The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part One

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One Review

On the 19th November I spent seven hours in a cinema…Why? I took part in The Hunger Games: Triple Bill. Watching both the first and second films as a lead up to the muchly anticipated third instalment of the franchise.

After five hours suddenly a ripple of excitement went through the audience. As the lights dimmed and the title came up we couldn’t help but wonder what will this movie bring? Having read the book I already had an idea as to where they would cut off the separate parts yet, we would wait and see.

Once more Francis Lawrence beautifully directs the film, with stunning long shots of desolated landscapes; the destruction of District 12 to close ups of a traumatised Katniss. Many questioned how the film would work in two parts and having now seen the piece, well it is perfectly cut and keeps you on the edge of your seat. If you haven’t read the books (like one of my friends) you’re in for many shocks, twists and emotional heartbreak.

Jennifer Lawrence portrays a side of Katniss we have yet to see and again she demonstrates her skill as an actress. Katniss is broken in the film, having to slowly build herself back up after the events of the previous film (loosing Peeta to the capitol and discovering that District 12 has been destroyed). There are much less frilly Capitol antics in this film rather, we are shown harrowing shots of skeletons in the newly destroyed districts, we focus on the death that is occurring with those who are dying, but mainly we follow Katniss and her need to save the tributes that have been captured.

With many fearing that the film will focus mainly in the politics of war with the Capitol, you will be pleasantly surprised. There is something for everyone in the film and once again the third instalment has not led us down. Jennifer Lawrence has mastered Katniss’ character, defined in the moment when she sings a harrowing version of ‘The Hanging Tree’, for me this was the most beautiful part of the movie. Also though there is a grittiness to the film that allows for the characters to be seen stripped down and on full show; Effie is a prime example, while she offers a small amount of comedic affect in a very serious film it is also fresh to see her without the glamour, she appears almost a normal human (yet she still loves her theatrics). One of the nicest touches was the nod to Cinna though, keeping his designs and his character alive even in this film.

Francis Lawrence has perfectly set the tone for the finale of Part Two, and now I begin the arduous torture of yet another year’s waiting….


Urban Outfitters


Today I embarked on the horrible task of Christmas shopping. It’s November you say? I know however, I still fought through the crowds on Oxford Street, having been shoved and pushed I finally escape the throngs of Selfridges to appear in front of Urban Outfitter. This is where I took the above shot.

In a nation that is tackling a severe drug problem the advertisement of ‘Heroin’ in one of the nations leading retailers took my breath away. Not in a good way. Many young people are currently struggling with drug related issues, either through health or their battle to keep themselves alive whilst topping up their bodies with a poison.

There has been a long-term increase of 75% in patients having been administered to hospital with the primary diagnosis of drug related mental illness. Heroin is largest cause of death due to drugs. 1,632 people died due to overdosing on drugs in 2012, with this number rising last year and expected to again rise this year.

Urban Outfitters is considered ‘chic’ ‘stylish’ and has a big following within a young generation who are very fashion conscious and focused on their image. Are they selling the image of drugs? They’re publishing drugs as cool, placing heroin with the words hero and heroine, the company may believe this to be a play on words, a fun slogan for their ‘cool kid’ clientele. With such a movement trying to quell drugs though should this retailer be allowed to advertise a Class A drug within their window? Especially during a time when everyone begins to let loose during the holidays, when drug deaths increase?

In Flanders Fields…s

Remembrance Day.

96 Years ago WW1 ended, officially. More than 15million men and women lost their lives due to this catastophic Four Year War. Having been quoted as saying “The War will be over by Christmas” I don’t think governments meant a Christmas in four years time.

Today is a day that marks the official remembrance of these men and women who lost their lives for their country. We do not just think selfishly, of our British soldiers but of soldiers from around the world. We have our own way of remembrance: the poppy.

This year at The Tower of London 888,246 ceramic poppies have been placed in the ground to commemorate all British and Commonwealth soldiers that perished in the Great War. The instillation is titled Blood-Swept Lands and Seas of Red, a befitting title after seeing the waves of poppies. At 11am today the final poppy was placed in a heart wrenching service which saw the final names on the Roll of Honour called out as the guns were fired 21 before silence beheld the surrounding area.

Countries choose how to remember their dead in a variety of ways, this, this is ours. And I believe it is a perfect monument to celebrate the lives of those that have perished. The ceramic poppies pay tribute to the real poppies that have adorned Flanders Fields and have been mentioned by many soldiers and war poets: “In Flanders Fields” by John McRae is but one example while Wilfred Owen is another prominant War poet. The poppy has been a symbol of remembrance for generations, and thus both history and art have come together with this new monument. Over five million people have turned up to see the Sea of Poppies.

The lives that were lost can never be returned however, we do remember. Not just on one day of the year, in times of silence and inner thought many turn their thoughts to either family that were lost in the war or to general thought. These soldiers will never be forgotten throughout history, they fought for their country and unfortunately they gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I may be young, yet I have grown up in a world where war still exists from Syria to Afghanistan many lay their lives down and lose them in a far off country where the landscape is yellow and sand is underfoot.

Have we not learned from our past mistakes? We may celebrate remembrance, but lives are still lost and for years the names of those to remember from war will only grow. This is a sad fact however; today we honour our fallen soldiers and pay tribute.

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Thomas Campbell

These warriors will forever live in our hearts, as long as we have a symbol (the poppy) they will live on.

SeaWorld and the Killer Whale

In the past year SeaWorld have come under mass scrutiny and international backlash after the release of the documentary film Blackfish, which illustrates the treatment of Orca within Aqua Parks; focusing predominately on SeaWorld.

While various animal rights activists have spoken freely and created a variety of campaigns to “Free Tilly” or Tilikum (his full name) one of the predominant orcas featured on Blackfish, SeaWorld has quickly tried to fix this backlash of problems.

I believe though in looking at two side to every story, I firmly back that Orca’s should never have been placed in captivity, these majestic and noble animals are at the highest levels of the food chain within the ocean. Their shear power and speed as well as their ability to work within a group causes them to be apex predators, meaning they themselves have no natural predators. Unfortunately though, we cannot change history, these whales have been caught and placed within tanks, forced to perform for us as entertainment for over thirty years. Now that the spotlight has been placed onto this cruel form of captivity we’re deciding to speak up (where were these people all of those years ago when Orca were being actively attacked and separated from families by fishermen seeking a big pay-out?)

While people scream “Free Tilly” do they stop to think that he now, after over twenty years in captivity (he was captured in 1992) that he cannot be freed? If these Orca were to be released into the wild it is a known fact they wouldn’t be able to survive, nor function without the aid of humans. Due to either their whole life or the majority of life being spent in captivity they will have lost certain primal functions; the ability to hunt wild/live prey being one main issue.

Another issue involved in the release of these captive Orca is their ability to integrate within pods. Orca travel within a family unit for their entire lives, calves never leaving there mothers side. If these Orca were to be released they could not join any pod, every pod has a separate dialect, an individual language that is specific allowing for Orca to communicate clearly with members of their pod and differentiate between other pods that may be within the same vicinity.

Feeding innovation is passed on through generations. Whether an elder bull whale illustrates his wisdom or the younger Orca develop their own style, they have strategies that are learnt from a young age and developed throughout life. Captive Orca are fed daily, not needing to hone their feeding habits and they have had no teachings from elder pod members. This is an integral part of an Orca’s lifestyle, and a part captive Orca could not live without in the wild.

Keiko (the captive Orca whom played the role of Willy in Free Willy) was released into the Norwegian Fjords after an international campaign to see the whale freed. Keiko though proved the inability or captive Orca to thrive within the wild. Keiko was seen giving children rides on his back or coming up to fishing boats, desperate to be close to humans (this is the life he had always known, humans his main companion). Keiko lasted a year in the wild before he was found beached having dies of pneumonia.

So should we be campaigning to free Tilly? Or should we be campaigning for a better lifestyle? Should we be forcing SeaWorld to create larger enclosures, with better food and strict rules?

I believe that Orca need to be protected and have the best lifestyle that is available to them, for those that are captive unfortunately being returned to the wild may be far to ambitious and can only lead in premeditated, early death. You may argue that this is what will happen to them at SeaWorld, this is true however; with increased pressure these whales may receive a far better life at SeaWorld if measures are put in place.

With stocks crumbling around them and investors pulling out of the parks SeaWorld announced a new BlueWorld project to try and protect their reputation:

This project offers a much larger tank that will incorporate a sea affect trying to convey the Orca’s natural environment, with fast flowing tidal currents to help aid Orca in stimulating activities that will increase their muscle mass and aid there health.

If this project does go underway and SeaWorld keep up with there promises this is a highly beneficial solution. There are a few steps though that I believe must be followed by the multi-million pound industry.

  1. Actually build the Blue World tanks in all parks, to ensure a healthy lifestyle for the Orca.
  2. Stop breeding within captivity therefore, we end the cruel cycle of Orca captivity.
  3. If breeding is to continue, or even if not, Orca are now not to be moved to other parks unless parks to be shut down (Loro Parque is unfit to hold Orca, there training is sub par and the tanks not large enough nor well equipped for these predators.)
  4. Legislation to be put in place to ensure that all parks that contain Orca adopt the initiation of larger tanks, better food and again the halting of constant separation.

The separation of Orca in captivity is traumatising (as mentioned before Orca never leave their Mothers, if they do, it is for the smallest amount of time). When calves are ripped from their mothers researchers and trainers at the parks had never heard the noises the mothers made – these were long distant calls, the mothers were screaming for their lost children.

  1. Keep other live mammals in the same aquatic stadium, fish and plankton, to again help to create an ocean feel.
  2. Never have Orca alone, either one in a park (as is the case in France) or in solitary confinement, Tilikum. This would not happen in the wild, and the main point is to ensure they have as much of a realistic lifestyle as possible.

These creatures are too revered to be kept in small tanks with little interaction with other Orcas and constant separation and re-integration. However, it is my firm belief that these captive Orca unfortunately could not thrive in the wild.