WWI Centenary Lights Out

“The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.

Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary , August 1914, as Britain’s Ultimatum to Germany was about to expire.

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At 10pm tonight we ask you all for just one hour to turn out the lights. Leave one candle or a single light on in memory of the beginning of WWI.

At 11pm on 4th August 1914 Great Britain joined the war changing lives forever.

BBC have commentary on until 11.05pm and there’s an app available called Light’s Out by Jeremy Deller.

Please join the country in remembrance.

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The Crimson Field Review

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For the past six weeks the BBC have treated us to a fantastic war drama called The Crimson Field. This series was based in France and was set in a medical camp close to the front lines.

Throughout the six hours it’s been on our tv screens we’ve managed to see more of women’s lives in WWI than we’d possibly read in a book. It’s definitely bolstered the fact that women were indeed a crucial part of WWI

p01vbnlcThe main three ladies we get to know from the beginning are Kitty Trevelyan (Oona Chaplin), Flora Marshall (Alice St. Clair) and Rosalie Berwick (Marianne Oldham) all of them have their own secrets which we find out in the series. We get to watch them all grow in the short time we know them yet after the finale Sunday night it left me feeling like I’d known them forever. Suranne Jones plays another character who we know from the beginning, she plays Sister Joan Livesy. Sister Livesy is keeping a bigger secret than the rest of the ladies which makes her very interesting to watch.

One part I have to applaud the BBC on tackling is the taboo subject of Germans residing in Britain after the sinking of the Lusitania. We find out early on that Sister Livesy’s fiancé is a German, living in Britain, who goes back to be a German soldier. We find out that Germans who lived in Britain were treat very badly throughout this time. It’s quite an eye opener to see how different nationalities were so strictly divided but then we see this same division between the sexes and particularly ranks within the army.

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Each week we saw a different mix of soldiers come through the doors. This gave quite a visual of how the army, doctors and nurses dealt with different scenarios. A few that cropped up were desertion, keeping homophobia on the quiet, shell shock and mental health problems caused by the war and trust issues between the staff. Put in the time era of WWI and the punishments in place made these serious issues.

In some ways this series has been different to many you’ve seen before. I know when I first heard about it being commissioned I fell in love with the fact that thesuranne-jones-and-hermione-norris-in-the-crimson-field-136389032614410401-140404164356
main characters were female nurses from an everyday background. I loved that the actors were fairly unknown but you had the guiding light of experience such as Hermione Norris, Kevin Doyle and Adam James to keep it all in check so to speak. Everything else you learn about the war is an added bonus. The characters are obviously different to films you may have watched about both WWI and WWII, they feel a lot more gritty and strict. The nurses are also strict and stick with the rules, but you sometimes see the newer nurses facades crack a little reminding you they’re only human and they’re still only young.

In Sunday nights finale, which was a corker, the news comes in about Edith Cavell being executed which ties in with the storyline at that point. Everything within the series works well especially with the writers managing to weave real life stories into the scripts.

tumblr_n4d382JUTh1si51pco1_500The Crimson Field is really a series that needs to be watched. In my opinion it wouldn’t have worked as well for any other war. WWII sticks with women being Land Girls, Lumber Jills and Donut Dollies. WWI only seemed to depict women as nurses, there doesn’t appear to be many other roles for the fairer sex. The series manages to fit all the good, bad, ugly and forbidden of a year in WWI into six hours. Yes some questions don’t seem properly answered but this may leave room for another series… Just remember there’s still a lot of the war left at this point.

Watch The Crimson Field on BBC iPlayer here

Learn more about the series here

The Book Thief Film

thebookthiefposterLast week me and Cat went to see The Book Thief. It’s one of the films I’ve been dying to see since it was released in the US. The book is one of my all time favourites and I love everything about it. In this sense seeing the film scared me… A lot. What if the film has been destroyed through all the changes that might have to be made? We all know what happens with artistic license in films.

I’m here to tell you that it was fantastic. The film and storyline made it easier to picture certain scenes from the book but to me that wasn’t the best part. It was the cast that made the film perfect. Sometimes when you watch a film you find yourself hating or loving an actor because of what they’ve done to the character. In The Book Thief you’ll find Liesel, Hans and Rosa fit Markus Zusak’s character profiles brilliantly, even Death fits in well.

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One of Death’s more memorable quotes

Now what would The Book Thief be without Death? Nothing. Death is integral to the film has he is to the book. During Death’s narration we found ourselves wracking our brains because we knew the voice from somewhere. Roger Allam voices Death and his lovely voice makes you feel all at ease, quite like some of us weirdly felt during Death’s time in the book. Allam has been in just about everything British and US audiences may recognise him from his short time in Game of Thrones.

Onto the main characters…

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Liesel after attending a book burning

I fell in love with Sophie Nélisse’s portrayal of Liesel Meminger. I’ve never seen Nélisse in anything before but her face will stick with me forever. Her eyes are stunning and draw you into her on the screen. She fits what I came to expect of Liesel though out the film; quiet but confident, a good friend with knowledge beyond her years but, most importantly, she fit the genre of the film like she’d actually lived through it. We all know these are emotional films to make yet the way she play’s Liesel is full of emotion for a child of her age. She’s not scared of the role or detached from it and when you watch certain emotional scenes she doesn’t struggle, she draws off those actors around her. Sophie Nélisse is someone to look out for if her role in this film is anything to go by.

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Liesel & Rudy

I’ve always been a big fan of Geoffrey Rush and we all know who he is. When it was first announced that The Book Thief had been optioned it was like no one could begin to speculate who would play who. When Rush was announced to play Hans Hubermann no one complained. Everyone knew he could pull it off. Hans is exactly how he is in the book and it’s all down to how Rush plays him. He plays such a playful, helpful soul with a big heart, enough to encompass everyone around him. It was fun to see him being berated by his wife but watch him still be the man of the house (even though we know that’s technically Rosa.) We’ve seen Rush play all types of roles and he made this one work for him too although after watching the film and re-reading the book I’m convinced the role was made for him. Rush and Nélisse’s pairing as father and daughter was brilliant casting because of the way they acted and had fun together. Just look at the way they smile (in the films momentary happy moments) and bond over sadness when it occurs.

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Liesel, Rosa & Hans

Rosa Hubermann, in the book, reminds me of a few of my German friends Oma’s (grandma’s) They take no crap from no one and you do as you’re told or else. Might sound strange to us but I’ve seen them in action and they are basically leader’s of the household. Rosa is played by Emily Watson in the film and she certainly pulls off this demeanour throughout the film, even seeming harsh when she’s trying to be loving. She has a few choice phrases throughout the film which definitely brought a smile to my face, she calls Liesel Saumensch a lot through the film which means “female pig”. Watson keeps Rosa on the same level as the book by making her strict but not abusive. You can imagine the upheaval caused bringing an unknown child and then man into the house but Watson quietly but surely shows us that Rosa does have a heart and does care in her own way. The relationship she has with Rush is fantastic and the fact that everyone outside the household knows she’s boss really makes clear the divides in society at that time.

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Max & Liesel in hiding

So these four are the characters that really set the film apart for me. I could probably go on forever about them that’s why I’m not writing too much on Rudy and Max. I don’t think they really need words because they fit what Zusak cast in the book. Nico Liersch plays Liesel’s best friend Rudy and will have you crying by the end of the film. He makes you remember young love. Ben Schnetzer takes on the role of Max and gives a very believable performance of a man not just on the run and in hiding but misses the real world and things we, today, take for granted.

The film is well worth seeing even if you haven’t read the book and will give you a great insight into the other side of  WWII. There’s also a chance you’ll shed some tears, you’ve been warned.

Early-ish night ramblings of a girl too excited to sleep AKA We just won Hockey.

Right so I’ve been watching the England women play hockey against the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Championships (EHC) which is held in Boom, Belgium.

If you were planning on watching the replay over on the BBC STOP READING NOW… Or just carry on. It’s very exciting.

England were up 1-0 after a own goal (yay!) then Eva de Goede scored a superb goal to equalise (I would boo but it was a pretty awesome goal).

The second half saw Sally Walton stretchered off from a very serious, nasty looking foot/ankle injury. She received gas and air and even through TV speakers you could hear her moan in pain. Watching the replay of her fall over from side stepping made everyone watching wince.

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Photo courtesy of Getty images/ BBC

The 70 minutes ended at 1-1… So we went to penalties. England and penalties don’t usually mix but the last time we went to penalty shuttles (that’s hockey speak for penalty shot/strike) against the Dutch in 1991 we won. Alex Danson and Helen Richardson scored for us! But the Dutch equalized leaving it 2-2 out of 5. Sudden Death time *dun dun dunnn* All I really need to say is that the Dutch missed and Danson scored. TAKING US THROUGH TO SATURDAY’S FINAL!! Yes we beat the Euro and Olympic champions to get through to the final… ON PENALTIES. Take that football! I screamed a lot but it was very necessary.

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I digress slightly. The hero of this match was the superb England goal keeper Maddie Hinch. She’s like Supergirl on the pitch but in protective clothing. Watch a replay. She’s very quick and agile. A force to be reckoned with, I’m just glad she’s on our side.

So on Saturday at 3pm I will be watching the Gold medal match against Germany because, lets face it, it’ll be a great match. Until then my thoughts are with Sally Walton in hoping her injury looked and sounded worse than it was and with our girls for playing brilliantly!

For more information on Hockey or playing in your area visit http://www.englandhockey.co.uk and to watch the games live http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/hockey

Berlin: Land of Currywurst, great museums and beer

So we’re back from our week in Berlin. The city is as beautiful as ever and still as much to offer in its wisdom, history and food. We didn’t want to come back but washing needed doing and I’m snowboarding … Continue reading