Wednesday, May 14, 2014
"Oranges and Sunshine" with Emily Watson and David Wenham (2010)
Emily Watson stars as Margaret Humphreys, a social worker in Nottingham, England who becomes involved in solving the disappearance of thousands of boys and girls who were illegally deported to Australia. This is a true story.
Most of the children were removed from their homes due to the inability of the parents to either provide adequately for them, or for any number of other reasons deemed appropriate by the social workers. There was no offer of counseling to help these people learn how to better care for their kids. There was no offer of financial assistance. There was just the arbitrary removal of the children from their parents. In many cases siblings were separated, never to see one another again.
Some of the children went to other abusive families in Australia, meaning that the child’s world did not change at all. There were just the lingering, faded memories of a past that would never fully go away. These children had been promised a life of “oranges and sunshine”. Instead they got abused, worked half to death and starved. The lucky ones went to state sponsored institutions where they were abused in a more regimental fashion.
As Margaret Humphreys digs deeper into this case, she comes to realize the full extent of this misguided and evil program. And then she sets out to make it right. Assembling all of the children that she can find who were deported, she begins to reunite them with the siblings they have almost forgotten, and restore their memories of the parents from whom they were so cruelly wrenched.
This is a very moving, and disturbing film. It highlights the problems of government sponsored social engineering; a process by which people who presumably “know better” get to launch whatever harebrained scheme they come up with. This is not a problem isolated to Great Britain.
Expertly directed and acted by all the players; and with an exceptional performance by Emily Watson; this film will affect you long after the credits have rolled off the screen.