Mini Essay on the Effect of Belonging Between a Person and a Place

Topics: Hmong people, Hmong American, Gang Pages: 2 (600 words) Published: November 20, 2012
'In each of the texts, perceptions of belonging involve connections between people and places. Compare the portrayal of the connections between people and places in Mankind Is No Island and Gran Torino.'

For people to have a real sense of belonging, they need to make connections with the place they live and the people around them. If either of these connections is missing, then individuals will suffer as a result. Two films that examine this idea are the 2008 Tropfest Winner ‘Mankind Is No Island’ and the motion picture ‘Gran Torino’ directed by East Clintwood.

The Tropfest film ‘Mankind is no Island’ represents the challenges of belonging to a place by exploring the irony of the misconceptions that cities, being so grand, would also create a grand sense of belonging within the individuals that populate them. However, the film shows us that many people are faced with isolation, starvation and alienation. This is shown in a scene with the quote ‘do we measure empathy by donations’, after these 6 words, the camera focuses on a homeless man kneeling in the street. The camera angle is low when you see the man appearing to be begging for money. His head is positioned downwards at the bag in front of him, with no great deal of donations. This shot also shows people on the street walking past the man without so much as glancing in his direction, as though he does not exist. This is a visual representation that reinforces the title. It is as if the people drifting past him are depicted as the water and he himself the island.

In ‘Gran Torino’, the neighbourhood in which Walt Kowalski lives is shown to be full of Hmong people. At the beginning of the movie, Walt is appearing to have a racist attitude towards his neighbours as he is always calling them ‘gooks’ or ‘zipper heads’. It is evident in the scene in which Tao’s cousin and his gang try to recruit Tao in his own front yard, that Walt does not like the Hmong people. Tao resists which causes a conflict that...
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