The concepts of belonging are primarily come from attachment with communities and individuals. In the novel “swallow the air” (Tara June Winch 2006) and the movie “Rabbit-Proof Fence” (Phillip Noyce 2002), authors use various language and visual techniques apply to writing and visual cohesion such as symbolism, motif, quotes and cycle to tell similar story about “the stolen generation”. “Rabbit-Proof Fence” tells a true story of two Aboriginal sisters Molly and Daisy and their cousin Daisy. The girls were forcibly removed from their family in Jigalong and taken to the Moore River camp.
Similarly, May left her Aunty in “swallow the air” and start a tour for seeking her roots. First of all, the close bonding to family is the main belonging to the two protagonists. In “Rabbit Proof Fence”, family is the main factor which drives the story and bookends the whole film by the hunting scene and reunion scene. Just like in “swallow the air”, scenes with mother in the first chapter and the last chapter “home” forms a cycle. People have “roots” if they have family or belong to a community.
Moreover, in “Rabbit-proof Fence” when the totem hawk first appears in high angle shot, Maude says “That’s the spirit bird, he will always look after you. ” Close relationship shown here by both the quote and mother’s arm around Molly, fixing her hair, with satisfaction on her face in close-up shot. The scene highlights the strong bonding in this blood kinship. Correspondingly, the turtle Mungi which reborn and gain its new belonging without being disturbed connects May to her mother to reinforce the solidity of mother-daughter bond.
When her mother dies, May loses not only love and affection form mother but also her sense of belonging to Aboriginal culture and even to the world, shown through “but when Mum left, I stopped being Aboriginal. I stopped feeling like I belonged. ” Repetition emphasis May’s not belonging at that moment or how her belongings were all connect through her mother before. Obviously, relationships form the sense of attachment between people and community.
In scene 57 of “Rabbit-proof fence”, the harsh journey has become very significant indeed it shows the struggle and hardship associated with Molly’s determine of going back to mother with the only left sibling. The close-up shot of Molly uses a plant to access water in a seemingly barren place reinforces her belonging to the land and also the Aboriginal heritage. Moreover, the reverse shots of two girls who lose consciousness, Maude and Frinda are sitting by the fence, singing and beating sticks to aid the girl’s journey and add great faith to Molly, the hawk wake them up by cawing is a symbol of strength in their community.
Those factors emphasis that the inherent combination between individuals, family and their culture which gives them belief and faith. Meanwhile, in “swallow the air” there are also some non-family who gives May warm and hope. Joyce, Jonny and Issy are the three non-families May feels attach with from the communities “The Block” and “Wiradjuri”, the connections shown through their dialogue and the deeper communication. From “We are all family here, all black here, from different place, but we’re all one mob here. The use of “we” reveals inclusion and cohesion between everyone in the Block and absolute words shows not only uniformity but also unite.
In addition, Joyce offers the material safety and warmth, she is also the one convinces May that she will not fins true belonging until she reconnect with mother’s people with rhetorical question “Think about it, May Gibson. Who are the Gibson mob anyway? ” to triggers May’s thinking about her identity. Moreover, Joyce’s son Jonny become May’s best friend, their connection is strengthened through similar dreaming places and motif of flora, fire, water and family. We dance with palm branches and deri flowers, like we are spirit peple. We rest in the house as warm tropical storm light up the bruised sky……” the vivid images from by the verbs with present tense, the nature and wordings like “warm” “light” “spirit” “dance” have positive connotation, it means their dream life are full of happiness although the outside world is nasty— “the bruised sky” with the use of metaphor. To the Aboriginal community, motif and totem are symbols of spirit that is a kind of belief and support and the spirit connects their fellows together.
In “Rabbit Proof Fence”, motif of hands appears as gesture, signal or show contact of relationship, such as Molly signals hunter in order to obtain food as special trait understanding between Aborigines. The mid-angle shot of Maude stands with hands on fence and eyes toward distant place then camera reverse to Molly put her hands on the other side of fence, with soft and lyric background music; both the motif of hands shows attachment just like the rabbit proof fence symbolizes their affinity, connects Molly to her mother and extent towards Jigalong physically and mentally. On the other hand, the otif of water is unique to the Wiradjuri nation.
Here water is strength and lifeblood. “We are powerful people, strong people. Water people, people of the rivers and the lakes. ” The symbolism of water has a universal undertone of purity and fertility. Symbolically, it is often viewed as the source of life itself as we see evidence in countless myths. To Wiradjuri people, water is a strong spirit lodge which suggested by the above quote. Further, we can incorporate symbolism of circulation, life, cohesion and birth by associating the creative waters of the earth with the fluids found in our own body.
Just like what Issy says “the lake works like a heart, pumping its lifeblood from under the skin”, simile use to compare and visualized the usefulness of water and gratitude to this source of lives. Issy’s circles explain Aboriginal peoples’ belonging to each other and the land. In conclusion, to Aborigines belonging and identity shaped by their Aboriginal heritage and the way they know the world from their ancestors, besides that family are integrated and primary to most people which is the symbol of spirit home.
Courtney from Study Moose
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