What if you were adopted? What if your own mother didn’t want you? How would you feel? Good morning/ Afternoon Students and Mrs Barrett- Brown. Today i will be evaluating the documentary of “Henry and Bee”. These questions reflect on year twelves understanding of the values of belonging and not belonging. These questions also reflect on what has happened throughout Bee King’s life. The concept of belonging is essential in our lives as it brings about acceptance and connection to a person, group or place. Bee King is a hardworking Aboriginal woman who was removed from her mother at birth. As a teenager, Bee was brought up in a white family.
Throughout her childhood she always felt isolated and out of place. She felt like she didn’t belong. Bee King set out to find and reconnect with her birth parents. It was no easy search and eventually she tracked down her mother and father. After rejection was replaced by hope a whole new world opened for Bee when she re-established a relationship with her father, Henry. So as I connect belonging to the story of Henry and Bee, consider these questions, and why Henry and Bee should become a prescribed text for the Board of Studies.
According to the Board of Studies the area of study requires students to explore the ways in which the concept of belonging is represented in and through texts. Henry and Bee is a prime example of a prescribed text Board of Studies should use, as the perceptions and ideas of belonging are seen through such critical incidents such as her childhood, her adolescent years and her adulthood. These major events have affected Bee King’s life as she moved from transitions from not belonging-to-belonging.
Throughout the documentary, Bee King restates the various major events that arise in her life. The first scenes that open the documentary establish the location and set the mood for the topic of discussion. Bee is placed on a beach captured a long shot overlooking the sea. The water symbolises the sea as it used to express the emotions and feeling she has. The image of the waves is used to contrast between her emotion and the sea. The emotions Bee is feeling relates to the way the sea is shown, upset and isolated. This is a strategy used by the director to cause the responder to have sympathy. The protagonist’s face is out of view representing the distance and isolation she is feeling. For Bee, belonging is more about feeling part of a group and being accepted in her community and her trying to find her birth parents. Her emotion throughout her story establishes desire in life, which is to find her biological parents and too feel welcomed into their family. As Bee King was bought up in a white family, the paradox “you’re my sister, but we don’t look like each other”, suggests the separation between family and the creation of a barrier between them.
The metaphor “if you can see the colour, your different’, implies that the colour of her skin does affect her as she was raised in a white family. This also entails that she knew what everyone is thinking when she is with her adopted family. A connotation of racism is shown in the use of jargon as seen in the line “the abo”. This particular line foreshadows the impact that Bee King felt when she was being bullied, the mid shot emphasises her expression as she talks about going to school and being bullied. Bee’s connection to belonging is not shown in this particular part of the documentary, as her background was not accepted as she was raised up in a white family, and bullied because of the colour of her skin.
Another technique used in this topic is to portray the sense of belonging is by using analepsis (flashbacks). The director has purposely puts in analepsis of Bee’s past for example when she was growing up in new Zealand, this particular scene used was to emphasise that she clearly didn’t belong with she was growing up, as she was the only Aboriginal that lived there. This also is to show the viewing audience that Bee’s life from the beginning was hard. This event in Bee’s life is important as it relates to the topic of not belonging. This is perfect example for a prescribed text in the Board of Studies as is reflects deeply on belonging.
Responders get a sense of not belonging through the relationship with her mother. After giving up Bee when she was a baby, the relationship among them was not great. After 18 years, she found out who my mum was. Bee decided to find her. Throughout with scenes of meeting her mother for the first time, the relationship was unsteady as shown in the line “no hugging and kissing or anything like that”, the tone used illustrates that the relationship between Bee and her mother didn’t connect and made Bee feel like her own mother didn’t want to know her. To make matters worse for poor Bee, her mother written her a letter. “In the end mum wrote a letter and told me she never wanted to see me again”. This extract expresses the rejection Bee feels as her own mother doesn’t want to know her.
The close- up used when these words were said creates sympathy is the audience. The use of a short sentence contrasts rejection to isolation from the line “We never saw each other again”, the high modality of the language throughout this scene shows a negative impact that this rejection had on Bee. This sentence also evokes emotion because her mother never wanted to see her again, and her mother passed away eighteen months later. Belonging again was not shown in this scene as the relationship with her mother didn’t succeed but failed as Bee again felt isolated and rejection when her mother told her she didn’t want anything to do with her anymore.
Non-diegetic music is used to represent belonging. The music is played to create the feelings and emotions Bee has because she’s not belonging. The music suggests sadness and depressive emotions; which engages the responder to have the same feelings as Bee would. This successfully emphasises a sense of not belonging as the viewer is able to feel compassion to Bee as the sound of the piano strings trigger the feelings of blues. This is a prime example of why this text should be implemented into the Board of Studies prescribed texts, as it clearly shows the concepts of belonging and not belonging.
To belong is to feel as though you are part of something, where you connect with other people, and where you feel a sense of security. Bee began to feel like this throughout the final scenes. Bee finally started to belong. For Bee Sydney was where she found happiness as this place felt like home. She also began to feel acceptance when she finally tracked down her father Henry. The line “trying to find family and to feel that sense of belonging” suggests that Bee at last has found a sense of belonging with her father. Also gives the insight that the audience can see that Bee has finally found peace in her life when she is reconnected with her father. “It felt great to be welcome by so many people”, provides that viewer with the happiness Bee is feeling as she is finally welcome into the life she has always wanted.
This positive connotation gives us the reconnection of a family that was once split, into a family that now belongs with each other. The final part of the documentary creates a sense of a warm-hearted audience as Bee exclaims “Hey, it’s OK to actually be loved.” This line proposes that Bee has finally found belonging in relationships, place and in herself. The combination of long camera angles and close- ups show similarity between Bee and her Aboriginal family. These camera angles where used when Bee was welcomed into her family she once didn’t know.
These were used to suggest the happiness Bee has finally found after reconnecting with her own family. Bee’s life had changed completely after meeting her father Henry. She now feels the sense of belonging and is not isolated or confined anymore. This topic is important as according to the Board of Studies the prescribed text requires students to explore the ways in which the concept of belonging is represented in and through texts. This is clearly shown in this topic.
The story of Henry and Bee is obviously an important text that should be used on the board of studies prescribed texts list as it connects to belonging. Bee finally finds her happiness when she meets her father; this story shows a sense of belonging because the scenes throughout the documentary foreshadow a great depth in belonging to community, place and herself.
The documentary demonstrates to the responder the concept of belonging and its aspects such as isolation and confinement are seen through a variety of devices and techniques used in the documentary Henry and Bee. A range of techniques including dialogue, camera angles, non-diegetic music and flashbacks, can help year twelves with understanding the greater meaning to Belonging. These allow the responder to theoretically connect and enable us to satisfy the sense of belonging. Henry and bee will allow year twelve students to have a greater and wider understanding of belonging and not belonging.
Courtney from Study Moose
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