River Daughter by Charley Linden Thorp

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I remember the day we died together on the green river in every single detail. It is not a memory or a dream, but a repeated reality. I turn away to repeat it like a mantra when everything in this war seems so hopeless.

I am the river and the river is me. Papa is me and I, Papa. I am the river and the river is me. Papa is me and I, Papa.

Our boat moves slowly despite the danger, the authorities pursuing us down both banks. I take a single thick hair of your moustaches between my teeth, you smile and I feel its bulge against my bulge and we gaze at the same rolling dark green waters and the waters gaze back at us. This airy bliss is our death.

But soon, our cheeks are torn apart to play out other scenes by uniformed arms. Our roles? I play the Madonna. You, Christ’s soldier. The setting? A country where all religious beliefs are outlawed.

Since our green river day, I have become a teacher and nurse, rearing more soldiers for “beloved leader” to deploy, then caring for them when injured and dying. This is my way of being myself.

One day Papa, a city plaza is bombed from the air. Spindly death machines swing through space, their bombs are kicked off rusting underbodies by pert jackboots. The wounded are my pupils so we bundle them and their limbs into the hospital ship and leave dock immediately. The aerial pests shipwreck us and we become specks in the flaming ocean!

I help an injured soldier to keep afloat, holding him on to a black spherical mine. His blood spills out, his legs are pulp below the waves but eventually, the enemy-swarm moves on to other flowers.

We sleep, then wake with a start to check our pale grip. The soldier’s time is up so he pulls aside his studded collar to reveal a chain, dragging it up to show a beautiful crucifix, encrusted with gems; a glorification of God, number one enemy of the state!

He hands it to me, asking me to use it to get through the madness of this war. He calls me ‘Madonna,’ asking for my blessing so he can go to ‘heaven.’ I put it on quickly for fear it will sink like everything else and when I look back at him he has slid away.

Now, I am the only survivor bobbing on this black bauble, but I’m aware of my fingers moving slowly towards the crucifix. And then suddenly Papa, I see our wooden boat, the green body of the river moving steadily with it, and feel our cheeks resting together.

Now I completely understand the difference between sea-water and fresh-water. A great river is a large body, a substantial limb, while the ocean is many smaller bodies, made menacing by salt.

The crucifix wakes me. I take it in my fingers.

‘Papa, do I feel something watching me, protecting me? Is it you? Can this encrusted metal shape make me feel something? I have been trained to know that this is a phantasy and yet I can hear you saying, ‘Must we believe that there is nothing else except birth and death and suffering, and working for others in between? Nothing held in the wonders of nature and weather. Nothing more than H2O in a heartfelt tear?’

With such salty questions asked and allowed to evaporate, I find myself in a hot apple orchard in the mountains. The villagers have locked themselves into their houses in the valley because the enemy is near, but we, another fatherless daughter and me, are picking the apples before they drop and spoil. Authoritative foreign voices shout to each other below.

We listen, the still crucifix inside my blouse. The gipsies come, talking loudly, petitioning the officer. They have no fear, living in a flurry of violin vibrations and scintillating tambourine cymbals. Momentarily, the officer seems clasped by their hope, as we are, but then he dismisses them goose-stepping away.

They become silent, except for a small voice, shaking her quarter-size tambourine. She does not stop even when the machine gun is cocked. And even as it fires.

The rapid volley slaughters the adults. His fellow officers rebuke him but he laughs, saying, ‘Nobody in their right mind needs a gipsy.’ The small remaining gipsy has never learned fear or choked down the lessons of ‘time’ or ‘space’ or ‘form’ and she never will.

He spots the abundance of our orchard and swivelling his gun onto his back, starts to climb the hill. I stand rooted behind the green apple spheres but he finds my face hidden behind one especially large fruit.

He drags me down the hill looking for somewhere dark and muffled. In the barn, I escape his tight grip and run on ahead. He stalks me among the dark hay stalls but Papa I am saved. My ‘daughter’ friend is waiting with a pitchfork to pin his greedy eyes to the timbers. In time, his friends come looking for him and we finish the remnant enemy off.

And again, I feel the crucifix dangling between my perspiring breasts and again I feel some benevolent vigilance. I can even become the blessed apples themselves, just as I am you and our green luscious river! The agonized crucifix is somehow bringing me to an otherness.

At night, the battalion has moved on, so we start to walk, talking little so I can go to our river and check your cheek and eventually, in the middle of a burned hay field, we see the surprise of a basilica. It is deserted, the treasures pilfered, apart from the glorious Madonna in copper and bronze hanging high above the ruined altar.

We fill a tin bath with fresh water and harvest illegal ‘Our Lord’s Candle’ flowers growing nearby to make frothy shampoo. We scrub and cut out the combs from our matted hair. I remove the crucifix while I wash but it catches the light from the highest dome, reflecting the beautiful paintings inside and making us envious.

One day, I return from collecting blueberries, but see that the uniforms have found our holy camp. Prosaic bicycles thrown down hurriedly, a boneshaker motorbike and sidecar with warm tyres block the main double doors meant to receive robed processions and choristers.

As I move by night and sleep by day, tying myself high in a tree, ‘Papa I can feel you near! You are here, perhaps looking for me, perhaps to experiment with God.’

I end up back at the wheat field to see our basilica reduced to dust but the wondrous Madonna still hanging untouched and I know you were there stealing my combs in your filthy clothes.

Later, as I crouch by a stream munching on stale cakes from a bombed bakery, I hear a plane shot down. The crucifix becomes hot on my breast and I start to look for survivors.

I spot the burning plane wedged in rubble, shouting for survivors. Someone groans. Lifting away tin sheets and timbers, I find the pilot, leaning upright against the exposed bones of the matchstick plane.

I move in front of him. He tries to speak but his larynx is burned and only squeaks. I bandage his hand, inject him with morphine and as I reach around his wide chest with bandages, his eye fills with light. The unburned cheek bulges with a smile and he indicates something beneath my blouse with a nod leaving my eyes very briefly.

We both stop, acknowledging the crucifix, smiling to have shared it illegally. His broken lips ask me to show him what lies below it, deliriously enunciating the word ‘Heaven!’ ‘Heaven,’ another officially eradicated disease.

I begin to unveil my beauty to him freely, wondering if this is what prostitutes feel like behind glass? Morphine? Opium? What does it matter? He mouths the word ‘Madonna,’ repeatedly.

‘Papa, I have never felt so beautiful since that moment against you on the green river.’

I slowly undress, pulling multiple layers over my head, letting the plumpness of my breasts drop, the gleaming broken body of Christ lying across my breastbone caked in gold and gems.

My eyes return from inspecting myself to see if I am fully revealed to him, anticipating his joy like a beacon in his pain. But his eye is fixed, his mouth open as if about to speak. And a thin rivulet of saliva trickles down into the rubble and blood at his feet.

I remain still as wet snow starts to drop, aware that I am the only sentient being in this metallic-asbestoid scene.

Towards the end of the war, I find my regiment and put on my uniform again, but cannot be promoted for my work with triage because I can no longer speak to tell the authorities. We are camped on a hilltop near the enemy bunker, anticipating the reprisal in the trenches below.

‘Papa, the green river has never faded despite 12 years of daily horrors.’ It is the only reality, pinned against the sacred crucifix and the Madonna.

Opposite, the enemy spies through gun slits and plays gramophone records of mighty Wagner and Beethoven. Down in the valley, we see civilian men walking up in the direction of the bunker, moving confidently holding stout sticks. We wonder if we are dreaming as full symphony orchestras mount towards their climaxes? Then, more and more civilians appear with an army of accordion players, drowning out Arian goddesses with gipsy folk music.

‘I actually see you Papa in your full regalia as colonel at this moment. You are leading the surge of people moving steadily up the hill. I run, bursting out of the arms of my comrades, shouting at the top of my lungs, the first time I have uttered a sound from my mouth for several years. “Bapa!!”‘

At first, you do not hear me, glancing casually at the jackrabbit careering down the hill in your direction. But then you match fragments of sound and shape, realizing that it is your river daughter in the flesh. And you start to run on uneven boggy ground, your eyes lighting up, the tears rising.

We get closer, you slowing down, aware of some danger that I am not, me running on unbridled, always a child. And as we meet, you hold me still at arm’s length, trying to calm me enough to make me look down at my feet. I look down and realize that your jackboot is resting on one of my boots, which in turn has depressed the detonator of a land mine.

‘You speak urgently but calmly Papa, as always.’

No time to let the tears flood or our cheeks lock together. One of us will be blown up and you are determined it will not be me. You reach into your breast pocket and bring out my comb from the basilica, saying you knew I had been there with the Madonna.

Then, you order me in military fashion to lift my foot out of my boot and step away. Shout at me to turn and walk back up the hill, slowly and quietly without disturbing the ground. I protest again, trying to spit out words that have congested my body for so long.

I turn from the glorious site of you and we both wince at a huge explosion up at the bunker. One of your snipers with a working gun high in a tree has picked off the main bombardier and set off a chain reaction detonating all the ammunition stored there. The enemy is annihilated and I have found my papa, all in one of ‘time’s’ precious baubles!

As I slowly climb back up the hill, away from you and you make to move, you know that you will detonate the mine! If one moment can contain both the zenith and nadir of two lives, this is it.

You wait for me on the green river while it is clear that I must be a Madonna guiding my people to reality for some ‘form’ and ‘time’ and ‘space’ yet to come.

 

 

 

        Images by Japanese artist Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl

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To say what has never been said

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Do you live your own truth? Or are you living someone else’s truth?

 

 

 

Artistic expression is perhaps your only opportunity to express your individual mind and the only opportunity others have to hear or see what they have never heard or seen before.

Modern human beings are heavily conditioned the moment they are born. They emerge from the womb usually a round peg fitting into a round hole. Their family and inherited ancestry, their language, their culture, their gender, their social class, their intelligence quota, etc. are the ground they have been assigned to grow in. It is difficult not to lose touch with one’s True Nature in the midst of all these givens.

 

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Only the truth that is uniquely your own liberates. Anybody else’s truth becomes a bondage and you a slave.

We may fall into the trap of comparing and judging art works by abstract criteria but it is being true to our own inward flights of consciousness that is part of our mission in being human.

 

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Michaelangelo was an Italian painter, architect, sculptor, inventor and poet of the High Renaissance. His True Nature exerted an incredible influence on the art of the world. He allowed no limitations to be placed on himself despite the ground he was assigned to grow in. He fearlessly took risks and followed his heart in all things, a veritable warrior of self-expression.

His True Nature dazzles the world even now 700 years later.

 

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I’m longing to hear what I have never heard and never seen before. How about you?


images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and Megapixyl.com

Virtue

 

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 ‘When your heart surges broad and full like a river, a blessing and a danger to those who live near, that is when your virtue has its origin and beginning.’

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Vincent Van Gogh took his own life happily because his mission was completed. He had allowed his river to surge and overflow in all his works. He had utter trust in his own creativity and his artistic judgement never flickered despite no acknowledgement as a painter. He painted without cease but was so poor that he could not afford a place to hang his paintings so gave them to friends and even strangers to hang in their homes. Originals are still being discovered today in private basements and attics.

His joy and vision were not to be appreciated in his lifetime but he knew one day the world would be ready for them. He lived a life of complete sacrifice but not to a hypothetical god or image! He gave all his energy to creativity and therefore he can be called a true saint!

 

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Societies and communities will judge and snarl at creators, sorting and grading them on a whim, wielding their right to destroy or applaud their talents and achievements. They will scream and shout criticism and condemnation exactly to drown out the individual small voice.

But if you are committed to living out your personal truth, that voice will become an opera cadenza, a great symphony, the roar of a lion. Van Gogh was such a lion.

Your uncompromising creativity surging and overflowing is your virtue!

 

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      Moving images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

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Departure: caretaker’s diary

On departure day, as I watched the group prepare to leave, they packed nothing at all. They took only a few handmade possessions which they habitually carry or wear: their dilly bags woven from Mangrove string containing personal effects such as churingas (totemic identity badges); their Wood and Grass carrying bowls, coolamon, sported on heads, shoulders or against bellies; their custom-made digging sticks slung across shoulders with ornate Kangaroo straps; beautifully crafted decorated boomerangs for hunting; and perfectly cylindrical Hollow Log coffins containing Bones of their deceased.

Churinga. Coolamon. Hollow Log Coffins. I remember how strange theses names were to begin with, but how now they have become the objects they describe. They are so beautiful, so practical and of course hand-made using only the materials the Desert provides.

If only you could have been there to see them go. Ninija’s tribe, leaving the disorganised collection of tin-roofed huts, each with its rubbish heap outside. All naked and all barefoot, now all indifferent to white man’s comfortable way of living!

They are mostly advanced in years, weakened by a cultivated dependence on ‘Easy’ supplies of ‘civilised’ bags of white sugar, flour, pre-packed snacks, tea-bags. Modern medical assistance and intervention was forced on to them at the settlement; their own natural remedies and healing practices kicked aside as voodoo.

Ninija, leading the exodus, tall and broad. Her strong frame stooped to carry the extra weight gained as a result of unaccustomed starch and lack of exercise. Her hair a flaxen thatch cropped short by sharp ‘white fella’ scissors. She carried a large Grass dilly bag slung over one shoulder, a digging stick of the Pelican clan across the other. And held loosely down by her thigh the perfect wooden cylinder of her treasured Bone coffin, decorated as distinctively that of a Traditional Landowner. This would soon contain the precious remains of her son ginger.

At her side was small gina, her granddaughter, ninija’s successor to be. She was strapped up with her own digging stick of the Porcupine clan. Her grandmother’s coolamon, carrying bowl, balanced perfectly on her small head. Gina spiked the sand as she walked with a black tightly furled umbrella, outsized for her, its crook and ferrule of lacquered wood now flaked by strong Sun.

The party of shiny black skins with their blond and red topknots of wild hair was joined occasionally by competing Kangaroos. On one side they were flanked by a massive flock of high Emus, great scratching Bird of the Lands, and on the other by a troop of wild Camels. I had been so surprised to come across wild Camels in the Australian Desert. Apparently, they were once imported by Arabian explorers and have now become naturalized. Above the whole assembly, white Pelicans flapped their slow Wings through an indigo Sky, muttering to the full Moon.

The shimmering tribe was walking away from civilization, from ‘security,’ from ‘safety,’ without compasses. Away from health care and education. Away from the culture of ‘the thinking’ stuffed with words and ideas.

Following them, at some distance, was the party of newly arrived white workers adorned in multiple protective layers. They were led by the tall blond rifca in her loose-fitting blood red dress. Rifca. She was to help in much greater ways than the practical work of building shade shelters assigned to her and her group. Like me, she was to become a link between ancient Desert knowledge and wisdom and modern People. But that’s another story for another ‘here’ and ‘now.’

To read more of my extraordinary experiences with Australian indigenes, please read my book: Easy-Happy-Sexy: on the Twelfth Day

http://youtu.be/8Tc7XuC U38k

                                               images courtesy of Linden Thorp and megapixyl.com

Visual and Vibrational Sacred Echoes

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Humans remain creatures of the natural world in so many ways. We echo nature’s colours and pulsing rhythms of light and shade. We unconsciously imitate the perfection of the universe although we assert that we are superior and have risen above the animal and plant kingdom.

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We use substances of the Earth to make pigments and construct instruments to apply them, and yet we are always aspiring to be better, to create something superior, to outshine with our progress and sophistication.

We rarely stop to acknowledge that without natural resources we would not be able to create anything.

And we could ask for whom are we creating? To become immortalized for our genius, to make money, to display our so-called ‘talents,’ to ventilate our unique mechanistic minds?

 

 

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Traditional Landowners in the Australian outback create for very different reasons. A Traditional Landowner, chosen for his or her spiritual elevation, ‘owns’ thousands of miles of the Dreaming Lands. He or she must curate the Land forms and phenomena and celebrate the creation stories with songs and paintings.

Every artwork is a visible sign, a testament of harmony in all things for the spirit guardians or creation heroes to see; each brush stroke, or rock chisel mark or stipple or speck, is in veneration of ancestors and Father Earth and the Great Mother Nature. Artists do not practise: their painting is a live performance. 

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Decorating Hollow Bone Coffins to hold the precious bone fragments of their ancestors is a serious occupation. Their grandeur will pay tribute to the human life and spiritual lessons learned in the eyes of the Sky Heroes, and to the next stage of traveling on in the Sky.

 

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As the Djang approaches, the final glorious death ceremony, larger square coffins are made to convey the sun-dried corpse to the burial fires, but only the underside is decorated with secret symbols describing the life of the deceased so that that Father Earth and Mother Nature will know.

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Making art is a sacred duty to these wise people. It is dedicated entirely to the Earth and the Sky.

If only we secular people could find such sacred duties once again. Art would take a very different turn if we did.

 

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                 Gorgeous images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita, Linden Thorp and Megapixyl.com


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Valid Lit: motivation to create

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The words I write and the images I choose and make to accompany them come from stillness and inaction; in other words, from deep inside the self. They are not trite ‘concepts’ or ‘notions,’ flimsy ‘ideas’ or ‘theories.’

They are my truth which I breathe onto the page.

 

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I did not read them in a book or think dead thoughts about them using an external stimulus. I went inside with the butterfly net of my breath and my sincerity, waiting and gently catching. Then, painstakingly I unfolded the winged words so that they could make their only flight.

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I did not find the specks behind these words dangling from the horizon or high in a tree for I have changed direction from there to here, always moving towards the heart.

We can know the visible world with the help of words and images, but it is impossible to know our very being with them.

This knowing is our mission and our challenge as valid creators – sharing our inner truth universally with skillful and sincere use of symbols.

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Images courtesy of Mariko Kinoshita and megapixyl.com

Writing Brushes of China – https://www.megapixl.com/linqong-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Christmas in Canora, 1982- Mariko Kinoshita, Inner Life of Music – https://www.megapixl.com/agsandrew-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Small Volcanic Humming Bird – https://www.megapixl.com/-stock-images-videos-portfolio, Lotus – https://www.megapixl.com/linqong-stock-images-videos-portfolio

 

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Mansfield Park (1999): English Innocence.

 

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What is it that gives me such hope about British films? After watching endless protracted dramas and crime films made in US, one becomes jaded, almost immune to blood and guts, torture and the deviousness of the worldly mind.

Why do we watch them you may ask? Waiting for another mutilated body or packaged body-part, a dank basement masquerading as a graveyard, a filthy bathroom, rampant sex acts or mental health problems, becomes a way of life on modern TV channels. But I believe that present American film directors are fixated on blood and filth because those aspects of human life which are normally hidden need to be fully illuminated. We are living in an age of what Buddhists would call ‘hungry ghosts’ and depravity after all, and we need to confront that full-on.

 

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So, after such inurement, ‘Mansfield Park’ set in early and relatively innocent 19th century England, will lift the spirit, will bring on a deep sigh of relief. Of course, in this story horrors and unfairnesses, poverty and life exigencies abound but the principal message is one of hope and light. Protagonist Fanny Price, sent away from her poor docks’ home at the age of 10 to serve the wealthy branch of her family, is heavily oppressed because of her class. In spite of this gross handicap, in the end she wins the true love and status she clearly deserves and we are gratified.

 

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This setting of one of my favourite Jane Austen novels, truly lifted my heart after a spate of subjecting myself to deep cinematic darkness. Being British by birth, I am not proud of the British class system or the societal havoc reeked by the Industrial Revolution in any way, but somehow the light always manages to get through in British culture. This story is a fairy story which the British are so in tune with.

The beautiful and talented Fanny is marooned in a poor home although her imagination is rich and she entertains her siblings by writing stories and histories prolifically. The family is overburdened financially and so it is agreed between her mother and her mother’s sister that Fanny will be sent to Mansfield Park to act as a servant and get an education in the meantime.

Having arrived there, Fanny is devastated at being treated as an outcast and being given a neglected attic as her bedroom. She sorely misses her family’s genuine love but she almost immediately meets Edmund, her cousin, who tries to comfort her with jokes. It is then that their love is kindled and becomes a bond made for life.

 

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But there are many shadows cast amidst the sunshine and brilliance of the central figure and her deeply pious Edmund. For instance, Sir Thomas Bertram, Baronet, the owner of Mansfield Park, runs a plantation in Antigua and with it a great number of black slaves at a time when slavery is starting to be abolished. Tom Bertram is a drunk, a gambler, and eventually becomes gravely ill due to his reckless lifestyle. Lady Bertram is vague and distracted, addicted to laudanum and lap dogs, and her sister Mrs Norris who is a skinflint and total snob persists in keeping Fanny in her place. Henry Crawford is a lusty bachelor who falls in love with Fanny but she refuses to accept his dubious morality.

 

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At one point, grown tired of her social oppression and the demands being made of her by Sir Thomas to marry a wealthy man she does not love, Fanny decides to return home. Then the class contrast becomes patently obvious. She is once more marooned in a dirty environment, presided over by a drunken father whose dark family secrets are palpable in the eyes of the girl-children. And now, she deeply misses Edmund who is betrothed to be married to someone of his own class.
The gay balls and elegant dancing suit Fanny so well once she returns to Mansfield Park to care for son Thomas who is declining rapidly, and as luck would have it, she confronts Sir Thomas with his exploitation of slaves while Edmund steadily realizes his mismatch. Eventually, his betrothed, Miss Mary Crawford, Henry’s sister, reveals her true meddlesome and insincere nature to the whole family, and Edmund breaks off their engagement and listens to his heart. He immediately proposes to Fanny and plans to publish all her literary works.

 

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This is truly a rags-to-riches story and Fanny is perhaps the most compelling of all Austen’s heroines. The light created by this wonderful story comes flooding through and reminds us that we too have a True Nature and should never lose track of our dreams and native knowing.

Watch this film soon. It is oozing with period accuracy and attentiveness to the original text to lift you easily into the saddle of your heart. Fanny is a weaver of tales so reminiscent of Jane Austen’s herself.

 

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Images courtesy of imdb.com (Internet Movie Data Base) and megapixyl.com

 

 

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