to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
we listen to new music by Madonna …
question about the American railroad system …
report on some big, bright ticket sales for the "The Dark Knight."
"The Dark Night"
weekend was a historic one for the American movie industry. It was the biggest three-day weekend in
Hollywood history. Movies earned more
than two hundred fifty million dollars.
The most popular movie last weekend was the long awaited Batman movie,
"The Dark Knight." That movie made
history too. Faith Lapidus has our report.
Dark Knight" is now in its second weekend in theaters in America. It had the biggest opening weekend for a
film in movie history. By Monday
morning it had sold more than one hundred fifty-eight million dollars in
tickets. That beat last year's record of one hundred fifty-one million dollars
for the movie "Spider-Man 3."
"The Dark Knight" is British writer and
director Christopher Nolan's second Batman movie. Welsh actor Christian Bale plays the comic book superhero, as he
did in Nolan's two thousand five film, "Batman Begins." Batman is a mysterious crime fighter who
wears special clothes and a mask to hide his true identity, billionaire Bruce
enemy, the Joker, is played by Australian actor Heath Ledger. "The Dark
Knight" was the last film Ledger completed before his death in January at
the age of twenty-eight. He died from an accidental overdose of medicine.
Joker wears ugly white make-up on his face to cover wounds that shape a
permanent and horrible red smile. Critics and co-stars have praised Ledger's
performance. There is talk of a
possible Oscar nomination for Ledger. The character of the Joker is extremely
evil. Movie critic Roger Ebert describes this Joker as "more than a
villain." He says the Joker's actions
are designed to present his enemies and innocent people with moral tests that
appear to have no good answer.
years ago, "Batman Begins" explored Bruce Wayne's tragic childhood and how he
became Batman. "The Dark Knight" is a
history of the Joker. Here Christopher
Nolan discusses how he and Ledger wanted a fresh representation of the
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: "We really focused in on this idea
of The Joker as an absolute force of pure anarchy. Somebody devoted to chaos. Somebody who truly does just take pleasure
in tearing down the world around himself.
That's the fear we wanted to inspire in the audience. That's the threat we wanted underlying
everything in the film. And that's something we've not seen from this character
before. Heath was able to put together
a number of different attitudes for the character. But he never loses sight of
the humanity of the character. That the
character is a real human being and, therefore, is a real dangerous
Many critics praise "The Dark Knight." Other critics
say Heath Ledger is the only thing that makes the film worth seeing. As the Joker himself says:
HEATH LEDGER: "This town deserves a better class of
criminal. And I'm gonna give it to
American Railroad History
question this week comes from Bosnia. Danijel Djordjic wants to know more about
the history of the American railroad and the Museum of the American Railroad.
important event in railroad history took place in eighteen sixty-two. President
Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act. This approved the first
transcontinental railroad that would be built from Omaha, Nebraska to
Sacramento, California. It would later link the railroads of the eastern United
States with California on the Pacific Coast.
transcontinental railroad was completed, the Central Pacific railroad connected
to the Union Pacific railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah. A gold object was placed in the ground in
eighteen sixty-nine to mark the completion of the railroad. Some consider this
Golden Spike ceremony to be the first live mass media event in American
history. Telegraph machines
communicated that the railroad had been finished to people from the east to
creation of the first transcontinental railroad made travel easier for
Americans. Instead of taking six months to travel from one side of the country
to the other, it now took only one week.
Until about nineteen twenty, almost all
people traveling from one city to another used trains for transportation.
However, in the nineteen forties, cars became a more common way to travel. In
the nineteen fifties, airplanes became popular. Still, the train was able to
stand the test of time.
the government-owned company called Amtrak is the largest operating passenger
train system in the United States. It provides rail service in forty-six states
and carries about twenty-five million passengers a year.
museums have been created to teach people about the history of trains. The
Museum of the American Railroad, in Dallas, Texas, is one of the largest. It
contains parts of many trains from different time periods. Visitors can walk
through the trains to get an idea of what train travel was like. People continue to use trains today to enjoy
the beauty of America.
has been reinventing her sound and image for over twenty-five years. Her latest
record, "Hard Candy," is her eleventh studio album. "Hard Candy" is filled with
dance beats influenced by hip-hop music. Pat Bodnar tells us more.
the song "Beat Goes On" which Madonna performs with the rap artist Kanye West.
When she was ready to make a new album, Madonna was not sure what kind of music
she wanted to make. So she thought about the records she was listening to that
she loved. She decided she wanted to
work with Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and Justin Timberlake to create the new
sound of her album.
"Candy Shop," a sexy song that makes you want to dance. It is a good example of the kind of music
that has made Madonna a star.
has been working on several other projects. She will be performing throughout
Europe and the United States starting next month. She recently finished working
on a documentary film about parentless children with AIDS in Malawi. The film
"I Am Because We Are" has a personal connection for the singer. She recently
adopted a young son from Malawi.
with a song that expresses another form of social concern. In "4 Minutes"
Justin Timberlake and Madonna have only a short amount of time to save the
world. This best-selling song is filled with the energy of two skillful artists
who enjoy making musical magic together.
Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program
written by Caty Weaver, Elizabeth Stern and Dana Demange, who was also the
producer. To read the text of this
program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.