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Making Sense of Big Numbers

Saturday, July 29, 2006 by Blogpur

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake, from
"Auguries of Innocence"

1015Grains of sand on a beach
1015Ants in the world
1017Seconds since big bang
1021Diameter of the galaxy (m)
1022Stars in the universe
1026Diameter of the Universe (m)
1047Seconds till all protons decay*
1050Atoms in the earth
1066Atoms in the galaxy
1078Atoms in the observable universe

Superman Returns

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 by Blogpur

Just as many other fans of the series, I waited for many a year until the time The Man of Steel would hit the screens again. After 2 reasonable TV series, Superman once again flies high in this, the latest movie of the American Icon. The film is a delicious feast for the senses.

Bryan Singer, the director, pays homage to the old 1970's Superman films and this aspect of the film was my favourite. With introductory credit sequences mimicking the old movies, and John William's absolutely stunning score in full flight, the film gets off to a fantastic start and never goes down.

Filled with some awesome action, this time The Man of Steel is more about being a man rather than the steel part of it. The film details Superman's complex relationship with his long time girlfriend Lois Lane. Lane, who is now engaged and has a child is initially skeptical of the Superman phenomenon, but by the concluding stages of the film Superman win's his girl back and of course saves the world from the sardonic, sadistic and rather hilarious villainy of Lex Luthor.

The film plays along spectacularly. Action is inserted at all the right places, the reason why he is Superman is shown clearly and viscerally, the film is absolutely beautiful to look at. This is perhaps the greatest superhero film ever made. It may not find the place in my memory after 10 years like the first films did, but Singer's work here is outstanding. He transports Superman into an epic about love, religion and loss.

Bringing in obvious Christian allegories (the use of Gregorian chants at certain scenes) Superman bears the burden of humanity and is reborn after a meeting with the Pontius Pilate (or in this case Lex Luthor). Brando also finds himself in the picture and is used sparingly but hautingly, whatever he does have to say very much reinforces the fact that is almost an appropriation of Christ for our times.

The obvious questions of course detail the nature of Brandon Routh's portrayal of Superman. Not for a second did I believe this was someone else, Brandon Routh is Superman, he lives it to the fullest extent possible. His turn as Clark Kent is also beguilingly smooth. Being an emotionally troubled hero this time round, Routh has some chances to display some histrionic talent and he does this with great subtlety. Christopher Reeve has now been backed up with a look a like, but Brandon makes this Superman his own.

"I'll always be around" Superman says to Lois in the very last piece of dialogue of the film, just as Lois hopes he does, so do we, the audience. This is the stuff of marvel, Superman is back, and boy what is return it is.