In light of the results of the EU referendum in the earlier hours of yesterday morning, 48% of the UK mourned the loss of the EU in our lives. Many of our Edge writers, as the youth of today who mostly voted remain, were among them. In this Brexit special edition of ‘Closer To The Edge’, we take a look at some of our entertainment favourites provided from the Europe from which we have just cut ourselves off from.
La Haine (1995) – France
When the news of the EU referendum results came through yesterday morning, one of the first things that came to my mind, was the quote that ends Matheiu Kassovitz’ 1995 masterpiece, La Haine (meaning Hate).
“It’s about a society on its way down. As it falls it says ‘So far, so good. So far, so good… So far, so good.’ It’s not how you fall that matters. It’s about how you land.”
The film details 24 hours in the life of three young men who live in a ghetto on the outskirts of Paris. Vinz- a white jew, Said- an Arabic muslim, and Hubert- a young man of African ancestry. These three men are all minorities, and the film shows the aftermath of riots, and how the three all respond differently. It presents a harrowing look at crime, racism, and youth in French ghettos.
I studied the film at A level, and from the moment I watched it, I was moved. It is honest and real, and doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything. As well as this, the film has an astonishing soundtrack, and launched the careers of promising French stars including Vincent Cassel. La Haine is a timeless film, which although is now 21 years old, presents a reality that is still seen all over the world today. In a year which has seen endless hate crimes and turmoil, in a way, this film feels more relevant now than ever.
words by Rehana Nurmahi
Tell No One (2006) – France
Alexandre Beck lost his wife eight years ago, and on their anniversary, he receives an email that could only be from her.
An absolutely intoxicating film from start to finish, with fantastic performances and beautiful directing, Tell No One (or Ne le dit à personne en Français) is a French thriller based on the book of the same name by bestselling American author Harlan Coben.
Shot in the gritty everyday Paris, and with no sign of the Eiffel Tower in sight, Guillaume Canet expertly tangles the plot inextricably with the French capital and its romance with the ethereal countryside outside the city limits.
You become embroiled in this man’s desperate story, told completely and honestly from his perspective, to uncover the truth behind the death of his wife and to clear his own name of her murder.
The soundtrack also features moments of perfection, with the likes of U2 and Mathieu Chedid’s wonderful original composition truly enhancing scenes. Watch it purely for the devastating montage as you witness Alexandre remembering his wife on the day of their wedding and her funeral, accompanied by Jeff Buckley’s low and solemn tones in ‘Lilac Wine’. It will break your heart.
words by Tash Williamson
Lordi – ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ – Finland
In what has become one of the most popular Eurovision winners of all time, ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ from Finnish rock band Lordi (not to be confused with the ‘Royals’/’Tennis Courts’ singer, Lorde) is so quintessentially European that it’s perfect.
It’s essentially a 3-minute song about how rock music-hard rock in particular- is some kind of God given gift to unite the hardcore rockers of the world with the angels of rock. It’s so out of this world crazy that it’s great. How can you not love lyrics like “The rocks about to roll, it’s the arockalypse”, “Rock n’ roll angels bring the hard rock hallelujah” and “Brothers and sisters keep strong in the faith, on the day of rockoning it’s who dares, wins”?! The video is equally as bonkers and brilliant; featuring a High School rock revolution, a gate crashing Lordi, all dressed in full monster garb, and zombie cheerleaders.
It’s also a fist punching-ly great song with a really catchy rhythm and guitar riff, on top of the mythical and supernatural worship lyrics of rock n’ roll music. If only we could have some real dedication to rock music in the UK like how Lordi worship the stuff…
words by David Mitchell-Baker
Rammstein – Germany
Throwback to 2007, where eleven year old me found herself facing the daunting task of learning a second language. We didn’t get to choose, it was either French or German and it was pot luck which one you were given. For me, that was German.
I wouldn’t say I strode through those four years of learning the language with ease, but I did enough to earn a B. However, there was a point in which one of my teachers recommended listening to German bands and try to sing along to the lyrics, so we could get used to pronunciation.
Much to his horror, the next day I came waltzing in announcing that I’d listened to Rammstein. Understandably horrified but amused, it was totally the opposite of what he had in mind for me to listen to. But nonetheless, my discovery of Rammstein not only helped me get a B in German, but also led me to finding one of my favourite bands for the past nine years.
Rammstein are one of those rare bands that blow you away (literally; at their live shows). It’s hard to even categorise them within the rock music genre, since they really aren’t like any other band I’ve seen or heard.
Suffice to say, I am beyond grateful that I didn’t learn French.
words by Sophie McEvoy
The Little Prince – France
French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry provided an additional classic to the world of children’s literature with the publication of his novella, Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince). The story itself begins as an aviator crashes in the desert. While attempting to repair his plane he is approached by the eponymous ‘little prince’. During their cryptic conversations the aviator learns of the little prince’s home planet and the many encounters he had with the people he met before he arrived on earth. The story of his journey becomes a wonderfully imaginative adventure for children while encouraging older readers to briefly bask in nostalgia and to return to the marvel of child-like logic. Antoine’s dedication reads: ‘All grown-ups were once children-although few of them remember it.’ It becomes obvious that despite its French origins, the universal themes of innocence and joyful imagination become the core of this story, as is proved by its international success. Since its initial French publication in 1943, The Little Prince has been further published into over 250 languages and dialects. 2016 also saw a movie adaption of the novella with the likes of Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges and Marion Cotillard lending their voices to transform the text into an inevitably magical cinematic piece.
words by Jasveen Bansal
A Royal Affair (2012) – Denmark
In the light of the events faced recently, I wanted to celebrate a fascinating Danish film : A Royal Affair (2012). Inspired from the late eighteenth century Danish history, this movie is more than a love triangle between King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard), Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) and Dr. Johann Frederich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). Indeed, the tragic passion between the Queen of Denmark and the King’s doctor is fascinating and heartbreaking; even more when thinking that this love is no dramatic fiction, but rather an account of true feelings. Besides, the film reflects the time when European countries were trying to embrace freedom for all people and the Enlightenment philosophic movement in a divided nation. The audience is directly brought into an old Scandinavian culture by the marvellous direction of Nicolaj Arcel and Mikkelsen’s performance is stunning, tear-flowing, going from careless and idealist man, to mad-in-love and jealous lover. Moreover, the movie shows more than an inspiring plot but amazing Danish actors coming together to relate a part of Denmark’s history, and of European history as a whole. Well acclaimed by critics in several countries throughout Europe; this movie is a message of hope and unity in those obscure times. It is not only part of Danish heritage, but also of Europe’s.
words by Lisa Veiber
Once (2007) – Ireland
One of my favourite gems from Europe would have to be the Irish independent musical, Once. Having sung the film’s main track in choir in Year 10, it was on my list of things to watch for a while, and when my Mum and I sat down to watch it one Christmas- it did not disappoint.
The film tells the story of an Irish street musician, who meets and subsequently falls in love with a European immigrant. The film is a tender look at life, love and music, and it oozes charm. Set in Dublin, it paints an interesting picture not just of Irish life, but the life of those who have moved from Europe and are trying to make a life for themselves. The fact that neither of the main characters are named throughout the film is an intriguing choice, but it adds a sense that you are outside viewers, unattached; yet somehow also inexplicably drawn in.
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s track ‘Falling Slowly’, is probably one of my favourite duets ever written, and is such a touching love song that warms the heart. It is a song, and a film, that will stay with me probably for the rest of my life. It’s honest and heartfelt and one of those rare pieces of cinema which just gets everything right. So much so, that it inspired an award-winning stage musical.
words by Rehana Nurmahi
Although I haven’t opened a Spanish textbook in nearly ten years, language isn’t a barrier when it comes to Dvicio’s music. Founded in 2013, Dvicio is comprised of Andrés and Martín Ceballos Sanchez, Nacho Gotor, Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Gonzalvo, who previously performed together as Tiempo Limité. The band found popularity through a viral video of them singing along to their single ‘Enamórate’ while driving, and their song ‘Paraíso’ has been used in McDonald’s adverts in Spain.
Their debut album was released in 2015, with all the songs recorded in Spanish, although there have been English-language releases of some of their singles. They play sweet, summery pop rock, perfect for blasting in the sunshine and an excellent soundtrack for any holidays to Spain that you might be planning. They write all their own songs – which, sidebar, are super catchy – and I haven’t found a better reason to learn Spanish than to be able to sing along. They do ballads too – the heart-wrenching track ‘Nada’ from their debut was also re-recorded as a duet with American pop singer Leslie Grace. Dvicio are already making waves in Spanish-speaking countries, and if they ever decide to release more English-language songs, I can see them being set for world domination.
The fact that they’re all extremely attractive doesn’t hurt, either.
words by Sarah Corrigan
European Gaming Scene
Video games are another wonderful gift that Europe has treated us to. Across the breadth of the EU, we’ve seen countless incredible titles that have entertained and delighted the world for years. Life is Strange from Dontnod entertainment, based in Paris, The Witcher 3, developed by CD Projekt RED in Warsaw, Poland, Quantum Break, developed by Remedy Entertainment in Espoo, Finland and SOMA by Frictional Games, based in Helsingborg, Sweden, were all released within the last year, and have all been incredibly well received.
With E3 2016 having finished so recently there’s plenty of information on the future of European games. Horizon Zero Dawn, in development by Guerilla Games in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, looks absolutely breath-taking. Inside, a puzzle platformer from Playdead in Copenhagen, Denmark looks like an atmospheric gem. Finally, Rime from Tequila Works in Madrid, Spain is a gorgeous cell shaded open world exploration and puzzle game.
This barely scratches the surface of what Europe has had to offer us and we’ve been lucky to live so closely to these talented developers that have entertained us with their titles for decades past. We eagerly look forward to seeing more brilliant surprises from the European gaming scene in the future.
words by Laurence Russell
Leon: The Professional – France
From the same director who invented whatever The Fifth Element is, Leon: The Professional is an enthralling, intriguing and smaller scale action movie and one of the best European films of the past few decades.
It tells the story of young Mathilda (Natalie Portman in her explosive big screen debut) who, after the massacre of her family by Gary Oldman’s corrupt DEA agent, is taken in by a professional hitman, the eponymous Leon, played by Jean Reno. As an unusual relationship forms between the two, Leon trains Mathilda in the ways of the assassin.
The film features stellar performances from the lead trio, high emotional stakes and some excellent action sequences, all under Luc Besson’s fantastic direction. Since its release, it has become a cult favourite for audiences across the world and is often looked upon as one of the finest movies of the 1990s. Gary Oldman’s Norman Stansfield has also since been seen as one of cinema’s best villains, in what is a classically hammy, yet sinister performance from the British actor.
Its legacy is unquestionable, Leon: The Professional is loved and revered by many and it stands as a fantastic example of the greatness of European cinema.
words by David Mitchell-Baker
No list of European favourites could be complete without the wonder that is pop foursome ABBA. The Swedish band dominated the world, and although have not released music for a good few decades, hold a treasured place in hearts of many all over the world.
I know that many, including my ABBA obsessed brother, consider Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus to be some of the greatest living songwriters, and given the extortionate amount of hits that these two have rolled out, I wouldn’t necessarily say they were wrong. ABBA had the formula for a catchy, best-selling pop song down, and I think it would be hard to find people who had never heard a single one of their songs.
It is forever unfortunate that they let their personal lives get in the way of their professional ones, thus ending ABBA; but their legacy lives on through Mamma Mia! The musical, made up entirely around ABBA’s music, has been a worldwide phenomenon, and I can see why- never have I had so much fun at the theatre! There was also the film adaptation starring the likes of Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, which though admittedly terrible; radiates the fun that all of ABBA’s music emits.
words by Rehana Nurmahi