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War Horse, A beautiful, poetic, traumatic love story

November 7, 2014

War Horse stands for an innovative, modern and revolutionary movie. Indeed, it gives us a new point of view about WWI, which is seen through the eyes of Joey, a horse.


The movie is adapted from Michael Morgupo’s original novel narrated by Joey himself in an interior monologue.

Steven Spielberg’ s blockbuster, not only enhances  the pain undergone by soldiers, but also puts the accent on the suffering of horses who were involved in a war which didn’t concern them. They were assigned heavy tasks such as the transport of artillery… nowadays, we assess the number of dead horses during WWI at  around 9/10 million.

Spielberg is really sensitive to these animals; as his family has lived with horses for decades, he knows how complicated, delicate and fragile they are. Thus he advocates a respectful work between horses and men based on patience, trust and love. For the movie they cast several horses from different ages, foals and  2-year-old ones that they had to train.

When the director committed to making the movie, that “flesh-and-blood” limitation was his primary concern. Real horses performed nearly every single stunt in the movie; except for the dangerous scenes, like the ones in which Joey ensnares himself in barbed wire or falls into a trench, which had to be fudged with the help of CGI.

Moreover, Spielberg had another preoccupation: “I didn’t know what contribution the horse was going to make beyond what they were trained to do”. The point was that each scene implied a specific performance, and like humans, horses are unique, they all have their own way of reacting, of behaving and their own emotions,… as a consequence the horses’ casting was the key.

“They need to be able to bring some emotion to every scene that they do,” says Lovgren, the film’s horse master. “And quite honestly, that is the most difficult thing to achieve, because it’s not something that is very typical of them … Before we start filming, I have to learn what each animal’s characteristics are, what they do, whether it’s good or bad. That’s when I can recognize, ‘Oh this [horse] is going to fit well’ for this sequence or not. Or on the day [of filming], when the director wants a different option or a different look, I can say, ‘Oh, okay, here’s what I can show you.’”said Lovgren. The casting was a key element in the making of the movie. Indeed, “Joey” was performed by a company of 14 equine actors, among the over 100 horses used in the film.

 War-Horse 4

But, War Horse is not only the story of a horse exposed to WWI, but also the story of the unbreakable bond between a young man, Albert, and his horse. The fact that the movie is a love story before being a historical movie, or a documentary on horses, makes it universal. You don’t need to be keen on horses, or even know something on them to share this magical love story.

war-horse 3

War-Horse 2

Then if you have not watched it yet, grab your handkerchiefs and do it!

Léa G.

Hokusai’s painting

November 6, 2014

Katsushika Hokusai was born on 1760 and died on 1849. He is famous for his nickname Hokusai or “old crazy painter”. He was a painter, a drawer specialist of “ukiyo-e” which is a Japanese term which means “floating image of the world”, it’s a Japanese artistic movement of the Edo age (1603-1868) which includes a popular and narrative original painting but also  Japenese engraving on wood.


Since my chilhood, I have had his most famous Japenese engraving in my kitchen : “The big wave of Kanagawa” . This work is actually exhibited in the Metropolitann Museum of Art in New York. Hokusai showed it around 1830. I am fond of this painting, it represents a huge wave ready to crash on three little barks which carry fish. In the background, we can see mount Fuji, the most popular volcano in Japan. We can confuse it with the troubled sea. This painting represents a daily scene in the 19th century in Japan. Indeed, this country lived off fishing during all the 19th century.

We can notice the use of the “Prussian blue” (the dark blue in the painting) which is a new ink imported in Japan. Hokusai used it to depict the movement of the waves, the costumes of the fishermen and also the basis of the Fuji mount. This colour gives some contrast; we can distinguish the difference between the dark blue of the sea and the foam produced by the battering of the sea.

Moreover, there is the presence of an allegory in Hokusai’s work. Indeed, the sky seems to be very quiet and celestial. The tones used to reprensent it are pale colours : beige and white. This part of the engraving is a reference to the “yin”, the luminous forces; whereas the bottom of the painting is the “yang”, the brutal forces. The yin and the yang have been the symbols of the Chinese philosophy since a long time. We can realise that the mass of the water is opposed to the rest of the image, in a balance almost completed by height and by space, creating two fitted symmetrical forms.



In addition, this print has  inspired a famous logo for a brand of sports clothes, Quicksilver. But in the re-interpretation, the mountain seems to be more impressive than in the original engraving, finding itself almost equal  with the mass of water :

quicksilver logo

There is currently an Hokusai’s exposition at “the Grand Palais” in the 8th arrondissement in Paris. The exhibition seems to be very interesting; there is a lot of original Japenese engravings on wood. Hokusai’s art is exotic and I think that it’s a great thing to discover the Japenese culture through its art.


Getting to know Malta

November 5, 2014

Malta is a small archipelago situated  in the South of Italy. It has two official languages: Maltese and English, as Malta belonged to the British Empire from 1814 to 1964. Nowadaws, Malta is the perfect destination for  young people who want to learn English during their holidays: indeed, this archipelago has many advantages; to begin with, English is spoken by its inhabitants. Also,  its geographic situation gives it  hot weather as well as the Italian gastronomy which attracts those who are not fond of English food. The archipelago consists in three islands: Malta (the largest one, which is also the cultural and commercial centre), Gozo and Comino.

Malta map

I went there when I was 14 years old, in order to study English while enjoying summer. Something there struck me:  Malta totally changes once the night comes. Due to its visitors (mostly students during summer), there are tons of nightclubs and bars: they surround the island.The capital of Malta, Valletta, is a great city for shopping. I stayed in a village called Qawra, 15 kilometers away from Valletta: I was lucky enough to attend a carnival which took place there. I hadn’t heard about it, but one night I came out and was all of a sudden was surrounded by huge and colorful floats. There were dancing companies, art exhibitions in the streets,… The carnival  is held only once a year during July or August, and Maltese people as well as tourists are fond of it. I felt like it was a kind of Halloween in the middle of summer, with mostly young students taking part in it and in a dream place: I really enjoyed it.

In spite of its important festive side, Malta has many cultural sights. For instance, I visited a medieval town called Mdina: it is an important sight concerning christianism in Malta as St Paul is said to have lived there. It has had various names, including  “Silent City” because it only has 300 inhabitants and “Citta Notabile”, which means the noble city: many noble families lived there from the 12th century which explains the number of  impressive palaces we can see in Mdina. Indeed, Mdina has many cultural and religious treasures and is known for its outstanding landscapes at night, when lights are turned on all around the town. Another renowned town is Rabat, which was part of the Roman city of Melita. Nowadays, we can visit its catacombs, the Roman Villa and some monasteries.

Mdina by Night

The second island I went to is Gozo: it is more rural than Malta and is the perfect island for long and peaceful hikes. I thought this place was breathtaking and really relaxing.

The place I enjoyed the most  is Comino. This tiny island (3.5 kilometers) is car-free and there are no inhabitants there. What is more, its main attraction is the blue lagoon. I have never seen such a blue and transparent water: when I was there I felt as if I were part of a postcard. I went snorkelling in there but some of my friends went water-skiing: many activities are available, and we didn’t have enough time to try them all! Comino is an outstanding place, but it is only filled with tourists. It is overcrowded which leads me to think it is not likely to stay as amazing as it is for a long time, due to the pollution brought by tourists.

comino monika mukherjee (12)

To conclude, my stay in Malta will remain a great memory. I feel like it is a perfect place for a vacation: you can learn or practice English if it is not your Mother tongue, party all night long, visit some interesting sights and just enjoy a dream-like atmosphere. I would really advise you to go there, but you have to bear in mind that the three islands are crowded and touristy places, which may not attract everybody.


THE GREAT GATSBY by Francis Scott Fitzgerald

November 4, 2014

“He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.”


Nick Carraway is a young man from Minnesota who studied at one of the most prestigious Ivy League School. He decides to move to New York to learn about the bond business. He finds a house to rent in West Egg, Long Island right next to a mansion owned by Jay Gatsby a mysterious but really wealthy man who throws huge parties every weekend. West Egg is inhabited by the young “new rich” whereas East Egg is where the upper class is established. Nick has connections in this Island facing his, a cousin named Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan, an old classmate of Nick’s.

Jordan Baker, Daisy’s friend, is being introduced to Nick; she almost directly tells him about Tom’s affair with Myrtle who is married to a garage owner. A few days later, Tom takes Nick to see Myrtle in the Valley of Ashes with whom they are going to a gloomy tasteless party. Tom eventually ends up breaking Myrtle’s nose after she evoked Daisy.

One day, Nick receives an invitation to one of his neighbors’ crazy and legendary party. Nobody knows who throws the parties, nobody knows who Gatsby is. Nick meets Gatsby, mistaking him at first, when he is being called in a private room. Gatsby is elegant, has a perfect English accent, has an incredible aura, and a perfect smile. Jordan and Nick are put in the confidence: Gatsby is madly in love with Daisy that he first met in Louisville in 1917 while a soldier. The two had a love story that Gatsby kept feeding for all those years. All those years of partying have only been motivated by Gatsby’s deep want to impress and make his presence known to Daisy. He is in fact staring at the green light at the end of the Buchanans’ dock, across the river splitting him apart from the love of his life. He wants both Jordan and especially Nick to help him win Daisy back. Nick has to organize a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy in his house: he invites her over for some tea without telling her the real reasons for this gathering.

Daisy arrives at Nick’s house, decorated with luxurious flowers and plants, and fancy tea and cookies all brought up by Gatsby who wants the meet to be absolutely as perfect as Daisy. Gatsby hesitates at the last minute, and after leaving the house once, goes back inside and faces everything he has been dreaming of. The scene is awkward, Daisy is confused but relieved, Gatsby is in Heaven and Nick is not sure about all that. Daisy and Gatsby reconnect, they are going on with what they had to give up 10 years ago, and he falls for Daisy all over again despite her engagement to Tom.


Tom gets slowly more and more suspicious. His doubts are revealed to be true when he sees Gatsby staring at Daisy. Even though he is cheating on his wife, just the idea of imagining them together outrages him. Pretty hypocrit. After they had lunch together at the Buchanan’s house, they all go with Jordan and Nick in two separate cars to New York, where they meet in a huge suite in the Plaza Hotel. Tension is palpable. Tom starts off by announcing to both Daisy and Gatsby that he knows about their affair. He says to Gatsby that what he has with Daisy is something unique that he will never feel with her and that Daisy is his. He tries to debunk him by telling what he dug up on Gatsby: he is a felon; the money he made was from bootlegging alcohol and tobacco. Gatsby and Daisy are going back to East Egg.

Tom, Nick and Jordan drive back to East Egg in the other car and on the way, discovering that Gatsby’s car has hit Myrtle, the woman Tom had an affair with. Tom is devastated. Nick rushes to Gatsby to learn what happens when he tells him that it was not him but Daisy who was driving the car saying that it was going to help her calm down. Anyway, he is willing to take the blame to protect Daisy. Tom tells Myrtle’s husband the name of the owner of the car: Gatsby. George, instantly thinks that he must also be the one whom she had an affair with. He decides to get it over with and shoots Gatsby in the pool, then shoots himself.

Back to Nick, who throws a funeral for Gatsby, ends the story he had with Jordan and goes back to where he came from away from the drama and the craze of New Jersey. He doesn’t want to be around the decay and lack of morality he bordered.

I really liked this book because it is well written and accessible. The story is about the Roaring 20’s and the atmosphere of Gatsby’s parties is amazingly well transcribed. You can feel the extravaganza of the luxury, the sound of jazz and the alcohol flowing in the glasses. I liked the way the story is told, mostly through the innocent eyes of Nick, who is entirely new to the wealthy New Yorker society. We discover the fantasy of their lives as he does, making the story more vibrating and more alive.



Desperate housewives

October 15, 2014


Desperate housewives is an American series directed by Marc Cherry and produced by ABC Studios and Cherry productions.

The story takes place in Wisteria Lane, a street of a fictional American town “Fairview” in the “Eagle state”. The whole series is seen through the eyes of Marie-Alice Young, a woman of the  neighbourhood. In the pilot episode, the latter introduces herself, then she commits suicide with a gun. The show follows the daily life of  the main characters  : Bree, Gabrielle, Susan and Lynette. The four are related because all of them are  suspicious and shocked by the sudden and unexpected suicide of their neighbour and friend.

In the second season, a new neighbour appears in Wisteria Lane : Betty Applewhite. She becomes the center of the mystery with her two sons ; Matthew and Caleb. Gabrielle Solis starts thinking about having a child and is faithful to Carlos. Susan has to face her ex-husband every day as he got engaged to Edie. Bree’s life is very rough : she has a big problem with alcohol, she is dating the man who tried to poison her husband, and on top of that she isn’t getting on well  with her son Andrew. Tom Scavo stays at home to be with the children whereas Lynette is getting back to work as she is tired of being at home the whole day.

In the third season, the main mystery is about a new character named Orson Hodge who got married to Bree; his past is very dark and mysterious. At the Scavo house, things are taut as Lynette discovers that he has a daughter.The latter moves in their house. Tom wants to open a pizzeria while his wife is against that idea. Mike has been run over by Orson and is getting out of a coma and he suffers from amnesia. Susan is desperate. Gabrielle and Carlos get divorced. We learn that the old neighbour Karen McCluskey hides something in her freezer. This season ends with the murder of two characters at the local grocery store…

In the fourth season, a new character moves or returns to Wisteria Lane as she has already lived there : Katherine Mayfair with her family. Gabrielle is having an affair with her ex-husband Carlos. Bree’s daughter is pregnant, so to cover the blame she fakes a pregnancy and sends her child out of town. Lynette learns that she has  cancer and decides to tell her friends about this. Lee and Bob are a new gay couple in the street. Something unexpected comes to Wisteria Lane which will change their lives forever : a tornado.

The fifth season starts with the apparition of Dave Williams, Edie’s new husband. He came here to get revenge on Mike as we learn later that the latter accidentally killed in a car accident his wife and daughter. In fact, Susan was driving but Mike took the responsibility on him.Gabrielle is desperate as she has to take care of a blind husband and two daughters. On top of that she is in a financial crisis. Edie dies in a car crash.

In the sixth season, the mystery is around new Italian neighbours : the Bolens. In this part, Gabrielle welcomes Carlos’s niece : Ana Solis. On her side, Bree is having an affair with Karl (Susan’s ex) but at the end he dies in a plane crash which makes Orson a disabled person.


The seventh season is showing Paul’s come back in the street with a new wife and a plan to punish all his ex-neighbours. Gabrielle and Carlos learn that one of their daughters was changed at birth. Susan and Mike are in money troubles so she is forced to do a job she would never imagine.

The eighth and final season is about Gabrielle’s perverted step-father who will unify all the ‘desperate housewives’ because of a secret they will share…

Why I liked it

I really liked the series because all the characters are endearing, we can see their transformations throughout the years and on top of that the suspense is maintained all the series long. My favourite season was the last one because of its plot.

Modern Times – Charlie Chaplin

October 14, 2014

Charlie Chaplin began shooting his movie Modern Times in 1935.

By the means of a comic movie, Chaplin bitterly criticizes the beginning of industrialisation in America. Charlot, a worker victim of the dictatorship created by the machines, will have to face misery, jail, to eventually, achieve his quest for happiness.

The principal characters are played by Chaplin himself, as Charlot, and Paulette Gaudard, a French actress and his third wife, as the Gamin.

Modern Times tells the story of Charlot, a worker in a production line, that has to submit to the Taylorist method.

Because of a nervous breakdown due to the assembly-line work, Charlot is sent to the hospital. When he gets out of it, he is unemployed.

Walking aimlessly in the town, and picking up a flag on the floor, he is arrested, mistaken for the leader of a strikers’ demonstration, and sent to prison.

In jail, he accidentaly swallows some drugs, that the guy next to him had put in the salt cellar in order not to get caught.

He prevents a few prisoners from evading, which first allows him to have a nice cell in jail, than permits him to be free.

Charlot is rapidly aware that his life was way better in jail. Even if the prison’s headmaster helps him find a new job, he is fired because of his clumsiness.

He then meets the Gamine, a poor orphan that walks the streets searching for food. For her, he finds a job as a night watchman. Together, they aspire to freedom and happiness, and part of that American dream is the love story between  the tramp and the gamine.

Charlot is then unjustly arrested as an accomplice of a burglary in the commercial center that he is working in.

When he gets out of prison, the Gamine finds him a job with her as a singer-waiter in a cabaret show.

But when the juvenile delinquency division breaks in the show to arrest the Gamine, they are forced to run away.

The movie ends with a happy final note, as we see the two lovers walking hand in hand with the hope for a brighter future.


Modern Times should have been Chaplin’s first talking movie, but in the end it was only a musical movie with different sort of sound effects.

This movie gives hope to the viewers as this historical period was not a happy one. Chaplin is one of the masters of the movie industry who managed to denounce terrible events or social crisis in a humorous way, thus making us aware of a situation while maintaining some hope in human nature.


Famous English speaking Youtubers

October 11, 2014

Today, I have decided to tackle a subject many teenagers are fond of : YouTube. More precisely, I want to talk about some famous youtubers you may or may not know yet. Each YouTuber (this is how people who frequently make videos are called) is specialized in a theme: video games, humor, beauty, DIY (do it yourself),… Every country has its most renowned  youtubers: even though I am keen on watching French videos, this article will be about English speaking  people.

I couldn’t have begun with someone else: Pew Die Pie is the most watched youtuber in the world. He was born in Sweden but now he  lives in England. He tries video games and comments on them. I haven’t watched many of his videos as I am not really fond of videogames but as far as I’m concerned he is very entertaining and  funny.


 I often spend hours online, just checking social networks and doing nothing productive. Even though they are often silly, funny videos always brighten my day and when I watch English ones I have the excuse of being listening to a foreign language, which helps me deal with conscience issues. Anyway, one youtuber who makes me laugh a lot is Connor Franta. He is a 21-year-old American who makes funny videos each week. His slogan is “Making Mondays a little more Frantastic” because obviously his videos come out each Monday . He is known for his personal videos but also for joining a group called “Our 2nd Life” which also makes videos about various subjects. One video I really enjoyed was “Birtish vs America: How we do it” : with the help of one of his British friends, Marcus Butler, he compares his American point of view to his friend’s ideas about the same subjects. They argue about driving on the left or on the right side of the car, drinking tea or getting coffee at Starbucks,… This video obviously made me laugh but it also taught me which stereotypes exist between England and the United States.


Connor’s friend, Marcus, has his own channel and also releases funny  videos  about a wide range of subjects. One of the videos I enjoyed the most was: “Things I don’t understand about girls”, and I recognized myself in many situations he talked about.

YouTube is a community where people who make videos meet each other and can become friends. This is what happened to Marcus and Zoe (known as Zoella) who are both among the most famous English youtubers. Zoella, although she is quite funny, makes “girly” videos. She does makeup tutorials, talks about clothes and often vlogs. A “vlog” is a video blog and is useful  for Internet Stars to share their personal  lives and their tastes with their subscribers. Zoella vlogs a lot, and she notably made a useful video about her anxiety issues. She has a brother, Joe, who also has a YouTube channel : “ThatcherJoe”. He does hilarious impressions and pranks his fellow YouTubers. He is one of my all time favourite YouTubers.


On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, there are talented beauty youtubers too. Let’s take the example of Bethany Mota: she is 18 and has become a true star thanks to her videos which tackle makeup, style, and DIY’s. Recently, she confessed that she used to be bullied so much that she had to start homeschooling. This is far behind her: now, she has her own clothing line at Aeropostale (a famous Amercian clothing brand), as well as a decoration line and a perfume. Moreover, a few weeks ago, she started performing  in “Dancing with the Stars”  (obviously as the “Star”) which shows the influence of her YouTube videos.

bethany mota

Last but not least,I often check on Michelle Phan’s channel. She is, according to me, the most talented makeup artist on YouTube:I think  the looks she creates cannot always be worn in real life but they are truly breathtaking. Some of her videos tackle the well-being through themes like self-confidence. She has various talents and uses her influence to help charity.


A new phenomenon is appearing little by little on the internet: a few YouTubers have channels dedicated to reading: they read and tell what they think about  books, and help people discover stories they would not have heard of otherwise. A channel I am fond of is “vlog brothers” : the author of the best seller  The Fault in Our Stars, John Green, and his brother Hank react to books they have read. Not only are their reviews interesting, but they are also really funny.

I used to think that spending hours on the internet was pointless, but it helped me discover things I would not have heard of otherwise,  so I guess I will keep on “wasting my time’”!



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