Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Testament of Youth

I admit I decided to watch Testament of Youth, because Kit Harington plays one of the characters. I can be shallow, (I usually look for stories that will improve my mood rather than stories that make me want to cry) which is why I never stopped to check what the film is about. I did not expect this story behind the film poster presented on IMDB. There is no way back now though. I saw it, and it left me with a lump in my throat. 

This story is about a young British girl, who wants to become writer. She fights her father to let her go to Oxford. She's very close to her younger brother, Edward, who has high hopes for her and fights to get her into a school as well. He sees how hard she works. Trying to make it in a world dominated by men. After taking an admission exam, she is allowed to go to Oxford. Vera falls in love with one of Edward's friends, Roland. Together with him she is planning on going to the University of Oxford. However that's when the first world war begins and Roland goes to France instead, at the very beginning of the war. Not long after Edward also sets out to go to war along with some of his friends. Vera decides to become a nurse, for the time being. She wants to be useful too, like her brother and her friends. I think we all know how 'story' of the first world war ends, and considering this story was based on a memoir written by Vera Brittain, I don't think I have to tell you what happens in this particular story. We know how devastating and unfortunate war can be..
I cannot be the only one who watches war films and thinks: no. I will not go through this. I will not lose my brothers, my love, my friends and family. I will not send them off to fight others who also have a family back home. I will do no such thing, because I do not want anyone to do it to me. Yet everyday I also worry that we are getting closer to it again. If we go towards that now, it won't go the same way. It won't be a matter of one life for another. We won't fight each other man to man. We would drop bombs, unable to count the people lost because of a single bomb. There won't be nurses trying to safe those who are wounded, because no one would survive such a fatal strike. There would be no letters to let us know someone we loved has died, because the bodies will be lost. There will be nothing left to identify. There must be someone out there, saying no. Thinking no. Hoping no, just like me. I know I said I can't change things and therefore I will focus on things I can change.. like passing my exam tomorrow. But that doesn't mean I don't worry about it, because I do.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Just another day

Saturday, a day like any other. Only this particular day is different for neurosurgeon Henry Perowne. Saturday the 15th of February of the year 2003, to be exact. This book by Ian McEwan describes Henry as he lives through what he believes to be just another Saturday. However slowly but steadily you come to realize that it is not just a normal Saturday. People are crowding the streets to oppose a war that is about to happen over in Iraq and Henry feels slightly more aware of his conciousness than he usually does.

Henry is a successful doctor, who married the love of his life, due to what he believes was sheer luck. Rosalind was one of his patients years ago when he was merely a junior surgeon. Years later they have two beautiful children, Diasy and Theo. Diasy is a poet who is about to publish her first book and Theo is a musician. In the book you follow Henry his thoughts all through the day. He's not the narrator but rather the focalizer. You experience the story through his 'stream of conciousness'. He has a busy day ahead of him. First a squash match with his colleague and friend Jay, after which he has to do groceries, see his mother in her nursing home, then make dinner because his daughter and his father-in-law are coming over for dinner. He hasn't seen Diasy in six months and he is excited to finally have his whole family in the same hosue again. However when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he watches a plain crash into London. Or at least what he believes to be a crash. It's a surreal experience, especially because as the day progresses you learn that people are demonstrating against participation in the war that America has set out to begin. A war in Iraq, to catch the terrorists that caused 9/11 and however many casualties it will take to find them and take them down. After witnessing the crash, Henry  is day changes. The day that was going to be a normal Saturday turns out to be anything but a normal Saturday as the day progresses.

Reading this book at this time might have been a tat too much, for me as well as the rest of my class (mandatory read for University). We now know what comes of that particular war, the war that is central to this book. We live in it's shadow. And after the 13th of November I feel saddened by all of it. I, too, am ignorant much like Henry, about these things. Blessed that these wars were far away. Yet they are creeping in, coming closer. And none of us know what is next, an issue also discussed in this book. An interesting read with interesting perspectives to big issues that are still central to our lives, whether we want them to be or not.

On the one hand Diasy is telling Henry to open his eyes and see what is about to happen, and in fact actually did happen, to a lot of innocent people so far away from their home. Yet at the same time Theo is telling Henry to stop thinking about all the worries of the world and instead focus on the small things. Two very opposed views on life. I feel that I have been stuck in between both of these. On the one hand I know none of us may ever truly be happy if we worry about ever little/big thing that is going on outside of our small lives, but focussing solely on our own small lives and happiness seems to be selfish, ignorant and mean. Is there truly a good way to live? Is striving for your own happiness really selfish? Everybody seems to have an opinion about it. I don't think I do. I'm indecisive about it.

I won't pretend to know what's wrong and what's right. I won't pretend to know what the appropriate course of action is. And I know that just continuing about my day, studying for exams I will have rather than worrying about refugees might be selfish. But I don't know how to solve that problem, I don't know how to solve this issue that has been in our lives for god knows how long. I do know how to study for my exams and make sure that I make it through an other day. So that's what I will do for now. No matter what anyone else thinks about that.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Giver

The Giver is based on a novel with the same name, published in 1993, written by Lois Lowry. Like many others might have mentioned before, this book is slightly like Divergent, The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. It has a character who changes everything. Not on purpose, it just happens. However those books were all published more than ten years after the Giver was released so I think it's unfair to compare this book to those books. It should be the other way around.

'In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the 'real' world'. - IMDB

Unfortunately I did not hear about this story prior to reading Divergent and The Hunger Games. I decided not to read the book at all due to the fact that I was not looking to read another one of those books, which is a shame obviously. I however did watch the movie and it surprised me a little bit. It never appeared in the cinema's in this country (even though I was waiting for that) which made me believe that the movie was no good. This was not the case. The story is pretty solid. The acting is pretty good as well. But that was to be expected since the movie stars Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Jeff Bridges, Alexander Skarsgard and Brenton Thwaites.

This story is about a boy called Jonas who is chosen to learn from the Giver. When asked if he is strong enough and prepared for this task Jonas has no idea what he is about to face. He is asked to never discuss anything he sees or learns in these sessions with the Giver, but he fails to keep most things a secret. He shares it with one of his childhood friends called Fiona. She doesn't understand what he is trying to do but she trusts him enough to listen to him. After a while she starts to see what he is seeing and things start to unravel. In this community it is not appreciated to sway from the rules and Jonas is doing so. It's thrilling but it wasn't very catching. I found the movie a tat boring. The story is strong and good but it was too familiar to really catch my attention.