‘An individual’s sense of identity can be affected by many factors’.
An individual’s sense of identity is exceptionally complex and is quite significantly influenced by many factors. These distinct factors may be desired and appreciated or unwanted and harmful. Each of these factors has consequences that may either nurture or attenuate one’s sense of self. These notions are predominantly evident in the intensely compelling film, ‘Oranges and Sunshine’, directed by Jim Loach and the poem ‘In the Park’ by Gwen Harwood.
Traumatic and challenging experiences such as rape and abuse have a monumental impact upon an individual’s sense of identity throughout their lifetime. The horrific exploitation of the innocent migrant children is revealed in Oranges and Sunshine. The children’s psyches have been scarred due to the trauma that has been inflicted upon them, ultimately impacting their identities well into adulthood. They have been emotionally and psychologically shattered due to the deprivation, torment and rape as a result of their innocence and trust. A close up camera angle of Walter portrays the extent of the trauma and torture to which he was exposed and which still remains with him. “He took me into the bathroom and they…they.” The unintentional pause in his dialogue places great emphasis on his deep emotional struggle. The voiceovers of the men recounting their horrific experiences when Margaret visits Bindoon give us insight into the torment and abuse the migrant children suffered and the pain that lingers. We learn of cuts, sores and burns they acquired as a result of lifting things the size of their upper body in the blazing heat. The degrading tone used towards them ‘weak, pitiful sons of whores’ displays the public humiliation they endured which was not limited to being stripped naked and forced on top of tables in front of everyone. Their identity as innocent children has been forcibly taken away from them.