Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 20th 2013 Contents B4
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt October 20, 2013
It s not easy being a historian
Jerry Besson has been chroni-
cling the history of the country as
a publisher and writer for more
than three decades. This is tough
enough but it becomes even more
so because of the attitude many
citizens have towards the task.
"The most significant challenge
has been the institutionalised indif-
ference to the maintenance of the
history of the island," Besson said
of his experience over the years.
"If you were to go to the Reg-
istrar General s office tomorrow
morning and try to find out any-
thing about your great-grand-
mother, you think it easy?" he said.
"It s one of the most difficult things
in the world for you to be able to
do, because of the disintegration
and the bad keeping of those his-
Besson, 71, persists in spite of
the obstacles. His Paria Publishing,
founded in 1981, prints his books
and the books of other history stal-
warts like Michael Anthony and
Fr Anthony de Verteuil.
Last month, he released his third
historical novel, From the Gates
of Aksum, a mystical adventure
saga spanning the 18th and 19th
centuries. He was scheduled to
read from it yesterday at an
Evening of Tea and Readings at
Paper Based, a bookshop in The
Normandie Hotel in St Ann s
which specialises in Caribbean lit-
"He did a lot of important
books," said Paper Based owner
Joan Dayal, talking about Besson s
contribution to Caribbean litera-
ture. "He s one of the very few
publishers in Trinidad. He also
supplies a lot of information to
people who are writing. He s a
wealth of information. And he s a
great storyteller, too."
From the Gates of Aksum is the
third in a series of historical novels
Besson said he plans to continue.
"It s important to do historical
fiction, because many people can-
not take on the weighty proposition
of reading academic history," he
said. "So it is sometimes easier to
take the historical narrative and
romanticise it by arranging it in
terms of action and adventure. It
makes it more accessible."
He added, tongue-in-cheek:
"But you have to make sure you
get your facts right, otherwise Brid-
get Brereton would point you out."
Brereton is a history professor
and newspaper columnist with
whom Besson collaborated on the
popular Book of Trinidad.
She has given Aksum a thumbs
up, writing in a review that it was
"definitely a book to get hold of."
Despite the obstacles, Besson---
who has also established a number
of museums, including the police
museum and the City-of-Port of
Spain Museum---calls what he does
While still too many people
don t appreciate it, enough do to
keep him motivated.
He describes being greeted with
awe by the young workers at the
National Library, who apparently
assumed his books were written
closer to the periods they were set
"They said: You is Jerry Besson?
We thought you was dead! " he
recalled with a laugh.
Besson is hoping to reach even
more people and share with them
his enthusiasm for local history.
It s important for reasons other
than the enjoyment it can bring.
"Trinidad has a very interesting,
very compelling history," he said.
"And if people knew it more they
would understand the social
processes and the political process-
es that they re going through."
A Sunday crammed with film
choice includes extra chances to
see last week s Sunday pick
(*Finding Nemo, 10 am and 3.45
pm MaxW, and again Friday 6.15
pm), an epic historical whodunit
thriller former pick that would
have been chosen but for Denzel
(Anonymous, 1 pm HBOC), a
strong, if European-biased, bio
of India s leading political histor-
ical figure (Gandhi, 8 am HBOC),
an equally strong vehicle for the
huge talents of Johnny Depp (Alice
in Wonderland, 7.05 pm HBOF)
and a spectacularly filmed nature
documentary (Winged Migration,
2 pm HBOF). The week includes
two films that tie for runner-up
to film of the week (*The Dark
Knight Rises, 5.05 pm Tuesday
HBO, 21 Grams, 5 pm Wednesday
MaxW) and Marilyn Monroe s
best known film title (Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes, 3 pm Tuesday
TODAY'S BEST FILM:
Thriller/124 mins/Rated R for vio-
lence and language), 10 pm Turn-
er Classic Movies BEST FILM OF
THE WEEK. Watch this if you
liked Se7en, Stir of Echoes or The
Sixth Sense. One of Denzel Washington s best films deserves far more attention
than the far more successful The Bone Collector. Few films qualify to be
called "supernatural thriller" but this demon s haunting Denzel s policeman
is one. Donald Sutherland, John Goodman and a pre-Sopranos James Gandolfini
are staggeringly good in small roles. If there were an award for Best Use of
a Pop Song in a Film, Fallen would win hands-down for its unnerving use
of the Rolling Stones Time Is on My Side, which surpasses even Stanley
Kubrick s descent into the Hell of Vietnam via the looping bridge bassline
of Frank and Nancy Sinatra s These Boots Are Made for Walking in Full
Metal Jacket. Scary, spooky, unnerving and very, very good.
REST OF THE WEEK:
D (Nigel Cole/2010/UK/Biography-Comedy-Drama/113
mins/ Rated R for language and brief sexuality), 8.35 pm tomorrow Cinemax.
Watch this if you liked The Damned United, Charlie Wilson s War or The
King s Speech. One of cable/DirecTV s hidden gems, the dramatisation of
the true story of the 1968 strike at Ford Motors Dagenham plant in England
scans like backward science fiction today: was there really a time when under-
paid, exploited workers could stand up for themselves? The story of the great
personal cost of the gaining of women s rights at the plant is very well told.
Add an excellent performance from Sally Hawkins in the lead and strong
support from Bob Hoskins and the least appealing of all sub-genres, "edu-
tainment", which, in an ideal world, would have been put down at birth,
becomes worthy of celebration.
(John Ford/1956/ USA/Western/119 mins/Unrated, but
dealing with mature themes), 3 pm Thursday Turner Classic Movies. Watch
this if you liked 3.10 to Yuma, Hombre or Unforgiven. You d expect a 57-
year-old film to be dated, and some aspects are: the music is often intrusive;
what was risqué in 1956 is passé now; and audiences tolerated goofiness that
bordered on inanity. Additionally, the male lead is Da Dook, the most wooden
of all Hollywood actors, probably the man least deserving of success in film
history. Still, there had to be something to it for The Searchers to jump from
96 in the 1998 list to 12 in the American Film Institute s Top 100 Films
(2007). And there is: John Wayne s best (only good?) performance; a solid
script tackling taboo issues; Monument Valley s stunning locations, beautifully
shot. The doorways opening and closing the movie are only the best-known
illustrations of the now legendary shot framing. Recommended like a 57-
year-old lingerie model.
B Mon: Midnight in Paris, 6.15 pm HBO; Tues: Alice in
Wonderland, 9 pm HBOF; Wed: All the King s Men (Sean Penn) 7.45 pm
MaxW; Thurs: *Shame, 9 pm HBOC; Fri: Close Encounters of the Third
Kind, 10.35 pm Max; Sat: Maverick, 6.35 am HBO.
love of history
Fallen rises to the top
A Trifecta of the Week's
Best Films on the Box
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