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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Books Review
By Sophie Larder

Anna Karenina

This classic film is an ideal gift for those long winter nights in Moscow. Curl up in front of the fi re and watch this classic Russian story of love and tragedy unfold. Starring Hollywood legend Greta Garbo as the eponymous heroine, it was shot in 1935 and produced by David O. Selznick and is one of the classic films of MGM’s golden era of cinema. Garbo is brooding and tragic, the orchestral music dramatic and the camera shots of Russian winter superb in their original black and white. Leo Tolstoy’s story of adulterous love among the higher echelons of St. Petersburg society never fails to grip one’s imagination, as the cast of all too real and flawed humanity is played out by Hollywood’s finest. The impeccable English (and occasional American) accents do nothing to diminish the story. If anything, the upper class tones of the actors make the main characters’ alienation from society all the more believable.

Lovers of the book will be pleased to know that very little of the story is adulterated, sticking to the book faithfully if slightly glossing over the minor characters such as Kitty and Levin.

Definitely a “must see” for fans of classic love stories fi lled with tragedy and complete with doomed heroines; Anna Karenina will add to your Christmas celebrations a touch of authentic Russian classic melodrama!


“Kamchatka has its own special magic force. When I came to its mountains for the fi rst time, I felt like I was revelling in its freedom. This land has a special infl uence upon a man and it is the only place where you can feel part of the wilderness itself.”

Sergey Gorshkov is a Russian born hunter turned amateur nature photographer, who in this magnifi cent book has managed to capture unforgettable images of one of the Earth’s most dangerous and elusive predators, the Russian bear. Gorshkov stresses in the introduction to the book; “to shoot coupling or salmon hunting bears is an inexpressibly more beautiful and hard task than to kill a beast. As my experience suggests, the best thing in hunting with a camera is that you can satisfy your hunting instinct without a need to kill anything.”

Through his photography Gorshkov is equally a hunter, an artist and a naturalist. The introduction to the book guides us through the cycle of pictures, through the three active seasons of the life cycle of the bear; from the re-entry into the world after six months of hibernation through the glory of the gathering of bears in their own Eden, the shore of Kuril’skoe Lake, to the tawny autumn days of berry gathering in Kamchatka.

Gorshkov constantly reminds us that the bear is an animal to be respected. The fi rst photograph in the book is deliberately the fi rst bear that ever chased Gorshkov, a massive furry predator stalking its prey through the snow, intent on the kill. Even the gorgeously astonishing pictures of bear cubs entering the world blinking open their eyes carries Gorshkov’s message of the ferocity of Mother Nature. A week later another bigger bear killed the cubs and their mother. In a later picture we stare into the horrified eyes of a soon to be consumed salmon, hanging from the jaws of a bear.

In Gorshkov’s pictures the ferocious beauty of the bears is the overriding sensation. Each picture fi nds the bears in their natural habitat, the primeval setting of Kamchatka. In this land of ice, volcanoes and bears, the Kamchatka landscape is portrayed in every mood. The most stunning photographs show the stupendous beauty of the sunsets covering an entire rainbow spectrum, from the deepest of blues to the bloodiest of reds. The ferocity of the bears is matched by the wild beauty of their habitat.

Medved is the ideal Christmas present for amateur naturalists, photographers or anyone who simply appreciates the beauty of an untamed landscape and the majestic creatures that are bears.

Pavarotti Forever

Fans of the most popular and widely known opera singer of the 20th century will appreciate this musical DVD collection of Luciano Pavarotti’s most memorable concerts including the open air spectaculars in Hyde Park and Central Park. In the year of his death, Pavorotti Forever pays tribute to the man known as ‘The Last Tenor’. On stage his warmth, charisma and larger than life personality hold the audience spellbound, and his popularity cannot be missed as the camera shots pan across the seemingly endless crowds of his fans. The DVD includes many of his most unforgettable arias from Di Capua, Verdi and Puccini, with the heightened experience of seeing them sung on stage; seeing every emotion flit across the great man’s face as his voice soars over the watching audience. The finale, his greatest moment on stage, brings the DVD to a brilliant climax, as we see Pavarotti sing Nessun Dorma one last time, and feel once more the thrill as his voice climbs to the highest notes.

Many friends of Pavarotti are featured in an extra segment of Pavarotti Forever, an excerpt taken from the program The Last Tenor. Bono among others speaks of Pavarotti’s passion and stage charisma, calling him, “one of the great emotional arm wrestlers of our time.” Other exclusive insights into Pavarotti’s life include poignant clips of him singing with his father, an amateur tenor himself, in Modena Cathedral in 1979, and footage of Pavarotti’s recent wedding with Andre Bocelli singing the hauntingly beautiful Ave Maria. A wonderful collection of the great man’s most memorable moments on stage.

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