“The Last Lions”- a heartbreaking story of mother’s love

The Last Lions is a marvelous film, fantastically made and narrated with an intriguing and dramatic story, in which the brutality of life is shown to its highest extent. This documentary changed my perception about our role (as humans) in this world and made me really want to make a difference. All my life I have loved animals, but after watching The Last Lions, I started looking at them from another perspective. “When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul…”

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Mother’s love is the strongest and purest feelings of all; to love someone unconditionally, to love them more than you love yourself. However, there is nothing more painful for a mother than losing her child. Even if the mother is a lioness and the child is a cub. Animals are capable of having strong feelings like love and sadness and we need to respect them in order to understand them.

The Last Lions is a National Geographic documentary. It is a real life story showing the beauty and at the same time the cruelty of mother Nature.

Normally, I’m trying to avoid documentaries about animals because most of them are very sad. Life, especially wildlife, is merciless and only the strong ones survive, while the weak are doomed. I love animals and can’t accept cruelty against them in any form, even if it is a¬†law of nature. However, the other day I was switching the channels and suddenly my attention was caught by Nat Geo Wild, broadcasting a documentary about a lone lioness trying to save her little cubs from a rival pride. The story of Ma di Tau (“Mother of lions”) was so touching that I decided to¬†see¬†it all. I have to confess the narrative was brilliant (need to give credit here to the fantastic Jeremy Irons) and if I didn’t know the story was about lions, I would have thought the protagonists were humans. The¬†film-makers¬†Dereck and Beverly Joubert have researched the habits and the way of ¬†life of the lions in Botswana for 30 years, so they have shown the feelings and thoughts of Ma di Tau in so realistic way that the viewer just can’t remain indifferent to her story.

Ma di Tau and her cubs

Ma di Tau and her cubs

The lioness and her cubs went through many dangers in order to escape from the rival pride. They reached an island with a herd of¬†buffaloes where the mother was trying to catch one of them, in an attempt to feed her children. It was incredible to watch her caring for her babies in such a gentle way, showing what a real mother shoud be. However, one night she went hunting and left the little ones on their own. When she came back the next day they have disappeared so she followed their tracks. I was very worried that the cubs have been killed by the buffaloes because Ma di Tau kept close to the herd. Fortunately, following the tracks, she found one of them. Thank God!- I thought. But her happiness (mine as well) lasted for a moment. The female cub was¬†alive but it’s back was broken by the buffaloes! The poor little thing could use only it’s front legs as the hind ones were completely damaged. The mother spent the day with the baby caring for her but at the end, she realised the cub could not survive. So she took the hardest decision- to leave her child. The next scene was¬†heartbreaking- the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life! Ma di Tau was leaving and the cub was crawling in a desperate attempt to follow her, but she never turned around. I cursed myself for deciding to watch this film. I was completely ruined by that scene and I know I will never forget it!

Ma di Tau

Ma di Tau with her little cub

I was secretly hoping (as I bet many of you, who’ve watched the film, have been too) that the people from the crew might have helped the poor creature. I have searched and searched for information and finally found a statement by Dereck Joubert, where he was explaining they haven’t saved the cub¬†and why. And¬†unfortunately, I have to agree (to an extent) that was the right decision.¬†Sometimes we make difficult choices that break our hearts, but we know deep inside they are right.¬†We cannot intervene in natural selection and we cannot make wildlife less cruel. I believe leaving her child was one of the hardest decisions Ma di Tau has ever made; as the narrative says, we don’t know about animals’ feelings but what breaks every mother’s heart is losing her child. Fortunately, the lioness found her other cub, which was fine, and joined the rival pride, becoming their new matriarch.

The aim of this documentary is not just showing the life of a single lioness, but addressing the issue of extinction of the lion population in Africa. For just 50 years time, their number has fallen from 450,000 to just 20,000 due to human activity! The film-makers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, who dedicated their life to the cause of saving the lion population in Africa from extinction, donated all their profits from the film so all the money went for saving the big cats. Moreover, they managed to convince National Geographic to do the same, which is actually the first time NG has ever done this.

If I have to leave my feelings aside and give a professional point of view, I have to admit the whole film is done at a very high professional level. Telling the story of a single lion family, creates a relationship between the viewers and the main character and makes them feel sympathy for her. Showing the heartbreaking scene with the abandoned, hurt cub is cruel but makes the audience take to heart the problem (that was the effect on me)- the drastic reduction of lions’ population in Africa. This emotionally sad moment is the most powerful one in the whole film and it makes the viewers remember it and focus on supporting the cause of saving the lion population from extinction.

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I hope the death of this little hero won’t be in vain and it will make people think about the lions in Africa and the sad faith that awaits them if we, humans, don’t defend them from ourselves.

One day we will know that all animals have a soul. Hopefully, this knowledge does not come when it is too late.” Anthony Douglas Williams

L. V. K.

Don’t Judge Me. I Was Born to be Real, Not Perfect

Maybe the heading of this post does not give you a clue what it is going to discuss but wait, I promise, it’ll be interesting. So Game of Thrones lovers, should we start? Oh wait! Did I just say Game of Thrones? Yes, I did. This is the first of a series of posts, discussing and analysing some of the main characters of the books/TV show. And guess what? The first one is dedicated to my absolute favourite Ser Jaime Lannister or in other words, The Kingslayer. Now that I know after the 3rd season, his fan club has risen dramatically, I thought it would be a good idea to start with him. I have to admit Ser Jaime and the unexpected change of his storyline in Season 3, is the reason I started reading the books and became so obsessed with Game of Thrones.

Nikolai Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister

Nikolai Coster-Waldau as Ser Jaime Lannister

I like bad characters, like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights for example. The good thing about the bad characters is that they are controversial and thus more interesting. You always expect them to be mean and do bad stuff throughout the story, but in the process of getting to know them, you realise they are not as negative as you think they are. Actually, they are broken souls, desperately crying for help. And The Kingslayer is one such example.

There are no men like me. Only me.

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This is one of Ser Jaime’s most popular quotes in the books/show. At a first glance, it looks very arrogant of him to say so, but there is much deeper meaning in these words. When you think about it, it applies to absolutely every one of us- there is no one like me, only me- therefore everyone is unique. However, even though Jaime says there are no men like him, ¬†he says nothing about women. And I think for him there is only one woman like him and this is his twin sister and lover Cersei Lannister. He associates himself with her, he feels half-man without her. Actually, she is the person that makes Jaime what he is- she is the drama in his life and she is the motivation behind every decision he makes. In my opinion, he loves her truly and deeply; moreover, he has devoted his life to be close to her. But she does not love him back in the same way. As Cersei says, “Love no one, but your children.”

Jaime with his twin sister Cersei and his brother Tyrion

Jaime with his twin sister Cersei and his brother Tyrion

Jaime’s affection for his twin sister is in the core of his tragedy. He gave up his life for her- refused to marry, refused to have children, refused to inherit Casterly Rock- gave up everything just to be close to her and help her fulfil her ambitions. Cersei dreamt to be queen, to be powerful, to have everyone kneel before her. And Jaime dreamt of Cersei. The moment he loses his sword hand is the breaking point in his storyline because losing his hand opens his eyes- he sees what he is for his father (the heir of Casterly Rock) and he sees what he is for his sister (a weapon for her ambitions). Only Tyrion remains to him, that’s why he helps him escape from the dungeons. But even Tyrion betrays Jaime by admitting (lying) that he has killed his son Joffrey and by murdering their father Lord Tywin. Interestingly enough the only person Jaime can trust now is Brienne of Tarth.

In my opinion, Brienne is the person who changed Jaime. Because she is so honourable and so loyal that he cannot help but admire her. Even though in the beginning he was mocking her, like everyone else, for the fact she is ugly and that she is a woman trying to be a man, after he got to know her better, he found in her the qualities he has given up long ago. He, the oathbreaker, who was sworn to protect his king but killed him instead; he, who would be remembered by all as The Kingslayer. Whether it was right or wrong of Jaime to kill the Mad King, I will discuss in another post. So my point is the breaking point in Jaime’s storyline is not only losing his hand but meeting Brienne as well. She is everything Cersei is not, but I think Jaime finally realised (because he keeps comparing Cersei and Brienne a lot) that sometimes rich souls hide behind poor coats.

How is this wonderful character’s storyline going to continue… well we just cannot wait to see!

L.V.K.

Which Would Be Worse- To Live As a Monster or Die As a Good Man?

Most of you will recognise this line immediately; yes, this post is about Shutter Island. 

shutter-island-bHave you ever seen¬†Shutter Island?¬†If you haven’t I highly¬†recommend¬†it. It is one of those movies that make you feel strained from the beginning until the end and even after. It plays with the mind and makes it reveal its¬†complexity¬†even more. The story¬†Martin Scorsese¬†tells is very intricate and grim, but at the same time gripping and touching. The cast is also very well chosen –¬†Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer. DiCaprio has proven his talent within the years. He’s not the sweet, blonde boy we all know from¬†Titanic. He transformed into a serious actor- one of the best¬†Hollywood has ever had.¬†This man made some really high-quality movies¬†in the past few years:¬†The Blood Diamond, The Aviator,¬†Inception, The¬†Great Gatsby¬†etc.

But let’s go back to¬†Shutter¬†Island.¬†There are movies that are a must and it is one of them. I would describe it as a psychological thriller with drama elements but mixed in so incredibly¬†good way that the end product is brilliant. Of course, there are many critics that would not agree with me like¬†The Guardian¬†for example, whose review on the movie uses phrases such as “old-fashioned melodrama” and “shaggy dog¬†tale”. Of course, everyone has the right to have an opinion and my personal one is that the movie trains one’s reason and logic and does not leave the viewer indifferent to the story it tells and the way it’s telling it.¬†I have made my personal¬†investigation¬†on people’s reactions while they are watching the movie and straight after its end (which¬†reverses¬†the action at 180¬†degrees). They were all stunned but deeply impressed. I have a friend, who in the first minutes after the end of the movie, believed her mind was playing games with her.

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Leonardo Dicaprio as Teddy Daniels in “Shutter Island”

We don’t realise the power of our mind. It is so big that it’s out of our¬†control, moreover, it’s in control of us. That is scary but impressive at the same time and proves us we are not as great as we think we are. We are not in full control of our emotions, desires, thoughts, but our mind is. And who is in control of our mind? Well, that question hasn’t been answered yet. But it raises a number of others like, “Is there any particular reason for¬†mentally ill¬†people to get ill?”, and “Do we know what’s in these people’s heads?”, “Do we actually know what’s in our head?” After watching¬†Shutter Island,¬†you start asking yourself all these questions. I praise the power of films of this type because they make you think and analyse¬†yourself and the surrounding world. They raise questions and make you look for the answers.

After all, we are¬†rational¬†creatures and one of the reasons we are living in this world is to fight for the¬†privilege to know the truth…

L. V. K.

A Game of Books: Literature Fiction or Reality

A Song of Ice and Fire without a doubt is one of the most popular book series in the recent years. Most probably this success came due to the HBO TV show Game of Thrones based on George R. R. Martin’s literary masterpiece. It is true the books had their loyal fans even before the show was released but they were mostly people who are fans of the genre. My point is the books didn’t have a commercial popularity before the coming of the show, which made a total hit out of them among all types of audiences.

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But what is it that thing people love about Game of Thrones (both the books and the show)? Is it the complexity of the characters or the unpredictability of the plot, the fictional world of dragons and direwolfs or the complicated human relationships? The truth is most of the fiction novels resemble fables- they have hidden meaning and are figuratively showing the reality we live in. Game of Thrones (GoT) is no exception. The name itself- “Game of Thrones”, suggests that the story is about intrigues, murder, revenge, vanity but most of all about power- as Cersei Lannister says, “Power is power.

One very real, even painfully real thing about GoT is no one is safe; anyone could be killed off (especially if he/she is a Stark) no matter if they are a main character or not. Actually, there isn’t just one main character in Game of Thrones but rather a number of storytellers, whose point of view we follow in a series of chapters George R. R. Martin has dedicated to them, so we assume these characters are kind of main. Normally, we are used to the fact that the main character is immortal. No matter what obstacles he/she faces, at the end of the story, everything falls into place and “they lived happily until the end of their days.” But in GoT, as Tyrion Lannister (in the show those words belong to Ramsay Bolton) wisely points, “If you think it has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.” It is exactly the same in life. Life is a ruthless fight full of obstacles. There are ups, but there are downs as well and we need to know that from our first day until our last we fight; we fight with others, fight with time, fight with destiny but most of all we fight with ourselves. And that’s the beauty of it all because everything is more beautiful when you know you are doomed.

541935_444603858966915_1059420599_nGeorge R. R. Martin has found a very witty way to show the main features of the characters or of groups of characters by comparing them with animals- the Lion of Lannister, the Three-Headed Dragon of House Targaryen, the Direwolf of House Stark and so on. The way he uses metaphor is very clever because the animals are just sigils of the noble houses in Westeros, but actually, they determine the features of the groups of characters that have them. This reminds me a little bit of the astrology houses and the zodiac signs, which more or less determine the main characteristics of groups of people who happened to be born under those signs.

As the heading of my post suggests, I find many hidden similarities between our world and the magical world of GoT. This is very good because books (and TV shows/movies) are meant not only to entertain us but to educate us as well and teach us some wisdom (oh yes, there is a lot of wisdom in Game of Thrones). For me, the main thing one can draw as a conclusion from reading the GoT books is that there is only one hell and only one heaven- both are the ones we live in now.

L. V. K.