Historical Accurateness Of The Film Oranges And Sunshine

1119 words - 5 pages

The film Oranges and Sunshine, directed by Jim Loach and released in 2010, traces the fight she led on behalf of thousands of child-deportees whose lives were irreparably scarred by the trauma of separation, exile and frequently brutal imprisonment. With the screenplay by Rona Munro, based on the non-fiction novel Empty Cradles by Margaret Humphreys – the protagonist of the film – Oranges and Sunshine is a very moving film that does accurately portray the “victims” perspective of history but is flawed in its skewed portrayal of the governmental role in these events depicted. The central historical weakness in Loach’s film, and Munro’s screenplay, as a historical source is its ...view middle of the document...

The economic and racial objectives underpinning the program were summed up six years earlier by Redmond Prendiville, the Catholic Archbishop of Perth, in a speech to British children arriving on the SS Strathaird: “At a time when empty cradles are contributing woefully to empty spaces, it is necessary to look for external sources of supply. And if we do not supply from our own stock we are leaving ourselves all the more exposed to the menace of the teeming millions of our neighboring Asiatic races.”
The film tends to mirror Humphreys’ own conclusion that the political issues are secondary. The child migrants’ journey is depicted in largely personal terms, pointing to solutions that are similarly focused inward. At times the role of state is air-brushed. Authorities in Nottingham are shown rushing forward with offers of funding for child reunion. Humphreys’ own book suggests a somewhat different picture. As hundreds of letters poured in from child migrants in Australia, and with the Observer newspaper having just published a major exposé of the scheme, “Lost Children of the Empire,” whose appearance in July 1987 Humphreys describes as a “bombshell”, the politicians stepped in with just one aim in mind: damage-control. “We’re not here for recriminations,” Humphreys tells an all-party meeting of MPs, churchmen and charities in Britain, “we are providing an opportunity for you to redress some of the damage for which you were responsible.” When it comes to the government’s actions, they are presented as the result of misguided paternalism, with responsibility for the most sadistic aspects of child abuse sheeted home to the Catholic Church. In reality, the child migrant scheme was sponsored by the British and Australian governments, backed by legislation and repeatedly defended by ministers of the crown against critics as far back as the late 1940s. This is also not portrayed in the film, and raises concerns as its value as a source, arising from a concern that this demonization does little to add to our understanding of these events or how they came about; nor does it help us realize that monstrous consequences may flow from well-intentioned policies which is knowledge we need in the present and not just for our understanding of the past. If we allow ourselves to believe that events like forced imperial...

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