Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
I present for your consideration a docudrama entitled Oranges and Sunshine, starring Emily Watson (2010, available on DVD).
During the 1980s, a British social worker named Margaret Humphreys (Watson) was approached by a woman from Australia who said she had been born in England but deported to Australia as a child, along with many other children. The woman wanted to know what had happened to her mother.
Humphreys told the woman that her story couldn't possibly be true -- that such a thing would be illegal.
And yes, it was illegal, but it was true. And it didn't happen to a handful of children. During the 1940s and '50s, perhaps as many as 150,000 children were shipped from England to other countries of the Commonwealth where they were used as slave labor.
Thus, the movie follows Humphreys as she uncovers the nefarious scheme and works to reunite the now grown-up children with the parents who surrendered them for adoption or placed them in children's homes temporarily and lost them permanently (some children had been orphaned). The movie focuses on children who were sent to Australia -- thus, the title. One of the men states that when he was a child he was told he could go to Australia and pick oranges off the trees for his breakfast and the sun would shine every day, he would live in a white house, and ride a horse to school. Then he was told he was going no matter what because his mother was dead.
But, his mother wasn't dead. And he didn't get oranges and sunshine.
Obviously, this story is a very sad one, and it's dramatic enough in its own right. It doesn't need over-the-top acting. Fortunately, the performances are just right. Watson is the constantly calm presence that steers the movie.
I'm sorry to say that Oranges and Sunshine doesn't have a wildly happy ending, but how could it? The movie certainly made me want to learn more about the deportation and about Margaret Humphreys. I found a wealth of information about her with a simple click on Google.
We do have the world at our fingertips these days, don't we?
Dee, I'm not sure how you would feel about this movie. It would probably speak to the abandonment you experienced, but I don't know if it would be cathartic or if it would add to your pain.
I wish that the reason for making this movie didn't exist, but because the film is well made, I give Oranges and Sunshine The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval. But unless you're really curious about people who were cruel to children and got away with it for many years until one woman stood up for the truth, maybe you should find a comedy to watch.
Infinities of love,