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The movie Jurassic World has opened to worldwide records.  Critical acclaim has been less forthcoming.  Manohla Dargis of the New York Times said: “In Jurassic World, a galumphing franchise reboot, there’s more flab than muscle as it lumbers from scene to scene.”  Likewise unimpressed, Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal observed that star Chris “Pratt’s charm is no match for the crude filmmaking or the stupid plot that keeps him running around in a constant state of artificial animation… .”  Harsh.  The film raked in about $209 million for its first weekend alone. The reviews must have hurt the producers’ feelings … all the way to the bank.

In addition to the premiere of another installment in a dinosaur flick series, another history-making event took place just recently – the 800th anniversary of he adoption of Magna Carta.
While King John did satisfy some of the barons’ personal grievances, he then secretly wrote the Pope asking him to cancel Magna Carta on the grounds that he had been “forced to sign this awful thing!”  The Pope agreed and “declared the Charter to be “not only shameful and demeaning but also illegal and unjust.”  Now THAT’S a bad review!  Not content simply to hurl rotten tomatoes, the Pope went on to declare Magna Carta  “null, and void of all validity for ever;” under threat of excommunication, the King was not to observe the charter, nor the barons try to enforce it. Papal bull, indeed.  So, John continued to build up his mercenary army and not trusting John’s intentions, the rebel barons held on to London and maintained their own army.  So while we’re celebrating Magna Carta’s 800th birthday, if all the Powers That Be were alive today to tell it, to their minds, the Great Charter has been repealed almost that long.  But, perhaps, therein lies the importance of Magna Carta: While by no means a blueprint for democracy (or anything else), someone other than the king and the Pope had a seat at the PTB table.Over the centuries most of the Great Charter’s clauses have been repealed. Only three of the original 63 clauses remain in force: those providing for the freedom of the Church of England; the protection of the liberties and free customs of the City of London; and the protection of individuals from imprisonment or punishment without due process.

David Carpenter, who has just finished writing a 600-page book on Magna Carta, said that the Charter asserts “for the first time in world history a hugely important constitutional principle of the foundation of liberty, which is that the ruler is subject to the law.”  It also served as a justification for the historical execution of King Charles I in 1649.  All of this is pretty heady stuff.  I’ll let it all sink in and wait for Ted 2 on June 26.

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