Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The Film Nerd’s Post

Two major events have happened since my last post. The first was an IFSA-Butler trip to the Argyll Forest, a forest in Argyll. The second was a concert called “The Music of John Williams”, which featured music from John Williams’s film scores. I have yet to decide which one was more life-changing. I will begin by discussing the Argyll Forest trip. Firstly, it must be noted that the hostel where we stayed was in the middle of a garden planted in the 1800s that happened to include giant sequoias brought over from the States. I never thought my first encounter with redwood trees would be in Scotland. Well, actually, my first encounter with “giant” sequoias was shortly before I left home, when my family got a few saplings that are at least a foot tall. Those were not quite as impressive as the trees in Scotland, which are about 130 years old and have thus grown tall enough to reach the knee of a California redwood. This forest was still stunningly beautiful, so much so that I forgot to charge my phone and could not take pictures of it. The first night at the hostel, we hiked through the forest in the dark, using ropes to guide us. At parts, we couldn’t see anything and had to rely on the cries of pain from those in front of us to determine where tree branches and logs were. The three people who were smart enough not to attempt this stayed behind and watched an obscure film about Scotland starring Liam Neeson, “of Taken fame”. We were stunned that, out of all of Liam Neeson’s films, they would name Taken as his most recognizable. Not Star Wars, or Batman Begins, or Schindler’s List, or even The Lego Movie. Taken. But I digress.

The next day, we were broken up into activity groups. We had a choice of a number of different activities, including a half day of hiking, a full day of hiking, caving, kayaking, and gorge scrambling. I chose caving and was assigned a full day of hiking instead. In line with Scottish traditions ranging back hundreds of years, it rained. The hike was actually quite nice, however. There was still some snow on the mountains we were climbing, and so we ended up sliding on the snow to get down the other side. Many of us continued to slide on parts of the mountain without snow, although this was mostly unintentional. We got a great view from above of the lake that other groups were kayaking. We also got to laugh at the fact that they were kayaking in the rain. At the end of our journey, we stopped by the cave that other groups were exploring and drank hot juice. I’ve never thought of heating up juice before, and I have no idea how it remained hot through hours of hiking in the cold, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. That night we watched Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson, of Chicken Run fame. Many of the locations in the film looked similar to what we had been hiking. I also realized that I’ve visited the cities where the film’s biggest battles occurred, Falkirk and Stirling. Overall, this past weekend felt very epic, although not as epic as what was about to occur.

The day before the day that I am writing this (i.e. yesterday), I went to see the Royal Scottish National Orchestra performing John Williams music. Unfortunately, John Williams himself was unable to attend, due to working on some film called Star Wars VII. The music was still amazing, and they played some of his most famous themes from Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, and many others. I brought along my friend Robbie, of “Blog Post 6” fame. We got tickets two months in advance and managed to snag two of the last five (affordable) seats. We ended up in the nosebleed section but could fortunately still see the orchestra far below us, along with what we presumed must have been musicians and instruments. The acoustics were great, unlike the people nearby who kept clapping at the wrong times. They must have never seen these films. I have also never encountered the vast amount of nerdy conversations that occurred before the performance and during the intermission. I was responsible for half of them, but it was still uplifting to know that there are other people out there who spend hours watching the “special features” sections of DVDs. In fact, “uplifting” is probably the best word to describe the entire experience. The performance concluded with the soaring “Flying Theme” from E.T., which is still stuck in my head, along with about ten other melodies. The orchestra advertised that their next performance will play themes from Gone with the Wind, North by Northwest, and Lawrence of Arabia. Unfortunately, it is on the same weekend as the IFSA-Butler trip to the Isle of Skye. I have a choice between seeing one of the most beautiful places on Earth and listening to Lawrence of Arabia played by a live orchestra. Only in Scotland would you have a choice like that.

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