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Schell's reality check will surely spoil lots of sincere, if vapid, dreams out there, but if Hollywood is indeed the dream...

Schell (Mandate of Heaven, 1994, etc.) explores ``the depths of our collectively imagined Western version of Tibet as it seemed on the brink of reemerging in popular culture'' through the mythmaking of overheated reports sent home from travelers and in the technicolor fantasies of Hollywood.

Schell concentrates on the two vehicles that he believes have delivered a virtual Tibet to our modern consciousness. One is made up of the narratives written by visitors to the rooftop of the world (``a corpus of romantic transferences''); the other is Hollywood's confection as served forth in such films as Kundun and Seven Years in Tibet. Schell's historical overview, not surprisingly, is terrific: a lightfooted, sentient presentation of material from first colonial and missionary contact to Alexandra DavidNeel and the adventures of Heinrich Harrer. Each produced descriptions that spun an illusion of paradise built on a yearning for the poise, dignity, and spirituality that Tibet supposedly counterposed to the travails of modern Western life. This is the Tibet of Lost Horizon and ShangriLa. Hollywood's version, as experienced by Schell primarily through his attendance on the set of Seven Years in Tibet, reeks of glamour, tawdry sensationalism, and narcissism. By his own admission, Schell is sucker-punched by the glitter machine: at one point he is as eagerly awaiting Brad Pitt to be ``revealed'' to him as the Dalai Lama was revealed to Tibetan commoners way back when. Schell fortunately keeps on his feet long enough to explain just how little celluloid and the real Tibet have in common.

Schell's reality check will surely spoil lots of sincere, if vapid, dreams out there, but if Hollywood is indeed the dream merchant (as Schell acknowledges even by his own starcrossed lights), that can't be all bad, or bad at all.

Pub Date: May 17, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-4381-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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