Dear Evan Hansen (spoiler free review)

Dear Evan Hansen is beautifully written musical about a boy’s struggle with his mental health. Mental health is presented very truthfully, warts and all. It never romanticises anything and it shows how mental illness can be ugly. 

The musical follows Evan Hansen, a lonely boy who just wants to be known. He eventually gets the attention he wanted when a fellow student Connor Murphy kills himself. Connor is found with a letter that Evan wrote to himself (under his mums persistence) and his family assume the two were friends. Evan fabricates a friendship due to his anxiety which prevents him from saying the harsh truth and traps him in the lie. 
The story focuses on the want to be seen and to be remembered. Each character struggles with these themes and the you really feel for them all. Evan and Connor on the surface seem to be very different but the musical teaches us that people still have the same struggles. This theme makes the audience think that it very easily could have been who Evan who killed himself. The musical therefore shows that each life is precious and individual. 

The musical has fantastic songs that show the emotions of each of the characters as they go through their struggles each one in very relatable in different ways except for Sincerely me which is hilarious with dark undertones. The heart and humour shown in this song continues throughout the musical and highlights the darkness of mental illness. 

Just like it’s main character the musical also has some flaws but the musical is ultimately fantastically moving and is important for everyone to watch. You cannot watch Dear Evan Hansen (or even listen to its soundtrack) without learning a lot about both life and yourself. 


The Graduate: film or book? 

There is no denying that the Graduate is a wonderful story wether you consume it in its original book form or its film. The story doesn’t change much in the transition from book to film but there are still significant stories in the idiosyncrasies and how the story is presented. 
The obvious differences are in the genres itself. The film makes use of its medium through the power of music. Simon and Garfunkel have a positive influence on the film and their sounds leave a lasting impression in the audience. The words “hello darkness my old friend” completely sum up Benjamin’s feelings as he is in an depressed like state. Whereas the book utilises its words. The whole book is written in simple language in a very literal way. This writing style symbolises Bens lack of drive and his emotionless state. 

However, in both mediums it is the story of Benjamin Braddock, a college graduate with no idea what the hell he wants to do. He is completely lost in life and at the beginning he seems to want to stay in this state of unknown. In the film it shows Bens lack of emotion through shots of him floating in water. The image of him floating is a metaphor for how he is floating though life, letting things pass him as he stays unmoving. The book doesn’t use any symbolism to show his emotional state. The book shows his funk through dialogue. Ben constantly complains about everything but takes little action, this shows his lack of drive in a clear way. 

In my opinion one of the main differences in the texts is in the presentation of the main characters. Mrs Robinson is an obviously iconic character due to her manipulation of Ben and how she shows the hardships of being a woman in the 1960s. In the film she is a seductress, this is shown through her leopard print dress and that iconic shot of her framing Ben with her dress. In contrast in the book her seduction of Ben is far less consensual, Ben doesn’t want to sleep with her and she manipulates him using toxic masculinity. Both interpretations are equally interesting but make the audience/reader see the character and the story in a different way. In the book she is much more a villain and in the film she is seen more sympathetically. In the book Ben appears much more whiny and irritating. He completely dictates his relationship with Elaine, being demanding and borderline abusive. In the film he is however more sympathetic due to the time the audience spends with him without dialogue and the acting of Dustin Hoffman. Elaine’s actions make much more sense in the book as more time is spend with her in the film. You understand that it isn’t particularity Ben she wants to run away with its the expectations put upon her that she wants to escape from. In the film she seems to be nothing more than a plot device to create tension and show the desire to act by Ben.  

The film is ultimately the story of victims of society who have no idea what the right thing to do is and are desperate for release. Whereas the book is about victims of society who have now become villains due to society and are causing themselves their own pain. 

I’m Nobody! Who are you? by Emily Dickerson analysis 

In my opinion, I’m Nobody! Who are you? is a poem about not wanting to be in the public eye and wanting to remain anonymous. 
This is created in the use of pronouns throughout the poem. It uses the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’ and ‘us’. This use of direct address creates a very personal touch to the poem. This links to the theme of privacy as often people think that being public is to loose your privacy and for everyone to know everything about you. So it could suggest that the person prefers being close with people rather than being known. It draws the reader into the poem and makes them feel involved in the poem though the use of direct address and the personal tone this creates. The personal tone is also created by the short clauses and the use of punctuation in the poem, these give the poem an informal tone that is conversational and makes it easy for the audience to feel a part of the poem. 

The pronouns could also links to the idea of being anonymous as it doesn’t use names or any clear sign of identification in the poem. The use of the ‘us’ pronoun creates ideas of the outsider and the idea of us against them. This is typical of literature as characters and personas are often seen as underdogs and this makes them relatable. 

The simile ‘how public, like a frog to tell your name the lifelong day to an admiring bog’ shows the personas hatred of fame. By using the noun ‘frog’ to describe a person who is public shows her contempt as frogs are seen as disgusting, slimy creatures. It shows that the persona sees the people who want fame to be disgusting and animalistic (almost like they’re desperate to be known). It could suggest that being public makes you lose yourself and that have now lost their humanity. The use of the word ‘name’ shows that the persona doesn’t see names as important and in critiquing these people’s want for their name to be known it shows that she sees other things as being more important. The oxymoron ‘admiring bog’ adds to this idea. The adjective ‘admiring’ has images of being adored whereas a ‘bog’ is a toilet. This therefore shows that the persona doesn’t think it is important to be admired. It shows that being adored by a person (who is nothing more that an object as they have no personality other than being obsessed with the new thing) is unimportant and isn’t needed in life. However it could suggest that the persona would rather be admired by something with substance, so instead of a ‘bog’ admiring her she wants an intelligent person to adore her. 

The fact that her poems don’t have titles is atypical of 19th century poems as they usually do have titles. Also the use of short lines and clauses is atypical. This atypical form suggests that the persona holds contempt for the poets of the time and it links to the idea present in the poem that being public is bad. It suggests that Dickenson herself doesn’t want to be known in the public and that she is a private person. Dickenson was a very private poet and she herself never published her poems. It shows that she was more concerned about creating good art that meant something rather than doing what was expected of her and becoming famous. 

During the 19th century people of a high class would be absorbed in whoever was seen as the new big thing and this person would be shown to all the other high class people and shown off by people who knew them. So this whole poem is making fun of this process and in particular the people who want to be known. However, this admiring of people is still present if not more present today in the modern world. This therefore makes the poem relatable no matter when it is read and the poem is almost timeless. 

Why Representation is Needed 

In the 21st century there has been lots of progress in representation , this has been across all genres (books, TV shows, films etc). However, there is unfortunately still a lack of representation. You still see a lot of white, heterosexual, cisgender able-bodied men as main characters (or prominent characters). 

Society cannot change without representation. Progress can’t be made without representation. People have these built up stereotypes of groups of people they don’t regularly see and the only way to break these stereotypes is for them to be represented in the media. But this doesn’t just mean having one character of a race/gender/sexuality/disability, it means having multiple characters of each. 

Within the representation there should be a variety of characters and who aren’t defined by who they are and aren’t all stereotypes. These characters should show all the sides of a group and show the diversity within a group. Only then can people truly understand these groups. This is how people who are uneducated on issues such as race, gender, sexualities and disabilities change there mind and realise they are just people too and that they are normal. 

But not only is representation needed as it helps people understand these groups it also makes members of these groups feel more validated. Lack of representation can causes self hate so representation is needed for self acceptance. 

It can also make people feel happy as they can finally see themselves in fiction that they know and love (great shows are made great with good representation of groups you are in). 

Ultimately representation is needed for acceptance of all kinds. 

Expect the Unexpected 

In July I never thought that Brexit would happen. I honestly believed the UK would choose the most progressive and economically sound option. However, the UK acted on their inner hate and chose an option that would stop immigrant (I know some people voted out of other reasons but most people deep down voted out of racism).A similar thing happened just this month. Never in a million years did I think that Donald Trump would actually become president. In America people again voted the racist option. 

These two acts have now validated the inner racism in people (sexism and homophobia have also been validated by Trump) and have had such large effects on the whole world. 

I have now learned to expect the unexpected and for horrible events not to shock me. Truly I have learnt that hate will always win and that is a lesson I wish I never knew. 

The Unicorn and the Dragon (an original poem) 

     Fly away now, 

Take my desperate wings along for the ride 

They’ll never see the stars otherwise. 

     Eternity may pass until I honour my vow,

That will have to be enough somehow. 

Simple holes I don’t try to hide

Yet here they lay still unclassified. 

I’m grasping hopelessly trying not to capsize 

Whereas you deserve to rise. 

Sunset Boulevard (a spoiler free film review )

So my film studies teacher made us chose one of her selected films and watch it over the holiday. I never thought that the film I chose would have such a large impact on me, but the random film I picked up turned out to be Sunset Boulevard. 

As the film was made in the fifties and has a PG rating I thought it would be a stereotypical film with traditional values. A lot of older films I have watched have been a bit of a let down (Strangers on a Train was really not what I expected and it really disappointed me), so I really wasn’t expecting a lot from this film. Despite this I did think it would be a good film due to it wining many oscar awards but I thought it wouldn’t be quite for me. I honestly couldn’t have been more wrong. 
This film has become on of my favourite films. It deals with really dark themes such as age and fame in a wonderful way that I stupidly didn’t think a 1950s film could. It’s an ageless film that anyone can enjoy – there’s a reason it is a classic. It’s one of those movies that as soon as you finish it you want to watch it again while also being one of those films that stick with you hours after watching it (so much so I completely annoyed everyone I saw by telling them about this magical film). Being one of these types of films alone is a hard feet for any film so this film being both is truly incredible. 

It’s hard to discus what I loved about this film without spoiling the wonderful plot (that was made even more magical by my lack of knowledge about this film). My opinion is that you too should watch this film knowing as little as possible. Ideally I’d watch every film like that because the films I watch with no expectations that are great tend to be the ones that stick out the most.