions of dollars and mark a giant step forward in European history.
If not for the printing press revolution caused by Gutenberg there might not have been a successful French Revolution or a successful American War of Independence.
Today the internet is the best way of getting your propaganda out to the public but there are still places in the world where printed pamphlets remain useful.
During the Vietnam War. American students as well as professional artists and writers created comic books known as Comix.
In creating these Comix they were able to get across ideas such as banning the bomb (A bomb as well as atomic missiles) and bringing a peaceful conclusion to the Vietnam War. If not for the printing press these Comix could not have come into existence.
A FAVORITE WITH HITCHCOCK
11. INGRID BERGMAN
Ingrid Bergman was born in Sweden. As a movie actress who made it big in the USA.
The most famous, popular and enduring film she was in was Casablanca which co-starred Humphrey Bogart (1942). Among the cast playing minor roles were men and women who had to flee Nazi oppression for American freedom in real life. This war time romance has been sent up beautifully in an episode of the British comedy science fiction show Red Dwarf. Regardless, its charm as a film persists and is much quoted.
Possibly her most daring film was the 1941 re-make of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in which she plays a fun girl absorbed into the evil world of Mr. Hyde. There is a dream scene where she is transformed into one of the horses being whipped by Mr.Hyde.
Other great films starring Ingrid Bergman include: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and based on the writings of Ernest Hemingway, Gaslight (1944), Spellbound (1945) and Joan of Arc (1948).
Her least memorable film would have to be Under Capricorn (1949) which was not a big box office hit. It is set in NSW, Australia in the days of convict settlement.
In 1974 she was in a film based on Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express which went by the same title.
Possibly her most dramatic role was in the 1982 film A Woman Called Golda which was based on the life of Israeli prime minister, Golda Meir. She died soon after the making of this important last film.
LORRE was at his Best playing the Bad Guy
13. PETER LORRE
Peter Lorre, gained much fame as the villain of the peace in many a film. He was either that or the main villain's henchman. There was something about his big eyes and his voice that made him great in such roles,
There were a substantial list of movies he was in where he played other types but it is as the sinister rotter he'll most likely be remembered. He often made the hero look very heroic. He was born to Jewish parents in what is now present day Slovakia.
The first film he was in was the 1931 German masterpiece of shadows and terrible misdeeds simply titled M. In it he played a child killer being hunted down, not only by the police, but also the lowlifes of the city. In 1934 he starred in the Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much. In 1936 he starred in Hitchcock's film Secret Agent.
Peter Lorre starred in eight Mr. Motto films. Here he was a Japanese style international detective.The films include: Think Fast, Mr. Motto (1937), Mr. Motto Takes a Chance (1938), and Mr. Motto Takes a Vacation (1939).
Possibly Lorre's best known role is as Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon (1941).In this role he plays an effeminate henchman who gets roughed up by the gumshoe played by Bogart. He was also in Casablanca (1942).
Other films in which Peter Lorre was involved include: Background to Danger (1943), The Mask of Dimitrios (1944), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) - a sinister comedy, The Verdict (1946), Black Angel (1946), Casbah (1948), Der Verlorene (1951) - a German film he also co-wrote, Beat the Devil (1953), Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Tales of Terror (1961), The Raven (1963) and The Patsy (1964).
KAFKA felt that the one suit fits all mentality of most forms of bureaucracy needed to be challenged
14. FRANZ KAFKA
Even though I never met Franz Kafka, for decades his writing has inspired my own. He is in effect on my literary mentors. My latest novel, Desk Job, was inspired as much by Kafka as Lewis Carroll.
Franz Kafka was born a German Jew in Prague. He came to work for various insurance companies and was for a long time the main bread winner of his family.
Despite this his father despised him for being weak and he carried this condemnation to his grave. He came close to but never married. His writing was inspired by travelling players that visited the Jewish Quarter of the city. He was also inspired by the myths of alchemy and magic that haunted the city, especially the Jewish Quarter.
His best known story is Metamorphosis, a novella in which a man turned into a monstrous vermin. In the play this vermin is usually represented by a large cockroach. The man, once the great bread winner of his family, comes to be neglected. The family feels relief when his death is discovered. Metamorphosis was first published in 1915.
Unfinished but still brilliant novels by Franz Kafka include:The Trial (1925), The Castle (1926) and Amerika (1927).
Not much of Kafka's writing saw publication in his lifetime. What's more, what he wrote was not well received by the authorities of Prague, the Nazis who invaded Prague or the Communists that followed in the wake of the Second World War.It took a while but American scholars as well as the British have warmed to Kafka.
Kafka's world is often dark and seedy where the order that is maintained doesn't always make sense. In The Trial, for example, a man is condemned. He never finds out for what crime and his lawyer's chief strategy in his defense is to have the trial postponed as many times as possible. It appears that his death is a forgone conclusion. For the judge and the court system in general, however, everything must be done properly regardless of the outcome.
FOKKER is best Known for the Red Baron's Tri-Plane
15. ANTHONY FOKKER
Anthony Fokker was a Dutch aircraft manufacturer. He is most famous for the fighter aircraft he designed during the First World War for the Germans.
His Fokker Triplane, as flown by Baron von Richthofen (the Red Baron), is much praised. In fact, there is a squadron of them in the colors of Richthofen's Flying Circus in, of all places, New Zealand.
Fokker's first major success for the Germans was his 1915 Eindecker (monoplane). It was the first fighter to be fitted with synchronized gears so that the pilot could shoot his machine gun through the spaces between his propeller blades without fear of hitting his propeller. For about six months this gave the Germans air superiority over the British and the French.
In 1922 Fokker moved to the USA and later became an American citizen. He died in New York in 1939.
In the 1960s the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schulz had the Red Baron dog fighting Snoopy.
Snoopy's adventures in the Peanuts strip led to a number of songs by The Royal Guardsman. The First was Snoopy vs, the Red Baron which was recorded in 1966. None of this, of course, had anything to do with Baron von Richthofen and his true life exploits.
In 1965 D.C. comics introduced Enemy Ace to the world in the 151st comic book issue of Our Army at War. Perhaps not so strangely the fictional character Enemy Ace, also known as Hans von Hammer, has much in common with Baron von Richthofen including his favorite plane to be taken into battle during World War One being a red Fokker Triplane.
In his life time Fokker pushed plane design forward in both war and peace.
The English Channel was no longer the Protection it had been...
16. Louis Bleriot
Louis Bleriot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer. In 1909 he was the first man to cross the English Channel in a heavier than air craft. His airplane only just made it. There is little doubt that if the wind had been blowing in the wrong direction he would have ended up in the channel. Even so, it was a definite challenge to the safety of the English that had relied much on their navy for protection.
Prior to Bleriot's flight, a motorized balloon in 1784 had made it across the channel. This flight foreshadowed the future bombing of London by balloon just as Bleriot's flight had foreshadowed the future bombing of London by airplane.
The plane designed and flown by Bleriot that had made the crossing was a single wing job. The plane crashed upon landing due to the action of wind gust, the fragility of the aircraft and the low power of the engine.
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