Category: War Movies

The Book Thief

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The Book Thief Movie

Taglines: Courage beyond words.

Based on the beloved bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the inspirational story of a spirited and courageous young girl who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a new family in World War II Germany.

In 1938, the young girl Liesel Meminger is traveling by train with her mother and her younger brother when he dies. Her mother buries the boy in a cemetery by the tracks and Liesel picks up a book, “The Gravediggers Handbook”, which was left on the grave of her brother and brings it with her. Liesel is delivered to a foster family in a small town and later she learns that her mother left her because she is a communist. Her stepmother, Rosa Hubermann, is a rude but caring woman and her stepfather, Hans Hubermann, is a simple kind-hearted man.

Liesel befriends her next door neighbor, the boy Rudy Steiner, and they go together to the school. When Hans discovers that Liesel cannot read, he teaches her using her book and Liesel becomes an obsessed reader. During a Nazi speech where the locals are forced to burn books in a bonfire, Liesel recovers one book for her and the Major’s wife Ilsa Hermann witnesses her action. Meanwhile Hans hides the Jewish Max Vandenburg.

The Book Thief is an American-German war drama film directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Sophie Nélisse. Based on the novel of the same name by Markus Zusak and adapted by Michael Petroni, the film is about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the Nazi era. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home. The film features a musical score by Oscar-winning composer John Williams.

The Book Thief Movie - Sophie Nelisse

About the Story

In April 1938, a voice representing Death (Roger Allam) tells about how the young Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) has piqued his interest. Liesel is traveling on a train with her mother (Heike Makatsch) and younger brother when her brother dies. At his burial she picks up a book that has been dropped by his graveside (a gravedigger’s manual). Liesel is then delivered to foster parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) Hubermann because her mother, a Communist, is fleeing Germany. When she arrives, Liesel makes an impression on a neighboring boy, Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch).

Rudy accompanies her on her first day of school. When the teacher asks Liesel to write her name on the chalkboard, she is only able to write two “X”s, showing that she doesn’t know how to read. Later that day, she is taunted by her schoolmates who chant “dummkopf” (“fool” in German) at her. One of the boys, Franz Deutscher, challenges her to read just one word to which Liesel responds by beating him up. She impresses Rudy, and they become fast friends. When Hans, her foster father, realizes that Liesel cannot read, he begins to teach her, using the book that she took from the graveside. Liesel becomes obsessed with reading anything she can get her hands on.

Liesel and Rudy become members of the Hitler Youth movement. While at a Nazi book burning ceremony, Liesel and Rudy are bullied into throwing books onto the bonfire by Franz, but Liesel is upset to see the books being burned. When the bonfire ends, and everyone but she has left, she grabs a book that has not been burned. She is seen by Ilsa Hermann (Barbara Auer), the mayor’s (Rainer Bock) wife. Hans discovers that she has taken the book and tells her she must keep it a secret from everyone.

The Book Thief Movie

One day, Rosa asks Liesel to take the laundry to the mayor’s house. Liesel realizes that the woman who saw her taking the book is the mayor’s wife, and she is scared she will be found out. Instead, Ilsa takes her into their library and tells Liesel she can come by anytime and read as much as she’d like. Liesel also finds out about Johann here, who was the son of Ilsa and is now missing. Ilsa feels the loss of her son profoundly and has kept his library intact to commemorate him. One day Liesel is found reading by the mayor who not only puts a stop to her visits but dismisses Rosa as their laundress. Liesel continues to “borrow” books from the mayor’s library by climbing through a window.

There is a night of violence against the Jews (known historically as Kristallnacht). Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer) and his mother, who are Jewish, are told by a friend that one of them (but only one) can escape, and Max’s mother forces him to go. Max goes to the Hubermanns’ house where Rosa and Hans give him shelter. Max is the son of the man who saved Hans’s life in World War I.

Max is initially allowed to stay in Liesel’s room while recovering from his trip, and they begin to become friends over their mutual hatred of Hitler since Liesel blames Hitler for taking her mother away. World War II begins, initially making most of the children in Liesel’s neighborhood very happy. Max is later moved to the basement so that he can move around more, but it is colder in the basement, and Max becomes dangerously ill. Liesel helps Max recover by reading to him with every spare moment.

The Book Thief Movie Poster

The Book Thief

Directed by: Brian Percival
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Sandra Nedeleff
Screenplay by: Markus Zusak, Michael Petroni
Production Design by: Simon Elliott
Cinematography by: Florian Ballhaus
Film Editing by: John Wilson
Costume Design by: Anna B. Sheppard
Set Decoration by: Mark Rosinski
Music by: John Williams
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: November 15, 2013

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Love and Honor

Love and Honor Movie

When Dalton Joiner, a young soldier in Vietnam, gets dumped by his hometown girlfriend Jane, he vows to sneak home during the war to win her back. His best buddy, Mickey Wright, never one to miss out on a wild time, decides to go with him. They must get back to America, change her mind and return to the war without getting caught.

The two soldiers end up at the University of Michigan, where they find Jane, now Juniper, and her stunning and passionate new friend Candace, right in the heart of the counter culture – and the anti-war movement. During one week in July 1969, while the rest of the world focuses on man’s first steps on the moon, Wright and Joiner learn the true meaning of love, honor and commitment.

Love and Honor is a romantic drama film directed by Danny Mooney. It is Mooney’s feature-film directorial debut. The film, based on a true story of a Michigan soldier, takes place during the Vietnam War and is set in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas. The story follows a soldier who, after being dumped by his girlfriend, decides to return home secretly from war with his best friend to win her back.

Love and Honor Movie Poster

Love and Honur

Directed by: Danny Mooney
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Teresa Palmer, Aimee Teegarden, Chris Lowell, Wyatt Russell
Screenplay by: Jim Burnstein, Garrett K. Schiff
Production Design by: Ethan Tobman
Cinematography by: Theo van de Sande
Film Editing by: Glenn Garland
Costume Design by: Karyn Wagner
Set Decoration by: Sandhya Huchingson
Music by: Alex Heffes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug content, sexuality, language and brief violence.
Studio: IFC Films
Release Date: March 22, 2013

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Emperor

Emperor Movie

Emperor is an American-Japanese post-World War II film directed by Peter Webber, marking his first film in five years. Tommy Lee Jones and Matthew Fox star in lead roles as General Douglas MacArthur and Brigadier General Bonner Fellers respectively. It is a joint American and Japanese production.

The drama of war has long been prime cinematic territory — but it is often the hidden aftermath of war that raises the most provocative and intriguing human questions. In the shadowy gap between when battle has ended but before peace has broken out, emotions are raw, nerves and hearts are on edge and clashing agendas play out, as enemies vie to cross the vast distance between the instinct for vengeance and the dream of reconciliation.

EMPEROR, the first contemporary Hollywood film set during the U.S.-led occupation of Japan at the close of World War II, unfolds a story of both secret love and international intrigue in a post-war world where trust is in short supply and the stakes for the future could not be higher.

The story is based on the events of 1945, following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when Japan’s sacred leader, Emperor Hirohito, unconditionally surrendered. Faced with leading the Allied Powers’ occupation of the ravaged country, President Harry S. Truman tasked the American hero General Douglas MacArthur with the epic, make-or-break job of restoring order and preparing the way for democratic elections.

Emperor Movie

Yet even before he arrived in a firebombed Tokyo reduced to rubble on August 30th, MacArthur knew he faced an extraordinary dilemma: what to do about the Emperor? Should the man revered by many as a god and the living embodiment of the Japanese spirit stand trial and likely be hanged to pay for the war’s brutal crimes — or could there be any other way of moving forward while the whole world was watching?

Behind the scenes, one man was given just a few days to investigate if the Emperor’s prosecution should proceed: Bonner Fellers, an American with a deep love of Japanese culture, who would ultimately help MacArthur choose a bold course. Fellers’ story had been largely lost in the vast annals of World War II, known only to hardcore history buffs, until he became the hero of a riveting screenplay by David Klass and Vera Blasi.

Diving deep into the historical records, Klass and Blasi also opened their story up into imagined territory — as Fellers finds himself swept up not only into a dangerous political game, but into a driven search for the Japanese woman who introduced him to the soulful beauty of Japan and has haunted his heart ever since.

The Perilous Journey to Peace

The journey of EMPEROR began with producer Yoko Narahashi (THE LAST SAMURAI) who has long been interested in the fertile territory where East and West. As a child, Narahashi had been riveted by stories from her grandfather, Teizaburo Sekiya, who served in the high palace as a key member of Emperor Hirohito’s Ministry of the Interior — and played a role in bringing MacArthur and the Emperor together for the meeting that would change their fates.

Decades later, the war-scarred Japan that Narahashi’s grandfather described seemed almost unimaginable — and she became fascinated by just how it was that the most dire of enemies had been transformed with blinding speed into the closest of allies as Japan rebuilt from the ashes.

Narahashi knew there were many personal stories about how the occupation integrated the past into a new future for both Japan and the U.S., but one in particular caught her eye. This was the story of Bonner Fellers, who from the outside might seem to be a minor figure among General MacArthur’s newly arrived team in 1945 — but turned out to have made himself into a history-changing human bridge between two ways of life in those days of peril and mistrust.

“I was very intrigued by what I saw as a truly international story, a story about both Japan and the West,” says Narahashi. “I’m always fascinated by unsung heroes and when I learned about Bonner Fellers, I realized that here was someone who no one really knows yet, but he had a great deal to do with the changing of history. That was a very compelling start.”

As Narahashi began to research Fellers and to read some of his writings from the war, she found that he sometimes wrote about visiting an unnamed “friend” in Japan and she wondered if perhaps there was a love story lurking within. There could be no proof, but Narahashi saw an opportunity for a writer’s imagination to take the next step. Thus was born the seed of the fictional character of Aya, the alluring schoolteacher who reveals to Fellers a side of Japan that will forever change his mind about the country — even as the pair is star-crossed by war.

Narahashi’s instincts were affirmed when she told her 101 year-old uncle, Teizaburo Sekiya’s son, about the movie. She recalls: “He gave his blessing to us and when I asked him if he had a message to give us, he said, ‘Make it a burning love story.'”

Narahashi brought the idea of a burning, cross-cultural love story in occupied Japan to the novelist and screenwriter David Klass, known for such thrillers as KISS THE GIRLS and DESPERATE MEASURES, but who also had worked as a schoolteacher in Japan himself. Klass drafted the first screenplay.

In the meantime, a stellar production team came into place including Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff of Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment, known for a wide range of high-profile films spanning from SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE and THE SOLOIST to GHOST RIDER and DAREDEVIL and actor / film producer, Eugene Nomura. Each was drawn by the potential for blending history, intrigue and romance — and by a truth-based tale that has never before been told on the screen.

“I’ve always wanted to do a movie about this period,” says Foster, “and I found the story of how MacArthur and Fellers had to make this profound decision about the Emperor in such a short period of time, under the most extreme pressures, very dramatic. Then, I fell head over heels for the script’s love story.”

Foster was especially captivated by the idea of bringing to light a part of World War II that has so far largely escaped cinematic exploration. “People have seen a lot about life during the war, but the story that hasn’t been told is how after the war ended, the peace was negotiated,” he notes. “This story is something fresh that illuminates a period many people thought they knew in a different way — and I find that very intriguing.”

Producer Eugene Nomura saw the story not only as historical — but also as compellingly relevant to our own times of international conflicts, global uncertainty as well as unprecedented natural disaster in Japan. “This is a story about how Japan was rebuilt after the war, and Japan after the tsunami of 2011 in some ways looks similar to Japan in 1945,” he observes. “So I think it means a lot to tell this story right now about the country trying to rebuild and make it work for the right reasons.”

To further hone the script, Foster brought in screenwriter Vera Blasi, known for her passionate love of history and finesse with psychologically rich characters. Right away, she found the heart of the story. “To me it’s about how justice and truth are juxtaposed with political expedience and what will be the greater good for the world,” she explains. “I just find that fascinating and it continues to be very important in our world.”

Blasi saw the love story between Fellers and Aya as the perfect vehicle to tell the story of two seemingly disparate cultures who must find common ground to co-exist. “The political story and the love story bring in two different views of the world in 1945,” she comments.

Indeed, in the final script, the depth of Bonner Fellers’ yearning to find Aya is both the source of his respect for Japanese culture and his inspiration for trying to uncover if the Emperor might have tried to halt the terrible consequences of the war. Aya’s spirit haunts Fellers’ every move, even if he does not yet know her fate.

“A love story is always universal,” sums up Narahashi, “but the beauty of the love story in EMPEROR is that it leads an American man to make a momentous decision for Japan.”

Emperor Movie Poster

Emperor

Directed by: Peter Webber
Starring: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune, Kaori Momoi, Toshiyuki Nishida
Screenplay by: Vera Blasi, David Klass
Production Design by: Grant Major
Cinematography by: Stuart Dryburgh
Film Editing by: Chris Plummer
Costume Design byB Ngila Dickson
Set Decoration by: Daniel Birt
Art Direction by: Jill Cormack
Music by: Alex Heffes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent content, brief strong language and smoking (historical).
STudio: Lionsgate Films, Roadside Attractions
Release Date: March 8, 2013

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Lore

Lore Movie

TaglinesB When your life is a lie, who can you trust?

Left to fend for herself when her SS officer father and mother, a staunch Nazi believer, are captured by the victorious Allies at the end of World War II, Lore, a fourteen-year-old German girl (striking newcomer Saskia Rosendahl,) must lead her four siblings on a harrowing journey across a devastated country. When she meets the charismatic and mysterious young refugee Thomas, (Kai Malina, The White Ribbon,) Lore soon finds her world shattered by feelings of hatred and desire as she must put her trust in the very person she was always taught to hate in order to survive.

Lore tells a bleak, uncommon, and harrowing tale of a Nazi siblings traverse across war-ravaged Germany in search of their grandmother’s home following the imprisonment of their parents. Directed by Australian director Cate Shortland (AFI winner for Somersault), and written by Shortland and Robin Mukherjee, this international co-production screened at the Sydney Film Festival as part of the Official Competition. Recently Lore won the Audience Award at the Locarno Film Festival, and is set to screen at this month’s Toronto International Film Festival. Featuring a breakthrough role from Saskia Rosendahl, this is a stirring and emotionally resonating war drama that comes highly recommended.

Lore Movie - Saskia Rosendahl

Lore is set during 1945 and the fall of the German resistance. With their SS father (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and mother (Ursina Lardi) imprisoned by American and Russian forces, and abandoned to face an uncertain fate, Hannelore (Saskia Rosendahl) takes charge of the rest of her family – her younger sister Liesel (Nele Trebs), twins Jurgen (Mika Seidel) and Gunther (Andrei Frid) and baby brother, Peter – guiding them across the perilous countryside towards their grandmother’s house in Hamburg. On the road the children face the punishing conditions, experience distressing sights and find their health suffer, and along the way Hannelore begins to better understand the consequences of her parents’ actions, come of age, and accept responsibility for her family.

Lore tells an uncommon tale set during an accurately recreated historical period. At the centre of this tale is Lore, our complex heroine. Having been raised in privilege and taught that Jews are not to be trusted and an enemy to her family, she is reluctant to allow Thomas (Kai-Peter Malina), a young man they discover hiding out in an abandoned house, to become their traveling companion. Initially, when he follows the group from a distance, Lore resists his attempts to reach out to her, but ultimately becomes drawn to him out of comfort and sexual desire and he assists them on several occasions; most importantly passing through patrols.

Lore begins to understand what is required for her family to make it, offering up scraps of jewellery and even sexual favors. Thomas aids them without any expected compensation, but his Jewish papers present a challenge to Lore’s morality. Her innocence is almost completely lost over the course of the journey, as her confusing adolescent emotions begin to influence her decisions. Sympathising with these characters could have been difficult, but it remains emotionally involving because we understand that the children are innocent and have been raised to accept their parents’ political affiliations. Understanding that the children need to have some hope, Lore doesn’t reveal their parents’ fates, and as a result they are so confused by the situation that they believe they will again be united with their parents at their grandmother’s house.

The tense atmosphere – which captures a reality as grim as they come and offers up a suffocating level of foreboding – is beautifully conveyed in the stunning photography courtesy of Adam Arkapaw (Snowtown and Animal Kingdom), one of Australia’s best DP’s. You feel every step the children make through the mud, and can almost smell the stench of death surrounding them. Lore is also very effectively scored by Max Richter, and the young actors all deliver mature performances. Rosendahl, especially, is outstanding. She is a young actress to watch after this career-defining role.

The conclusion is powerful because it is evident how much Lore has changed – coming to terms with her family’s accountability and adjusting her own prejudices having learned that they never would have made it without the aid of Thomas, considered a friendly to the American forces. The emotions that weigh on her having turned Thomas away, knowing that he would not be welcomed to her grandmother’s house, involves heartbreaking revelation. This is a satisfying and very well crafted film from Cate Shortland, and having not seen Somersault, I’d now like to see from where her vision has evolved.

Lore Movie Poster

Lore

Directed by: Cate Shortland
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, André Frid, Mika Seidel, Kai-Peter Malina
Screenplay by: Cate Shortland, Robin Mukherjee, Rachel Seiffert
Production Design by: Silke Fischer, Jochen Dehn
Cinematography by: Adam Arkapaw
Film Editing by: Veronika Jenet
Costume Design by: Stefanie Bieker
Art Direction by: Jochen Dehn
Music by: Max Richter
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Music Box Films
Release Date: February 8, 2013

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Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty - Jessica Chastain

Maya is a CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.

For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: To find and eliminate Osama Bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt an the world’s most dangerous man.

Zero Dark Thirty is an American action thriller war film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Billed as “the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man”, the film dramatizes the decade-long manhunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. This search eventually leads to the discovery of his compound in Pakistan, and the military raid on it that resulted in his death on May 2, 2011.

Zero Dark Thirty - Jessica Chastain

About the Story

Maya, a young U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officer in 2003, has spent her entire brief career since graduating from high school focused solely on gathering intelligence related to Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, following the terrorist organization’s September 11 attacks in the United States. She has just been reassigned to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to work with a fellow officer, Dan. During the first months of her assignment, Maya often accompanies Dan to a black site for his continuing interrogation of Ammar al-Baluchi, a detainee with suspected links to several of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks.

Dan subjects the detainee to torture, including waterboarding, and humiliation. He and Maya eventually trick Ammar into divulging that an old acquaintance, who is using the alias Abu Ahmed, is working as a personal courier for bin Laden. Other detainees corroborate this, with some claiming Abu Ahmed delivers messages between bin Laden and a man referred to as Abu Faraj. In 2005, Abu Faraj is apprehended by the C.I.A. and local police in Pakistan. Maya interrogates Abu Faraj under torture, but he continues to deny knowing a courier with such a name. Maya interprets this as an attempt by Abu Faraj to conceal the importance of Abu Ahmed.

Maya continues to sift through masses of data and information, using a variety of technology, hunches and sharing insights. She concentrates on finding Abu Ahmed, determined to use him to find bin Laden. During a span of five years, she survives the 2008 Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing as well as being shot at in her car by armed men. Dan, departing on reassignment, warns Maya about a possible change in politics, suggesting that the new administration may prosecute those officers who had been involved in torture.

Zero Dark Thirty - Jessica Chastain

A fellow analyst researching Moroccan intelligence archives comes to Maya and suggests that Abu Ahmed is Ibrahim Sayeed. Maya agrees and contacts Dan, who is working at the C.I.A. headquarters. Maya has found that Ibrahim Sayeed had a brother, Habib, and theorizes the C.I.A.’s supposed photograph of Abu Ahmed was of Habib, as he was said to bear a striking resemblance to Ibrahim and was killed in Afghanistan.

Dan uses C.I.A. funds to purchase a Lamborghini for a Kuwaiti prince in exchange for the telephone number of Sayeed’s mother. The C.I.A. traces calls to the mother. One caller’s persistent use of tradecraft to avoid detection leads Maya to conclude the caller is Abu Ahmed. At Maya’s behest and with the support of her supervisors, numerous C.I.A. operatives are deployed to search for and identify Abu Ahmed. They locate him in his vehicle and eventually track him to a large urban compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the Pakistan Military Academy.

The C.I.A. puts the compound under heavy surveillance for several months, using a variety of methods. Although they are confident from circumstantial evidence that bin Laden is there, they cannot prove this photographically. Meanwhile, the President’s National Security Advisor tasks the C.I.A. with producing a plan to capture or kill bin Laden if it can be confirmed that he is in the compound. An agency team devises a plan to use two top-secret stealth helicopters (developed at Area 51) flown by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment to secretly enter Pakistan and insert members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group to raid the compound. Before briefing President Barack Obama, the C.I.A. Director holds a meeting of his top officials, who assess only a 60–80% chance that bin Laden rather than another high-value target is living in the compound. Maya, also in attendance, states the chances are 100%.

The raid is approved and is executed on May 2, 2011. Although execution is complicated by one of the helicopters crashing, the SEALs gain entry and kill a number of people within the compound, among them a man on the compound’s top floor who is revealed to be bin Laden. They bring bin Laden’s body back to a U.S. base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where Maya visually confirms the identity of the corpse. Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger. The pilot asks her where she wants to go but she does not reply. He leaves for the cockpit and she weeps.

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Poster

Zero Dark Thirty

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle
Screenplay by: Mark Boal
Production Design by: Jeremy Hindle
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Film Editing by: William Goldenberg, Dylan Tichenor
Costume Design by: George L. Little
Set Decoration by: Lisa Chugg
Art Direction by: Ben Collins, Rod McLean
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Screenplay by: R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language.
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures
Release Date: January 11th, 2013

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