Poem By John Donne.

Send home my long stray'd eyes to me,
Which, O! too long have dwelt on thee;
Yet since there they have learn'd such ill,
Such forced fashions,
And false passions,
That they be
Made by thee
Fit for no good sight, keep them still.

Send home my harmless heart again,
Which no unworthy thought could stain;
Which if it be taught by thing
To make jestings
or protestings,
And break both
Word and oath,
Keep it, for then 'tis none of mine.

Yet send me back my heart and eyes,
That I may know, and see thy lies,
And may laugh and joy, when thou
Art in anguish
And dost languish
For some one
That will none,
Or prove as false as thou art now.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's The Message is a triumphant work in the history of rap and hip-hip. Released in 1982, it is one of major overtly political songs in the history of the genre, and chronicles the troubles of Americans living in the ghettos of the early 80s.

The DJ beat and melody created by Flash for The Message was innovative in its use of techno sounding effects, and wouldn't sound too out of place today were it sped up a bit. It has been recycled for use by Ice Cube in Check Yo Self and by P Diddy or whatever he's called in some song. Of course these represent bastardizations.

Distressingly and confusingly, an instrumental cover of 'The Message' was also used to soundtrack a series of UK television adverts for Hoffmeister lager back in the early-80s. The adverts involved a man in a bear suit - with typical 'rude boy' gear including a shiny polyester jacket and a pork pie hat, as the bear had dark-coloured fur - lounging around, drinking, and playing snooker as bears were wont to do in the early-80s. The tagline was 'For great lager, follow the bear'. The adverts were quite controversial as it was found that children, such as myself, identified too readily with the bear, thus presumably promoting alcohol abuse amongst minors.

In 1999 Channel Four and the Sunday Times selected it as the 58th greatest UK television advert of all time ever (just above the Audi's contemporary 'Vorsprung durch technik' series).

The bear was called 'George'. Quite what this had to do with a classic rap tune about blacks I do not know.

Book #4 in the series Animorphs by K.A. Applegate.

Disclaimer: If you've heard of Animorphs and you're thinking "Aww, how cute," maybe you should read my introduction to the first book to see how wrong you are.


Animorphs #4
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

Cassie and Tobias have been hearing a weird distress call coming from under the sea. It turns out that it's a stranded Andalite ship, and Cassie, in an unusual position of decision-making, has to figure out what to do. The Animorphs run a mission to investigate the submerged ship, morphed as dolphins, and though they successfully enter the ship and find an abandoned and scared teenaged Andalite, the Yeerks have found the ship too. The Animorphs and their new friend Ax face Visser Three briefly, and enlist the help of whales to defeat their foe. Ax the Andalite becomes a part of their team, accepting Jake as his "prince," and Cassie dedicates herself even more deeply to fighting the Yeerks for Mother Earth.

Detailed Plot:

This book opens with Cassie solving a small mystery in her everyday life: What in the world is coming in and harassing the injured birds in her family's wildlife rehab clinic? However, she solves this mystery in an unusual way: by turning into a squirrel in order to spy as inconspicuously as possible on her own barn, to see what is sneaking in. Also Cassie reveals that she's doing this because she can't sleep due to abnormal dreams. She's had to turn her mind to other matters.

Turning into a squirrel has its drawbacks right away. Though she is able to find out that it was a fox sneaking into the barn at night, she also has a near miss almost becoming food for Tobias the hawk. Being that he's not a real hawk but a human trapped in morph, he of course changes his mind about making her dinner, but it scared her pretty good. Though she did find a really good nut. Tobias ends up saving her from being lunch for the fox in the barn as well. As she is turning back to human, her father almost catches her with a squirrel tail, which is amusing. After her dad leaves, Cassie and Tobias discuss the fact that they've suddenly been having the same dreams about a voice calling to them from under the sea.

Tobias and Cassie take their discovery to a meeting of the Animorphs. None of the others seem to have had any dreams at all. However, Jake saw a segment on the news that a weird piece of metal washed up on the beach during a storm, and he recognized the alphabet on the metal as Andalite writing. When he reveals this, Cassie has a fainting spell and falls down, blacking out.

Cassie has a "dream" about someone calling to her from below the sea again, and awakens to find she is in Jake's arms. They very nearly call the ambulance, but she insists she's all right, then notices that the same thing happened to Tobias at the same time. The others, when they think about it, notice they felt a little bit of something, and they determine it might have been a distress call from an Andalite. They vote unanimously to try to help the alien.

The kids go to the beach and try to rustle up clues. They discuss why an Andalite would reach Cassie and Tobias so clearly while hardly attracting the others' attention, since obviously none of the kids are Andalites. They determine that perhaps it's because Tobias is permanently in morph while Cassie has a talent for using the Andalite ability, so they might be more in tune with the messages sent from the Andalite's thought-speak. While they're pondering this, helicopters are sighted and they have to hide while Tobias investigates. It turns out that their company is made up of agents from the enemy Yeerks' front organization, The Sharing. Jake's brother is with them. And worst of all, it turns out that Visser Three has heard these calls for help too, because of his stolen Andalite body. The scouts discover the kids' tracks, and they have to run for it, being unable to morph because then they would leave evidence: Tracks that went from human to animal. Suddenly someone starts shooting at them.

Thinking fast, the kids run into the water and morph to trout, which is their only water-breathing option even though they're in salt water. The Controllers are discussing where the kids could have gone, and one of them wonders whether Visser Three is wrong about the "Andalite bandits" really being Andalites. The Sharing members decide that it must have just been some kids and that no one should have been shooting at them, and that if Visser Three is wrong it doesn't matter because no one would have the courage to suggest it to him. The kids swim away as best they can, even though being a trout in salt water is rather tough on all of them.

After their narrow escape, the kids go back to their everyday lives for a while, not meeting as Animorphs. Then Jake comes over to help Cassie with her barnyard duties (i.e., shoveling manure), and they discuss what they're going to do. Apparently everyone's been waiting for Cassie to grab the reins, which shocks her. But it's her dream, Jake tells her, and so it's her responsibility. Cassie doesn't want to decide, but when Jake tells her he'll decide if she won't, she knows she has to be the one to decide what to do. She decides she definitely wants to do a mission to find and save the Andalite, and tries to think of an ocean animal that they can acquire that isn't likely to eaten by something in the ocean. Jake leaves it up to her to figure out.

The Animorphs go to The Gardens to find an animal to take them underwater. On the way they discuss their opinions of morphing. Jake expresses sadness that a roller coaster is nothing special now that he can do 200 mph in the middle of the air as a falcon. Marco used to want to work out to get all manly, but being a gorilla made him think, "What's the point?" And Rachel has managed to use her experiences as a cat to enhance her gymnastics skills. After the kids get in the park, they head for a dolphin tank, meet some dolphins, and acquire their DNA while feeding them fish. Cassie thinks taking the dolphins' DNA is wrong, like morphing a dolphin is too much like what Yeerks do: Stealing their bodies.

The kids meet by the river the next day. Tobias has acquired a tiny watch in order to keep track of their time limit, and the sight of a bird wearing a watch amuses everyone. The others ask Cassie to do the first morph since she is the best morpher, and she finds that being a dolphin is quite fun; they have a playful, fearless outlook. From the river, the Animorphs swim to the ocean.

Swimming further out to sea, the kids give in to the dolphin instincts that tell them to play around and engage in little dolphin games, and Tobias has to be their reality check. Tobias tells them to do something to find the Andalite ship that might be under the waves, but all they're concerned about is whether finding the Andalite ship will be fun. Cassie discovers that she can echolocate, and in trying to compare notes with the others to see if they can do it too, they discover that they are very close to some sharks. Things get a little more serious at that point.

They realize that some sharks are attacking a whale, and since they feel some kind of kinship with the whale, they go to help it, led (of course) by Rachel. They attack the sharks, and Cassie manages to wound a shark to the point of making it bleed, which causes the other sharks to chase their brother. Then they realize that Marco was seriously injured in the fight, with his tail pretty much bitten off.

Jake consults Cassie on what to do with Marco, who is rapidly dying. She suggests he morph back to human in order to restore himself to health. They aren't sure if that will work, but they are willing to try anything, and Marco morphs to his human body again, being kept afloat by his dolphin friends since he can't swim even when he feels fine. But then, strangely enough, the whale surfaces and comes up underneath the party, and is somehow able to communicate to them its gratitude for their help. It doesn't speak, it just tells them thank you. It turns out that the dolphins can somehow communicate with whales. The whale tells Cassie the story of its life, ending by explaining that it had never seen a "little one" (a dolphin) that turned into a human. Cassie says they are something new in the sea, at which point the whale reveals that they are not the only "new thing." It has information about the Andalite ship, and it tells Cassie where it is. The Animorphs, satisfied, return home, after Marco has successfully re-morphed as a dolphin, uninjured.

The next day, Cassie shows up at Marco's house, interrupting some private time with his dad in order to apologize for almost getting him killed. He insists it isn't her fault if he gets killed, it's the fault of the whole crazy Animorphs mission, but she's not used to the responsibility so she feels it all the same. Marco reveals to her that he saw some disturbing news in the paper: The Yeerks are organizing a couple missions to look around in the ocean, using the cover that a dive mission and a lost treasure ship are going to be doing underwater work in that area. Cassie wants to go help if there's an Andalite down there, but she worries about having her friends' lives in her hands again. Marco assures her that she can decide to do something or decide to do nothing, but anything she does is a decision.

At a meeting, the Animorphs decide it would be possible to morph to seagulls, hitch a ride on a boat, and buy some time by riding on it as humans until they're far out enough to jump into the sea as dolphins and have no danger of going over the two-hour time limit. Tobias has to be left out of the mission because he can't fly that far. They determine that they're certifiably crazy for dreaming up this mission, given its dangerousness. Cassie and Jake discuss their mortality.

Morphing to seagulls has the kids finding lots of junk food, acting as the scavengers they are. They manage to alight on a boat and resume their human forms, finding it's pretty cold out. They kill time for an hour, then are confronted with the problem of getting down to the water. They end up jumping in as human, all except Marco, who halfway completes his dolphin morph before going over the side, so that he won't have to deal with being unable to swim. They make it to their dolphin forms, and then Cassie is better able to understand the memories she has of where the ship is. Just as they're about to dive to find it, they realize the Yeerks have also found the right spot to dive.

The four dolphin/humans dive as deep as they can and manage to actually find the ship, which has a strange park-like environment (complete with grass) under a transparent bubble. They begin to run out of air as they search for a way to enter the ship, and just in time they manage to find an entranceway. They morph back to human and are inside the ship. They venture into the next chamber, only to be knocked into unconsciousness.

They awaken to the thought-speak voice of an Andalite. The voice says that they have been stunned and that if they move they will be killed. They get their first view of the Andalite, and Marco unwisely comments that he hopes it's a real Andalite and not Visser Three. The Andalite is offended by that and almost kills Marco, but when they reveal they heard his distress call, they agree to loosen up and talk. The Andalite is very confused that a distress call aimed only at his cousins has reached these humans, and he wants to know why they know of Andalites. At that point they reveal that they met another Andalite only to watch him be killed. Strangely enough, this Andalite turns out to be Prince Elfangor's brother. He is shocked by the news of his warrior brother's death, and asks for details about his final battle and his honor. Jake provides all that the Andalite asks.

Jake explains that they also fight the Yeerks, and though the Andalite is surprised and disturbed to find that his brother broke some sort of rule to give them the morphing power, he accepts that it must be true. He is also pleased to find that this is indeed a rescue party only for him. He treats them kindly now and offers them rest.

The kids discover, in conversation, that the Andalite was sequestered in the dome part of the ship because he was too young for battle when the Yeerks attacked in orbit. He's also a young one of his kind, so they bond with him over that fact. After telling him that all his warriors and superiors were killed in the battle, the Andalite agrees to become part of their party and follow Jake as his "prince," and introduces himself as Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil. Marco shortens that to Ax.

Cassie receives a startling revelation in the next bit. Ax explains that the Yeerks generally conquer a planet and then make it as much like their homeworld as they can, eliminating anything unnecessary or irrelevant. Cassie was, of course, disturbed by the idea of Yeerks taking over people's minds and running the planet, but the idea of destroying all the wildlife and environments, destroying her Mother Earth, is abhorrent to her, and her passion to fight against them grows even more. Ax also mentions that the Andalite backup forces are due to arrive at Earth in only about two years. Jake is disheartened by that. Two years seems like an awfully long time for six kids to fight against a race that has destroyed a big part of the galaxy. After that, Ax won't reveal any more of why the Andalites haven't been successful in destroying the Yeerk menace if they're so great, and to break up the fight that might have started between Ax and Rachel over that, Cassie suggests they morph and get out of the ship. As they are morphing, the ship suddenly gets attacked by Yeerks. They finish morphing and get out of there. In the open ocean, it seems as though they won't really be hurt, until it is revealed that the alien Taxxons can swim, and do so well. Jake gives the order to fight.

Four dolphins and one shark have no problem demolishing a dozen Taxxons. They aren't tough like Earth animals are, and the Animorphs get out unharmed, to surface and breathe. The only problem is, the Taxxons are not the Yeerks' only weapon. Visser Three is in the ocean as an alien called a mardrut (which Ax is able to identify). And it gives chase. Ax is surprised that Jake and the others know that it is Visser Three in morph, and is very impressed that they have fought him before and lived.

They swim away from the mardrut for an hour and a half, until they weaken terribly. The mardrut is tireless and keeps up with them, gaining and taunting them once he is in range. Eventually they decide to stand and fight, at which point Jake's order to do so impresses the Andalite into saying they have a lot in common. Then Cassie hears the whale's song, and signals to it that she needs help, and quick. Five whales arrive and beat the crap out of Visser Three until he retreats. Cassie and her whale rejoice, and Cassie gets the feeling that the whale didn't come only to help her, but to fight an abomination it felt in its home, just the way Cassie feels about her planet being invaded by that menace. The whale allows them all to demorph and ride on its back as close to shore as it can take them. Cassie falls asleep on the ride.

As they arrive back at their river, Ax watches them put on their clothes and is confused by that custom. He meets Tobias, who is thrilled to meet the brother of that great warrior with whom he bonded so deeply. Ax gives Tobias honor for paying the price of being trapped in hawk morph. Cassie decides she wants to take Ax to her farm so he has somewhere to run around far from the city, but in order to get him there he has to morph. He ends up taking DNA from all four of the human Animorphs and using it to create a melding of them, a single (strangely pretty) male human form that he can use for his necessary human interactions. Unfortunately he puts on his clothes incorrectly and doesn't know how to use his mouth, so he plays with all the words and sounds. The kids are sure he'll never pass for normal.

After they've all calmed down, a couple days later, and Ax is settled in an area where he won't be seen, Cassie takes a night flight to The Gardens and swims with the dolphins. She does it to reconcile her fears and guilt about becoming an intelligent animal, to kind of apologize to the dolphins. But once she's a dolphin herself, swimming with them, she finds it hard to care about anything, and knows that they wouldn't mind it even if they could understand.

About this book:

Narrator: Cassie

New known controllers:


New morphs acquired:


  • Cassie points out that there are poisoned wolves being rescued in her barn. These same wolves figured into the plot in the previous book, but only one was mentioned as having been poisoned and the other had been shot.
  • Rachel's bulletin board used to have cute little inspirational quotes on it. Now the wise sayings include battle advice from the masters. She is already becoming passionate about this battle this early on.
  • Marco saves everyone's butt with his tactical skills when he reminds them that they can't morph while running away or their tracks will give them away as humans turning into animals. They have to maintain that their guerilla group is all Andalites so that their families are not put in danger. Marco's beginning to use his skills in actual life-or-death situations instead of just in video games.
  • Cassie's family has owned their farm since the Civil War.
  • Cassie doesn't want to morph whales or dolphins because she thinks morphing intelligent creatures is wrong. This issue comes up quite a lot more in the later books, about morphing intelligent sea animals, other humans, and intelligent aliens.
  • It is noted in this book for certain that if one of the Animorphs is wounded while in morph, then morphing back to human form will restore them to perfect health even if they morph that same animal again immediately. The DNA is not harmed, hence the Andalite technology still works using the DNA as a perfect map.
  • Ax is disturbed by his brother's gift of morphing technology to humans because it breaks the law of Seerow's Kindness. This law's purpose and origins are revealed in The Andalite Chronicles.
  • Ax is revealed to have not been the best of students when he was in his Andalite school. He does not know as much about the mardrut as he should because he was not paying attention that day in school. The gaps in the Andalite's knowledge come up often in later books.
  • Cassie feels hate for the first time she can remember during this book. She feels it in response to Visser Three, knowing he is orchestrating a plan to terraform her world into something ugly.
  • Ax collects DNA from all four humans and combines it into one human. It is a bit odd that he knows how to do this and can do it on his first try without any problems, considering he is also the least experienced morpher of the group (even though the morphing is his species's technology). None of the others thought to do this maneuver, though Cassie definitely could if Ax could. It seems a little inconsistent, like this DNA-mixing trick was invented just so Ax could have an acceptable human morph. It could have been used for lots of other good purposes too, but no one ever seemed to think of it, or think it was odd that Ax knew how to combine DNA and no one else did.

Best lines:

Cassie (having just morphed into a squirrel): Oh, wait. Was that a nut? I hopped over to the nut. YES! A chestnut! I seized it in my little front claws and began immediately to chew a hole in it. Excellent! Wonderful! Chestnut! And I had it! No one could take it away. Hah hah!

Marco: "Hey, Tobias, I've been meaning to ask you, are hawks like seagulls? I mean, do they poop while they're flying?"
Tobias: "Depends on who's down below. Let me just put it this way--if you get on my nerves, you'd better buy a hat."

Marco: "I was there at the construction site, same as all of you. I was there when Visser Three--What I mean is, if there's an Andalite who needs anything, I'm there."

Cassie: "I don't want to get my friends killed."
Marco: "And let me assure you your friends don't want to get killed, either. I am completely opposed to getting killed."

Cassie: "Marco, you know, for a guy who's always joking around and being annoying, you're awfully smart."
Marco: "Yeah, I know, but don't tell anyone. It would destroy my image."

Tobias: "Have our lives gotten really weird, or is it just me?"
Marco: "Weird? Weird? The talking bird wants to know if getting information on the location of an alien from a whale, that you've just saved from sharks, by turning into dolphins . . . You're suggesting that's weird?"

Rachel: "First we morph into something like a seagull."
Marco: "I hate plans that begin with the words 'first we morph.'"

Jake: "There's a ship up ahead."
Tobias: "You just now noticed it? Wow. Seagull eyes aren't exactly great, are they? It's a container ship called Newmar. It's from Monrovia. You want to know what color the captain's hair is?"
Jake: "Show-off."

Next book: The Predator, Animorphs #5

"Where tens of thousands of muslims stand today [in Mecca], once there was only one."

The Message, also sometimes titled "Mohammad, Messenger of God" is a movie epic from 1976. MPAA rated PG

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas, and Michael Ansara (in the English version)

The Message is a magnificent movie. Its tagline is "The Story of Islam" and that's basically what it is. It chronicles the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), from when he began spreading revelations know as the Quran and continues through the Hegira to the time in Medina, and up to when he returned to Mecca. This all takes place in the 6th century CE and squeezes decades of critical history into a four hour long film.

"The Message" is, for Muslims, comparable to what "The Ten Commandments (starring Charlton Heston)" is for Jews. It's the only substantial film about Muhammad(pbuh) and Islam worth watching that isn't a documentary.

The film took six years to prepare and over a year to film. It was shot in a life-sized replica of Mecca and Medina, made to look like they did in the 6th century, complete with a replica of the Kaaba. The makers took a small old city in Morocco and added props and remodeled houses to recreate the authenticity, which took months. This took place on a rather large scale, as they needed to show 6th century Mecca as a rich city in the desert. At one point the entire country ran out of scaffolding to finish refitting all the buildings, so they had to import more. The people of the city were all hired to build, and also acted as extras in the movie.

Interestingly enough, while the film centers around Muhammad(pbuh) and his life's story, he isn't shown at all. This is to keep to the Islamic law that nobody can attempt to depict or idolize Muhammad. The director Moustapha Akkad, a muslim, reviewed the script with Islamic scholars in Al-Azhar University (one of the highest scholarly authorities) in Cairo and received permission and blessing to go ahead with the film. Instead of showing him, the camera takes his point of view. Actors talk to the screen and are talking to "him." The camera moves as he would, and the POV also includes being on a camel and walking around through crowds. Instead of hearing his voice, one of his followers addresses the crowd for him.

The film shows the difficulties Muhammad(pbuh) and his followers faced. Part of the story is told through the sahaba, who do the preaching and recite Quran for him. While you do not see most of the famous sahaba depicted, like Abu Bakr(ra) or Ali(ra), you do see other important figures like Muhammad's uncles Hamza(ra) and Abu Talib, as well as Hazrat Bilal, Ammar ibn Yasir, and Muhammad's adopted son Zaid. Since the main Character (Muhammad(pbuh)) isn't shown, the sahabas function as the central characters, with Anthony Quinn as Hamza getting the top billing. The other more famous sahabas like Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali(ra) are not shown. Muhammad's enemies such as Abu Jahl, Abu Sufiyan and his wife Hind are depicted as well. Other figures who switch sides later on, like Khalid bin Walid are also present.

In addition, the battles of Badr and Uhud are recreated to show what happened. The filmmakers reproduced massive battle scenes with thousands of people and hundreds of horses and camels. They hired soldiers from Libya to train and rehearse the battle scenes of ancient Arabia, and staged the massive battles in the desert, complete with a sandstorm.

Two versions of the film were shot; one in English and one in Arabic. The Arabic one is known as "Ar-Risalah." Each version uses the same set and camera unit, but has a different cast, meaning different actors read the lines for each respective version. The Arabic version is slightly different as the actual Quran gets recited, while the english version has an english interpretation given instead, but perhaps not with the same force or feeling. If you ever listen to the Quran recited in Arabic in a mosque, you will understand what I mean.

The Music is done pretty well, the man in charge of the score spent nearly a year researching middle eastern music. The Royal Philharmonic in London performed for the score, with the addition certain middle eastern instruments to give the orchestra a certain Arabian quality. The music is in 4-track stereo, which I imagine is a good thing (I'm not an audiophile who would know the difference) since it was created in the 1970's.

I'd call this movie Oscar-worthy for its time, but it was not made in Hollywood. It took a great deal of effort to produce, using people from 25 countries, millions of dollars, and years of planning to create such a large-scale recreation of history.

The Plot:

It's the end of the 6th century in Mecca, a rich and bustling town that gets its money from the people who make pilgrimmages to the idols kept there. After seeing a vision of the angel Gabriel, Muhammad(pbuh) calls the people of Mecca to cast aside the over 360 idols and worship only the One God. Despite harsh persecution, his followers meet secretly to listen to the revelations of the Quran, the word of God. The leaders of Mecca respond by torturing and killing followers, until many flee to Abissynia where a Christian king protects them after listening to the Quran. The rest of the Muslims leave everything behind in Mecca and take sanctuary in Medina, where they ask Muhammad(pbuh) to lead a truce between the warring tribes.

The Meccans, sensing a threat, continue to persecute the Muslims and attack caravans of supplies to Medina. The muslims repeatedly urge Muhammad to fight back, but he consistently refuses. After over 14 years of persecution since the beginning, another revelation from God is sent that gives permission to fight back. They fight the Battle of Badr and are victorious against overwhelming odds. Islam begins to spread, and more and more people convert, until the Muslims re-enter Mecca without violence and smash the idols around the Kaaba. Islam takes root and becomes the dominant religion over polytheism, and the people dedicate themselves to the worship of one God.

This movie is religious in tone, yes, because it talks about the history of a religion. It's based on actual events in history and real historic figures, complete with a montage at the end of how the religion is today. There's just something beautiful and compelling about this movie, and the people portrayed within display some form of courage that you so rarely see today. You can't help but feel empathy for the people, the first muslims who were a minority but struggled and suffered for their religion. The film is not just about Muhammad(pbuh), but about the sahaba who had to endure so much pain and torture for their beliefs, and you see them being beaten, whipped, branded, stoned, and driven from their homes. Bilal was squeezed under heavy scalding rocks, but refused to stop saying "One God" over and over. Ammar ibn Yasir witnessed both of his parents killed in front of him, but didn't lose his faith. Allahu Akbar

The DVD:

"The Message" is on a 2-sided DVD, since the movie is close to 4 hours long. It's availible in widescreen form. The features aren't that great, it has a "Making of" reel, as well as a trailer in English and Arabic, and a timeline about the life of Muhammad(pbuh), and a slideshow. The Quality is not the best, being that the movie was made in the 1970's and the transfer to DVD has a low quality. It has Dolby stereo. Overall, the quality of the DVD is nothing special, but I bought it because I love the film so much. It has no subtitles and only has one language on it. You can also find a 2-disc set, with both the English and Arabic versions of the film.

The Message is also availible on VHS in English or Arabic (2 videos each). The Director said dubbing wouldn't match up like how he wanted, which is why he made two versions, one English and one Arabic. I'm sure its subtitled into other languages.

I have read Animorphs books before, including the first one, but I have to admit that they are things I read mostly for convenience. But recently, I read Book #4, "The Message", because I found a copy (complete with holographic cover) at The Dollar Tree, and because it is Science-Fiction month.

A rather complete synopsis of the plot is seen above, so I will give a shorter description, and then talk about how the book feels, more than two decades later. The book begins when our newly created animorphs team of teenage friends start having eerie, prophetic dreams. Although someone confused about it at first, they go on a mission to find what turns out to be a submerged flying saucer, where a powerful ally from the "friendly" alien race of the Andalites is trapped. Through a series of dangerous adventures, they free their new ally.

As several people have mentioned, here and elsewhere, the Animorphs was a dark series, considering its audience. Even though descriptions of this book might sound fanciful, as we see whales fighting aliens, the writing manages to keep an air of tension about it. And despite the basic level of characterization, common for series books, where we have a leader, a shy girl, a funny guy, etc., I found enough character depth to keep it interesting.

But we are reviewing science-fiction, so lets talk about this book as science-fiction. Most, or all of the science-fiction doesn't make sense. The background is classic space opera: two star-spanning empires are at war. They have technology that is beyond all explanation, including a city-sized flying saucer apparently capable of faster than light travel. And the morphing technology breaks basic laws of biology and physics: where does that extra mass come and go? So it might be easy to dismiss the books as not being serious enough for science-fiction. But I found one serious and very timely concept in this book that I think explains a science-fiction concept very well: the idea of identity, and identity modification. The morphs are described as changing someone's mental status, subsuming someone's emotions, while augmenting others. When the group becomes dolphins, they become so playful and light-hearted that they are unable to remember their human goals. And I find it interesting that this concept of mood and identity alteration coincides with two contemporary events: the discovery of SSRI's like Prozac (back in the 1990s, "Prozac" wasn't just one of many SSRI's, but a cultural phenomenon in itself), and the slightly later rise of the internet as a common thing. As the saying went at the time, "On the internet, no one knows you are a dog", and this was literally true for our Animorphs. Beneath the standard world they lived in, our protagonists discover alterations in their basic sense of self.

While it might seem a bit far-fetched to describe the books to be about the malleability of identity, and how technology can alter our identities, often without us even being aware of it, I do think that this would have been in the milieu when the books were written, and it would have worked its way into the books. So while this book might seem like a standard and improbable space opera on its surface, I think it has a sophisticated science-fiction concept below that.

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