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2018/11/30 第242期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’: Apocalypse Too Soon 末日來得太快 誰能撥亂反正?
The Rhine, a Lifeline of Germany, Is Crippled by Drought 德國乾旱 重傷萊茵河船運
‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’: Apocalypse Too Soon 末日來得太快 誰能撥亂反正?
文/Manohla Dargis

The team behind “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” throws an awful lot at the screen during this clotted two-hour-plus diversion, the latest installment in the J.K. Rowling-verse. As is often the case in a Rowling production, evil is ascendant, seeping through both human and magic realms like poison gas.


Mostly, though, because Rowling builds worlds, what “Grindelwald” has is a great deal of story. The movie is chockablock with stuff: titular creatures , attractive people, scampering extras, eye-catching locations, tragic flashbacks, teary confessions and largely bloodless, spectacular violence.


This is the second movie in what promises (threatens!) to be an extended “Fantastic Beasts” franchise. It centers on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a “magizoologist” who studies, rescues and nurses magical critters. Unlike Harry’s tale, though, Newt’s story opens with him already of age. The new movie picks up in New York in the mid-1920s, the end point of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”


Not much has happened since the last movie; mostly, people and parts have been shifted in preparation for the next great narrative heave forward. Once again, Newt is scurrying about while nefarious doings unfold in separate storylines. One is dominated by Gellert Grindelwald, an evil wizard who looks like he’s been dipped in flour. Grindelwald is consolidating his power and has big plans. These have become more transparent as fascism has seeped into the story, totalitarianism’s threat increasingly giving dark meaning to all the violence and ugly phrases like “pure blood.”


Rowling is a literary magpie and first-rate synthesizer, and her stated inspirations for the Harry Potter books range from classical mythology to Jane Austen. Traces of the Bible, Shakespeare, Tolkien and other Western-lit staples are sprinkled throughout that series and therefore this one, too. However intentional, they form part of a cultural database, which is as smart as it is appealing. Given some of these influences, it’s no surprise that the series is touched by death; given the arc of history, it’s also no surprise that it has morphed into an apocalyptic war story.


A bleak, violent end — and the intimation of a worldwide cataclysm — looms from the very first scene of “The Crimes of Grindelwald.”Directed by David Yates and written by Rowling, the movie opens with a fierce, visually chaotic prison break that springs Grindelwald and sets the angry mood.


The Rhine, a Lifeline of Germany, Is Crippled by Drought 德國乾旱 重傷萊茵河船運
文/Christopher F. Schuetze

Just after sunrise, Capt. Frank Sep turned to his ship’s radio for the defining news of his day: the water level in Kaub, the shallowest part of the middle section of the Rhine River, Germany’s most important shipping route.


The news was bad, as it so often is these days. One of the longest dry spells on record has left parts of the Rhine at record-low levels for months, forcing freighters to reduce their cargo or stop plying the river altogether.


Some inland ports are idle, and it is estimated that millions of tons of goods are having to be transported by rail or road.


Virtually all freight shipped from seaports in the Netherlands and Belgium to the industrial southwest of Germany passes through here.


On a day in late October, Sep learned that the river was just 10 inches deep. That meant the water in the shipping channel dredged near the center of the river was about 5 feet deep, down from an average of about 11 feet. Even with cargo at one-third its usual weight, his 282-foot freighter would have only inches of water under its hull.


An exceptionally dry summer has caused havoc across Europe. A trade group in Germany put farmers’ losses at several billion dollars. The German chemical giant BASF had to decrease production at one of its plants over the summer because the Rhine, whose water it uses to cool production, was too low.


Roughly 80 percent of the 223 million tons of cargo transported by ship in Germany each year travels the Rhine, which links the country’s industrial heartland to Belgium, the Netherlands and the North Sea. An exact tally of how much is being diverted to rail and road is not yet available, but “it is a significant number,” said Martyn Douglas of the German Federal Environment Agency.


The shipping lane could be made deeper, but that would take years, if not decades, and would cost millions. And even if that were to succeed, it would remove only one bottleneck on a river that is just starting to show how many trouble spots it has.





同段最後一句 plying the river 的ply一字,指「定期往返於兩點之間 」。


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