Thursday, June 10, 2010

I forgot!

Ondine came out on Friday and I completely forgot about it! Not that I could've seen it...it's a limited release and it isn't playing anywhere near here that I can find. After much searching it seems likely that I'll only be able to watch it if I download it from Amazon.
Anyway since I can't do a review, I instead offer the tale of Ondine (Undine) from German folklore.
Ondine was a beautiful water nymph who lived in the River Danube, and like most mystical beings she was immortal. If she should ever fall in love with a mortal man and have his child, she would become mortal and age and die. Knowing this, she avoided men. Despite her avoidance she somehow crossed paths with the handsome Sir Lawrence and lost her heart to him. He too, was in awe of her beauty and charm and began to spend more and more time with her.  
He eventually decided to make Ondine his wife and broke off his engagement to a young noblewoman Gerta. Sir Lawrence and Ondine were married and Sir Lawrence vowed "My every waking breath shall be my pledge of love and faithfulness to you."
A year after their marriage Ondine gave birth to a beautiful baby boy which couldn't have made the couple happier. Unfortunately after the birth Ondine began to age like a normal mortal.  As Ondine aged, Lawrence lost interest in her and began to carouse with young women at court.
One afternoon while walking near the stables on their estate, Ondine heard her husband snoring. Deciding to surprise him she silently crept into the stables. What she saw broke her heart. There was her husband in the arms of his former fiance Gerta. She had sacrificed her beauty and immortality for this man and he had repaid her by being unfaithful. 
Ondine angrily pointed her finger at Lawrence and he woke feeling as if he had been kicked. When he saw his wife he was embarassed, and that quickly turned to fear. Ondine cursed him, stating, "You swore faithfulness to me with every waking breath, and I accepted your oath. So be it. As long as you are awake, you shall have your breath, but should you ever fall asleep, then that breath will be taken from you and you will die!" With that Ondine was never seen again, some say she took her son with her back to the Danube.
From that day Sir Lawrence tried to stay awake to avoid the curse, but naturally he became fatigued, fell asleep, and died

There is actually a condition that is known as Ondine's Curse ( Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome .)  Basically a person with this disease cannot breathe without thinking about it. If they fall asleep they could suffocate, like Ondine's unfaithful husband, unless someone is around monitoring them.  Scary stuff!

A longer better version of the tale can be read here.

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