My Cabin Trip to The Planet Hoth

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In 1997 I, my younger sister, my father and my mother all stayed at a cabin in Finse, a small mountain village in Hordaland county, Norway.

Only eighteen years earlier, director George Lucas had used this area to film the outdoor scenes for the ice planet Hoth, featured in the fantastic movie ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back’.

I was soon to share in some of the same icy experiences as Luke, Han Solo and Chewbacca..

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We traveled to Finse from Bergen by train, and arrived at Finse Station, the station located at the highest elevation of the entire Norwegian railway system, at 1,222 metres (4,009 ft) above sea level.

The cabin was owned by the tech-company my mother worked for at the time, and was loaned out to employees. It was located quite a bit up a hill from the train-station, and its conjoined hotel.

From what I remember, everything in the cabin was outdated by at least ten years. Old radio, old furniture, a tiny old TV with one channel. That is part of the charm of cabin trips, and I bet a lot of cabins would not feature any modern luxuries at all.

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I was only six at the time, so I may be wrong, but I think we stayed there for an Easter weekend. In Norway, some days of Easter are recognised as national holidays, so most people don’t work during easter. So we probably combined that with a normal weekend to have a little vacation at the end of winter.

I probably spent the time inside by reading Disney duck-comics, and my parents probably read some Easter crime.

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At some point, while or before we were there, the entire cabin was snowed down.

We spent some hours digging tunnels in the snow, from outside to the window.

It was weird looking into a cabin from the tunnel I had been digging, and just as weird to see a tunnel when looking out the window.

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The day we were leaving became very dramatic.

Due to the fact that this was a company cabin we had to leave it just as we found it, and I think my parents had miscalculated how long the cleanup process would take. I’m sure it did not help to have a two-year-old and a six-year-old stressing them out either.

We were starting to get worried that we were not going to catch the train on time, and we didn’t know when the next train would be leaving.

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The weather had also become increasingly worse, and Finse was now in the middle of a snowstorm.

I remember struggling down the hill, with icy wind and snow whipping up at us. The only way we knew the direction, was to go down the hill, as the snow obscured our vision beyond a few meters ahead.

Finse downhill

My father had taken my sister down to the hotel by pulling her on a small sledge down the hill. On the way down, she had complained that she could barely breathe, due to the wind and cold.

After leaving her in the care of the receptionists, he hurried back up to help me and my mother down.

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I don’t know how dramatic this whole event actually was, but to my six-year-old head, this was all very exiting and scary.

And the perils were only heightened by the time pressure!

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The train turned out to be extremely late..

 

The Russo Brothers’ Community

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I have been writing a lot about The Marvel Cinematic Universe lately, and some of the movies that I have poured the most praise on have been ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.

These two movies, alongside ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and the next 2019 Avengers film, were all directed by Anthony and Joseph Russo.

 

While they had many projects under their belt before they made those films, one sits very close to my heart.

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‘Community’ is an American television sitcom, focusing on a study-group at a community college, that ran off-and-on for six seasons from 2009 to 2015.

While it is the brainchild of the great writer Dan Harmon, who later went on to make ‘Rick and Morty’ and one of my favorite podcasts, I want to focus on what the Russo brothers brought to the show.

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‘Community’s set-up of “a group of misfits interacting” may be pretty bog-standard, but it is the way that the writers, directors and actors played with that formula that elevates this from just a decent funny show to something great.

The most obvious example of this is the three paintball episodes ‘Modern Warfare’ (inspired by action movies), ‘A Fistful of Paintballs’ (Western) and ‘For a Few Paintballs More’ (Star Wars).

It was after watching these episodes that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige gave the brothers the directing job on their first Marvel-movie ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.

 

Some other favorites of mine are the ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ episodes.

By excellent use of sound-effects and acting, the episode is transformed from “a bunch of friend sitting around a table” into something that feels like an epic fantasy story.

While firstly making you forget that this is a bottle-episode, it also conveys what makes ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ great to begin with, and these episodes really peaked my interest in the game.

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There are many more great episodes, covering a lot of different genres.

 

If you want to study how the Russo brothers works as directors, watching ‘Community’ is a great place to start.

Since everything besides the direction and writing stays the same for each episode (like the characters and sets), you really get to see the difference in how they tackle the different genres with their direction.

And as they directed most of their episodes individually from each other, you can get an understanding for what each of them brings to their cooperative work.

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I really recommend picking up a dvd-box of ‘Community’.

Season 1 starts a bit slow as the show was finding its feet, but after that it holds a really high standard, dipping a bit at season 4 before reclaiming past glory.

It is a show filled with joy, and I love it for that!

 

Five Essential Marvel Movies

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‘Avengers: Infinity War’, the most recent film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was just released, and it was wonderful!

If you are someone who has not indulged in the Marvel films yet, this 10-year anniversary is not the best place to start, as it is somewhat of a naval-gazing celebration of the world that Marvel Studios have created over the years, and therefore a bit confusing to newcomers.

 

If you have time, you should see all the 18 movies that preceded ‘Infinity War’ before seeing it.

But if you don’t have that much time to spare, here are the four movies I think you need to see to get an appreciation for what people love about these films.

 

1 – The Avengers

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This was the culmination of Iron Man 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Despite being the sixth movie in a series, you can easily start here, as the film-makers anticipated a much bigger turnout for this film than the others, and therefore made it easily accessible for new viewers.

I would also still rank this as the best of the movies, but only barely as the latest films have all been incredible. By watching this one first, you can pretty quickly find out if this series is something for you or not.

 

2 – Guardians of the Galaxy

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This movie is a fun space-adventure, with a heart of gold and an amazing soundtrack!

You will be surprised by how much you care about the relationship between a walking tree and a talking raccoon.

Along with the titular characters, it introduces the ‘Infinity War’ villain Thanos, the powerful Infinity Stones, and Thanos’ abusive relationship to his daughters.

The second Guardians movie is amazing aswell, and I would recommend seeing it, but it is not as essential to the wider story as the first one is.

 

3 – Captain America: Civil War

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Some readers may be wondering why I am skipping ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’.

While the second Avengers film does introduce the important ‘Infinity War’ characters The Vision and Wanda Maximoff, I think that you get a good enough picture of these characters from ‘Civil War’.

On top of that, ‘Civil War’ is much more important to the character-dynamics going into ‘Infinity War’, while also introducing a few more great characters to this world, like Black Panther, and another which I will not spoil for you here.

 

4 – Thor: Ragnarok

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This is the third Thor movie, but what you have not already been introduced to about The God Of Thunder in ‘The Avengers’, this film covers in the first few minutes.

It also features a scene showcasing the powers and personality of Doctor Strange (the sorcerer supreme), which is why I did not see the need to add his movie to this list.

I really liked the comedy in this film, but some may find it a bit too quippy.

Still, there is plenty to like about the film even if the jokes fall flat for you, and the character-journeys of both Thor and The Hulk continues directly from this movie into ‘Infinity War’.

 

Bonus – Black Panther

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This film gives you an introduction to a key location and some really cool characters, and will increase your appreciation of a big chunk of ‘Infinity War’.

It is a really good movie with a afro-futuristic setting, which you don’t see too often in fiction.

You could skip this one and still get all the info you need about Wakanda and the Black Panther by watching ‘Civil War’, but many think that this is the best one out of all the Marvel films, so you should probably make time for it.

 

5 – Avengers: Infinity War

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This ten-year anniversary is a visual and emotional fireworks-display like no other.

I heartily recommend watching it as soon as possible, before getting some story-beats spoiled for you.

This is also one of those movies that is worth seeing on the big screen, as the sense of scale is something I think will be slightly lost on a TV-screen.

Hope I have helped convince at least a few of you to give this movie a shot, even if this is not your usual genre of entertainment 🙂

 

If you want to see more than the six movies I have listed here, I would first watch this video which lists the Marvel movies and TV-shows, from worst to best.

I hope you get as much enjoyment out of them as I do 😀