The protagonist Nell attains an unyielding sense of place in her constructed environment and thus is unable to successfully connect to larger society. To fulfil her desire to belong she surrounds her cottage with barbed wire. The close up shot of the wire illustrates to the audience that extreme actions are undertaken to create an atmosphere in which she can belong. The barbed wire indicates that intruders aren’t allowed to enter her surroundings as they could severely impair her sense of place, thus highlighting that indeed belonging and place are intrinsically linked.
Once the hermit is discovered by social workers, she becomes confronted with a range of people and situations she never knew existed, as she had an inextricable bond to her environment, alienating herself from larger society. The social worker, understanding the pivotal nature of Nell’s bush cottage, exclaims in her defence, “Nell has a home, she has a life!” The exclamation stresses that although displaced from modern society, Nell has an underlying sense of affinity to her own environment, proving that feeling an affinity to a place is essential to belonging.
Nell finds a concrete sense of belonging and identity through her unusual and intense connection with nature, demonstrating the bond between place and belonging. This is accentuated through the Nell’s imitation of a tree in the wind. The close up of Nell swaying her arms vigorously illustrates her emotional connection to nature which has yielded her identity and ultimately enabled her to belong.
Nell demonstrates the critical significance of being familiar with a place when she is extracted from her normal environment and taken to contemporary society to assimilate. When in the car, leaving her safe haven, it is evident that she has lost all sense of belonging as she becomes unfamiliar with her surroundings. A low angle from Nell’s perspective looks up at the surrounding sky scrapers, heightening the alienation and unfamiliarity...
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