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Good morning / afternoon, I’m Ethan Pagel. As the end of our senior schooling career comes to a close, it seems like the perfect opportunity to look back on and reflect on a few of the pieces of assessment that we have completed throughout high school. Today I will be discussing with you three of my favourite works that I have covered over the last five years. The three pieces that I will be covering during this presentation are The Rabbit Proof Fence, The Happiest Refugee, and I was only 19.
I will be discussing some of the aesthetic devices used throughout these works, but I will also be talking about how they have helped to shape me into the person that I am today.
The first of these that I will be talking about is Anh Do’s “The Happiest Refugee”. The Happiest Refugee is an engaging autobiographic novel that details Anh and his families escape from war-torn Vietnam and follows Anh throughout his life as he attempts establish a prosperous life in Australia.
As the text is such an excellent example of a memoir it has helped to shape my values and beliefs and has changed the way that I look at refugees. Before reading this text I had never thought of the reasons that refugees may be coming to our country. It showed me the true reasons that people come from overseas, to escape war, hunger and poverty among many other things, rather than just not liking their own country.
It has helped me to become more empathetic to the refugees seeking asylum in our country than I had been before I read the novel.
Anh Do also used a variety of aesthetic and textual devices throughout the text help send a clear message. One of these aesthetic devices used constantly is humour. Anh uses humour through the text and through his life as a way to cope with the negative situations being thrown at him, while also being engaging and entertaining to the audience. Symbolism is also used heavily through the text. The first of these that we see is they initial Journey to Australia. It represents the hardships and troubles that all refugees face when travelling to a new country, not only for the journey itself, but also the difficulties they face trying to assimilate into a new country and culture.
The next piece of assessment that I will be discussing is Philip Noyce’s “The Rabbit Proof Fence”. The Rabbit Proof Fence is a film based on a book of the same name written by Doris Pilkington Garimara. Set in the 1930s in outback Western Australia, the film follows the story of three young half-caste girls, Molly, Daisy and Gracie. The story begins in the town of Jigalong, where shortly afterwards the three girls are taken and relocated to the Moore River Native Settlement. The girls escape and follow the rabbit proof fence back to their home town, unfortunately losing Gracie along the way. The film helped to shape the attitudes and values of many as it offers a new perspective on the Stolen Generation, as it was one of the first films to portray this topic. While being an enjoyable film, it was also effective in evoking discussion about the treatment of aboriginals and their rights not only in the past but also in the current day. It has influenced not only myself, but many others to be able to look at look at the indigenous people in a new light.
Throughout the film Philip Noyce has used a range of aesthetic devices to help to enhance the viewers experience and also as a way to help effectively put forward the messages shown in the film. One of the most important devices used through the film is symbolism. Symbolism is used consistently through the film, and the best example of this being the constant references to fences. The film shows us that the white colonists split indigenous land by building the rabbit proof fences, then proceeded to place the aboriginals into fenced off reservations. Camera angles have also been used as an effective method of framing the characters in a certain way. For example, Officer Neville is often seen from a lower angle, imitating the view of one of the children, showing the viewer how intimidating he looks from their perpective.
The third and final piece that I will be covering is the popular song “I was only 19” by the band Redgum. I was only 19 is a first person account describing a young soldiers journey from being in Australia to being on the battlefields of Vietnam, and how his experiences have permanently scarred him, physically and mentally. The song itself is based on first hand accounts of the Vietnam war sourced from the song authors brother in law. When the song was released it helped to shape a new identity of the Vietnam war in the eyes of Australians. Previously veterans of this conflicts were not acknowledged for their service, but after the song became popular people began to look at these veterans differently, beginning to offer support. Many of my own family members served in the military throughout many different conflicts, and this song have me a glimpse into the experiences that they may have faced.
Aesthetic devices are used frequently through the song. The most prominent of the devices used is repetition. The main use of repetition is with the line “God help me, I was only 19” This line has been repeated many times throughout the song as a way to drive in the fact that many of these soldiers were barely old enough to drink, and were still sent off into a foreign country to kill other men.
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